It’s no secret that in today’s heavily populated DJ industry, getting bookings involves more than just skills. We’ve been covering ways to promote yourself and build your DJ brand with pieces like logos, press photos, a bio, social media and a press kit. These will all come in handy on a daily basis during your DJ career. Once you’ve got these fundamental pieces down, you’re ready to create some cool promo items and merchandise (we’ll call it ‘merch’ for short). This step is definitely more fun, but also requires proper research and planning.
Why Should You Create Merch?
By creating merch, you can get your name and logo into the hands of many new fans. Handing out merch with your logo at shows is a great way to engage the crowd and encourage interaction during your set. Foam light sticks, t-shirts, even hand towels are fun for the crowd to wave around. Beach balls or blow-up animals are a blast at a pool party. Your merch/logo might even make it into event photos that you can use later on.
In addition to creating brand awareness, merch can be a great revenue stream if you pitch it the right way. You don’t need a ton of followers to potentially make money on merch. You just have to be out and about with cool items that people want. (Dance and electronic music fans tend to love merchandise.) It’s a fun way not only to make some cash, but also further enhance your branding.
What Should You Put Your Logo On?
This is where you can get creative and do some research on different items that could be a vehicle for your branding. Having merch that can be used year-round is important. Apparel is always a safe bet, whether you’re handing it out or selling it. From t-shirts to keychains to phone cases, the goal is make your fans happy and give them something they’ll use or talk about long after the show is over.
It’s also a good idea to think about merch that’s unique to your work and your brand. If your logo incorporates some type of animal for example, you’d want to include this animal in your merch ideas. Or if you have a new track out that you want to promote, you should plan at least one piece of your merch around that song title or theme. Remember that sometimes weirder is better.
Do I sell it or use it for giveaways?
There are two options for getting your merch into the hands of fans – selling it online and at events, or giveaways online and at events. Depending on the types of venues you play, selling at the actual event can get tricky, and venues may want to charge you a fee or take a cut of your profits. Communicate with the venue ahead of time and see if they have a place for you to set up a table or booth. Also try offering merch to the venue staff as a courtesy. This may let you avoid giving the venue a cut. (If you have apparel, the staff wearing your logo is a good look!) If selling your merchandise at an event does work out, make sure to have an easy payment system set up so that transactions run smoothly. (Try using a card reader like Square right from your smartphone.)
Giveaways are also a great option for a club or small venue setting. Walk around before and after your set with giveaway items and make friends. This will get the crowd engaged and introduce your branding to new fans. You can also take advantage of giveaways online or through your social media. Create a contest to win your merch or send merch to important clients and fans that you want to thank. Everyone loves free stuff and merch can help you to gain more attention.
One final item that can specifically be a great giveaway is a USB stick with your latest tracks or mix loaded in. You may want to give these to promoters, venue bookers and anyone that you want to deliver your music to. Make sure your logo is clearly visible and that they know how to get in touch with you later on.
Promote Your Merch
Once you have merch ready for shows or to sell online, let people know that it’s available! Link to it on social media or on your latest blog or YouTube post. Give followers a special discount or create a promo code that will encourage more sales. If you have a giveaway item or you’re selling merch at a gig, make sure to mention it over the mic. This will get people interested and increase the number of fans that end up with your brand in their hands. Create hype around the items and not only fans, but venue bookers and promoters will take notice.
The benefits of merch are clear – creating a memorable and interactive experience and putting your brand directly into the hands of people who will help build your career. Remember to do your research and plan out your merch items strategically. It’s also important to look at all of your options when choosing a vendor to create your custom merchandise. Your branding is who you are, and merch can help push you into the spotlight.
Let us know what you think and if you’ve had success using merch as a promotional tool in the past. We want to hear from you!