Building your profile through merchandise and endorsement
Quick tips for merchandise
- Devise a winning logo. This will effectively be your trademark for the next few years, so choose wisely, and make sure you own the copyright if a third party designed it for you.
- If you are not producing your merch yourself, shop around, and make sure you see samples of their other work.
- If you attain some level of success, you may be approached by professional merchandising companies who will offer you a contract to licence your merchandising. Again, don’t take the first offer and talk to other acts who may have used their services.
- The merchandising company will want to handcuff you into as long a deal as they can, but try and keep the contract as short as possible.Your Regional office can arrange for an experienced music business solicitor to look it over and offer advice and any amendments felt appropriate under the MU’s Contract Advisory Service. A sample MU Merchandising Agreement, with explanatory notes, is available here.
- Do not give merchandising rights away to your record company. Many recording agreements now contain clauses demanding merchandising rights, and these should be deleted. Insisting that these clauses are deleted will often be met with the minimum of fuss by the label, as they know that they are trying it on.
How to sell it
- Gigs are great places to sell - but be prepared to pay a commission to the venue on merchandise sold.
- Local retail outlets such as record and clothes shops can also be good - again, a commission will be expected.
Mail order (including from your website) is a good way to keep sales ticking over between gigs. If you operate a mailing list for your fans or release a record, be sure to include a merchandise order form and information on how to obtain it.
The types of endorsement deals can be broken down into three levels:
Level 1 - New-ish acts who already have a national profile would usually be given a generous discount on an instrument plus permission to use the manufacturer’s logo on their website or MySpace.
Level 2 - International acts, who would usually be featured by the company in adverts across trade publications.
Level 3 - Musical legends, who involve a high-level of investment on the part of the manufacturer.
Are you suitable?
There are no hard and fast rules about which artists can be considered for endorsement deals.
The only essential is that they have to have some sort of visibility and convey a sense that they are going places. It also helps if their musical style complements the brand’s image.
If you are offered an endorsement deal featuring a written contract, before signing anything, use the MU Contract Advisory Service to get it checked out.