All right, here is where I draw my line in the sand. I am no longer interested in buying any physical product that does not have any sort of creative effort put into it. I do not care how nice the artist is or how much they need it. I want a personal touch to your CD, t-shirt, flash drive, coffee mug, etc. Otherwise, any requests for my hard-earned money for physical objects will be ignored. Now I will probably still buy your album digitally if it is terrific, but more than likely that is going to be a slower income stream for you. Therefore, if you want get the most immediate bang-for-your-buck from a music buyer like me, then you must have merchandise that is worth the space it takes up on my shelf.
There is a reason I celebrate the Masters of Content, because the exalted supply their fans with goods they are actually happy to have/see.
When giving examples of music acts that have cool swag to buy, there is always the criticism of “those guys can afford to do that. Little guys like [us] cannot.” Here is the deal, folks. You are supposed be creative, so BE CREATIVE/RESOURCEFUL! You could easily come up with cheaply-made customized materials that would be worth more to someone than a regular, cold piece of plastic pressed up with a single sheet insert. I am even going to go one step further with this and give a free suggestion. Being green is in, so recycling is really cool right now. Consider your possibilities.
According to Mike King, author of Music Marketing: Press, Promotion, Distribution and Retail, there are 3 basic things that a music act should have as far as merchandise to sell:
If roll with this ideology, then there is still plenty of room to create distinct items. CDs do not have to be placed in a jewel case. T-shirts do not need to carry your band’s logo on it. Posters can be handmade; heck, so can CDs and t-shirts.
Know of any clever merchandise concepts that you have seen to share with curious artists?