What Does A Merch Director Do?

Merch has become way more of a prominent piece of what artists are selling. It is one of the main ways bands make money, so it has become a huge revenue system for artists, and it plays a significant role in their overall success. A merchandise director is a person responsible for all things merch. They are the backbone of facilitating the creation of a full product line of merchandise. They oversee online sales & marketing, and retail as well.

Skills Required to be a Merchandise Director

A merchandise director is involved in every step of merch products from the designing process to their manufacture and sales, therefore they need to have an understanding of graphic and product design and they need to have a command of sales, marketing, and digital media. It is a job that requires lots of communication between different parties, therefore, a merchandise director should have strong management and communication skills.

Responsibilities of a Merchandise Director

Product Line Development

One of the main roles of a merchandise director is product line development. The merchandise director works with the band for art direction and works with graphic designers to create designs. This process starts with the album, they decide on the branding colors, which lyrics to use, and how they extend that brand onto merchandise for touring, online pre-orders, and retail orders. Overall, it is a creative outlet that goes beyond music.

Some bands have specific designers that they like to work with, and they just let those designers do what they feel is best. That is the best-case scenario because it’s someone that they trust and that understands their brand, their art, and what they are going for. 

Another scenario is working with graphic designers based on what people are attached to. The merchandise director sends the standout lyrics along with the songs and requests a design around those themes.

The merchandise director navigates between graphic designers and bands to create the final product. This is a very important part of the process because the merchandise director takes the role of a middleman and articulates the requests and concerns. Since both the graphic designers and musicians are artists that create their art passionately in their unique way, it might be sometimes hard to navigate between them. However, with the help of the merchandise director, miscommunications are prevented, and the result is the melding of two types of art.  

Product Sourcing

The merchandise director takes the idea from the band and goes around finding people that can create those things. Those merchandise ideas can be t-shirts, candles, custom fragrances, etc. The merchandise director’s job is to find and work with vendors to produce those products.

Tour Projections

When a band gets a tour announced, they have to have the stock of merchandise a month out from the start of the tour, therefore they should have tour projections done two months before the tour. To do that, the merchandise director looks at the previous sales from earlier tours and the capacities of the venues, they look at the ticket sales and run the numbers. This helps merchandise directors determine how much stock they need for the start of the tour and helps plan the overall budget. They don’t print it all upfront, but they usually print at least half up front, and then as the tour goes, they see what is selling and they re-order based on that. The merchandise director has to keep the band with merch to sell or else they will be losing out on profits.

Tour Merch Management

While the band is on the tour, the merchandise director constantly communicates with the merchandise manager on the road. At the end of every show, the merchandise director gets a sales report from the merchandise manager and places reorders in response to sales, deals with shipping logistics, and ultimately tries to maximize profitability by making sure the products are always in stock and not much is left over at the end of the tour.

Webstore Marketing Plans & Maximizing the Sales

The merchandise director plans webstore marketing for the seasonal product line drops and album pre-orders. They are also in charge of the sales and promotion of those web store merchandise. They work with merchandising partners worldwide to offer the same services and products in multiple territories around the world for tours, online sales, and retail. They are always researching, developing, and implementing new technology to help maximize merch sales by using different platforms such as Counterfind, Shopify, Amazon, NFTs, etc.

Tips

  • Everybody starts at one area and goes to another and then another. Everybody just wants to work in the music industry, they just have to find their way. If you want it, just start . You don’t need to figure out right out of college what exactly you want to do in the music industry. You just have to throw yourself in and you’ll figure it out along the way. 
  • If you want to break into this as a graphic designer, Instagram works magic. Bands find graphic designers on Instagram and their merchandise director reaches out to those designers. It’s about the right person seeing it at the right time but it’s also a lot of hard work too. At the same time, you got to network, put yourself out there and meet people, send portfolios. 

Your Next Step 

  • If you are a graphic designer, you can send your portfolio to Melissa Hemingway, the merchandise director of Fly South Management – melissa@flysouthmusic.com 
  • If you are looking for internship opportunities in this field, you can send your resumé to info@flysouthmusic.com








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