Are you an indie artist? Do you have fans who want merch? Are you forever put off by the expense of setting up a new merch line and the headache of hiring companies to hold your stock? Do you find it hard to chose just one design to put on this expensive new merch line? Are you forever printing sizes that no one ends up buying?

That time is over! Welcome to the new frontier of music merch.

The Road To Merch (skip if you know me)

My name is RAIGN, I write alt-pop songs which quite often get used on TV shows and movies around the world and because of this and the odd EDM vocal feature, you guys have streamed my music over 100 million times! WOW!

I decided early on in my career to start my own record label, Millionaire London Records, which now also distributes other artists, like SuperGirl, The Peace's and The Amazebellas. It has been an amazing ride, but there are things that were harder to figure out, harder to match the major label artists. The main two things being radio play and offering music merchandise. 

Music merch is expensive to make and shipping and fulfillment are a full time job! 

Being an artist, songwriter or creative person is already a full time hustle. We don't have time for all this fulfillment stuff and that is why discovering the world of PRINT-ON-DEMAND DROP-SHIPPING blew my mind.

Getting Started with Merch

It was the deep dark days of the pandemic and I wanted to connect with my fans. I decided to run a giveaway on my instagram and wanted to get just one T-shirt printed. A friend of mine suggested I use PRINTFUL to print the shirt as she uses them for her Etsy store. . . 

I think I spent a whole day on their website without coming up for air.

After I discovered Printful's product catalogue I fell deeper into the kalaidoscope of beauty that was eCommerce and ravenously consuming everything I could about SHOPIFY, INSTAGRAM SHOPS, YOUTUBE MERCHBAR, and ETSY. 

Since Printful is not a consumer facing marketplace, you have to connect it to a front end store. I decided to build my front end store in SHOPIFY as there were so many apps to chose from, AND I could add digital music apps like SINGLE MUSIC.

I quickly realized that I could do this, I could have my own merch store that ran itself and once I had designed all the merchandise my heart could desire, I could automate it all and sit back and let these companies instantly fulfill any orders that came in. Mean while there is NO STOCK AT ALL to pay for, hold or waste. It is all MADE TO ORDER and SHIPPED directly to my customer. Whattttt????

Demystifying graphic design

OKAY, so now I needed to design my merch. Here is where CANVA, PHOTOSHOP, PLACE-IT and FIVERR became my best friends. With a very small financial investment (mostly just monthly subscription fees to these user-friendly design platforms) I began the task of turning my album covers and press photos (artwork that I had already been instrumental in designing and owned the copyrights for) into print files for some super cool merch. Wow this was fun, especially with all the products available on Printful's ever growing catalogue.

A few months later I came up for air with a working online store and an entire merch collection, probably too much merch to be honest, but I had done it. Now I just needed MOCK-UPS and some promo photos and we could start the process of opening the store and rolling out the merch to my fans.

Reaching the listeners where they are

Soon affter I opened my store, something amazing happened - Spotify and Shopify teamed up to do an integration that allowed me to directly promote my products from my Shopify store on my Spotify For Artist Profile, and they even emailed all my top listeners to tell them it was there! 

I had made it to the Spotify merchbar!

Why is this so important? As an indie artist you end up with a large amount of your fans and listeners following you on Spotify where there is no social media element, so there is no way to get in contact with them. For me this is hundreds of thousands of people around the world that I cannot communicate with or tell about my life or my new merch.

We artists work tirelessly on social media trying to funnel as many of these amazing listeners and fans as possible through to our social media profiles but the conversion rates for most of us are super low and even when you do, social media algorithms don't even let all your followers see your posts!

But with this Spotify x Shopify merchbar connection I can thank the powers that be for giving me something that was previously only accessible to major label artists. A VISIBLE MERCH STORE. 

And now Shopify has also integrated with YouTube merchbar! So your merch can be listed directly under every video on your eofficial artist channel. It’s a game changer!!  

The benefits of print-on-demand music merch

So here we are. Print on demand merch is by no means perfect, profit margins are slightly less than if you printed in bulk, but the options are limitless. Here are some of the many benefits of doing merch this way:

- When I release a new song I can have a whole new LIMITED EDITION merch line up in days without sending a penny on stock.

- If someone wants SIGNED MERCH, but I cannot meet them in person, I can have the item made and sent to me to sign and then send it on to them and I can automate this whole process using Shopify SHIPPING PROFILES.

- There is way LESS WASTE and way more flexibility and you can chose to use eco-conscious materials. 

- Print on demand companies DELIVER WORLDWIDE and shopify plus helps you easily automate local currencies and tax settings. Since many artists fans are now all around the world, this is so useful. Every traditional merch company I spoke to mostly only did US delivery.

- There are no production or storage costs so you can DESIGN MORE OPTIONS! For an artist with multiple albums and releases this is so essential! This way I get to see which each people actually prefer to buy and wear, so when I go on tour and need to take physical merch with me, I know exactly which style and sizes to get made.

What you need to make merch

To recap, here are all the links you need to get started with your own, fully automated merch store:

1. You'll need to set up a PRINTFUL account. Click this link and use this code to get 30% off your first TWO orders 30SPOTIFY , excluding samples.  https://www.printful.com/spotify-merch/a/RAIGNreferral

2. You'll need a front end store that integrates with Printful, I chose SHOPIFY due to the SPOTIFY FOR ARTISTS integration and the automated live shipping profiles. Click here for a 14 day free trial:https://www.shopify.com/?ref=raign-boutique Once you have set up your store you will need to add SPOTIFY to your listings to start listing your merch directly on your Spotify artist profile. To do this you go to your dashboard on your Spotify for Artists profile on a dashboard and click “Merch” to get started.

Another option is to use SQUARESPACE or BANDZOOGLE websites. (you will not get on Spotify merchbar or YouTube Merchbar with either of these options but you can set up a functioning store). 

Click here if you want to try out Bandzoogle, which I currently use for my main artist website and limited store. https://bandzoogle.com/?memref=r207a3 

3. You'll then need a design software like CANVA or PHOTOSHOP to make your art into print-files and even give them that distressed flare people love on graphic tees. 

Print files for T-shirts are usually 4000 x 4500 pixels in size and you’ll want to save them at highest quality png, which will get you the required 150-300 dpi. There is a T-shirt sized cavas in Canva but it is not quite the same size as some of the print areas in the Printful design UI. Don’t worry, everything can be expanded and reduced in Printful later so you can start with that canvas. 

4. Once you’ve deigned your merch in Printful and saved as a product template you’ll need to order samples and take promo photos for your store listing - but also you'll want to make mock-ups using something like PLACE-IT, where you can upload your print files to their thousands of staged photo options. https://1.envato.market/jWGK0v   

5. Then you will want to push all your final designs to your front end store and configure it the way you like. There are lots of free templates to chose from in Shopify so design wise it is easy, but you may need to spend some time making sure your shipping profiles are correct and your automatons are all working. If this is tough we can help you.

5. Once your store front is working and taking orders and customer info, and connected up seamlessly to Printful for automatic fulfillment, you're ready to start promoting and selling it to your fans (or your mum lol). You’ll want to set up your FACEBOOK SHOP and INSTAGRAM SHOP and start running some catalogue retargeting ads, to tell your followers about your merch and target them after they visit your store. This can all be done inside Shopify. 

Make merch with us

Pre order my upcoming course where I will show you step by step how to set up your Shopify store and Printful Account, integrate with Spotify and YouTube, design your merch and created product listings with high functioning SEO!


Alternatively, if you want one on one help setting up your store, email me at hello@raignboutique.com 

Don't wait another minute, it is time to start designing and selling your merch!


 Please note, this article includes affiliate links 

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published