There's gotta be a better way

We're firm believers that the best way to complain is to make something.

Merch Tshirt Merch CD Merch Inventory

The App

Lots of app ideas start out as a discussion between friends at a bar, often prefaced with wouldn't be awesome if you had a app that could... and then, in the sober light of day, whatever ludicrous thing that spilled out and finished the sentence is easily dismissed.

Well, Merch didn't start in a bar, it started on tour, It's our own native iOS product for musicians serious about tracking the profitability and sales of their merchandise while on the road, because what currently exists, sucks.

Quick Look

  • Released in February 2016
  • Over 1000 artists and labels on the platform
  • Over 450 shows settled with Merch
  • Data shows cassette sales on the rise (who knew?)
Merch Screenshot

Music is your life.
Merch is your lifeblood.

That's our tagline. There's many like it, but this one is ours, and it's true.

There’s more to a tshirt than its neckline, style, cotton blend, or colour. Selling that t-shirt means extending the runway of a tour, recording a new album or making a choice between Whole Foods sandwiches or 7/11 Taquitos. The stakes are pretty high, cause no one wants those Taquitos.

The sale of merch is where most artists make a significant portion of their revenue yet, many musicians are manually counting inventory in at every show, notching a sale with a tick on a piece of paper, then counting out at the end of a night to reconcile inventory and sales — that’s a pretty lame process by anyone’s definition, so we changed it.

What's in a shirt?

What's in a Shirt?

Where you see a cool design and self expression we see data and dollars.

A shirt has a colour, size, cut, style - and it has that cool design. There's a ton of data that belongs to a simple T but tracking it all is hard. Merch makes it easy to spot trends in sales to see what's moving fast and what's not. It might not be the stuff of hit songs but the more data an artist or tour manager has available to them, the smarter they are.

The Platform

An end-to-end solution

Merch is used to track sales and inventory in real time at gigs and on the road through the iOS app. The goal was to eliminate manual counts and make tracking lots of data points for each sale as close to the current pencil-on-paper tick mark.

A few taps and all the data is synced to a cloud database using Parse. Even if a venue doesn't have connectivity (cell or wifi) you can still use Merch to do what you need and will just sync later on when you've got connectivity again. Everything is consolidated into a gig report for easy reading for the artist or tour manager. There's breakdowns for every product and styles within products. Reports are viewable on the iOS app or the web admin.

Behind every great artist, there's a back office—from supportive spouses to street teams, or a small army deployed by the label, there's no reason not to have clean, consolidated reporting. Artists can share access to reports from the iOS app with the people that grease the wheels and get the tour bus rolling.

The Journey

We've used everything we know in our day jobs to help govern the strategy, design, and engineering of this product. It's been difficult balancing and managing different kinds of teams but well worth it.

It's shown us that we can absolutely build products (great ones) and go to market. If you want to read more about this journey, follow along on the Merch blog. In the meantime, we've been live in the app store since the early 2016 and our user growth has exceeded expectations. The level of engagement and discussion with our users — artists, labels, tour managers — continues to feed our feature development to make Merch the most indispensable app for any touring troubadour or manager.

Products are hard. We're a team that's been in the trenches to make sure you don't have to. You should talk to us about it. War stories are fun.

Get in touch with us