So once you've made your fliers and promoted your show you should have more than your good looks and music to sell to your fans, friends, strangers.
All bands struggle with cash at the beginning (or for years). We play some shows for free, we pay some shows were we have to sell forty $12 tickets to our friends to then hand over that $480 to a promoter who doesn't even give us a drink tab (we'll visit that robbery in a future post), and without something to sell we won't make any money at all to at least cover our gas.
All ages shows are always the best shows to sell merch. We played a couple all ages venues in Northern California where we would sell out of merch almost every show. One time we sold over $280 worth of merch that we paid $70 for.
We were the only band who had merch at that show and watched the other bands kick themselves in the ass for not being better prepared.
We play with so many bands who don't even have stickers to give out.
Without these marketing tools how to you expect to be remembered?
Sure your music should be good enough people will like it but if you're playing a show with 5 other bands who are all good, you should have stickers, t-shirts, and any other type of merch with your name on it for people to take home.
Tshirts are an investment. You usually pay about $75 for 12 shirts and can turn around and sell them for $10 each, making $120. With that you can buy MORE shirts or put that into recording costs.
Stickers are an expense. You can buy stickers for about $30 for 250. You shouldn't sell stickers. They should be handed out for free.
Unique Merch like thong underwear, lighters, patches, hoodies, tanktops are what make your band stand out. Giving people options is always a better way to make more money.
I know a lot of bands who just don't want to spend the money on getting merch, but these bands are also complaining when they walk away from a show with no money. You gotta spend money to make money!
And just like fliers merch should be looked at as art. You're selling your fans a piece of art representing your band that will hopefully make people say" Wow, thats a sick ass shirt! Where did you get that?"
Utilize your or your friends' creativity.
Resources: Most places have screen printing shops that offer packages for bands or small businesses. Google that shit.
There are also A LOT of online print shops that cater to bands.
Like www.dieselfuelprints.com, www.contagiousgraphics.com, www.curlyandspike.com, www.stickerguy.com.