When you think of custom decorated apparel, band shirts are probably some of the first items that come to mind. Musicians and record labels use t-shirts – in addition to a huge variety of other custom products – to promote their albums and tours, making the music industry a huge market for screen printed goods.

Music merchandise represents a multibillion dollar that is growing all the time. With the rise of digital streaming music, today’s musicians are deriving a smaller and smaller percentage of their income from record sales, leading them to depend more heavily on touring and merchandise sales to earn a living and fund their art.

Going Beyond the Basic Band Shirt

The staple of music merchandise has long been the t-shirt. Combined with sweatshirts, posters, tote bags, stickers and buttons, these items still only represent the tip of the iceberg when it comes to music merchandise. Product bundles are especially popular to help sell albums, so many artists are looking beyond just the standard t-shirt to promote themselves. Band shirts themselves aren’t one-size-fits-all like they were years ago; today’s band shirts are available in a wide variety of materials, cuts and sizes, including women’s and children’s styles.

Unlike your corporate clients whose styles may remain unchanged for years, musicians are always looking for new products and designs to promote their latest record, concert or tour. Soft hand prints and vintage styles are popular choices for singers and bands. Many musicians look for big, bold designs to help their merchandise stand out, which means there’s a huge potential for screen printers to employ specialty inks and effects to create eye-catching prints.

Special Considerations for Music Industry Clients

While big international acts have substantial money to spend on marketing, most local musicians have a tight budget for promotional products and order in fairly small quantities. You’ll need to keep this in mind if you plan on marketing toward your local music community. Try to develop some strategies to keep orders of all sizes as cost effective as possible for your potential musical clients – here are some ideas:

  • Simple designs with only one or two colors can help keep your screen prints affordable for musicians on a budget.
  • To spice up the variety of merchandise without breaking the bank, it’s a good idea to offer the same design in different colors. This way you can give your clients a wider selection of products without having to create new artwork and prepare new screens.

While many artists will provide artwork ready to print, if you’re called on to design new artwork, keep the artist’s music and audience in mind. Taking the time to listen to and understand their work can give you a better idea of how to create merchandise that fits their aesthetic and message. As a screen printer, you can probably relate to the passion musicians have for expressing themselves through their artwork, and this appreciation will help you create products your clients and their fans will love.

It’s important to note that turnaround times for screen printed band merchandise can be tight, so you need to have established processes in place to assure you can get orders out on time. Screen printers have a natural advantage over competing printing methods in this department; print speed is one area where screen printing really shines against digital competition.

While screen printed goods are a great way for your musical clients to promote themselves, they’re also effective tools for spreading the word about your own business. Music communities tend to be close-knit, so there’s a good chance your satisfied clients will refer your screen printing business to their fellow artists. If you haven’t discovered it yet, you’ll find that screen printers and musicians are a natural fit, sharing a bond over the dedication they have to their respective arts.