How to make £100 a day from your merch

Posted on 18th September 2019

Today, I want to talk about how to make £100 a day on Merch. Having a career in music is dependent on sustainability, and in my book, this is the key to professional freedom.

The thing is we live in an age where music is essentially free, streaming royalties are very insignificant and people are still using P2P file sharing. This is why merchandise is incredibly important, it makes your performance career and studio output sustainable. Suddenly, your recorded music that normally has very little commercial online value, is worth £10 again on the merch stand.  It’s a high margin and a serious product. Let's find out how to make the absolute most out of your merch table’s potential.

Tip no.1 - understand the core business of merch

Selling merch at the gig

 Whilst it’s tempting to be creative with potential formats of merch, the big sellers are still going to be your t-shirts. As attractive as vinyl is, it will sit there, and you will still sell more CD’s. This is not due to playability but it’s a handy thing to get the band to sign.

By all means, if you want to create lighters, cigarette papers or more novelty items and have them on the stand, do it! They are good talking points and you may sell a few. However, when you look at the tour accounts, you’ll see the big sellers are t-shirts and CDs.

 So, that’s the gig, however this video is all about making £100 per day from merchandise. The stand works on the road. You only need to sell ten t-shirts for £10 and you have made the one hundred. What about the days where you are not touring?

Selling merch on the website

On your downtime you can sell an awful lot of Merchandise from the band website, or if you must, a digital distribution platform. There is a different headspace here, you’ll see more exciting merchandise with higher prices playing a part. People in bands can take a few tips from Youtubers, who are putting out items with much higher design quality, higher prices, and a larger margin.

At the end of the day, what you are selling, is cool. People will spend anything to buy in a bit of cool for themselves. This is an opportunity to take YouTube standards, apply it to band merchandise and elevate your product. Consequently, this could lead you to sell £100 of Merch a day. It’s just a question of the design being good enough and providing value.

Tip no.2 - keep ownership of your merch business

While it can be attractive to take an advance from a merchandise company, you will lose control of your item's price points. Nobody can look after fans like the band can. If you are swayed by that advance, get the calculator out and work out how much that money is costing. Common sense will take you back to the point of doing it yourself. A direct relationship with your fan is the key to financial security.

That also goes for distribution, fans usually prefer to buy direct from the band. If you farm this out to a digital distribution platform, you’ll make less, and the customer service cannot be as good. They will also charge you 15% of the gross, so you will lose money.

 There is an opportunity here, if you are sending out most of your merch directly and making the most out of the financial side of the deal, you can go the extra mile and demonstrate value with small touches such as sending a nice little handwritten note from the band. This is a very different transaction than doing it through a third party. The bands I have spoken to say that they have sold an extra 25% from their site as opposed to a digital distribution platform because of the direct fan relationship. Loyal fans will come back time and time again, you’ll get a rebound effect and your sales will stack.

 Your only limitation here is energy and creativity. This could easily be developed into a clothing brand, why have one t-shirt when you could have twenty? You can develop a back catalog - remember you cannot download t-shirts. A T-Shirt is still an item with real physical value, so let’s make the most of it.   

Tip no.3 - your best friend is the calculator

Even a mid-level band could easily shift a few thousand CD’s and five hundred t-shirts with an album launch. That’s £25,000 gross with a relativity high margin. This type of money will keep your band in rehearsals, it will pay for the design and a couple of videos and that’s just in the first week of sales.

 There is still money in music, and there is still money in DIY music. There is a long-term future in that direct relationship with a small group of superfans. A great quality merch stand that is pinned is a really good investment at this point. To keep you going, here is a list of recommended merch manufacturers;

 My Custom Band Merch -

 Awesome Merchandise -

 Octomuffin -

 Impericon -

 Flood Print -

 Bands on a Budget -

Where do we go from here?

You now have an understanding of the core business, products and figures, you have a great design, you have established a distribution network, and perhaps even an overarching clothing brand. You may be getting excited as this is where the money is. Merchandise is not just part of the game; it is THE game.

 Now is the point where you can be creative, bands have produced merchandise that ranges from teabags to tea towels to coffee to beer and to the more bizarre. Put any suggestions you have seen in the comments below and do let me know what sold well for your band.

 Thanks for reading, if you interested in learning more and are serious about progressing in your career as a musician please join us at WaterBear HQ for an Open Day or Order a Prospectus

by Bruce Dickinson
Bruce has had 11 top forty hits and a number 1 album with Little Angels. He’s toured with Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, ZZ Top, Aerosmith, Van Halen, and opened for Guns N’ Roses on their first UK shows. With his group Colour of Noise, he has run a successful Pledge album campaign and he continues to help new bands through curating the Rising Stage at the Ramblin’ Man Fair festival and Underground Music Conference events. Bruce was a founder of the BIMM group of colleges, leaving in 2012 for the Little Angels reunion at Download Festival and UK tour. He has negotiated several university partnerships and written many validated degree courses, with thousands of undergraduates studying those courses still. He holds an MA in Education Management.
View all posts by Bruce Dickinson

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