Sell-Off Rights for Merchandise

The sell-off rights to merchandise aren’t well known to all musicians. However, it is something you should be aware of before you start to work with a merchandiser.

What are sell-off rights?

This simply means that the merchandiser doesn’t have the right to manufacture more merchandise right before the contract is over. They can only sell what is left in stock. Most merchandiser will ask to sell it through retail outlets as it won’t be sold on concerts. The artist will get royalties of these pieces that get sold. There should be no question in that. Before you take this step, there are a few things you, as an artist, need to ask for.

Buy it Yourself

Before the merchandiser sells your merchandise after your contract has ended, he or she should give you the chance to buy the rest of your merchandise back. If you have merchandise that you only sold online, it could be a good idea to start selling that merchandise at concerts too. It gives your fans the chance of having that one shirt they couldn’t order.

If you don’t buy the rest of your merchandise, the merchandiser will get a sell-off period. This can be anywhere within 6 months to a year. Just make sure that the sell-off rights are non-exclusive, so that if you work with another merchandiser you won’t get in trouble. And, the merchandiser cannot stockpile the merchandise. This means that they can’t manufacture more merchandise right before the end of the term. If you’re making an agreement, try to get this in the contract. Ask that they only manufacture a specific amount of merchandise so that this doesn’t happen.

Distress Sales or Dumping

Ask them to put this in the contract too. This means that merchandisers cannot sell your merchandise at very low prices just to get rid of the stock.

If you do get a sell-off rights agreement, they should ask you by the end of the term if you want to buy the remaining stock. If not, you ask them to get rid of the merchandise. With this meaning, destroying it. Or you ask them to donate it to charity.

What Not to Forget When You Start a Band

When you start a band the idea of making the logos and going on tour is the dream, right? But, there’s always a catch. There are things that starting bands always seem to forget, something that can be very crucial for in the future.

Branding

Make sure you protect your logo and the band name you use. To find out if your name hasn’t been used before, the internet is your friend in this case. Don’t just Google the name, check social media too, because this is where you are going to spend your time promoting your music.

You don’t want to confuse people and you want to be original as possible.

What If the Band Splits?

Talk to the band about this. Don’t wait until you are in a courtroom. There are different things you need to discus, if the band ever splits. It doesn’t mean that you’re waiting to split, it means that you are preparing yourself for if anything does happen when there is a fight and the band wants to split.

Like, can the band still go on if 2 members have left? Can the remaining members still use the band name? Writing it all down on a written agreement makes things easier for later if this does happen.

That’s not the only thing you need to think about, what if one band member isn’t what you thought he was? And you want to get rid of him? What kind of vote in the band do you need to vote (or fire, it’s how you look at it) a member out of the band?

If you’re in a record label, this means a few other things too. Like, will the band be kicked out of the label if the band splits? What if someone gets out of the band to work on a solo project, will the label push the solo artists to be signed under them?

Remember this When you Start a Band

Ask yourself these questions when you start a band, do it while you’re still friends and everything is done on a friendly note.

You don’t want a split to be uglier than it needs to be.

How to Build Your Own Network

Everybody knows that starting as an artist isn’t easy. The one thing that most new artists forget (or rather don’t know they should do), is to network. By networking you can create your own team. Here are some tips to build your own network or team.

Networking

The first step to a career in music, is networking. Go to networking events like Eurosonic or Midem or even SXSW. It does have a price tag on it. But, isn’t it worth it so that you can get so much more out of it?

Before you go to the event, try to make some appointments with people. If you don’t know how start by checking the event’s website. Events like Eurosonic, have a list of people that are going to be there. It’s easy to Google the names and see if they are the right person/company for you. Because there is nothing worse than being a metal artist and contacting someone that specialises in classical music.

Always be ready to hand over a business card. You never know who you’ll meet! Always have your music with you too. This way, whenever you have a meeting with someone, you can instantly show them what you’ve been working on. It’s easier than giving a CD and waiting for replies that will never come. These networking moments are perfect to build your career on. If they don’t like what you’re working on, ask them what needs work and show you’re ready to get some constructive feedback.

Connections

Another way of meeting people in the music industry, is looking at the liner notes on CD’s. There are always some useful names on it. Once you have a good list, try and contact them. It can be as easy as that!

Build Your Professional Team

First things first, you have to start with one person in your team – like a manager. In most cases, this can be a friend or family member. Be careful with adding someone of your family in the team, though. Sometimes family and money don’t mingle well.

Also, try to work out if the managers’ personality matches up with yours. You don’t want to be stuck on a contract with someone you can’t stand for the coming year or so. It seems bad to do this, but do you really want to be fighting all the time with your manager? They’re the ones who book your shows and get your money in. You don’t want to feel like you’re constantly fighting each other.

Before you say ‘yes’ to the first person with a great pitch, make sure you’ve checked a few things. Ask for references, check those references and ask a lot of questions.

Some questions you can ask are:

  • Do they have experience in the music industry?
  • Do they have clients that are in the same genre as you? If so, they are more likely to have existing contacts which could be useful to you.
  • Do they do the work themselves? Make sure you know who you’re paying to do the work so you don’t get left with any nasty surprises.
  • What is their fee? This is a normal question to ask in a meeting.
  • Do they have a written agreement? This can be very important further down the line, so make sure everything us written and agreed to before any work starts.

If you already have a team ready, great! You’re halfway there! If you are thinking about adding someone new to the team, ask the same questions above and ask your existing team what they think too. You’re a team after all and everybody needs to get on with each other before they form your professional career.

Smart Links 101

The following includes sections from a blog written by Music Fibre – an online music industry directory and blog posting tips, tutorials and useful information for anyone working in the music industry. In this blog, they have delved into the world of Smart Links. This may be something you are already familiar with, or you may never have heard of them; either way, this blog will tell you what they are, why you need them and how you can use them to drive more sales of your music.

What Are Smart Links For Music And Why Should I Use Them?

The internet has made the world a very small place. Even if you are making beats in your bedroom or recording from your mates shed, your fans can be anywhere in the world.

Smart links will help you make sure that when they find your music, they are taken to the right music download or streaming site and can shop in the right language and currency. A smart link can offer your fans a choice of store or you can automatically direct them based on their location or device (e.g you may wish to send iPhone users directly to iTunes.)

It’s not just about making sure the shopping experience is good for your customers, it’s also an opportunity to track and monitor your fans. You can find out which stores they like best, find out where in the world your fans are and keep track of your marketing. The advanced analytics that smart links offer let you see exactly how your fans are discovering your music. If you have ever wanted to know if your Facebook campaign is working or if you should stick to Twitter, this will help you find out.

How Smart Links Can Save You Time

Smart Links save a huge amount of time. To get started you simply enter one link to your music in one store. The smart link provider will scan other stores for the same release and you then decide which stores to show on your landing page. When promoting your music you simply share one link instead of having to enter details for Spotify, YouTube, iTunes, Beatport etc.

What Do Smart Links Look Like?

Help For Bands is aware of the ins and outs of Smart Links because Horus Music use them for their marketing campaigns. These are created for the artist to post and makes it easier for fans to access the artist’s music.

They also make it easier for publications to talk about the artist and their music. By having a smart link ready to go, a publication will find it easier to integrate into anything they write. Overall, it makes it much easier for anyone to listen to an artist’s music on their preferred platform. The easier the process is, the more likely someone is to listen to the music on offer.

Below, you can see an image that shows how the smart links work in the Soundplate Records website:

Smart Links

 

Want To Create Your Own Smart Links?

There are several providers that can help you create smart links for your music. These include SmartURL, LinkRedirector, LinkFire and Hive amongst others. The best part is, they are free to use! If you want to make it easier for fans to listen to your music, Smart Links are the way forwards!

You can see the original blog post by Music Fibre here: http://musicfibre.com/smart-links-music-101/

Royalties Vs. Joint Venture

Every artist knows what royalties are by now. But there are so many different ways to get paid for your music. The term that gets lost in the list is Joint Venture. Not many people use this anymore.  But when you’re having a lot of success and a big income, this might be it.

What is a joint venture?

This is just the same as an label deal, except the artist doesn’t get paid any royalties for his contribution. Now, before you panic and try to click away, this doesn’t mean the artist doesn’t get anything. So, hold your horses and read a little further.

This deals is meant for a band or artist with a lot of income in their music. This way, all the costs and expenses (like marketing and distribution) get taken from the income and the income will be split 50/50. This is how it works in most cases, but it depends on whether or not the label is in a good mood when signing the deal.

Royalties Vs. Joint Venture

So, is more more advantageous than the other? There is no definitive way of knowing. Our advice is that if you have a lot of success, you can get a joint venture (meaning you’d be the next Taylor Swift). This way, you can earn more of your money back. But you can lose a lot with it too if you’re not ready for this deal in your professional career.

With an ‘ok’ success and a decent income, we advise you choose royalty payments. In a joint venture you get charged more costs than under a royalty agreement. This can both be good an bad.

Royalties get paid ‘per unit’, this gets lost to joint venture and its easy to see that you can get more out of an joint venture. Of course, after all the expenses are deducted from the profit.

Advice for Lyricists: Part Three – Getting People to Listen

So, you’ve understood the writing process and have even started writing your lyrics. Now you need to get people to listen to you, find out more in part 3 of our advice for lyricists series.

As hard as it can be, learning to accept criticism can be the most helpful thing you do. It is the first step in getting people to listen to your music. Although family and friends may want to spare your feelings, they are a good place to start, especially if one of them is particularly musical, creative or you just trust their honest opinion. It might not always be easy, but criticism isn’t always negative or personal and it’s a very simple way to learn and grow as an artist. Nobody says you have to take all (or any!) of their advice on board but putting fresh eyes on your work can give you new perspectives and will give you things to consider.

What Am I Writing For?

Before you can decide where to share your music and/or lyrics it might be important to work out who and what you are writing for. Are you writing for yourself or to sell to others? Are you wanting to make a career out of lyric writing or is it a hobby? What genre/s are you writing for?

Some genres of music lend themselves more to performance, some to public environments and some to individual listening. You should consider these when you begin to think about sharing or selling your lyrics, compositions or music.

Finding People to Work With

If you are looking for people to work with, whether it’s co-writers, performers, or producers, there are many places to look.

If you’re at university, even if you aren’t studying a music related subject, you’re in luck; universities are breeding grounds for creative types. Once you get talking to people it’s likely you’ll find someone that play instruments, are writers themselves, or are studying music in some shape or form.

The same goes for the workplace, although it maybe less likely to find these creative types if you don’t already work in the creative industries, it’s still worth having the conversation! You never know what people do in their spare time, or if not them personally, they may know people who could help you.

Social media is perhaps one of the easiest ways to get your name out there. You could make posts on your own social media pages promoting yourself or asking around for other musicians. Of course there are also websites that specifically cater to ‘musicians finding musicians’ that will be specific to your local area.

It may be useful to look out for music industry networking events. They are a chance to meet with other like minded people and other musicians, you never know where it could lead.

The main take-away from this should be to talk. Keep people in the loop about what you’re working on, what you’re looking for, get your name out there so people know to think about you.

Recording a Demo

It’s easier than ever to record your own demo without spending a ton of money. Firstly, you need to choose where you a going to record. Are you going to book a studio or are you recording at home? If you are recording at home, you may need to consider what equipment you will need and what the acoustics are going to be like.

The next thing to think about is how are you going to be recording and/or producing your track. You can choose to record a live demo; with all instruments and vocals being recorded in one take. Or you can choose multi-track recording, with each instrument being recorded independently. Again, this may depend on what exactly you are producing. You could also use MIDI instruments rather than live instruments and then record a vocals over the top.

After recording, your track needs to be mixed. You may want to get someone to help you with this if you aren’t used to mixing but as it’s a demo a rough mix is fine, so don’t feel like you have to spend a lot of money on it. You can then master your track. Nobody expects a demo to be perfect, it just needs to showcase your potential.

Soundcloud, YouTube etc.

When you have your finished demo, its time to share it, which is very easy to do. There are so many platforms online now where you can share music for free – SoundCloud and YouTube as well as social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and even LinkedIn.

The main thing to consider when sharing your work in this way is intellectual property protection. Once your content is online pretty much anyone can access it so be sure to cover yourself. This is where copyright comes in.

Copyright

Copyright allows, by law, an original work to be considered a property that is owned by somebody. Copyright happens automatically once the ‘product’ is created so it is not necessary to register (except in the U.S where there is a registration process). Intellectual property protection comes in many forms (copyrights, patents, trademarks etc.) which must be made tangible in order to be protected. It is important to have proof of ownership. One way to do this is to post a copy of your recording, composition or lyrics etc. to yourself, keep the envelope sealed.

As a copyright owner you hold the right to copy, distribute, rent, lend, perform, show, communicate/broadcast and adapt your work.

Selling Your Lyrics

Music publishers are responsible for ensuring that songwriters and composers are paid for commercial use of their compositions. As a songwriter or composer, you can assign your copyright to a publisher, who will then license, safeguard and monitor the composition, and collect royalties and distribute them back to the songwriter/composer. Publishers also deal with synchronisation, so that the composition may be used for television and film.

If you are interested in music publishing see our sister company Anara Publishing.

Advice for Lyricists: Part Two – Once You’ve Started Writing

So, you’ve found the inspiration and you’re ready to write (see part one). Great! Now what? There are a lot of factors that go into writing a song, many of which are down to personal style and preference but your choices and decisions during the writing process all affect the end product so it’s worth knowing some of the basics!

Avoiding Clichés (Or How to Make Them Work for You)

Songs are interpreted in many ways and if you want to make your meaning clear you may fall into the trap of clichés. In fact, this may have the opposite effect, by using clichés you run the risk of your song losing not only it’s effectiveness, but its meaning too. A way of avoiding these clichés is to flip them completely on their head by changing an aspect of the line so it has a completely different meaning. For example, take an idiom such as ‘water under the bridge’ find the opposite of water, perhaps fire, so that it becomes ‘fire under the bridge’, which switches the meaning and then brings up connotations of a bad break up, a fight etc.

Another example would be taking ‘wearing your heart on your sleeve’ and altering it be something such as ‘wearing your heart under your coat’, for example, which has completely the opposite meaning. This way you give a nod to the original cliché so your meaning is clear but also can create double meanings and avoid the lyrics sounding too contrived.

Clichés can also be used ironically, this depends on the phrasing of the line and the surrounding lyrics. This can create a kind of self-aware humour within your lyrics.

This idea of clichés doesn’t just apply to the lyrics but also to the phrasing and structure. Don’t feel pressured to conform to standards of song and rhyme structure and don’t force rhymes just because you think it should! It will sound forced if it is and this will ruin the flow of the song.

Structure

Below we will be listing the typical definitions of song elements but this does not mean that you cannot use them differently.

  • Introduction – The section at the beginning of a song generally before the lyrics start.
  • Verse – Usually recognisable due its melodic repetition although the lyrics usually differ. Typically uses rhyme in an AABB or ABAB format. This is where you can be more wordy and detailed, verses can tell a story.
  • Pre-Chorus – A transitional section between verse and chorus which can create a build up to the chorus.
  • Chorus / Refrain – A repeating section heard throughout the song that contains the hook and the main idea / theme of the song. This is where you want to keep the lyrics more simple. A refrain may also refer to a shorter repeated passage (such as ‘yeah, yeah, yeah’ in basically every pop song ever).
  • Bridge – A contrasting and transitional section of the song which breaks up the repetitive pattern of a song.
  • Middle Eight – Named so because it is typically eight bars long, a type of bridge that has different characteristics to the rest of the song.
  • Outro / Coda – A way of ending the song, how the song winds down or fades out etc.
  • Interlude – Defined usually as a break or a gap, in music an interlude can be part of a song or a whole song that is part of an album (‘Interlude’ on My Chemical Romance’s album ‘Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge’).
  • Instrumental Break / Solo – Pretty self explanatory; similar to an interlude but may be longer and more involved. Can be a showcase of a certain instrument and can tell a story. As with an interlude, it can be part of a track or a whole track itself.

We find it best not to force it. Let the words come first and then arrange it because, let’s be honest, that’s the fun part. Also don’t be afraid to stray from the norm, let it happen naturally.

Making it Scan

Making words ‘scan’ in a song is making them fit well in the melody. There should not be any awkward jumps, gaps or change in tempo due to the amount of words in a line. This can be the most difficult part of writing a song. It doesn’t matter how great the line is on paper if you cram a load of words in and it doesn’t scan it will not sound good.

If you can’t bare to part with your words, you may be able to change the melody to fit. Sometimes it is best to compromise; changes that you make don’t just affect that one line but also the surrounding lines.

Repetition

Sometimes known as an ‘earworm’, a catchy song is usually created through the use of repetition. There have even been studies on it which should tell you how effective it is! Quite simply, the repeated exposure to a line or melodic phrase will make it more likely to stick in someone’s head.

This kind of repetition is usually the hook which is usually found within the chorus. There is no hard and fast rule and nothing is stopping you from having multiple repetitions or hooks within the song if you wanted.

You could run into issues, however, if the song is overly repetitive. Eventually, if something is repeated too often people will just stop listening. So finding that middle ground is important.

Finding the Hook

The effectiveness of the hook will be shown in how recognisable your track is. There are a lot of factors to aid the recognisability of your song, but a main one is the hook.

In order to create a hook here are some things to consider: Keep it simple. Make it rhyme. Make it repeat. Try to sum up the song in one line and use that to create your hook.

How Genre and Style Affect Your Writing

If you want to write a punchy, memorable, upbeat song then you probably want to keep the lines short and the words simple. Whereas, if you’re writing a ballad, you can afford to be wordier. It is slow and lingering and therefore you can use longer lines and words with more syllables.

Genre is also important, punk for example, is very reliant on it’s topic, usually the theming is quite political. Again, you don’t necessarily have to stick to these ideas completely but it helps if you are aiming for a certain feel.

Your Motivation

Your style may also be affected by your motivation for writing. If you are a primarily a writer and you are wanting to make a career out of writing for other artists, then this doesn’t mean that you can’t write from personal experience but that it may be useful to practise writing to a brief. This also gives you the opportunity write for a variety of different genres and styles.

If you are primarily a musician and a performer and are writing for your own use, then it may be useful be more aware of the style and feel that you are creating for yourself through your song writing. If you have a vision you can completely mould this creation from lyrics, music and sound.

Advice for Lyricists: Part One – The Writing Process

Whether it’s writing your first ever song or simply finding inspiration to write the next, a lot of people would agree that it’s the starting that is most difficult. Thankfully, there are many places lyricists can find inspiration and many ways to use it. It’s all about finding your inspiration and making a start.

Literary Techniques

Exposing yourself to language in all of it’s forms whether it’s other lyrics, poetry or novels is important; it’s helpful and rewarding as a writer to expand your vocabulary and your skills. Learning new words or literary techniques can also help to inspire you to write something new.

Certain literary devices can be important for lyricists to know and utilise in their writing. They can affect how your lyrics scan and how the song flows.

For example:

  • Assonance:

Assonance takes place when two or more words close to each other have the same vowel sound e.g. “I must confess that in my quest I felt depressed and restless.” – Thin Lizzy

  • Internal rhyme:

As apposed to ‘end rhymes’, where the last word of a line rhymes with the last word of another line. Internal rhyme is when a word in the middle of the line rhymes with one at the end of a line. Half or slant rhymes are when the words almost rhyme but it is not a perfect rhyme. This often works well within songs because it means you are avoiding contrived and forced rhymes. It is worth making yourself familiar with the different types of rhymes and rhyme schemes considering songs can rely on them so heavily.

Lyricists can use some of the same devices that poets do. Therefore, even though the writing process is different, reading poetry can be useful in learning these techniques.

Wordplay and double meanings are other types of literary techniques that can add another layer to your lyrics. For example, Panic! at the Disco’s ‘Nicotine’ includes the line “Your love’s a f**king drag”, which is a double meaning due to the title (and theming) of the song. Creating these hidden meanings within metaphorical language can assist you to create a theme and a feeling for a song.

Themes

If you’re struggling to come up with ideas or lines for a song it may be useful to first think of a theme. It helps if this theme isn’t too vague (as ‘love’ is a very broad topic and probably wouldn’t get you very far). That said, it doesn’t need to be anything too fixed or literal, the theme can be an image, a word or just a sentence that sums up the meaning of the song.

Again, thinking about the feel of a song can be helpful too. For example, you may want your song to conjure up images of a nightclub (this is where connotation comes in!) You could create a spider diagram (even if it’s a mental one) of relevant words and this may eventually turn into full lines. At this point the lines you come up with don’t need to be particularly poetic; just note down what you want to say in plain language and you can make it sound better later!

You can base metaphorical language around this theme (as mentioned earlier with the Panic! at the Disco song). Or you can just use these ideas as reference so that you don’t stray too far from your original meaning when writing. Having a strong theme can help the audience empathise and can make an overall more powerful song.

If you are a visual person you may want to create a mood board instead of, or alongside, your theme. Visuals and aesthetics can help to stimulate and inspire you to come up with new ideas for the feel or content of your song.

Becoming Analytical

We often do this by accident but as well as simply listening to or reading other work it can help to start analysing this work. You may find this comes quite naturally or you may need to work at it. however as somebody who is interested in writing themselves you will probably find it quite easy to analyse other people’s work.

This will also help you develop your own sense of style within your lyrics. Try to work out why you do or don’t like certain lyrics.

This can also be applied to the music, down to specific techniques used or just the feel of the song. Try to work out how they’ve created this.

Just Press Record

If you aren’t sure where to start or you’re stuck in a rut don’t underestimate your subconscious! It’s amazing what you can come up with on the fly so just press record and start singing.

It may feel uncomfortable for a start and sure, some of it won’t make sense but you may come up with a line totally by accident that you end up using. It’s amazing what you can come up with on the fly!

Setting Goals

Another helpful method is to set yourself ‘songwriting tasks’ – come up with a topic for each week or month and write about that. It doesn’t need to be perfect, it’s just a way of getting you writing if you perhaps haven’t for a while or have never seriously started.

You could get somebody else to come up with these themes or topics if you need more incentive. This is also a good way of writing about something different and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.

Similarly, there is a method called the Seinfeld Strategy, in which the idea is basically to write everyday. You can make yourself a small goal to reach everyday (e.g. write for 15 minutes a day) and every time you do it cross it off. The point isn’t to reach a certain achievement but simply not to break the chain, this builds habit.

A lot of people may think that planning a song is blasphemy; that it destroys the art of it, that things should just happen. But let’s be real, writing is writing and sometimes it doesn’t ‘just happen’ as much as you would like it to. A novelist wouldn’t write a book without planning, why should lyricists be any different? Of course some of it will come to you when you’re in the shower or in bed (it’s never at a good time is it?) but some parts may need to be planned, and that’s okay! This plan can be based around your mood board and/or your theme. It doesn’t have to be solid and you can stray from it and change it as much as you want.

You Gotta Start Somewhere

Finally, the big take away is to just get writing. Try not to let perfectionism or judgement get in the way. You don’t have to write a masterpiece every time you sit down. Practise makes perfect, even if that practise doesn’t amount to a full song each time. If you’re passionate about it keep going! You’ve got to start somewhere. Most, if not all, artists do not start out being brilliant lyricists.

Part 2 covers what you should do once you’ve started writing.

Get your Own Merchandise

Merchandise usually comes as an afterthought to people embarking on the journey of their music careers, but it’s a major revenue stream for many musicians and labels. Merchandise isn’t just a means to make money. It’s how your fans connect with you as an artist and as a brand, show their support and capture memories. Having merchandise allows people to express who they show they are part of your journey

Setting up your own line of merchandise doesn’t have to be complicated and you don’t have to do it alone. You just need the right partners to help you deliver on this aspect of your music business. Before you start, you need to know the five steps to building your line. We’ll walk you through these below.

1. Get your Merchandise Designs Made

Kanye West managed to sell plain white Egyptian cotton T-shirts at $120 a piece, but most artist merchandise needs a little bit of decoration to entice people to buy.

You need to create artwork that captures your values, the emotions you create, your beliefs; your brand, and it needs to connect with your fans on an emotional level. Not to mention your artwork has to be visually appealing and your fans have to be proud to wear it.

Think about what you want done before approaching an artist or designer to create your artwork. The more you can tell your designer about yourself, the better equipped they will be to create merchandise that you will be proud to sell and that your fans will actually want to buy.

2. Decide Which Products you Want to Sell

Once your artwork is complete and you’re satisfied, the next step is to choose which products to sell. Bare in mind, not all products are made the same. There are standard T-shirts and there are premium T-shirts for example.

Every category of products from T-shirts, sweaters and hoodies right through to varsity jackets, backpacks and beanie hats will have various manufacturers and product ranges within them and it’s your job to decide which ones you want to use. Consider the following when deciding:

  • Quality of T-shirt; Standard or premium?
  • Is the garment easy to re-label?
  • How much does it cost?
  • Does it fit nicely? Will your fans want to wear it?
  • What does the fabric feel like and what is it made of?

These decisions will affect production costs which will impact your retail price. Don’t get me wrong, Beyoncé can sell her merchandise on a cheap Gildan Softstyle T-shirt for £35.00, but she’s Beyoncé. We have to be practical here and choose a product that looks and feels the way you need it to in order for you to feel comfortable selling it at the price you’re asking for.

3. Get your Samples or Mockups Made

Now your designs are made and your products are selected you need to be able to show people what the product will look like. There are two ways you can do this.

Get Mockups Made

This is a more cost effective way of showing people how your products will look. You can put the mockups on your website and use them to promote on social media. We can also provide you with images to produce your own mockups on. Just ask for access to our Google drive.

Get Physical Samples Made

Having a physical item that you can take photos of and promote on your social media channels and at your gigs may be a little more costly, but it’s certainly much more effective at getting people to trust and buy your products. Now they can feel the garments before making a purchase. People won’t buy a product from you if they can’t see it – unless maybe you’re Beyoncé.

4. Set Up your Sales Channels

Once you’ve created your products, you need a way for your customers to buy them.

A sales channel is simply a way of bringing products or services to market to make them available for purchase.

E-Commerce Website

Selling online is essential if you want to reach more customers than you could offline. Get an e-commerce website built so that your customers can buy your products online. Research on the range of e-commerce platforms available and choose the right one for you. See suggestions:

  • Squarespace
  • Shopify
  • Prestashop
  • Etsy
  • Big Commerce
  • Woo Commerce
  • Wix
  • BigCartel

Selling Merchandise at Gigs

If you have a gig and you have a chance to take some of your merchandise with you, then do it. This is a chance for you to connect with your customers, talk to them, sign copies of your EP, take photos with them and make it a memorable experience.

If you can’t get a table, then wear your own merchandise. Bring a duffle bag or two and sell your merchandise to people straight out of the bag. After you’ve delivered your performance, people will want to become a part of your brand and your story. Don’t deprive them of this. Not everyone will have cash, so be prepared and get a portable card reader. We recommend the iZettle.

5. Production & Fulfilment

You will need a means by which to produce and distribute your products so that your customers will receive them. There are a few ways to approach this depending on your circumstance.

Print-on-Demand

You can sell your products online without having to get them made in bulk and keep inventory and still earn a profit on your sales. You sell the product first and then we print and ship it to your customer on your behalf with you lifting a finger. It’s a good way to get started on a low budget and test out which of your products are most popular. Learn more about print on demand here.

Bulk Ordering

Ordering in bulk is higher risk due to more cash being spent upfront, but will give you a higher profit margin. If you have a growing fan base and you’re selling regularly, this may be the route for you. Paying £5.00 per T-Shirt and selling them at £20.00 will give you pretty good margins with a relatively low breakeven point. It’s a good idea to learn about the different printing methods as well, which you can do here.

You can choose to keep your products yourself and ship them to your customers manually, but may consider outsourcing to a fulfilment centre when your operation grows.

So now you have everything ready, why not get started?

It can take a while to get everything prepared to start selling your merchandise, but once you’ve reached that stage then you’ve crossed a real milestone. Having the right guidance during the process is essential, and that’s why we’re here to help and offer our expertise.

We believe you should be able to earn a living from your craft and want to help you do that, so get in touch and let us know what we can do for you.

Get in touch with us at info@wearyourheartout.co.uk or give us a call on 0116 350 0321.

Happy merching!


Written by Kieza Silveira De Sousa from Wear Your Heart Out

Inside a Record Company

The UK plays host to hundreds of record labels including the three major record companies and a thriving community of hundreds of independent labels and music companies (also see the role of a record label in a previous blog).

The three major record companies are Universal MusicSony Music and Warner Music.  And each of these organisations are home to smaller labels. These often group together musicians of a specific genre which can be served by the label’s expertise.

Regardless of the size of the record company, there are various roles that need to be fulfilled in order to discover talent, make a record, market and distribute a single or an album, and finally deliver that content to music fans. Behind the end product is a whole range of people who work with an artist to ensure that their creative vision is brought to life.

How Can a Record Company Help

Whilst a Chief Executive will be the person in charge of the entire company – and a President may be appointed to look after the affairs of a specific label – the success of an artist will need the support of those within the sales, publicity, promotions, marketing, legal, business affairs, and A&R departments. And, of course, every company requires financial and IT experts and secretarial staff.

Record companies provide the money for the recording and manufacturing processes. They also find producers for artists to work with and pay to promote the record once it is finished. Because they pay for everything, artists may find themselves with less control and also receive less royalties as a result. The company needs to recoup their costs first before passing on any additional royalties.

Whether an artist used a record company or remains independent depends on their situation and what they’re hoping to achieve. An artist should weigh up all of their available options before deciding to sign with a record company. It is important to sign with the right label, not the first one that comes along.