Selling merch is one of the best ways to make money as a musician, and it can go far beyond the typical CDs at a merch table or digital downloads from your website.
Using your website to sell merch online is a great option for products that don’t travel well, are unique in nature, or are even more personal than t-shirts or a limited edition vinyl.
Handmade items can be difficult to reproduce, but can also be offered for a significantly higher price point. Offering a good balance of customized merch and scalable merch allows you to offer unique items for all fans, at different levels of dedication.
With a continued focus on decluttering, organizing, and Marie-Kondo-ing our lives, fans might also be looking for more “useful” merchandise, or products without a physical footprint. Let’s look at some of the creative merch items you can offer!
Scalable physical merch
Start off with staple items - the ones that will always appeal to your fans and generally sell well at a decent price point. Offer a variety of options and use Printful in your store if you’d like to design some custom merch, and see which items sell best.
Everything old is new again, and leather and jean jackets are as popular as ever, so why not sell some patches that your fans can add to their every day ‘fits?
2. Enamel pins
Similar to patches, pins are another collectible that can be popular at the merch stand.
Another useful item, keychains can be customized to fit your budget. Whether it’s a few custom-made options, or a bulk order that can be sold for a lower price, these can be big sellers now that we’re back on the road!
4. T-shirts and hoodies
Branded shirts will always be popular, and you can make them more interesting than the standard logo-on-black-unisex-t-shirt! Try adding t-shirts with variations of your logo, new album artwork, or featuring classic lyrics from a fan favorite song.
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Go beyond cheap water bottles and drawstring bags and think more toward multifunctional gear. Neck gaiters are super useful and a unique idea all year round!
6. Home goods
Continuing with the thought of fans loving everyday items, things like candles, koozies, glassware, and even tea towels are sure to get scooped up quickly!
Artist website: Big Little Lions
Custom physical merch
These merch items will appeal to long-term fans, who are willing to pay a little more for those unique items. Flex your creative muscle and make (or commission!) designs based on your lyrics, song titles, or album art.
7. Handwritten lyrics
Custom artwork is increasingly popular, and offering handwritten lyrics of your songs is a great way to provide a unique gift to your fans. To facilitate more sales, consider offering only a few options and having an inventory ready to ship, or write them out on demand as orders come in.
8. Drumsticks or picks
One of the exciting parts of going to a show is hoping to catch a pick or drumstick from the band at the end of the night. For those who aren’t lucky enough to be near the front, you could sell used or new drumsticks from your music website.
If you picked up any crafting hobbies during the pandemic (or are looking for a new one,) consider selling limited edition art pieces! Cheeky embroidery wall hoops are popular (repurpose some of those guitar strings to add a hanging wire to the back) and are another place to share your lyrics or artwork. Doodles from a lyric journal, paintings, and drawings are popular too.
Think outside the box and customize a favorite game for your audience. Lean into the current 90’s throwback theme and make your own Pogs and slammers, order customized decks of cards themed around your band, or offer branded sets of dice.
11. Limited-edition USB drives
Most artists have storage drives full of early demos, unreleased tracks, or alternate live versions of songs. Leverage that backlog by offering USB drives that include these songs - fans get to hear their favorite songs in brand new ways, and get a useful piece of tech to boot.
Similar to handwritten lyrics, many people treasure setlists from shows they’ve attended. Consider selling them in advance for fans to pick up at the show, or allow them to order a custom setlist from a certain show date in the past.
13. Memory books
Bring your fans behind the scenes to a special event, whether it’s a new album recording, going on a special tour, or appearing on a TV show. Offer a small run of coffee table books with photos, some thoughts about the experience, and other anecdotes from the event.
Artist website: Damian McGuinty
14. Mystery grab bags
If you overestimated the popularity of particular merch items in the past, or have some CDs leftover from an old project that never quite took off, sell a mystery grab bag from your website to move these items. Give fans an option to select their shirt size, or just mix and match leftover tour posters, stickers, and albums. This is a great way to clear out merch you’ve used in the past and clear out space to try out some other items as well!
Scalable digital merch
Add merch that can be sold many times to different people. These merch items add value to your store, while giving fans at all levels a way to support you. This is one of the most profitable ways to make money on your website since you would create the product once and sell it as many times as you’d like.
15. Tabs or sheet music
Especially if you have an audience of lots of musicians, selling sheet music is a great way to earn some passive money and inspire more artists as well.
16. Guitar tabs
If your music is particularly guitar-driven, you could sell guitar tabs for your songs.
17. Video tutorials/classes
Do you teach your instrument? Are you a prolific writer? You could offer virtual music lessons, a series of recorded classes for your fans to download, or workshops about writing!
18. Sample packs
Create a collection of loops and sounds and group them by genre, then offer the packs individually for digital download in your online store.
19. Karaoke tracks
Who doesn’t love singing along to their favorite songs in the shower or while driving down the highway? Let your fans buy karaoke backing tracks to sing along to (and invite them to share their versions with you on social media!).
20. Concert videos
If you have great video of some of your live shows, consider editing them together and offering them for purchase. These can be great for fans that were at those particular shows and are feeling nostalgic, or for fans who missed the show but still want to support you.
Custom digital merch
The beauty of digital merch is that you can offer it to fans anywhere in the world. Create some one-of-a-kind items for your online store.
21. Custom recordings
Whether it’s an acoustic or reimagined version of one of your songs, an instrumental track, or a special cover request, a custom recording would be a dream for any hardcore fan.
22. One-on-one lessons
If you’ve ever thought about teaching lessons or classes, there are many ways to do it virtually now. Whether you teach one-on-one sessions or in live, small group workshops, this can be a good way to make money while you’re not on the road.
23. Video or game
Making a themed video or mobile game can be a really fun way to pass the time! Don’t feel like you can build your own? Games like Animal Crossing let you create custom designs, so fans can wear your gear in-game (maybe their Villager can match a shirt for sale on your website!).
24. Custom sets
Sure, you could sell the setlists you use at shows. But you can also give fans the opportunity to buy the whole set! Create a product on your store page and let your fans put together a set for an upcoming show (be ready to re-learn some of those old classics you haven’t thought of in years). Dedicated fans will jump at the opportunity to hear songs they never thought they’d hear live, or just put together a list of their greatest hits for a killer show.
25. Video messages
Taking a few minutes out of your day to say hello and record a custom video greeting not only brings joy to the recipient–you might even get to be part of a really important announcement.
Whether you’re just starting out or already have a store full of options, creating and adding new merch to your music website is a great way to scratch that creative itch while giving your fans diverse options to directly support you. With so many possibilities, try out a few ideas and see what works best for you!
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