Music scene fam, this is a not so pleasant article, so this is your trigger warning.
Just like every single one of you, I love local music. I love going out to festivals and coffee house shows to scope out the little guys fighting the good fight, watching them grow, and supporting them the best I can, but one thing I can not support any longer, is a terrible selection of band merch.
Bands, it is 2017. Two thousand and seventeen, in actual relative human time. Artists just like you have been making merchandise for practically sixty years, if not longer, and it is time to put some further thought into what you’re printing your hard earned dollars onto. Here is a concise list of alternative merchandise every artist should consider when trying to promote their sweat and tears:
1) Black band shirts SUCK. Stop it. At the very least, if you are going to make a black shirt, please for the love of whatever you believe in, make it the most eye catching piece of artwork possible. I’m almost talking a shirt as ridiculous as the scene kid shirts people would be wearing between 2009 and 2011 (which some of us still shamelessly wear to date). If you go to any event, anywhere, every artist will have a black shirt with their name and some logo on it. Be creative. Go green or orange. Purple and maroon are super in this year, according to Journey’s and Zumiez. That was not an endorsement, I promise. Just consider other colors, please. Just because your soul is black doesn’t mean your merch need to be. Especially if you’re in a warmer climate, those black t-shirts aren’t going to help you during the over half of the year where it’s miserable outside.
2) Think of things people literally always need. When I’m not being the most lit keyboard warrior or shitposting in real life, one of my many jobs is working at my local Friendly’s, where I’ll occasionally book acoustic shows, and be a debt slave for a few hours a week. I lose pens like CRAZY. Literally every stupid asshole from someone like me, a server, to some professional yuppie, or your grandma’s brother’s dog’s uncle’s cousin, needs to write something down at some point in time. If you “lose” your pens everywhere, word will get out, and you never know what pocket that will end up in. The same with lighters. How many people outside your local shows smoke? Give them out and every time someone lights their cigarette, or loses your lighter, someone will see your logo.
3) I personally just started my newest venture, elixirfarm., on this site called Threadless. They are a merch site along the lines of something like Teefury or Merchnow, where they host your design and do it in a dropshipping style business guideline. You upload what design[s] you have, and can put it on men’s, women’s, or kid’s clothes, as well as on school supplies, towels, blankets, and a ton of other cool stuff. You don’t necessarily have to use this service in particular, however, a blanket with your name on it sounds like it’s going to be a rad cuddle session with your homies in the tour bus, or more likely the van from Craigslist that’s older than you and eats more gas than your first car as a teenager.
4) You better have CD’s. “Oh well you know guys like we’re on YouTube and like wow we’re on Spotify!!! But yeah guys we just ran out of CDs [aka we left them at our drummer, Rusty’s mom’s, house because my girlfriend’s CD burner is broken] so hit us up on Reverbnation!” What the fuck, like come on guys. Practically no one, unless they’re really drunk or know you personally, is going to check out your music online based off a single performance, unless of course you were INSANELY good or you yourself happen to be an A&R rep for a living. For whatever reason, vinyl is making a super comeback, so hosting some kind of super cool giveaway with vinyls would be cool. People love getting lost in those album artworks. For some reason cassettes are also popular again too? I guess the 90’s really are coming back in one way or another or something like that.
5) Lastly, do not doubt the power of stickers and word of mouth. Venue bathrooms are supposed to be filled with stickers. Find a spot for yours. (Not encouraging vandalism, but) EVERYWHERE is a place for your promotion. If people are distracted by billboards, a vivid and a, honestly, distracting sticker will attract someone if it is in the right place. It is still cool to show people at the mall or in line at shows your band via your phone and headphones or your iPod (do people still have those?), and give them stickers. They may even pay it forward and do some further sticker sticking somewhere else.
When it comes down to it, this is not an article to talk shit on anyone’s choices when it comes to their merchandise. Every business and merchandise model is essentially your child, and we at New Fury Media are simply giving your child a fresh set of clothes, or merch, no pun intended. When you’re looking into new designs and new logos, don’t stick to the same old song and dance. We are now living in a world where the most exotic are noticed first and flourish unimaginably. Stand out the best you can and keep following your heart with music. Just keep in mind, your merch still sucks, but you can always do better next time.