Bands. We all love their music and merchandise. But it comes to a point where every band is producing the same item as each other, just with a different design and band name attached to it. That's just as bad as jumping on the 'band'-wagon, going with what is popular and going against the whole purpose of being original (which in turn might question the originality of the music).
Yet when bands moan that they are not making money on merchandise, have they not thought that the items they are selling are near enough the same as every other band going? Fans demand a lot and as music downloads slice a 15 inch deep wound within the music industry's sales reports, bands are having to turn to other ideas to generate profit.
In time, music downloads may well die a natural death as tapes, vinyl's and CD's keep selling and they too became succeeded by another form of media. Question is what will replace music downloads? Streams seem to be the most likely option, but are we relying too much on the digital age to convey our music? Let alone the band's having their products sold through merchandise stores like Grindstore and Loud Clothing?
Let's take this back to the merchandise topic and ask ourselves, what are eight ideas that bands could potentially invest in, that could be cost-effective and unique in every dimension.
Of course not all bands would be able to afford these ideas and we are fully aware of this, but the whole idea of this post is to generate ideas for bands in general and to point out gaps in the merchandise market.
"There is a strong demand for Michael Jackson's music and merchandise, and that will only increase as more material surfaces in the years following his death" - Adam Kluger
The now defunct Melodic Death Metal / Metalcore band The Dead Lay Waiting took this route (read it here), and inspired themselves to design, order and sell syringe-shaped USB's. We all use them, whether to transport school, college or uni work, for business work or purely just to transport files across from one place to another. So this is a great way to 'connect' with your fans more and to expand your technological side of the band's merchandise repertoire.
There are plenty of USB custom designers out there, so comparing offers is fairly easy. As for the bands, as soon as they have their USB's delivered and ready to sell, once sold they can begin to realize that they, like Nokia, can connect with people - in this instance the fans.
Sites to visit:- USB Makers / USB2U / Vistaprint / Design!t Flash
Those handy writing tools known as pens are perhaps the most common item you would find in anyone's hand at a place of education or anyone who has to deal with paperwork at any given time. Now Iron Maiden have done this before (click here to buy), but because pens aren't that all too expensive at purchasing custom made, this is an ideal merchandise idea for any band.
Especially when sites like Vistaprint can produce 5 pens at the best price of £12 (click here). Sure they will eventually become useless; unless the option for refillable cartridges was there, when the ink runs out or the spring mechanism goes, but this is quite the novel idea for bands to sell to their fans. So instead of 'writing' a riff or two, they could 'click' into the idea of investing into pens for their fans.
Sites to visit:- Vistaprint / Pens Unlimited / Custom Ink / Promotion Pens
iPhone / iTouch / iPod covers
Most of us, if not the vast majority, either own an iPhone, an iTouch or an iPod (classic per se), so why not have bands design their own covers like India's Demonic Resurrection have done(click here). Again some bands might not be able to afford this, there might be a way around this in as far as bands asking designers whether they could sell these covers without any fee being passed to the designer, and the band earning a percentage of sales.
It would bid farewell to the basic, boring cases which stores like Apple and Carphone Warehouse sell. Moreover it feels a little more personalized - unless you purchase the same model, make, color and case, then it WILL be interesting. These could always be made to order and this would probably be the better option, rather than stocking them.
You could always password protect the device or maybe, just maybe, in the future implement finger scanning software... we're digressing here... let's get back to the merchandise article.
Sites to visit:- Case App / Cafe Press / Like My Case / Custom Funk
Sure some bands like AC/DC and Iron Maiden have already released their own signature alcoholic drinks, but with beer kits becoming so readily available and the ability to make home made alcohol already established, the potential for smaller bands to do this can become realistic.
Can you imagine bands unveiling alcohol pertaining to their own country? What if they used a portmanteau to make their drinks known? Let's have a few examples:
Rammstein + Jagermeister = "Rammeister"
Crossfaith + Sake = "Crosssake"
Arkona + Vodka = "Vodkona"
You get the idea.
The wine though would bode well if AC/DC performed at the Australia and New Zealand music festivals 'A Day On The Green' (click here for an article we did about this festival), just imagine drinking the AC/DC Platinum wine edition, in a vineyard, whilst they're playing in their home country, how cool would that be? OK maybe not as cool as Rammeister though....
Sites to visit:- The Home Brew Shop / Home Brewing / The Brewmarket
Let's go a bit on the insane side..
It would appear that no metal bands have ever designed their own lanyard, sure the market may be limited, but for those in employment or are taking a group on a trip, nothing stamps your authority than a lanyard.
Wouldn't it be apt if you paired up a band you love with your job and watch the lanyard become the symbol of both loves? Let's have a few examples:
Cannibal Corpse + coroner / pathologist
Steel Panther + fashion designer
My Dying Bride + funeral director
You get the gist of it.
Sites to visit:- Custom Printed Lanyards / Good Lanyards /Promo Lanyards / We Print Lanyards
Laptop / Tablet cases.
Oh come on guys don't deny you dislike those boring tablet / laptop cases stores like PC World, Apple and Currys sell? What if bands invested into making laptop / tablet cases that can be used to promote themselves on the road, in the air, or wherever you want to use the devices (OK maybe not the bath or shower mind you)
Plus also if you have some band stickers, you can stick them on your devices to personalize them - what if bands included free stickers in the cases? The only downside we see is if you own a pink laptop and place a Carpathian Forest cover around it, think about it, you'll realize the problem there, or what if he laptop had Hello Kitty designs on it?!?!?! Hello satanic kitty.
Well bands have already been down the technology accessory route with Iron Maiden and Slipknot mouse mats as an example, so why not go one step further and take this challenge head on.
If fans chipped into raising funds for this, then the laptop / tablet case might become the next installment in a band's merchandise range.
Sites to visit:- Cafepress / Ideal Cases / Caseable / Clove
Well most metalheads love to drink a beer or at least an alcoholic beverage, so it would seem perfectly fitting to have band-branded beer mats. Here at GMA HQ we have coasters by Sublind, Trivium x2, Black Label Society, Niflheim and Abinchova. So it is clear that some bands have gone the extra step and made them, but there does not seem to be a wide range of coasters by bands as a whole. So this is a market that might as well be fully exploited, perfect to accompany the alcohol merchandise idea we have had.
The great thing is you could have these at metal pubs and bars, a great way to promote your band, just as long as thing's don't turn nasty and the coasters suddenly find themselves a second use as a load of flying shuriken.
Sites to visit:- Mojo Promotions / Cafe Press / T-Shirt Studio / Evermine
Oyster Card / Train Ticket Holders
For those who use the trains to commute anywhere including gigs, or those who use any mode of transport that requires tickets that could easily be placed inside a ticket holder, this is a great idea for bands to exploit.
Sure this is possibly the most insane idea we could have come up with (well in this post at least), but the whole thought of having your favorite band safeguard your tickets could well be a great feeling, especially if you're going to see a band that means a lot to you. Furthermore, they aren't particularly expensive and probably for most bands, would require individual orders as according to Ownster (click here) can do custom made ticket holders for £4.99 (€6.37 / $7.97) with free UK delivery only.
Sites to visit:- Ownster / Stray Decor /Plastic Wallet Shop / USA Lanyards
We just can't imagine bands designing merchandise and co-operating with fast food outlets, unlike 'Hellvetica'....
So there we have it, eight merchandise ideas that bands can exploit to their full potential and enable them to expand their merchandise repertoire.
Sure as earlier said, some ideas might not be financially feasible for certain bands, but the whole selection we have are sure to appeal to a wide range of budgets available.
So bands, forget the clothing, stickers, badges, etc and explore the wider range of promotional gifts, let the rock god in you go wild!
We would like to know what was your favorite one and if we have missed off any we could include in a future post, comment below ideas we could cover.
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