Rich believes there will be a long-term shift from selling the bulk of band merch at live venues toward a more immediate online buying experience. He shares 4 key ways you can tap into this new selling landscape.
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How to Support Your Music Clients Right Now


How To Support Your Music Clients Right Now

Back in March 2020, right before the COVID-19 lockdowns started, 90% of Culture Studio’s business went to band tour merchandise and music T-shirts. Our Chicago-based shop is built for the speed and capacity to fulfill band T-shirts for live events, in addition to selling band merch to retail stores.

While we experienced a lull as our music clients’ live tours cancelled, we ramped back up again faster than we expected—as a virtual tour and ecommerce store company. Since the summer, we’ve experienced incredible growth months with our music T-shirt designs because our clients reinvented their business models.

There will be a long-term shift from selling the bulk of band merch at live venues toward a more immediate online buying experience. Here are four key ways you can tap into this new band T-shirt selling landscape.

1. There’s no time like the present.

In the recent past, it was the norm to buy a music T-shirt at a concert in a big event space like Madison Square Garden in New York, but it could be a hassle. A buyer stood in a long line, hoping the seller had their favorite design and size in stock. Now, it’s the norm for any music fan, based anywhere, to easily purchase a band T-shirt using their smartphone, from the comfort of their home. If your shop prints and fulfills the band merch, you’ll now be a valuable part of the supply chain since the bands no longer need to stock huge amounts of inventory. Plus, you drop ship the shirts directly to the end-customer, saving a lot of time.

2. You can easily pitch and sell flash sales.

We’re seeing a lot of our music artists launch a product, such as a hoodie or a rock band T-shirt, that’s available during a 48-hour flash sale. Here’s how it looks: 5,000 orders come directly into our system; then, we print and ship 5,000 band merch items out to 5,000 individual fans. People are used to buying online for fun now, and when you add in a limited-edition rock T-shirt during a flash sale, you create a lot more FOMO (and then a lot more band merch sales). And if you can create a really unique music T-shirt design, you’ll give people even more of a reason to buy.

3. Equip your shop to handle this new business model.

This concept of a frictionless buying experience and drop-ship straight from your print shop will change the world forever. Even when in-person concerts return, we may be able to eliminate shipping thousands of band T-shirts across the country to these venues. While people attend the events in person, they can easily purchase their T-shirt from their phone and get it at home in less than a week. Of course, we still expect a hybrid model where people will purchase in person, but many sales will shift online—especially with technology that enables single-click buys, like Amazon uses.

At Culture Studio, we want to handle the entire process, so we’re focusing our efforts on making that happen. A word to the wise here: You need to commit to this process. For example, we’re building our shop’s business model to accommodate music clients’ needs. We want to get those band T-shirts in our facility, decorate them and then quickly ship them out to the end-user.

That’s why we invested $500,000 in more elevated finishing machinery and lines because we fold the music T-shirt; attach a SKU sticker, size strip and hang tag; and then poly bag each item. If you’re dealing in millions of items annually, your shop must be able to handle that volume in an efficient, automated manner.

In addition to being a full-service provider, we also offer speed to market. Since we’re not printing the band merch and then sending the stock over to a fulfillment house, band T-shirts are in fans’ hands in half the time.

4. Pitch this model to local music clients, and beyond.

If you service local bands or DJs, you can reach out to them to see if they’re doing online events, like a Facebook Live video. When the answer is “yes,” show them the value of limited-run flash band merch sales that run 48 hours before or after their event. Posting the ordering link via social media and email makes it easy for fans to browse and order. Plus, explain how there’s literally no cost or barrier to entry for them if you set up a small online music T-shirt shop for them: You fulfill all the orders and send them their cut of the profits.

Finally, don’t forget to pitch custom branded merch to other local businesses that have a following like restaurants or breweries—and have been impacted by the pandemic. You can launch a few products like good-quality T-shirts or hoodies, and then fulfill all orders direct to the end-users, similar to how you handle band merch. The restaurant can advertise the popup shop on social media and also let everyone who orders from them know they can support them and get a nice hoodie. All around, this is a win-win business model for your shop and your clients.

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