The value of clothing lines for artist music career
What do you think is the biggest obstacle artists face trying to grow in 2020?
- Not enough promotion?
- Having a small following?
- Not enough streams?
I agree that those are all pretty bad but they aren't nowhere near as destructive as the lack of funds.
The cold hard truth is, without funds you are forced to spend a load of time trying to grow with many headaches and unnecessary stress.
How would it feel if you could get:
- Key insights in making money in the music industry
- The principles of a successful music business in 2020
- How you can skyrocket your music career with just a little bit of money
I'll do you the favor of skipping the BS💩 and cut straight to the chase.
See, this might just be the successful stepping stone to your music career, so hear me out.
To start things off, put yourself into the position of two different artists - let's call them Mr. A and Mr. B.
Let's say that Mr. A has $1,000 to invest in his music and Mr. B has $0.
This will show you exactly how the lack of funds is beating up your career growth.
The questions to ask are:
- Who can get better promotion campaigns?
- Who can get better cover art made by professional graphic designers?
- Who can afford more studio time rather than ONLY ever working in the bedroom?
- Who can collaborate with industry executives more?
- Who can afford to go to more artist networking events for collaborations?
- Who has better access to promoters and prospecting potential show venues?
- Who can get their song mixed and mastered by a better sound engineer with years of experience?
Do you agree that Mr. B is in a better place and can get further in their music career?
My goal with this article is to help you go from the position of Mr. A to Mr. B.
The small $1000 difference goes a long way- the potential key to this is your clothing line.
If music is just your hobby then this might not matter very much.
However, if your dream is to impact your fanbase and change your life through music - I'm going to show you one way this can be done.
Money isn't everything but it’s surely a damn good tool that can super-boost your music career and we all know that.
You probably thought about this once or twice in the past- thought correctly.
Here I'm laying the blueprint step by step for uplifting your career through a clothing line.
Why a clothing line though?
You might be thinking this:
“Alright, I hear you out with starting a clothing line but aren’t there better ways to make money in the music industry?”
Well, it really depends on what you define as “better”.
There are a bunch of myths and misconceptions about clothing lines, and I will debunk them one after another.
Debunking common artist merch myths
Let's find the top artist perch myths... and break them!
Are you ready? This should be fun.
Myth #1 - It takes a long time to create a clothing line.
This is simply not true.
You can get started in as little as a few hours if you know what you're doing (and I will show you exactly what to do, so no worries)
The money comes instantly, as soon as an order is placed. That’s hella fast!
Myth #2 - artist merch doesn't sell
Well, do you think there will ever be a day when people suddenly stop wearing/buying clothes?
The problem isn't that there's no money flowing, the problem is that it's not circulating to you.
By creating a clothing line built with strong fundamentals and the right strategies, you can direct sales towards your clothing line based on the value it provides your consumer.
In reality, as long as you keep your business expenses in check, there's a lot of potential profit.
Myth #3 - you suck at merch sales
This is just a toxic mindset.
Did you have 100% certainty that you could create a track before actually sitting down and making it?
The strategies in this article are designed to create a solid clothing line business.
Have you ever bought merch from an artist or brand you like? If they can do it so can you (just on a smaller scale.)
It’s best to stay optimistic!
Myth #4: It’s expensive to start a clothing line
Sure, it does cost a little bit of money.
Will it require you to fork up hundreds of thousands of dollars? Hell-to-the-no.
The current world we live in now has international shipping and online ordering, you can set up a store and pay virtually nothing at all (we will get to that).
Amazon and eBay are prime examples of inexpensive online businesses.
Really, I can keep going on and on for days on end about how cheap it truly is.
The Importance of branding to your clothing line
Look below and tell me, which of these two shirts do you think cost more?
I'm sure you already know the answer - it's definitely the Supreme shirt.
The shirt quality for Supreme isn’t 20x better, but the price is 20x higher… what gives?
This is because the Supreme company has branded its clothing line as rich/flashy/hype clothing.
It has been done so well to the point where their fans are purchasing at that ridiculous price point.
This is the power of great branding.
While I do realize that you are not supreme, the fundamentals that you need to brand in order to interest your true customer base are super important.
The brand message is the most essential piece because this “higher concept” is what you’re really selling.
People don't talk about “higher concepts” enough in the music industry.
By this, I mean the internal values/beliefs of a person that are manifested into products.
That higher concept is shown in the brand message.
Let me just tell you a simple truth - people won't buy your clothes just because it exists.
I mean, do you buy clothes randomly when you go to the store or do you sift through and find something that you like?
Exactly! You find something that fits your style and your taste.
By creating a strong brand that really hits, you'll be able to do the same for your customers and really entice them to purchase from you simply because your brand message resonates with them best.
Dope Names for a Clothing Line
Need some inspiration for great clothing names? In that case, I've got you covered!
You are some dope names for your very own clothing line.
5 dope name ideas for an artist's clothing line:
Just remember that these are ideas and if you have any other dope names then you can choose to do that instead.
I just want to offer some suggestions that I've seen others use that would work for them.
How to put your brand together
There are a few key ways to really put your brand together and assemble something that people actually care about.
I highly urge you to read our blog on building a successful brand because it highlights the branding fundamentals in detail.
My first advice is to start a niche small at the very beginning.
Take a good look at your target audience and who really resonates with the brand message that you’re promoting.
An example of this done well is Ariana Grande's clothing line.
Do you see a whole bunch of six-foot-five bodybuilders rocking her brand? You won’t see that anywhere on this planet.
Her listeners and fans are most likely teenage girls so the clothing pieces are made accordingly, added with the brand message of empowering women going through adolescence.
Sure, if you had millions of dollars you can try to go wide but who has all that cash on hand?
Aside from investing cash into the brand, you must also invest your:
- Time into designing pieces
- Sweat in fulfilling orders
- Blood (not literally)
- Tears from lack of initial success
This is why it is best to choose one category that merges with your music brand so you can truly excel in it and then later scale.
You will have a better look at how you can structure/create your brand message by analyzing other clothing lines.
Brand message: research and development
Let's do a little bit of research, in order to get the brand message totally correct.
Go on Instagram and search #ClothingLine, find 20 good clothing brands, and use the spreadsheet below to write down the brand message, target audience, and finally higher concept that you see.
This exercise is effective because it helps you reverse-engineer the exact same impact on your own brand.
The results of all this planning and preparation are huge! It saves you from a whole bunch of speed bumps and issues later down the line.
Creating a dope brand name
Names have power.
The name you choose for your clothing line is critical because it identifies your entire brand story.
Your great name invokes the emotions and higher concept you’re going for.
For example, let’s look at analyzing the name Boost Collective.
Boost - growth or progression
Collective - Many different parts working as one to attain a common goal
As for the higher concept, I would like to think of us as an Incubator for independent artists to grow their wings before they take flight.
This is important because everything that our name ‘Boost Collective’ is affiliated with is aligned with one core value proposition to help artists boost and grow in their careers.
Putting your clothing line together
Ask, ask, ask!
Dig deeper into your fanbase and ask potential buyers what types of items they like.
An easy way to do this is by using Instagram/Snapchat stories or Twitter polls because these are pretty temporary.
Go on the platforms with your highest concentration of fans and ask away. Keep these questions specific to their tastes and be somewhat vague.
Share any potential design ideas and get their opinions!
Continue getting more information about your audience’s preferences and tastes.
Do this every day for a week to be secure in your research findings.
Based on the results you’re getting, narrow it down more and more until you find something that's consistent among your fan base
The reason for this is that you might not be asking the right questions in the very beginning but later on, you'll really see what fits with your fanbase and can properly incorporate it into your brand message.
Network with other clothing lines
I highly advise reaching out to other clothing lines and asking them which of their apparel is the best.
The best way to do this is to straight-up DM them.
A smart method is telling them that you like their brand and would love to shout it out on your story, then ask them.
You’re likely to get a response because you're exchanging value (the shout-out) for value (their response).
Remember to not be spammy and weird about this people can sense authenticity instantly.
You can even continue and build a connection with them over time.
Designing your clothing line brand logo
To design your brand logo, you might need to have some design skills.
If you're willing to invest the time and energy to learn, it saves you a lot of money.
However, time is also money.
It might make sense to simply pay an artist a one-time fee or even a royalty deal to design your clothing graphics for each piece of your collection.
You can choose the deal that makes more sense
To get a design professionally made you can either ask a designer that you know or go on a site like Fiverr and pay a small fee to get it commissioned for you.
The business side of things
“I’m not a businessman. I’m a business, man.” -Jay Z
This is a great way to look at yourself.
Even though you make music primarily, there is nothing wrong with having a clothing venture as well. It only builds you up!
Understanding the fundamentals of business in the music/merch industry will put you light-years ahead of not knowing jack.
I know that it sounds scary and overwhelming but trust me, it really isn't as difficult as you may think.
All of the moving parts of business just need to be broken down into compartments and deal with it that way.
That is how we are going to approach it.
Artist Merch: Creating the business plan
I spoke so much about planning, not because I’m a planning addict but because it is so important when it comes to having a solid business.
Let’s go ahead and break down your business plan with you step-by-step.
This way, we can account for all necessary and important components and provide a free downloadable guide to managing your clothing line business as well.
This guide is great because anytime you run into issues it’s there to re-prioritize everything and get things focused on what is important.
This business plan is the prototype of the actual clothing line business- if any problems arise here you can fix the issues in the smoothest and cheapest way.
Introducing: the sales funnel
Now, what the heck are sales funnels?
Sales funnels are the key to longevity for your clothing line.
The meaning of sales funnel is the process/system of bringing qualified purchasers to your shop and making sales.
There are two main sides of the funnel - marketing and sales.
The practical difference between the two is that marketing is getting people to check out your store where you shop, and sales are getting them to actually purchase once they're there.
Sometimes it overlaps but that's the main gist and depending on the business model you choose the funnel can look different but the basic concept is the same regardless.
All control of marketing and sales is in your hands when you have a good funnel.
How to optimize your sales funnel
Sadly, not every person that runs into your clothing line is going to buy from you and I'm sure you already knew this
This is where the beauty of the sales funnel lies.
Once it's fully optimized, the marketing and sales are essentially going to be fully in your control.
You can know which type of promotions are going to work best at reaching your target purchases as well as where and how they will come.
Two business models to choose from
When you create a clothing line there are two main ways to do it, giving you great options that you can select depending on your goals and ambitions.
Print-on-demand is as simple as it sounds.
This is where as soon as your customer makes an order, a service company is going to manufacture, ship & fulfill the product for you and you do not have to touch a thing.
Sounds pretty sweet, you probably heard of a few companies like this such as Teespring or Redbubble.
Print-on-demand is by far the cheapest way because the only thing you need to worry about is the marketing side and only a little bit of sales.
The service companies take most of the work out of your hands.
Even so, not all print-on-demand companies are the same.
To truly gauge which company you should go for I have a free comparison chart!
No more worries about investing in the wrong company, I compare the top 10 companies on aspects such as:
- Which ones are Free or priced
- Ease of use
- Customizable shop page
- And more factors
To claim your free Print-On-Demand comparison guide here
This second way takes a lot more work to get done, but you can charge more for it.
When you go the DIY route you're doing all the tasks yourself
- Sewing/printing the clothing yourself
- Handling shipping/packaging of items
- Taking care of refunds
- Handling the website/sales
This sounds like a lot of work but the customized shopping experience and collections you create can mean a more attractive shop and items, thus leading to more sales.
This gives you much more control, so if you have a more artistic vision with the clothing textures and styles then this route is for you.
I highly suggest that you start off with print-on-demand to get some revenue and grab a feel for eCommerce then over time fade into DIY as you get more serious.
Marketing Funnel: getting leads
The first thing that popped into your mind when it comes to marketing is most likely social media.
It makes perfect sense, as the majority of people are using their phones for 3 hours a day. That's a lot of screen time, you can definitely dit yourself somewhere in that time frame.
These are the best social media platforms for selling clothing items or band merch:
You can also use trending apps like TikTok to get your brand heard, leading to more potential sales in the future so don't skip out on that!
If 5 people share your new hoodie collection in their story.
Now imagine if 50 people did the same thing.
It sounds unbelievable but if you have 1000 followers it can’t be that hard to get 50 people to re-share, that’s only 5% of your following.
That’s why networking is a great way to promote your clothing line.
It is one of the best and cheapest ways to get this done, in many cases it’s free and for bigger network connections it’s only a small price!
Influencers are always looking to promote products and the longer you network with someone then the better the promotional rates become generally.
Social shares are the new currency.
Budgeting 101: crunching the clothing line numbers
ROI Concept. This is probably the biggest concept that you must know to create wealth.
The term ROI stands for return on investment. This essentially means how much you get back based on what you invest in.
It's important to look at not only the number of dollars invested but also the amount of time.
For example, if you're putting in 10 hours a week to promote and grow yet are barely making one sale that profits ten bucks you're making $1 an hour.
That is a horrible return on investment!
On the other way if you're investing $100 a week for promotions yet only make back $25 you're losing $75 a week.
Even worse because you’re in the red zone.
As long as you’re managing your actions according to a reasonable ROI you will be fine to test and fine-tune your clothing line business.
Don't forget that higher financial/time risk ( DIY method) generally relates to higher financial returns, but you also have the chance of losing more on both fronts.
You should understand your risk tolerance and put that in your business plan before getting started.
What are the key terms to know
There are a few variables you must account for in your artist clothing line.
A balance sheet is a grand overview of how the expenses and assets are managed for your clothing brand.
Your income statement is similar to a balance sheet and is filled more frequently and explains the business financials in much more detail.
This is important for seeing ways you can improve your business model in order to increase profits and reduce costs so that you can get a better return on your investment.
What aspects do you need to crunch numbers
- Cost of time/money in creating your logo
- Cost to manufacture and ship your items
- Cost to use certain sales platforms
- Cost to promote your clothing items
- Hours put in / Revenue made in
Once you put all of these aspects together you will definitely be able to go up there and create a great brand and a profitable one
This profit will help your artist career Skyrocket for the sheer fact that you'll have more investment capital to put towards growing as an artist.
Young or old, all artists should definitely embark on a clothing line venture!
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