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More Than Music: Artist RAIGN on Making Original Merch

More Than Music: Artist RAIGN on Making Original Merch
Sarah Reilly

By Sarah Reilly

8 min read

These days it’s easier than ever before to get your music out there. With the help of streaming platforms like Spotify, artists can establish a fanbase, build up a following, and get more listeners. But how can fans show their support and love for the music without being able to wear their pride with awesome merch? 

That’s the situation that singer-songwriter RAIGN found herself in. “Over the years, I’ve been able to find my listeners and find my supporters and it’s been the biggest blessing. They inspire me to work hard and keep putting more music out. But there was always the issue of making merch the way I wanted to—up until I found Printful.” Now she wants to let other artists know how easy it is to make your own original designs with print-on-demand.

The road to merch

London-born, L.A.-based, alt-pop artist RAIGN (real name Rachel Rabin) moved to California to pursue a career in music. She’s had success since then: her award-winning songs have charted multiple times and have been used on many hit TV shows like The Vampire Diaries and The 100. She currently has over 261K monthly listeners on her Spotify account and over 100M streams across all digital platforms. “I put an album out every few years and release a few songs in between. Sometimes I get asked to make specific songs for trailers, TV shows, or movies, and that inspires me to go write a whole new album.”

Pink sweatshirt merch
Source: The RAIGN Boutique
Photo credit: Kelsey Fisher

RAIGN has a publishing deal with Sony Music Publishing, and has her own indie label Millionaire London Records. “I have this kind of wonderful crossover world where I’m able to do my own creative thing as an artist.” But when it came to making the custom merch she wanted, there were some limitations. 

One of the stumbling blocks for many artists is not being able to easily offer fans and supporters the cool merch they’re craving. RAIGN herself is a lover of band merch, and it’s always been a bummer that she couldn’t give her fans the stylish original designs she was envisioning. “I’m somebody who loves fashion and clothes and design and I take such a big role in all the designs related to my music. Every song I write comes to me with visuals: I see the artwork or the world I’m trying to create in technicolor in my head.” Having such a visual mind with the music—coupled with a love for clothes and fashion in general—meant she was desperate to do hip, unique merch, but didn’t know how. 

“Standard merch setups require you to make only one design at a time and hold all the stock. You end up not being able to decide which album cover or photo would look good on your merch. It’s like, ‘I can only pick one design to put on a t-shirt?’”

Those weren’t the only issues RAIGN faced when thinking about making merch. “Having to decide ‘I want 5 smalls and 15 mediums, etc.’ was really tricky. I wanted to be size inclusive but I didn’t know my fans’ needs or what’s going to sell.” She also wasn’t sure how she’d be able to make her merch available to all her fans worldwide. Getting her songs on TV shows and movies that are seen all over the world means she has a large international fanbase—and many are hot for merch. “I’m getting asked by somebody in Australia and somebody in Poland and somebody in Spain if they can buy a t-shirt. It was frustrating to not be able to offer merch without everything, including fulfillment, being super complicated.” Print-on-demand would change all of that.

Making it happen

How did RAIGN get started with Printful? “It was an accident! During the pandemic, I was trying to find a way to print one t-shirt I’d designed. A friend of mine who uses Printful to make her Etsy t-shirts suggested, ‘Have you looked at Printful? They even ship it.’ This blew my mind! It was like someone opened a kaleidoscope of possibilities and I wanted to dive right in.”

Print-on-demand dropshipping lets you sell your original designs on the products we offer. We’ll print, pack, and ship everything on demand when an order comes in. This means you don’t have to worry about an initial upfront investment, or about having leftover stock that didn’t sell. Plus, our fulfillment centers are located all over the world, making it easy to ship merch internationally. With a provider like Printful, you can offer your fans worldwide a variety of different colors and sizes for each tee or sweatshirt you’re selling. 

For RAIGN, this was exactly the solution she’d been waiting for. She checked out different videos from Printful’s Youtube and read blog posts on how to get started, and was soon on her way.

“The thing that really pulled me in, that separated Printful from some other providers out there, was all the content that Printful offers. Videos on how to do this or how to do that, and the different articles on so many topics, it’s all great. The informative content was really helpful for someone just starting out.” 

And being able to connect her store to her website made everything easier. “It’s really important as an artist to sell your original designs on your own website. That way, you can stay in touch with your fans.” With Printful that wasn’t a problem: RAIGN was able to connect her Shopify store to Printful in 4 simple steps. All she had to do was create a (free) Printful account, install the Printful app on her Shopify store, The RAIGN Boutique, connect her store, and add products.

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Having control over the design process has been key. RAIGN is very hands-on in terms of creating album covers, photos, and designs—basically all the artwork that goes with her music. She finds cool designers and works closely with them to bring exactly what she’s envisioning to life. So when it came to doing merch her way, the fact that she could design her own stuff was ideal. “I didn’t want to just chuck a square album cover on a t-shirt. As an artist and a designer and someone who’s super into fashion, I wanted my merch t-shirts to look like vintage graphic tees.” After collaborating with different graphic designers and seeing what’s popular, she was able to get the exact look she was after. 

“I wanted it to feel like you went into a regular high street store and bought a band t-shirt that was fashionable and timeless, and I think we achieved that.”

Source: RAIGN Instagram

How does RAIGN decide what to sell? She looks to her favorite artists, other popular bands, and checks in with her fans. “It’s a mix: I see what other artists are doing and think about what I’d like to buy, and I ask my fans. It’s also a lot of playing around!” She uploads her designs and tries out different things, and with Printful’s extensive product catalog, she’s never bored. “I always see new things popping up in the catalog so I know Printful is actively trying to find new products and stay on top of fashion trends.” Once she has something she likes, she’ll order samples and make sure it’s exactly what she’s envisioned. “I’ve ordered samples of practically all the merch I offer and I’ve been super happy with how everything’s come out.”

Boosting sales

After designing her merch and setting up her store at the end of 2020, RAIGN was getting into the groove. But when she listed her merch on Spotify with Shopify, her sales really ramped up. 

In late 2021, she was contacted by Spotify to participate in their beta campaign for a new integration with Shopify that would “give artists more opportunities to grow additional revenue streams” by listing their merch on the site. Spotify reached out to RAIGN and invited her to link her Shopify store with her Spotify profile. As part of the beta campaign, Spotify would then email her top listeners letting them know she sold merch. “It’s incredible because I don’t have direct contact with my listeners on Spotify. Plus, I don’t like spamming people, I’m just an artist who wants to connect with my fans. So when Spotify said, ‘We’ll email your top listeners,’ it was really exciting because it’s a way of letting my fans know about my designs.”

Pink and purple phone case merch
Photo credit: Kelsey Fisher

The opportunity pushed RAIGN to make sure her designs were polished and her merch store was ready. “It motivated me to open my store properly (it had been open but I wasn’t pushing it) and connect it up to Spotify, which was super easy to do in Shopify. Now you can see my merch when you go to my artist’s profile. Hopefully one day it’ll show up right underneath my songs!”

Participating in the campaign proved positive all around. After listing her merch on Spotify with Shopify, RAIGN saw a bump in sales and streams. 

“I did have quite a few sales after that, which was super cool. I also got more streams because it led people back to my profile to listen to my music.”

Aside from linking up her accounts, RAIGN has used Facebook Ads to generate interest in her merch. For someone with such a large following on her Facebook page and other social media sites like Instagram, it’s been a great way to connect with fans and tell them about her merch. 

Spreading the word

RAIGN is so happy using Printful that she wants to let other artists know. “I’ve been trying to figure out a way to tell other artists that they can do print-on-demand dropshipping merch and design what they really want to give their fans.” If you’re a musician or an artist and don’t know anything about ecommerce, it’s the easiest way to be able to make and sell the merch you’re imagining.

“I’d never done this before but I quickly learned about how to do the mockups and create the designs using the amazing interface that Printful has. It’s really user-friendly and teachable.”

For any musician who’s hesitant to start using a service like Printful, RAIGN’s got some great advice: “There’s nothing to lose! It’s a really fantastic way to design all the merch your heart desires and get it shipped to an international fanbase. I did a lot of research and couldn’t find another way to have complete control over the design process.” Plus, since Printful takes care of the inventory and fulfillment for you, it was a no-brainer. 

In bringing her merch to life, RAIGN also realized that designing apparel was another outlet for her talents. “Through all of this, my creative brain exploded and I designed a whole fashion line called RAIGN + Orion that features more of the graphic tees that I love. The designs aren’t centered around my music but aim to inspire people to believe in the power of their dreams. Printful enabled me to launch various collections, sweatshirts, posters, jewelry—whatever I want really. If I had the time to do it all, I would.” 

Black sun and moon sweatshirt merch
Source: RAIGN + Orion

She recently created a line of cosmic-themed t-shirts with astrology symbols and oracle card messages—everything she loves wearing. This led her to open an Etsy store for her RAIGN + Orion apparel line, which she’s just now getting into. “The possibilities are limitless, you don’t have to just do merch. If you’re a creative and want to start a fashion line or a homeware line, you can, which is really cool. It’s so fun and I really love doing it.”

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By Sarah Reilly on Apr 19, 2022

Sarah Reilly

Sarah is a Senior Content Writer at Printful with experience in editing, translation, and teaching. She holds a Ph.D. in International Relations and is passionate about language.

Sarah is a Senior Content Writer at Printful with experience in editing, translation, and teaching. She holds a Ph.D. in International Relations and is passionate about language.

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Sarah Reilly

By Sarah Reilly

8 min read Apr 19, 2022

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