Build Your Music Brand: 7 Ways an Online Merch Store Helps
Building your music brand is a challenge for any artist. It can be tough staying on top of writing, recording, and planning tours. Add building a brand to the mix and it becomes completely overwhelming.
However, building your brand is important, especially for artists who are still working to make a name for themselves. Without effectively building your brand first, it is much more difficult to take your music to the next level.
Establishing an online merch store can help your band’s brand in many ways. It will help you:
- Expand your social media presence.
- Raise additional funds for your band.
- Get fans more involved.
- Develop your band’s visual brand.
- Promote your next gig.
- Maintain consistency in sales.
- Focus on your local musical presence.
Let’s dive a little deeper to see how opening an online merchandise store can accomplish so much for your music career.
1. Expand your social media presence.
One of the top locations to establish your digital brand is on your social media pages. This is incredibly common for all sorts of artists! Bands and individual artists understand that social media is an essential tool for 21st-century marketing.
However, in order for social media to be successful, you need to vary the type of content you’re sharing. Make sure to post a mix of:
- New music content. From Instagram to Facebook to Youtube, posting clips of your latest song release on social platforms can encourage your followers (and potential followers) to view your newest content on these streaming platforms.
- Album covers. Promote your latest album by showing off the artwork you’ve used for the album cover on social media. This is especially important for pre-release to encourage supporters to watch for your latest music.
- Group photos. If you’re a part of a band, make sure you’re taking photos together and sharing about your friendship with one another. Single artists should also post photos of themselves in order to show the different aspects of their personality.
- Merchandise. Show your followers your latest t-shirt, baseball cap, poster, sticker, button, or album available for purchase. Then, link these followers to your online store where they can purchase such items for themselves.
Creating multiple types of content to vary your posts will keep your followers engaged with you on social media for the long-term.
So how do merchandise stores factor into this social media presence?
Talking about your merchandise for sale can be great social media content for your community. Link to your merchandise store on your social media platforms so that people know where to find your products. When fresh merch launches, encourage your community to share photos of themselves wearing their new gear.
Make sure to tell supporters to use a particular hashtag in their posts and to tag your official music page as well. As more and more people show off their purchases, this creates free marketing for your music brand.
2. Raise additional funds for your band.
One of the reasons you started selling merchandise (or are considering selling merchandise) at concerts and other live events is to raise money for your band. Online merchandise sales can help you increase sales in order to raise additional funds.
Imagine: After your concert, there’s a rush of people who come to buy your merchandise. You’ve just designed a new sweatshirt that’s getting a lot more attention than anticipated, and you run out of that sweatshirt in a size medium! In this type of situation, not only do you lose out on profit, but your fans also walk away disappointed.
However, with an online store you’re more prepared for unfortunate situations like this. You can simply hand out a business card directing your customers to the online store (maybe even offer a free shipping code to incentivize them further!) so that they can order the item that ran out at the concert. You can also have a QR code on your merch table that links directly to your online merch store. This allows your fans to purchase their shirts and vinyls from their phones, without the hassle of carrying around their new goods all night long.
Online stores help you regain those sales that might’ve been lost at the event for one reason or another.
Not everyone will want to purchase something at the concert itself either. Many people might decide not to buy something, but find themselves regretting it later. This is the perfect opportunity to remind them it’s not too late and encourage them to buy something from the online store instead!
3. Get fans more involved.
Online merchandise stores open up additional opportunities for your fans to get involved with your band. It provides another way for them to fall in love with your music and with your brand.
In order to use your e-commerce site to engage fans, you might try strategies such as:
- T-shirt design contest. Host a contest among your fans to see who can design the best merch for your band. Then, choose the best option to feature for your newest merchandise item. Contests get people involved with more than just purchases by engaging them in the creation process. Plus, you’ll get an incredible design that you’d never have created on your own!
- A live social media feed. If you’ve asked your supporters to post photos or videos in your merchandise using a particular hashtag, you can show off the increase in social media attention by posting a live feed on the merchandise site.
- Discounts or promotions. Encourage people to visit your merchandise site by providing discounts or promotions on items in return for something small. For instance, if someone signs up for your newsletter, you might give them 10% off their purchase. Or if they buy a concert ticket, you might provide a 25% discount during the week following the show.
- Giveaways. Offering merchandise giveaways encourages people to visit the site and make a purchase. For instance, you might advertise an album and t-shirt giveaway on your social media sites, then direct them to the merchandise site to sign up to win.
With all of these activities, the goal is to get your fans more deeply invested in your brand and your online activity. For instance, when you post a live social media feed on your site, you encourage more followers to engage with your content; or when you give away merchandise, you can collect emails for future marketing initiatives.
The more deeply invested your fans are, the more they’ll listen to your music and help your following grow.
4. Develop your band’s visual brand.
Every band, group, and artist has a visual brand. They have a certain “look” that they want to achieve in order to attract the right audience. This is a great goal and a smart way to think about marketing!
But how do you develop this “look” as an artist?
A lot of times, your visual appeal begins with the clothing you wear. If you want to give off a darker vibe, you might decide to dress in darker clothing. Meanwhile, if you want to give off a warm, happy vibe, you might decide to wear warmer colors and approachable textures.
What you wear as an artist is important, but you should also focus on what you sell in your online store. These items should match your overall brand as an artist.
Designing merchandise can be fun! It’s important to remember the different elements of the design. For example:
- Think about the apparel styles you want to offer. Will you sell t-shirts? Sweatshirts? Tank tops? Baseball caps? Beanies? Think about your audience and the different types of merch they may prefer wearing.
- Consider the colors your brand represents. Again, what vibe do you typically put out there? Do you perform for children? Teenagers? Make sure to use the same types of colors and pallets in your designs for brand consistency.
- Use your existing items as a stylistic springboard. If you’ve created items that have sold well at concerts in the past, make sure to add them to your online store. Then, consider what made them sell so well. Use those elements when creating new merchandise for the next best seller!
Your visual brand starts with you. It continues with your fans and what they want to see, and then develops as you learn what types of merchandise and imagery your fans associate with you as an artist.
Your online merchandise is a big part of your band’s visual brand. Make sure you’re accurately representing your brand and working to develop it visually every step of the way.
5. Promote your next gig
As fans sport your merchandise, they’re not only bringing attention to your merchandise store, but also to your tours, music, and other parts of your brand.
When you encourage fans to wear the newest items that promote your upcoming tour, concert, or album, they turn into walking billboards for your next gig!
Your fans bring additional exposure to your music when they wear your merchandise. Creating an online store provides the opportunity for them to attain and sport such merchandise.
6. Have more consistency in sales
You likely sell the most merchandise at your live shows. After you’ve provided an incredible experience for your supporters, they want to commemorate it with attractive merchandise. While an online store probably won’t change this sales strategy, it makes it possible to sell more items between concerts, creating more consistency in sales throughout the year.
Without an online store, you’ll receive no sales between concerts; but when you sell online, you’ll open the opportunity to sell merch all year long. These sales add up over time to create more revenue for your band.
Online stores, paired with effective marketing, will help you receive revenue both during concert season and in the in between. Plus, it allows for fans to buy merch in situations such as:
- If they’re unable to make it to the show
- If they don’t live near where you perform
- If they don’t have the money to spend at the show, but have some at home
- If they don’t want to carry around their new merch during or after the show
- If they don’t want to stand in line for your merch at the show
Music artist, Marc Rebillet, is a great example of someone who does a fantastic job of generating buzz and awareness around his merch and online store. Between the Reddit threads dedicated to his product launches and his colorful YouTube announcement videos, it’s no surprise that Marc has found a ton of success in growing his brand by selling merch.
7. Focus on your local presence.
Even if your goal is to become a world-renowned artist, it’s important to start small and build your way up. Developing a local presence and building your brand from there is a great way to get the word out about your music.
Your online store will help you make that transition from a localized audience to a broader one. However, in the beginning, you may want to focus heavily on attracting the local audience you already have to your online merchandise store. For example, you might consider:
- Creating city-specific merchandise. People love their hometowns. They’ll be proud to sport merchandise that supports a local artist and the local community. For example, you might include the city skyline of your town in your merch design.
- Consider investing in local SEO. Search engine optimization will help locals in your city to find your online store through their search engine. Helping your merchandise store be found locally will drive more people there nationwide in the long-run too.
Don’t underestimate the importance of your band’s local presence. Your local community creates a strong fan base that you can build up from.
Your brand is important for you to spread your music to a wider audience. Your online merch store is a great source for sales, promotion, and establishing your brand. Remember to leverage this as much as possible and you’ll be on your way to great things!