Low-Cost Merch Ideas for Musicians That Won’t Break the Bank
Ah the age old conundrum: you’ve got to make money to have money and vice-versa.
Branded merch and swag can be one of the most creative and effective ways to spread the word about your music, and contrary to popular belief, is pretty doable for nearly any size budget.
Check out some of our team’s top tips and ideas for artist merch that won’t drain your bank account.
Start with a solid design
No matter what you give out, it’s not going to garner a second glance if it doesn’t have a clear, professional graphic on it. Try to use a design rather than make a lot of text for the best chance of making an impact. Don’t forget to include the important information: your name, a link to your website or site where you host your music and optional social media links.
Need help coming up with design? We’ve got amazing graphic designers on call and helping artists in an affordable way is kind of our thing — shoot us a message!
Once you’ve got a design, the possibilities are endless, but popular and low-cost options include koozies, lighters, draw string backpacks, stickers, sunglasses, water bottles, magnets and pins.
Make it useful
This author currently has one of those stick-on credit cardholders attached to her iPhone from her previous employer…yup, it’s THAT useful that I’m willing to be reminded of my past 9-5 life every single time I pick up my phone…which is an excessive amount.
Other useful merch ideas: post-it note pads with your URL printed on them, flash drives (with a few songs pre-loaded), car chargers, ear plugs, bandanas (especially useful at festivals) and bottle openers. Consider where you will mostly be giving out your merch to determine what will be useful for that particular situation.
Stay on brand — but don’t be afraid to get creative or even silly
If you can stick out in a world full of business cards and stickers, your name and brand are more likely to have staying and recognition power. Business cards are likely just to get lost or thrown away before your potential new fan even makes it home, and even if they do make it home with it, there’s a slim chance they’ll remember to check you out online the next day unless you made a huge in-person impression.
Rolling papers are a great idea that your fans may use and find clever, and will certainly help them remember you. Just remember to stay true to who you are as an artist and what you want to represent with your brand and music. For example, if you’re a young female pop artist catering to tweens, branded du-rags are going to seem very strange and likely won’t resonate with your audience. Consider who your audience is, or who you want to target, then cater to their interests and needs.
It’s all about presentation
Once you’ve spent your precious dollars on some beautiful branded merch, don’t just throw it on a table and forget about it.
Remember — you still have to sell it, whether that means encouraging people to stop by and pick up your free swag or pay for a piece of your merch. This can be the hardest part, but focusing on how you present and sell yourself can make it a bit easier.
Look at this great example of presentation done right:
It’s colorful, organized, attractive and clearly-labeled. Make sure to include your name somewhere on the table printed largely and attractively, and feel free to use any other kind of colorful, branded signage to attract people over to your offerings. If you’re giving out things for free, make it extremely obvious — people go crazy for freebies, and usually don’t even care what you’re giving away (source: was in college once).
While none of these ideas are totally free, a little investment into some quality merch can go a long way and be a huge revenue generator for you in the future. Start small, with one or two items, and produce small batches at first to test the waters before you go all in.