Branded items are used by companies and individuals who want to promote their brand and messaging and reach wide audiences.
In this post, we’re going to focus on a category of artists – musicians – who have always and continue to customize must-have branded items for their fans and audience.
More specifically, we’re going to talk about what music merch is and we’ll also show you some trending music merch items, including:
- Jogger pants
- Shot glasses
Plus, if you’re just starting out and want to create promo items for your audience, we’re going to take you through a step-by-step process of creating music swag that rocks.
Let’s get into it.
Table of Contents
What is Music Merch?
Music merch is a selection of branded physical items that are created by an artist or their team and feature their branding or logo.
Music merch can be anything from long sleeve t-shirts to vinyls and they can be an additional revenue stream, which is particularly important for independent musicians and music artists that want to expand their audience.
In other words, creating music merch is a great way for music creators to monetize their work and fanbase.
In fact, during the pandemic, artists focused on streaming and selling music merchandise to keep turning a profit.
On that note, live shows and gigs seem to be the most profitable for emerging artists in terms of revenue from selling swag:
Before we move forward with our list of music merch items, we need to say that whether it’s at live shows or through an online merch store, crafting and selling merch can be very profitable and beneficial, in terms of promotion, for music artists.
Let’s jump right into the products we think you should definitely be considering creating for your audience.
Item #1: Vinyl
We’re kicking off our list of top music merch with vinyl records.
Custom vinyls, like the Tony Bennett with Lady Gaga one you see below, are currently trending.
Here’s one more example from the merch store of hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan:
In terms of vinyls, a recent Spotify Fan Study shows that vinyl sales continue to grow, proving that emerging and well-established artists should definitely go old-school with their swag; fans love it!
Moreover, according to the survey, vinyls may have bit the dust a few decades ago, but they’re currently becoming more and more popular.
Have a look:
As you can see, modern LPs sell great on vinyl.
Let’s get to the next one.
Item #2: T-Shirt
The next item that works just perfect for all sorts of music artists both for selling merch online as well as in gigs is the tee.
Everyone, from Colombian reggaeton king, J Balvin…
… to indie musical artist That Virginia…
… artists sell carefully created band merch for their fans.
What’s great about t-shirts – and other apparel items that you’ll see a little further down – is that they offer a truly wide selection of customization and personalization options, which makes apparel a great category for all types of music artists.
Check out this iconic Nirvana t-shirt to get an idea of just how popular and timeless branded tees can be:
Author’s Note: Tank tops, long-sleeve shirts, polo collar t-shirts, pocket t-shirts, etc., are some of the alternatives to the classic t-shirt you can consider including in your music merch store.
Item #3: Hoodie
A great option when it comes to crafting merchandise within the music industry is the ever-popular hoodie, like the one by K-pop band Blackpink.
Custom branded hoodies, like pullovers, jumpers, etc., are comfortable, stylish, and versatile.
Plus, these garments appeal to all audiences, particularly younger ones.
They can also be worn as outerwear and offer a number of different options in terms of style.
Do you like crewnecks, full-zips, tie-dyes, and hoodies made of organic cotton?
You can have whatever you want and fits your style as a musician.
Here’s a different type of hoodie, with a zip, coming from the online merchandise store of pop idol Britney Spears:
Item #4: Beanie
An accessory that’s very common among musicians who want to get closer to their audience through branded items is the beanie.
The Slipknot one you see on the image above is a very common type of branded beanie that features the artist’s or band’s logo on the front.
In a similar way, Metallica is yet another band that has created cool beanies for their most devoted fans.
Have a look:
Wanna see one more?
Here’s the AC/DC pom-pom knit cap:
Below is yet another music merch item.
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Item #5: Onesie
A piece of swag that’s not as popular as some of the others, but can definitely work for some artists, are onesies.
They’re super cute and, depending on the artist’s audience, they can be extremely successful in terms of making fans feel that they hold a piece of the artist’s style.
For example, the floral Katy Perry onesie above is typical of the artist’s fashion style.
We can only assume that Perry’s fans would want to grab one of these as soon as they saw it at a gig or in her store.
Author’s Note: The main point about music swag is to customize items that resonate with your audience.
Item #6: Face Mask
A relatively new addition to merchandise must-haves, the face mask has become an inseparable part of our everyday lives since early 2020.
Following what’s going on in the world, musicians of all kinds and from all genres have been creating killer face masks for their fans, who then happily wear them.
Here’s Elton John’s take on the face mask:
Here’s one more from the Iron Maiden online merch store:
Even though many might think that face masks and coverings are simply too mundane to be fun and beautifully customized, we think face masks can be crafted to perfection and make your fans super proud to wear them.
Author’s Note: When it comes to customizing face masks, make sure to partner with a swag company that’ll help you choose the most suitable materials for this case.
Item #7: Jogger Pants
We’ve already talked about how common and popular apparel is when it comes to music merch for indie as well as super-famous music artists.
Another item that’d work really well in a music merch store is a pair of custom jogger pants.
Stars as well known as Beyonce offer a number of different options of jogger pants in their stores.
Here’s an example:
Here’s one more from the Slayer merchandise store:
Author’s Tip: Why not run a giveaway on your social media and offer your fans a chance to win a gift card from your merch store; it could be a great Xmas gift!
Moving to the next one.
Item #8: Tote Bag
One of the most popular and most searched promo items is the tote bag.
Because it’s popular, practical, and can be used in many different ways and occasions, we think it’s worth considering for a music merchandise store as well as for selling at gigs.
The one you see below comes from the Rolling Stones merch store and can be used as a handy shopper bag.
This one, on the other hand, is more modern and could easily be used as an everyday bag for teens and younger audiences.
We’re sure Lipa’s fans would love carrying this tote around, don’t you think?
Let’s get to the next merch item we have for you.
Item #9: Stickers
No matter how close to technology we’ve all gotten in the past few decades, a set of good, old-school stickers from your favorite band will always matter.
These Gorillaz stickers are great for every fan out there:
They are super easy to make and are great for indie musicians who are looking for merch on a budget.
Here’s one more from Grateful Dead’s merch shop:
We love stickers because they can be put on t-shirts, custom notebooks, backpacks, and any other item you might be making for your fanbase.
We’ve reached number ten.
Item #10: Hat
Hats couldn’t be missing from this list of the best music merch items.
Have a look at the one here from Shawn Mendes’s merch store:
There’s this one from Tupac Shakur’s official merch store where fans can still find memorabilia and branded products with the late artist’s branding, quotes, and logo:
As you can see, both examples we’re sharing here are very successful in communicating the artists’ music style and they offer fans an affordable item they can wear to show their music preferences as well as love and support to their favorite stars.
Keep reading to find our next item.
Item #11: Coffee Mug
A coffee mug might not be an item you can use to show your music preferences to the world, but it’s definitely a very personal item that’s most likely used on a daily basis.
Here’s a custom coffee and tea mug from Ariana Grande’s merch store:
This mug might be quite simple, but true fans will get it!
Author’s Note: In general, when creating mugs for your fans, make sure they’re customized in a way that’ll make them stand out and make fans feel that they hold a piece of you as an artist.
Let’s get to another item that belongs in the custom drinkware category.
Item #12: Shot Glass
Shot glasses are quite popular among music merchandise.
They’re the small glasses used for serving alcoholic drinks that make us all think of partying.
Shot glasses might be small, but they most definitely can be customized to feature the artist’s logo.
Don’t just take my word for it, have a look at this Madonna shot glass below:
There’s a way to make limited edition shot glasses to celebrate your upcoming tour or album, just make sure that you’ll be creating a design that fits and looks nice on the surface of the glass.
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Item #13: Socks
Stylish socks are always in fashion; that’s why we think that music artists could definitely include a few pairs of customized socks in their swag inventory.
They’re super fun and can be a great option for true fans who want to have something from their most beloved musician.
Plus, because there are so many different types of socks that can be easily customized, each music artist will be able to find something that fits their branding.
Item #14: Bandana
Yet another accessory, the bandana, is an item that artists from all over the world choose to personalize to sell at gigs and online shops.
Like many others in this list, bandanas are great for all kinds of artists, from indie artists with smaller and local audiences to artists who are selling their swag internationally.
The image from the Gorillaz merch store you see above is a good example of how you can treat the surface of the bandana in terms of design and featuring your band logo.
As we’re moving towards the end of our list of the most fab music merch items, it’s time to talk about phone cases.
Item #15: Phone Case
If you want to create music swag that fans will keep for a while and use on a daily basis, then phone cases might be what you’re looking for.
To make sure that your fans will enjoy them for a long time, create cases that are durable and sturdy – but also fun, like the BTS case above.
Author’s Note: If you’re interested in creating eco-conscious swag, you can consider partnering with a swag supplier that’ll be able to source phone cases that are biodegradable or made of recycled plastic.
Item #16: Backpack
Backpacks can be used in so many different ways; to go to work, go traveling, go to the gym, go shopping, and so much more, that we simply couldn’t exclude them from the top music merch items.
We absolutely love them because they offer endless customization options and allow artists to really express themselves with cool designs, drawings, and logos.
Plus, if you’re also selling branded lapel pins or buttons, a backpack is just the best canvas for items like these to be placed on.
Item #17: Tumbler
A little further up, we talked about mugs and shot glasses, which are definitely two of the most popular music merch items out there.
However, tumblers are also quite common and we find them in most music artists’ merch stores, such as the one you see below from the online store of Justin Bieber:
If you want to know more about the different types of custom tumblers and get inspired, head over to our post on the topic:
Item #18: Keychain
The second to last merch item we have for you is an old-time classic in the swag industry, the keychain.
Keychains are practical and help you make sure that you always have your keys with you.
Moreover, they can be customized in such different and imaginative ways that they’ll never be boring.
We’ve got a bonus item for you that comes right up.
Bonus Item: Deluxe Box Set
We’ve talked about individual items that can help you monetize your fanbase by customizing and selling them at gigs as well as online, like so many artists already do.
The bonus item we have for you is a deluxe box set; a selection of items you can put together in a cool swag box specially designed for those fans of yours who simply want to have a bit more of you.
The Led Zeppelin deluxe box set is a fantastic example of how such a box might look.
This particular box includes, among other things, a high-quality print as well as a book with band photos and stills.
Overall, deluxe gift sets can be very successful when you want to give your fans access to limited edition swag and other collectibles you’ve created for them.
We’ve seen the products, let’s now get into detail about how you can actually start making your own music merch.
How to Make Custom Music Merch in 3 Simple Steps
We understand that, for many artists, creating music merch for their fans and supporters might be a tricky task; that’s why we’ve created this guide to take you through the process and show you how to get started.
Let’s get into the first step.
Step #1: Create the perfect design and logo for your merch
The first step you need to take is to create the perfect design and logo for your merchandise.
That is, you’ve got to create a logo or other design that fits your style as an artist and will resonate with your audience.
To do so, take extra care of the process of creating a logo that’s timeless and representative of your work as a musician.
You wouldn’t want to create a logo that becomes irrelevant in a few years because that would mean that your swag won’t be relevant anymore.
Our advice is to make sure to work with a designer that’ll advise you in terms of creating a logo or other design that can be used on a number of different items for years to come.
For example, this Billie Eilish catchphrase looks great on custom socks…
… on this acrylic beanie…
… and on this reusable water bottle:
Step #2: Choose the best swag items
The second step in the process is to simply choose the best swag items – the ones that your fans will enjoy the most.
There’s no right or wrong way to go about this step; our advice would be to start with a small selection of items to test out how each one performs and what kind of products your fans prefer.
We think visiting our Swag Pack Builder will make the process all the more enjoyable and easier for you.
Once there, you can find a wide range of basic swag items:
Plus, if you go to the top of the page, you’ll see that you can upload your logo and see how it looks on the items you selected.
Last but not least, before committing to an order, we’ll make sure to send you mockups of the branded products you’ve picked to make sure that you have a very clear image of what your swag is going to look like and make any changes.
Step #3: Place your order with a creative swag supplier
The final step would be to place your order with us – or another – creative swag supplier.
Either way, make sure that the swag company you’ll be partnering with gets your vibe and understands your music merch needs.
We always find it super useful to have a discussion with our clients to understand their vision and make sure their brand and messaging are communicated in the right way.
Let’s wrap up this post.
Now Over to You
We hope our guide on top music merch items has helped you understand what kind of products you should be focusing on when creating swag for your fans.
If there are any questions or any FAQs you think we missed answering, feel free to contact us.
We love giving guidance and tailored advice that helps artists and professionals create the swag of their dreams.
Thank you for reading our post!
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