I used to be a musician back some time. I was really good at it. I was even better at selling it.
Back in my day, we had CDs. Today is different as the music you sell is a digital download (in most cases)....
I sold roughly 5,000 CDs locally. We would make our album, have 1,000 copies pressed professionally, and then go out to the streets with a backpack full of albums, and sell them hand to hand. It worked. But what REALLY fueled our PROFITS was merch. Once we started getting shirts made, our fans went nuts. (This is what got me into making shirts myself. A story for another day).
Someone who bought 1 CD ($5-$10 sale / $3-$8 profit) might buy 10 T-Shirts in all different colors ($150-200 sale / $75-$130 profit).
Although the times have changed for musicians being that things are mostly done online, the idea behind "physical things to sell" hasn't. The only problem is that music is rarely physical anymore.
In my opinion, every band, rapper, solo artist, guitarist, and musician should DEFINITELY have merch available. And here are some ideas on how to use it effectively:
Sell it. (No brainer). But here's the thing. You can't sell it if you don't have it. And that's where you'll fall short. Someone WANTS to buy. But they can't.
Use your merch to sell your music. Yes. Example: Our new album is FREE when you buy a T-Shirt. You're not loosing anything. The music is digital. So when someone buys a shirt, you send them a free download code.
Merch Table. You do gigs. But there's no merch table. You should have a merch table right by the entrance. Again, offer a free download code to anyone who buys a T-Shirt.
Social Media Boost. Example: Hey everyone! We're giving away a free T-Shirt. All you have to do is like, comment, and share this post for a chance to win!
Social Media Branding. You think your a band. But really, you're a BRAND. Use your shirts as a way for people to take photos and post them to social media! Share the picture on your Instagram and Facebook pages and tag away! You'll start to notice you're follower counts go up! People will like you JUST because someone else they know likes you.
Getting people to your gig! Example: Hey everyone, we're giving away five free t shirts tonight to people who come to our gig! It's an added incentive for people to come see you live!
Use your merch to monetize your Facebook and instagram live gig. During a practice, or a studio session, broadcast it live. You'll be surprised how many people tune in. Make sure to post a LINK WHERE THEY CAN BUY YOUR MERCH!
These are just a few ideas! And I'm sure there are many more! And remember, if your band needs merch made, we're always here to help! Best of luck and rock on!