T-shirts are a staple merchandise from bands and musicians. When you go to gigs or concerts these shirts are stacked up on every merch table, at every musicians event and no one is really complaining because fans love them.
Custom band t-shirts has been the #1 merch for many years now. T-shirts are easy to wear and are mostly worn by fans during their favorite musicians’ gigs, concerts and events. It’s also a useful way to spot fellow fans to have a bit of chitchat. A great conversation-starter.
To musicians, these t-shirts help them in promoting themselves and their music, it also helps them financially as band merch could be a big source of income.
However, it can turn into a financial burden if wrong decisions are made like printing too many or too few shirts.
To help musicians with this burden of deciding how many shirts to print, here are factors you have to consider:
#1 YOUR BUDGET
This comes first in any quantity and money-related decision making situations. You have to check your budget for the band t-shirt printing so that you can have an estimate of the number of shirts you can afford to order.
Before ordering though, I suggest you search t-shirt printing companies or businesses online first. Then have a canvassing with a little research, this way you will be able to segregate bad quality with low price, good quality with high price, and good quality with low price.
After clustering them and deciding on where you want to order (don’t you dare pick the group of bad quality with low price, I beg you), you can then mentally estimate the number of shirts you’ll have to order.
If you choose a company from the good quality with high price cluster, then you already know that you will have to order less than what you’ve initially thought of.
If you picked a company on the good quality and low price cluster, then you might order that initial quantity you have in mind.
#2 NUMBER OF POTENTIAL BUYERS
Next is the number of potential buyers or the number of fans you have, per se. This is another factor you must never not consider as you might just waste money if you do. This is why I said you “might” order the initial quantity you have in mind. You may have the budget to fund for your band’s t-shirt printing but what if you have less buyers compared to the number of shirts you ordered? What if no one buys it? That would just be an unnecessary expense on your part.
Sure fans and most people buy merch band shirts of their favorite bands or musicians but it wouldn’t hurt to have a more accurate estimate right? To check the number of buyers you might have, have an interest check.
You can do this by posting on your social media accounts a picture of the design on your shirts. You can even do it through a passing question on Twitter or Instagram with lines like: “Who wants an official t-shirt merch?”, “Have some tee” (with a picture of you with the shirt), or “What if I print some shirts for you guys?”
After posting some on social media, check your fans’ reactions and if it’s a positive one you can then estimate the number of fans that will buy. You can also, maybe, make a little teaser about it. That way you can hype your merch and keep fans and other people interested.
# 3 NUMBER OF T-SHIRT DESIGNS
If you only have one t-shirt design then you can disregard this factor. If you, however, have more than one, then read along. For example you’ve already estimated that you have 500 potential buyers.
If you have two t-shirt designs then you can have 350 shirts for each design. Why not have it 500 each? It’s because some people would surely buy only one, this is just a precaution, and you can go through with having 500 t-shirts for each design. However, if you’re just a starting band, it would be best to consider this to avoid spending money on merchandise you may not sell.
#4 T-SHIRT SIZES
If you’ve decided to have different sizes for your shirts then you will have to be very careful on how many shirts you will have to order. In this factor, you’ll have to know the majority of t-shirt size your fans or buyers want.
You can just directly ask them, but that would be quite a stretch I guess. If you can’t, then it would be best to remember and estimate what shirt sizes your fans wore when you’re meeting them. But I’m sure fans would buy any merch shirt even if it’s not their ideal size.
If you have 500 potential buyers with one design and have small, medium and large sizes for your band t-shirts then you can have, maybe, 200 designs for each size. If you have the same conditions, except that you have two t-shirt designs, then you can have 150 for each size of one design.
#5 SELLING DAYS
This is another factor you should consider when deciding on how many shirts to order, because this would literally change the numbers. If you’re selling for a week and have many customers then that would be great as it would most likely lead to sold out t-shirts.
Let’s say you have 1000 estimated buyers and will be selling for 3 days. It would be safe to say that you can order maybe 1000 if you have one design, if you have two then have 500 for each. You can play safe here and you might even find out what design is more attractive to the fans and have them printed again for the next few days.
While estimating based on the factors I’ve given don’t forget to check the new estimated number of shirts with the budget you have. Always cross check it with your budget to keep your estimation in check, in this way, you won’t have a problem adjusting your estimations.
James Hill is a veteran of the music industry. He first worked at Warner Reprise Records then later joined Interscope/ Geffen Records where he managed producers and songwriters and got his first platinum record for Keyshia Cole’s The Way It Is. He is now helping indie artists with branding and manufacturing through his company Unified Manufacturing, a CD/DVD, custom vinyl records and merch company in LA.