We know how important being able to make a living is to independent musicians. Streaming revenues are famously low, so unless you’re in that elite group of musicians getting millions of plays, you’re going to need to supplement that income to make some money. Here’s six ways you can do that.
The obvious one, but it’s not always that simple, as 2020 showed us… Even in ideal circumstances, gigging isn’t always the money maker you’d hope. For a new band, playing a support slot at a 200 capacity venue, the fee might not even cover your fuel or van hire. If you can, we recommend getting an agent here to help you get on to the best line ups and negotiate a better fee. BUT an agent costs money, so you really need to be able to at a stage to take advantage of this. Even so, we’d still recommend taking any gig you can if you’re starting out. even if the fee is quite low. You only get good by playing.
2. Physical Music
OK, everyone is listening online now, but your biggest fans will still want to own a copy of your music. Vinyl is especially popular, looks great, and you can charge a decent amount. Prices can be upwards of £15/$15 for a single vinyl LP. Once you figure in pressing costs of around £3/$3 per album that seems pretty sweet. Pitfalls? If you decide to ship yourself this can be a full time job, and you’ll need to buy record mailers, deal with missing and damaged orders, so make sure you factor that in. If you have a label and distributor to get into physical stores, they will also take a cut, but will also do a lot of the admin work. Don’t forget that international postage can be a bit of a minefield too. But you can make a decent amount of money here.
Ignore this at your peril. If your fans don’t have a way of playing your physical music, this is what they’ll want. T-shirts are the obvious item, but have a think – what would your fans actually like? Ask them! Does one of your songs reference a piece of clothing or merch? Make that! Like in life, with merch you get out what you put in. So put some attention and thought into it, the same as you would with your music. Once you’ve decided what you want to do, here are some options of how to get it into the hands of your fans. Here at Dizzyjam, we let you upload artwork to merch templates. We call this Print on Demand. When these sell to your fans, we print the item and ship direct to them. Of course it’s not the only way of doing things, so we’ve broken down the options here.
Buy in advance, sell at gigs
Pros: will be cheaper, profit will be high, willing audience
Cons: Sizes can sell out, cash needed upfront, storage space and transport space needed
Buy in advance, sell online via a webstore, posting them out yourselves
Pros: will be cheaper, profit will be high (minus store fees)
Cons: Sizes can sell out, cash needed upfront, storage space needed, items can go missing
Buy in advance, send some to a fulfilment warehouse who will send for you
Pros: will be cheaper, profit will be high (minus warehouse fees)
Cons: Sizes can sell out, cash needed upfront, items can still go missing
Print on Demand
Pros: Sizes never sell out, customer service is handled by someone else, missing items reprinted. No costs at all, just uploading artwork. No cash needed. Web store provided.
Cons: Profit can be lower than the merch table.
In reality, we recommend doing a combination of all these methods, or at least trying them. Some may work for you, some may not. In our experience, some genres of music really work at the merch table (rock), others work online (dance music).
4. Online Content
Livestreaming is only going to get bigger, and it’s getting easier and easier to put together a live show and stream it to your fans. You can hack this together by offering tickets the traditional way by using someone like Eventbrite, then sending a link to a YouTube link. Or a dedicated livestreaming service like Twitch will let you collect tips as you play. It’s not just about the live stuff too. You can offer artwork, new tracks with subscription services too. If you’re a producer you can sell your beats at someone like Airbit.
It’s not for everyone, but for some musicians, this is a really important revenue stream. It doesn’t have to be the traditional one on one music class either. You could gather a group together to create a song with their favourite band, ticketed. You could teach people how to recreate that killer loop you based your song off or sell masterclasses on Youtube. You don’t need a dedicated platform to do this either – Zoom/Skype will do.
Ok, so given what we said earlier, this might seem strange to include. But it is still worth having your music on the streaming services as an independent musician. You won’t get rich off it, but you probably will get fans from it and they’re quite important if you want to be a musician.
So there you go – we recommend trying ALL of these options, but usually you’ll find one or two really start to work for you over the others. When that happens, double down and throw your time into them.
UPDATE – Order as soon as you can! We’re getting reports of very slow delivery times from Royal Mail and couriers. We’re now recommending UK orders to be placed by Saturday 12th December.
Don’t leave it too late to order!
With the global pandemic putting extra pressure on both suppliers and postal services, it’s best to get your orders in nice and early this year.
Any questions? Drop us a line…
We’re excited to announce that you can now create and sell great quality posters direct to your fans! Just login, and create your poster in just a few minutes. Every time one is sold it will be printed on-demand, and sent directly to your customer. They’re printed on lovely 240gsm matte card, and they look fantastic wherever they’re displayed.
Info to help you design your posters for the best results:
Borderless, US tabloid size – 11in x 17in
27.94cm x 43.18cm
3300 x 5100 at 300 dpi.
While we have your attention…
How can we help you sell more music merch?As we continue to make updates and improvements to Dizzyjam, we’re looking at ways in which we can make the service better for you. We have a two question survey that takes less than 60 seconds to complete – and we’ll randomly send some of the respondents $50 / £50 of free merch!
Finally… Don’t forget to sign in and start creating posters now if you’re already a member.
If you’re not, then just click the big, enticing button below, to start creating posters, as well as other merch (t-shirts, hoodies, mugs, bags, caps…) right now!
You can now create and sell sweatshirts directly to your fans. And it takes less than 5 mins to get started.
Just log in to your store, click “Add Merch”, and select the sweatshirt option.
Whether you’re a grunge outfit from Greenwich Village, or a techno DJ from Tokyo, sweatshirts are a huge hit with everyone, and work with pretty much any personal style. So once you’ve created your sweatshirts make sure you inform your fans by sharing the the news on social media, and to your mailing list.
To stimulate your creative juices, you can see the sweatshirts that have already been created by other shopowners right here.
For those of you who love the details, here’s a little bit more about the sweatshirts we use.
If you’re in the USA, or anywhere else outside Europe, we print on the Gildan 18000 sweatshirts. Scroll down or click here for more information!
If you’re in UK or Europe, we print on AWDIS JH030 Sweatshirts. Read on!
AWDIS JH030 sweatshirts (UK & Europe only):
These sweatshirts are a huge hit with everyone. They’re an 80/20 cotton-polyester mix, meaning that they’re warm and soft, as well as nice-fitting!
* Set in sleeves
* Taped neck
* Stylish fit
* Twin needle stitching detailing
* Ribbed collar, cuffs and hem
* Simple tear out label makes it perfect for rebranding
* Soft cotton faced fabric creates ideal printing surface
* Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) certified production
Ready to start selling sweatshirts direct to your fans, on demand?
Gildan sweatshirts 18000 (USA & ROW only):
These great sweatshirts that we print on in the USA are woven from airjet spun yarn, and a touch of Lycra, to make them soft, stylish, and super wearable. They’re ideal for selling direct to your fans.
They’re a 50/50 Cotton-polyester mix, and cut from 226gsm cloth. Check them out!
* Preshrunk fleece knit
* Air jet yarn = softer feel and reduced pilling
* Tear away label
* Double-needle stitching at shoulder, armhole, neck, waistband and cuffs
* 1 x 1 rib with spandex
* Quarter-turned to eliminate center crease
What are you waiting for….?
It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, you’ve probably been bombarded by a boatload of GDPR opt-in emails recently. If you don’t know what GDPR is, then in a nutshell, it’s new European Union laws around user data and consent. In essence, it means that you control lots more of your personal data around the web. Here’s what we’ve been doing to meet the standards:
Made a policy for dealing with user data requests – you can ask for us to delete your information, or ask for a copy of it. We’re not Facebook, so there’s no automatic download / delete button built, but we will do this for you in a reasonable timeframe and to the standards required.
Removed some third party services that track your information, that we no longer use (eg Optimizey)
Changed all our email sign in buttons to be opt in rather than opt out.
Only sending you emails when you’ve explicitly consented to receiving them – so that means for example, if you’ve signed up to a newsletter. You’ve probably received dozens of emails asking you to resign up for various newsletters, but we don’t need to do this if you’ve already told us you want to be on our list in the past.
We also send you an email if you’ve done something that means you’d reasonably expect an email directly related to that thing – for example, when you sign up; when your order ships; when you complete your order.
We’ve also taken some steps behind the scenes to tidy up how we deal with your personal information when we use it for our admin and accounts.
This is what we’ve done so far – but this is an ongoing thing, so we’ll continue to improve the site for you and your data.
The Dizzyjam Team.
Independent artists no longer need a major label to release their singles, albums and EPs to the biggest online music stores. Thanks to independent distributors, anyone can start collecting royalties by selling and streaming their tracks.
Although it may be simple enough to get music on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music and other platforms, it can be tricky to build the momentum needed to get your sales and streams up to a level where your royalties payments make a real impact on your bank balance.
That’s why we’ve compiled some fairly easy ways for unsigned bands and artists to increase their sales and streams, and start earning more money from their music.
Getting your music featured on a popular Spotify playlist can give your track a huge boost. But rather than just sitting back and waiting for your songs to get picked up, you should try pitching to playlist curators.
Playlist curators range from media figures and industry bods, to average Spotify users. You can either find them through Spotify, or carry out some research online and email them. In fact, you can submit tracks to Spotify playlists curated by Ditto Music right now.
Once you’ve found the right contact details, make sure to keep your email brief with prominent links to your music. Make sure it’s as simple as possible for them to quickly listen to your music and find out who you are.
Making your music available for pre-release is another great sales-boosting technique. With pre-release, you can start selling your music on iTunes up to four weeks before your official release date, and all sales accumulated in that time will count towards your release day total and potential chart position.
You can add iTunes pre-release to any song released through Ditto Music. It’s an optional service that many artists use to as a promotional tool before their track goes live in stores.
PR & Social Media Campaigns
Creating and increasing hype and awareness around your music is the best way to achieve more sales (obviously!), but many musicians simply release their tracks online and sit back waiting for the sales that will never come. That’s why it’s vital to give your tracks a fighting chance by organising an effective promotional campaign.
Social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are accessible to anyone, and are arguably the number one way through which new artists can connect with their fans. An interesting, engaging social media presence offers an easy platform from which to sell and promote your music.
An effective PR campaign is also a fantastic way to reach new fans and potential punters. You can either approach press publications like mags, blogs and fanzines yourself via email, or you can hire a professional PR company to help your reach the masses. It all depends on your budget.
Professional Online Presence
If you look the part online; fans, labels and influencers are much more likely to take you and your music seriously at first glance.
Maintaining a professional online presence doesn’t just mean regularly updating your social media channels (which you should be doing anyway!). It also means developing a dedicated website alongside eye-catching logos and graphics.
You should make sure your website has clear links to your music too, directing your fans to iTunes, Spotify or anywhere else they can stream and purchase your tracks. Make it as easy as possible for fans to find your music.
You can release your music right now with Ditto Music. Just head over to the Ditto site, sign up, and start uploading your tracks.
For most of us, collecting records amounts to a trip to our local independent music shop or digging around at a record fair in the hope of stumbling across something a bit different. Frank Gossner, however, isn’t like most of us.
In 2005, inspired after discovering a rare afrobeat LP in a Philadelphia record store, Frank upped sticks and moved to West Africa where he began to dig — literally — for African Funk records. Along the way he wrote about his experiences on his blog, Voodoo Funk, capturing not just the music he found but the stories of the people and places behind it.
We were lucky enough to catch up with Frank to talk more about his musical background, reissuing records, and why he decided to set up a Dizzyjam store.
Tell us a little about your musical background up to this point.
I started DJing in 1994 in Berlin where I developed the Vampyros Lesbos Party, an event that was based around Jess Franco’s sexploitation movies from the late 60s to early 70s. Back then I played a lot of French Yeh-Yeh records and Hammond heavy library funk. These events also featured a custom made, chrome plated go-go cage and various video and slide projections featuring my vast collection of naughty movies, lobby cards and movie posters.
In 1996 I moved to NYC with my records and go-go cage where the Vampyros Lesbos Party became a weekly nightlife classic, before moving back to Berlin to start the Soul Explosion parties, where I played out all of the Deep Funk 45s I had bought during my stint in NYC and on various digging trips to the South of the USA. In 2005 I moved to West Africa for three years where I constantly moved around, buying loads and loads of Afro Funk records.
Where did your interest in African vinyl come from?
After playing out Deep Funk 45s for five years I needed some fresh material to dig into and Afro Funk and Nigerian Disco seemed like a logical progression.
What is it about this genre of music that you’re drawn to?
It feels good to listen to it and it makes people dance.
And how does it feel to see people enjoying these records, knowing they might never have heard them otherwise?
To be honest, when I play these records at a party I just enjoy myself along with everybody else. I don’t see myself as some sort of messiah who brings unheard tunes to people who don’t know them. It’s just records that contain other people’s music, how should I take any credit for this… I just enjoy sharing this feeling of pleasure with the crowd.
You said the Pax Nicholas LP was one of the first African records you found and that it still feels special. Are there any others that hold particular meaning for you?
The first record by Marijata, titled “This is Marijata“, holds maybe even more of this feeling for me, particularly because of the truly timeless lyrics and of course also because of the musical impact.
You’ve been in some pretty dangerous situations. Did you ever reach a point where you started to question whether the risk was worth it?
I was never that concerned about my own safety but I had strong moments of doubt when, for example, my friend Ken who is from Ghana traveled to Northern Nigeria for me and narrowly escaped a bombing in Kaduna some years back. He had just left the hotel for a bus ride to Kano when only about one or two hours after his departure the hotel, where he had spent the last couple of days, was blown up by Boko Haram.
Are you still collecting — is there anything in particular you’re hoping to find?
I’m still getting in new stuff but I don’t hunt for specific records. Pretty much everything I know about I already have so I’m basically looking for the unknown stuff.
Does your label have any reissues in the pipeline?
I’m going to put out two more 45s, one by Emma Baloka and another one by Joe Brown & his Black Men and that will be it. I might continue playing the occasional club gig on an on-and-off basis but other than that I’m either going to retire or start doing something totally different with my life, I haven’t yet figured out which.
With such a great collection to draw from, how do you choose which ones to reissue?
There are two major factors: the record has to be consistent enough and not just offer one or two great tracks and then, of course, I need to be able to find the artist(s) to make a licensing deal.
What made you choose Dizzyjam to start selling merchandise?
They asked me one day and I thought, why not give it a try? What appealed to me most was the ease at which this could be done and I was surprised at how well it took off and the sheer number of shirts that sold.
How do you come up with the different designs for your merchandise?
The original designs are mostly lifted from various record covers. I did all the artwork myself.
Aside from your blog, have you thought about documenting your collection in some way?
Not really. I’m not a musicologist nor do I see myself as running an archive. In fact I’m in the process of retiring from the DJ game. Next year I’ll be 50… to me this seems to be the right point to call it quits and find a new focus for my life. I’m already in the process of selling my collection. I’m keeping a copy of each of the records that I enjoy playing out the most and might continue DJing for another year or so but eventually everything will have to go.
Finally, can you recommend some albums for us to listen to?
There are single cuts from some of my releases on Soundcloud at
and on Youtube at
Check out the Voodoo Funk Dizzyjam store here.
Photos from voodoofunk.blogspot.co.uk
So, you’re in a band, you’ve written a few songs and they’re sounding pretty good. You’ve even chosen a name you all agree on. Now comes the time to let people know who you are and what you do and, for that, you’ll need a brand. Doodled some ideas on the back of a receipt but you’re not really feeling the inspiration flowing? Then this article is for you.
Before you get started, bear in mind that creating a logo or artwork shouldn’t be a quick job. Think about how you want to represent your band and whether what you’ve created fits with your style. After all, this will end up adorning most of your merch. An instantly recognisable logo or a clever piece of eye-catching artwork can help you stand out from the crowd and, as these examples show, if you hit it big it could even become more well-known than your music.
The album artwork
Joy Division — Unknown Pleasures
Starting with an obvious one, Peter Saville’s iconic cover for the post-punk band‘s 1979 debut album is one of the best-known pieces of band artwork ever. Created from an image guitarist Bernard Sumner took from The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Astronomy, it is both instantly recognisable and a masterclass in simplicity. It’s still as popular today as it was on release and can be found on t-shirts, mugs and, well, everything really. In fact, people love it so much they even get it tattooed on their bodies. When it comes to creating your artwork, remember — sometimes simple is best.
Arturo Vega’s famous logo for the Ramones shows that putting careful consideration into how a band is represented can pay off. The black and white design plays on the American presidential crest to reflect the band’s all-American persona, and while the symbolism may have been diluted over the years the band’s influence definitely hasn’t. Some might argue that the logo is over commercialised (you can pick up a cheap Ramones t-shirt pretty much anywhere) but if anything, it’s testament to its staying power. When it comes down to it, it’ll always be cool.
Frankie Goes to Hollywood
If you’re looking to support a cause you feel strongly about, have a statement you want to be heard, or lyrics that you’re really proud of, think about letting your words do the talking. Slogan t-shirts can rally people together and make a strong statement, as Frankie Goes to Hollywood proved back in the 80s. The band was already causing controversy thanks to the release of the suggestive ‘Relax’ and the politically-charged ‘Two Tribes’; adding a clever t-shirt marketing campaign stirred things up even more. Their black and white ‘Frankie Say Relax’ slogan t-shirts tapped into the culture of the time so successfully that they’ve been associated with the band ever since.
If controversy isn’t your thing then you can always go for a more lighthearted approach. For a great example, look no further than Newport’s finest, Goldie Lookin’ Chain, who use their merch to share a little love for their local area. With song names like ‘Newport State of Mind’ and ‘Drop it Like it’s Splott’ they’re quite possibly South Wales’s proudest citizens, and that’s exactly why their fans love them. It makes perfect sense that their Dizzyjam store is full of merch with these names front and centre.
British Sea Power
Great name, great music, even greater merchandise. BSP’s dedication to all things outdoors is shown clearly through their consistently inventive and fun merchandise. In addition to quirky gifts like branded travel mints and boxes of fudge, their clothing and mugs fit perfectly with the band’s love of the countryside and nature. Their latest t-shirt, for example, features names of must-visit coastal places in the UK.
Blur – Coffee & TV
Ladyhawke – Wild Things
Blur’s brilliant ‘Coffee & TV’ was understandably one of their biggest songs, but one of the other reasons people loved it was for its video featuring Milky, the oh-so-cute milk carton that heads out in search of a missing Graham Coxon. In a smart move, Blur gave the fans what they wanted — the chance to own their own Milky carton which, not surprisingly, sold out instantly on release.
While you might not be able to stretch to custom products, there are still ways to tie your creative ideas together. The cover art for Ladyhawke’s new album ‘Wild Things’ features her wearing a t-shirt with the album’s name on it. It’s not just a clever way to show the title, you can also buy the same t-shirt from her store. When it comes to planning for your merch, think about how you could tie it in with your artwork or live shows. Do you wear a certain t-shirt for live gigs or have a thing for trucker caps? Put them in your store!
Ok, so these bands have also written some of the biggest songs of their generation which may have helped give their profile a boost but we’re sure your music has the potential to do the same. What these examples show is that with a little imagination, the designs you create can be a powerful tool in helping you on your way.
Get your sizing right, and you’ll earn much more money.
It’s really difficult to know exactly how many of each item size to order when ordering in bulk (for when you’re on the road, for example).
But let’s start at the beginning… There are two main ways in which a band, DJ or solo performer can generate and manage sales of merchandise:
1 – On-demand, where items are printed-to-order and sent directly to your fans when they order them (this is what we specialise in, here at Dizzyjam). This is a completely risk-free process, but isn’t always great if you want to sell merch from a stall, while you’re on the road.
2 – In bulk, where you usually take the financial risk of getting multiple shirts printed in advance, and are then responsible for sale and distribution, sometimes with the help of a third party. And it’s here where you can really earn the big bucks, if you’re clever, as the profit margins can be much better. But you have to know what sizes of merch to print.
But time and time again we’ve seen people waste effort, time and money by ordering the wrong sizes, colours, or types of merch, and been left with hundreds, even thousands of dollars’ worth of merch sat in a box, not earning money. We’ve seen plenty of people even lose money on merchandise! BUT. You can easily make £10 gross profit per t-shirt when printing in bulk, so selling just an extra 10 t-shirts = £200. Running out of Mediums early could easily account for 10 potential lost sales.
Sizing is probably the area where artists get it most wrong. They make crude judgments about what sizes they should order (“I dunno, 20 of each!?”), and inevitably end up with a bunch that they just can’t shift. So, here’s the basic distribution of the main sizes of mens/unisex t-shirts that you should have as your baseline.
We’ve taken the data from the last 15,000 direct-to-fan sales worldwide, across the thousands of acts that use Dizzyjam, and we’ve analysed it to bring you some great insights that can make your next bulk merch purchase more efficient and more profitable. We’ve even teamed up with our sister service, Ramp, to offer you 5% off bulk orders (just use the code “DizzyjamData” at checkout).
The quick headline here is “go big on Mediums and Larges”, especially if you’re in Europe or North America (more on the difference between countries shortly). This is where you will make the majority of your sales. In fact, two thirds of male/unisex t-shirt sales are accounted for by Mediums and Larges.
So, now you’re equipped to make a better judgment on roughly how many t-shirts you should buy to minimise the likelihood of ending up with a bunch of unused tshirts. But what happens if you go on tour overseas? This is where international data starts to make things even more interesting.
Here you can see that European countries and Australia broadly follow a similar pattern, with the Mediums and Larges accounting for the majority of the sales. However, when we turn our heads to USA (purple) we can see there is a much stronger percentage accounted for by XXLs (approx 15%), with Mediums and Larges being the apparent “victims”. In other words, it appears that music fans in the US tend to take larger sizes. In fact, they buy about double the amount of XXLs t-shirts that their European brethren do! Japan (orange) also turns the Euro-centric view on its head, with a much more small-medium bias in its distribution, with almost zero XXLs sold in Japan at all* Now click on the countries in the header below to see how the sizings differ. So, if you’re touring Colorado instead of Cornwall, or Italy instead of Indiana, this is something that you need to take into account. And don’t forget to check out Ramp’s super-simple system, and use the “DizzyjamData” coupon for a great deal. Next – how to make smarter decisions about which colours to buy! * This data doesn’t take into account cultural preferences for “fit” – i.e. Americans may prefer to wear their t-shirts more baggy. ** We have fewer sales, and therefore less data, for Japan, so this is still a work in progress
Here you can see that European countries and Australia broadly follow a similar pattern, with the Mediums and Larges accounting for the majority of the sales. However, when we turn our heads to USA (purple) we can see there is a much stronger percentage accounted for by XXLs (approx 15%), with Mediums and Larges being the apparent “victims”. In other words, it appears that music fans in the US tend to take larger sizes. In fact, they buy about double the amount of XXLs t-shirts that their European brethren do! Japan (orange) also turns the Euro-centric view on its head, with a much more small-medium bias in its distribution, with almost zero XXLs sold in Japan at all*
Now click on the countries in the header below to see how the sizings differ.
So, if you’re touring Colorado instead of Cornwall, or Italy instead of Indiana, this is something that you need to take into account. And don’t forget to check out Ramp’s super-simple system, and use the “DizzyjamData” coupon for a great deal.
Next – how to make smarter decisions about which colours to buy!
* This data doesn’t take into account cultural preferences for “fit” – i.e. Americans may prefer to wear their t-shirts more baggy.
** We have fewer sales, and therefore less data, for Japan, so this is still a work in progress
Need a design made to print on a shirt or a mug? Or maybe you’ve got a design, but you need it edited for a special event? How about removing the background so it’s transparent when we print it? Design is pretty important when it comes to your merch. But it’s also pretty tough to get right. Here’s some tips to help you out. Of course, the best way to do it is to hire a professional graphic designer, but they don’t always come cheap, so here’s a few alternatives:
This neat logo design service lets you type the name of your company, and automatically generates a selection of suitable logos. You can buy the logo in print quality for about $30.
For $5, you can ask someone to create you a design. Given the price, you don’t get much more than an image in your inbox. But if you don’t have graphics software, this site is great for edits and quick fixes to existing designs.
Designers compete to work on your design brief. You can set the budget, so you always know what you’re spending. Typically it can work out much cheaper than a bespoke designer.
This is a free way to create great graphics, slides, and logos, all using existing templates. And it’s so easy even a chimp could do it. Some of the nicer options do cost, but even if you go crazy on them, you’re likely to come away with a great design for well under $10.
So between these options, you’ll be good to go with some pretty saucy looking logos for your merch.