Bands, use these 3 tips to sell more shirts


Hey bands! Are you thinking about printing up some t-shirts to sell at shows? Before you do anything, read this post.

So you’ve started a band. In the grand scheme of mistakes, this will probably rank somewhere above investing in Beanie Babies and somewhere below falling for a pyramid scheme. But no matter! You are currently rocking and rolling to the best of your abilities. You’re out playing shows, breaking hearts and kicking asses. Your audience needs a souvenir from the night that they got their heart broken and/or ass kicked. It’s time to print some shirts.

But wait! Before you go charging in head first, let’s get some basic tips out of the way. Follow my advice and you’ll be selling more shirts and making more money than you know what to do with. Or at least you’ll have a much better product and sell more tees than you would if you just half assed it.

1. Hire an Artist to Create Your Shirt Design

At the Toilet ov Hell, we believe bands should DIY as much as possible. But unless someone in your band has legit graphic design skills, you should hire a real artist to create your shirt design. A dedicated artist will create a shirt design that’s way, way cooler than anything you could create on your own. The benefit is twofold: Your fans will want to drape this cool design across their bodies and you’ll be stoked to have bad ass art associated with your band.

Take a look at one of our own designs, as created by very talented professional artist Lauren Gornik. Do you think any of the writers here could have pulled this off? Fuck no! That’s a design that I’m proud to have represent my creative property and fans are happy to cover their gross bodies with it. Want some pointers on how to work with a great artist? Listen to our interview with another great metal artist, Stephen Wilson.

2. Print on quality material

The industry standard in printing is Gildan G500 Heavy shirts. These are low-cost, heavy-weight cotton shirts that can handle a ton of abuse before your print shows wear and tear. HOWEVER, they don’t fit very well for a large portion of your potential customers. Some folks aren’t picky about t-shirts and others, well…

Let’s look at how a tee printed on Gildan Heavy looks on a small-framed metal dude. Notice that the fabric is choking his neck and his belly, while the arms flare out awkwardly on the side. It’s not a great look!

For comparison, take a look at this American Apparel shirt, also worn as a slim fit. Notice how the sleeves accommodate the shoulders and the neck hole fits comfortably.

You can print on lighter-weight shirts that fit more fashionably and feel more comfortable to wear. Brands like Next Level and American Apparel will cost you more but they’ll make your customers look great. When your customers look and feel great in your shirt, they’re more likely to wear it often – which means that more potential customers see your band name on a great looking product.

3. Price Your Shirts Accordingly

One day your band will sell out arenas. When that day comes you can sell a cheaply printed tee for $40 ($45 for XXL). Until then, you should price your products like you want to sell them. Figure out how much it cost you to print each t-shirt and price your shirts slightly above that number. Did a buddy help you screen print a small run of Gildan Heavy tees in his garage? Consider pricing them at a very punk $10 each. Are you depending on shirt sales to fuel your van on a cross-country tour? Price them slightly higher. Did you lovingly print an exquisitely designed tee on very soft, very comfortable fabric? Then I probably wanna buy your shirt.

To recap: DON’T half-ass your design. DO some research into pricing and printing. If you can afford a higher quality tee, DO use it. If you can’t DON’T price gouge your poor fans. Got it? Now get out there and make me proud, team.

Good design, Next Level Apparel material, nice fit. Five stars!

BONUS! Take a look at my favorite pic of a model in an ill-fitting Gildan Heavy tee:

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