Check Out How Technology Is Changing The Way You Buy Merch
Wouldn't it be nice if you could buy shirts and other merch as you sell them to your fans? A fan buys a shirt from you, you replace your stock one shirt at a time, or order the shirt and have it sent directly to the fan from the printer. Bing, bang, boom. No set up costs. No major overhead. Yep. That would be nice. And, of course, you still want to make a little coin (profit) when buying and selling a single shirt.
So the question at hand is this: How does the independent artist/band bring home significant bacon from their fan base? Assuming you have an ever-expanding fan base (which is another article altogether), there are approaches to your small business that will help increase your profits.
Holy sell-out, Batman!
Did I just call you a small business proprietor? Yes. Yes, I did. But before you gag on such words as "business" and "profits" let me reassure you. Any band or artist who hopes to survive and keep making music is, in fact, in the music business.
The thing is, too many artists miss a serious money making opportunity in their merchandise department. Not so much at the merch table, but in how you buy your printed merch. It goes way back to the screen-printing approach. **Now, screen-printing has been a great solution for a long time, lest you think I'm hating. But technology has advanced, and it has advanced in your favor. Celebrate! And keep reading…**
In the past when you ordered T-shirts or hoodies the only viable option was screen-printing. A screen for every color in your design was created and custom ink mixed to print your specific colors. To make it worth everybody's time and money, it behooved you, the client, to purchase screen-printed shirts in bulk.
But, buying 100 shirts before you know you have 100 buyers can be a major waste of your money. It even gets more complicated. For one, once you run out of a certain size, tough stuff. You cannot purchase a few shirts to replace those hot selling sizes without paying a huge set-up charge (unless you buy another bulk order of 100 pcs). And, if the original bulk order includes a bunch of sizes that don't sell? Well, you eat those shirts. Arghh!!
Enter Direct to Garment Printing!
DTG printing allows you to order as few as one shirt at a time from your new, technologically enlightened printer. One shirt.
So if fan A wants a medium shirt, you order a medium and sell her that medium. Bam! What's that? Fan B wants your band design on a green tank top? Well order up one green tank top in their size and sell that bad boy. Because there's no screen, no ink mixing, and no set up charge, the cost for one or ten shirts is totally reasonable. You can sell your tees for $20-$25 and still take home $12 to $16, depending on the style and brand of shirt you want. And, what took weeks to screen print only takes a few days with DTG.
What about the quality? Good question. Commercial DTG technology has actually come a long way. If your shirt is printed on commercial equipment (like Kornit), it will last longer than screen-printing. And you don't have to dumb down your design to one or two colors.
How do I get this gig?
So, where can you find this fantastic-ness? Well, the market is growing, but 1Place Music Distribution (1Placemusicdistribution.com) offers this service specifically to independent artists and bands. They'll also distribute your physical CD and digital content. Win-win-win!
You might also have a look at Nationwide Disc (nationwidedisc.com). They offer free custom printed T-shirts with a minimum purchase. The shirts can be light or dark with full color printing. All you do is pay shipping.
DTG printing allows you to get a full-color design, all with great detail and color quality – even on various kinds of materials. To date, there are really no downsides, though I'll keep you updated as more info comes out.