How To Sell Band Merch In 2024 (Beginner’s Guide)

How To Sell Band Merch

Want to learn how to sell band merch online? We’ve got you covered.

In this post, we’ll be sharing a step-by-step guide that bands and artists can follow to start making and selling custom merchandise online.

And don’t worry, it’s not as hard as you might think. You’ll be using a print-on-demand service, which makes the whole process super easy.

You won’t have to pay for stock, store it or handle shipping.

Why sell band merch?

Every band—no matter how big or small your following—can benefit from selling merch. Here’s why.

  • It pays more than streaming royalties. Unless you’re already global superstars, it can be tough for bands to make a living from music streams alone. You can make more money selling just one band t-shirt than you’d get from a thousand streams of your songs, so it’s a no-brainer.
  • It’s a fantastic promotional tool. The cool thing about selling band merch is that your customers become walking billboards and do your promotional work for you. Think about it: If they’re wearing a t-shirt featuring your band name/artwork, everyone they meet or interact with sees that and has the potential to become a new listener. That’s a ton of free exposure.
  • Fans can support you directly. When you sell merch directly to your fans, there are no record labels, distributors, or streaming services to take a cut of your profits. All the money goes straight into your pocket.
  • Low barrier to entry. As you’ll soon see, selling band merch is pretty easy. You don’t have to produce the merchandise or buy any stock upfront—you just design the graphics/artwork and sign up for a print-on-demand (POD) service, then let your POD provider do all the hard work for you. Don’t worry, we’ll explain exactly how this works shortly.

Designing your band merchandise

There are a few different routes you can go down to create band merch, but we’re going to be using the easy method: print-on-demand.

Print-on-demand is a fulfillment model that lets you sell merchandise without having to hold any stock or worry about shipping.

You just digitally add your designs to products from a print-on-demand suppliers catalog, then start selling those products online. 

Orders are fulfilled on-demand; after a customer buys one of your merch items, the POD supplier prints it and ships it straight to them, then bills you afterward. You only pay for what you sell so there are no upfront costs, and you can set your own margins.

We’ll show you how to get set up with a print-on-demand supplier and start selling merch later. 

But before that, you’ll need to create the designs for your merch. Here’s how to go about that.

Choose what kind of merchandise you want to sell

Start by deciding on the specific merch products you want to sell. 

You have lots of options here, but you can’t go wrong with apparel. 

At a minimum, every band needs a t-shirt. You could also offer other clothing items like sweatshirts, hoodies, tank tops, jackets, shorts… even footwear.

01 merchandise you want to sell - Clothing

If you plan to sell apparel, you’ll also need to think about things like your preferred fabrics, style, and printing method. For example, do you want to sell t-shirts made from 100% cotton, poly blends, or tri-blends? Polo necks or v-necks? Direct-to-garment (DTG) prints or embroidery?

Aside from apparel, another popular band merch category is accessories. I’m talking about things like hats, bandanas, tote bags, phone cases, etc.

02 merchandise you want to sell - Apparel

In particular, guitar picks and stickers are fantastic options as they sell well and are super cheap to produce and ship, so you can get great margins.

And don’t forget about homeware. You could create band posters, calendars, mugs, bottles, tumblers, etc.

03 merchandise you want to sell - Homeware

Check out other band merch for inspiration

Once you know what products you want to sell, do some research to find out what kind of designs other brands in your genre feature on their merch. This should give you some inspiration for your own designs.

For example, you’ve probably seen tees with the Rolling Stones’ iconic Lick Logo hundreds of times—it’s one of the best-selling band t-shirts of all time with tens of thousands of sales.

Likewise, Nirvana, Pink Floyd, and AC/DC have also sold tens, if not hundreds of thousands of band t-shirts over the years.

Ask yourself: What do these kinds of best-selling band merch designs have in common? And how could you apply this to your own merch designs?

Brainstorm some design ideas

Now, start brainstorming some ideas for designs you might want to feature on your merch.

Often, bands will just print their band name or logo—that’s a good option. 

However, you could also use album cover artwork, a photograph of your band while they’re performing, or any sort of artwork that represents your brand’s style and ethos.

It might be a good idea to get your fans involved here too. 

For example, you could put out a request on your socials asking fans to submit artwork to be considered for your band’s official design and offer a free merch bundle to the winner. This is a great way to build hype ahead of your launch and engage with your fans.

Create the graphics for your merch

The next step is going to be actually create the designs you’ll be printing on your merch. You have two options here.

Option one is to hire a professional graphic designer for the job. 

You can find talented graphic artists on freelance sites like Upwork and Fiverr, send them your ideas, and ask them to create some product mockups based on your ideas.

Option two is to create the designs yourself using Adobe Illustrator, Canva, or any other graphic design software. 

This can work, but you probably won’t be able to achieve the kind of professional results you’d get if you worked with a skilled graphic designer.

Note: A lot of print-on-demand providers offer design tools that you can use to create the graphics for your merch. However, they’re pretty limited, so it’s usually a better idea to create the graphics for your designs externally in professional graphic software like Illustrator or Canva and then import them to your POD’s tool to create product mockups later.

Prepare your design files

In a moment, we’ll show how to upload the graphic designs you’ve just created to digitally add them to your print-on-demand merchandise. 

But for now, you’ll need to download them in the right format. 

Different print-on-demand providers have different formatting requirements, but in this post, we’re going to be using Sellfy’s print-on-demand service. 

Sellfy recommends using PNG file formats for designs with transparent backgrounds, and JPEG files in all other cases.

Saving your designs in a higher resolution will lead to a higher DPI (dots-per-inch). Sellfy recommends 150 DPI and ideally 300 DPI for the best quality prints.

There are a few other best practices aside from the above depending on the nature of your designs and products. 

For example, if you plan on printing your designs on black apparel, then Sellfy recommends leaving black areas of your design transparent so that the color of the fabric underneath shows through. See this page for a full list of Sellfy’s formatting tips.

How to sell band merch on your website

Now you have the graphic designs ready to add to your merchandise, the next step is to create your band merch store with Sellfy.

05 How to sell band merch on your website - Sellfy

Sellfy is one of the only ecommerce platforms I know of that comes with built-in print-on-demand fulfillment. And it’s great for beginners.

So once you sign up, you’ll have all the tools you need to create your online store website and create/sell custom merch in one place.

To get started, choose a subscription plan. Then, log into your Sellfy dashboard, connect a payment processor and custom domain, and choose a site theme in the Store Customizer.

After that, go to Products > Add new product > Print on demand.

06 How to sell band merch on your website - Print on demand

Next, select the merch items you want to sell from Sellfy’s product catalog and open them up in the product editor. 

07 How to sell band merch on your website - Product catalog

You’ll need to upload your custom graphics and edit/position/resize them on the product. You can also choose things like print location (e.g. front print, back print, left/right sleeve), sizing, product colors, fabrics, etc.

Once you’re done, you can preview how the finished product will look. I’d also recommend ordering a sample for each item of merch you make so that you can make sure the quality is up to scratch.

If you’re happy with the merch products you’ve created, the last step is to add them to your store, set the pricing, and start selling. 

Sellfy will fulfill orders on-demand as they come in and bill you afterward. That’s all there is to it!

Note: In addition to print-on-demand merch, you can sell music and other physical and digital products with Sellfy, as well as subscription memberships. There are also a bunch of useful marketing and sales tools you can use to promote your merch and boost conversions.

How to sell band merch through online marketplaces

Aside from your own store, you can also sell band merchandise through online marketplaces like Etsy and Amazon to increase your reach.

08 sell band merch through online marketplaces - Etsy

However, unlike Sellfy, marketplaces don’t usually offer built-in print-on-demand services. So, you’ll need to use an external print-on-demand site that integrates with the marketplace you want to sell on.

Gelato is a good option. It makes it easy to create mock-ups of your merch and get those products onto Etsy, Amazon, and other platforms.

09 sell band merch through online marketplaces - Gelato

To get started, just sign up for Gelato, then log into your dashboard and go to Stores to connect it to all the marketplaces you want to sell on.

10 sell band merch through online marketplaces - Stores

Then, head to the huge Product Catalog to choose what you want to sell. 

11 sell band merch through online marketplaces - Product catalog

You can use the Mockup Studio to create mockups, and the Branded Packaging tool to add your own personalized labels and inserts.

Once you’ve set everything up, you can start selling through Etsy/Amazon/other marketplaces just like you would on your online store, and Gelato will handle fulfillment for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Before we wrap up, here are the answers to a few FAQs about selling band merch.

What if I don’t want to use print-on-demand?

If you don’t want to use a POD service to sell band merch, you have two other options.

The first is private labeling. With private labeling, you contract a manufacturer to create your band merch for you, based on the specifications you provide. 

The advantage of private labeling is that your margins will likely be higher, and you have more control as you’ll be working directly with the manufacturer. However, you’ll need to purchase stock upfront if you go down this route and you’ll probably have to handle fulfillment yourself. 

You might also struggle to find a manufacturer willing to work with you, and there will likely be high minimum order requirements, so it’s only really a good option for famous bands with a large following.

The other option is to do it yourself. You could buy a ton of blank merch (i.e. plain white t-shirts) from a supplier, and then print your designs on them using a Cricut or transfer paper.

The advantage of doing it yourself is that you have complete control, and there’s no middleman. But the downside is that the quality of your prints is likely to be much worse than the professional prints you get with print-on-demand.

How do I sell digital band merch?

You can sell digital band merch like sheet music, lyric ebooks, samples, albums, video documentaries, etc. through your Sellfy store in addition to physical merch. 

Simply add a digital product, then upload the merch as a downloadable file and fill out the pricing and product details.

For more advice on selling digital merch & other products, check out the posts below:

How do I promote my band merch?

There are lots of marketing strategies you can use to promote your band merch. Here are some ideas to help you get started:

  • Promote your merch on social media. Showcase your merch on platforms like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. through engaging social posts, and make sure you have a link to your merch store page in all your social bios. Get all your band members to do the same to maximize reach.
  • Run a social media giveaway. You could try running a giveaway contest on social to drum up some hype ahead of your merch launch. For example, you could ask fans to visit your store, follow you on Spotify/SoundCloud, and share your social post in exchange for a chance to win a free merchandise bundle.
  • Link to your store from your music tracks. Whenever you release new music on streaming platforms like Spotify, SoundCloud, etc. make sure to add a link to your Sellfy store in the description, as well as in your profile bios. This will help funnel listeners to your store where they can buy your merch.
  • Leverage email marketing. Start growing an email list full of your followers/listeners. Then, run an email marketing campaign to promote your merch to them. You could send a series of emails to nurture them and then offer an exclusive 50% off discount to get them to convert.
  • Shout out your merch at live gigs. Whenever you’re performing live, mention that merch is available for sale on your website. You could even generate a QR code that takes those who scan it straight to your Sellfy store and make it visible on stage. 

How much should I charge for band merch?

It’s up to you how much you want to charge for your brand merch. The best way to go about it is to find out how much your print-on-demand supplier is charging, and then add a reasonable markup. This could be as little as 20% or as much as 200%.

I’d suggest taking a look at other bands like yours to see how much they’re charging for merch and try to price your products in a similar ballpark.

How do I sell band merch in person?

If you want to sell band merch in person, you’ll need to hold physical stock. In that case, print-on-demand probably isn’t the best option—you’d be better off working with a private label supplier that you can order from in bulk.

Then, you’ll want to set up a merch stall at all your gigs and make sure it’s staffed before, during, and after your performance. Don’t forget to invite fans to check it out when you’re on stage.

Final thoughts

That concludes our complete beginner’s guide on how to sell band merch.

To recap, the best (and easiest) way to create and sell band merch is to use a print-on-demand fulfillment service. And you’ll keep more of your profits if you sell through your own website, rather than online marketplaces.

We’d recommend building your website with Sellfy as it comes with a built-in print-on-demand feature, so you have everything you need in one place.

While you’re here, you might want to check out these 31 other ways to make money from music.