5 mins read

Creators

How Indie Band Siames Are Making a Killing From Merch

For Siames, becoming an indie band allowed them to reach an international audience and the freedom to sell their merch the way that they wanted.

Banner of the band Siames in colour and black and white

It didn’t take long for Koko Blakk to realize he needed to be an independent artist. 

Blakk’s band – electro-pop/rock group Siames – are based out of Buenos Aires. But despite living in a Spanish-speaking country, Blakk and his bandmate, Stoltz, felt strongly that they needed to make music in English. Local record labels didn’t agree.

“We went to a lot of labels and everybody was saying ‘you should do music in Spanish, nobody’s going to listen to you if you do music in English’,” Blakk tells Linktree over Zoom from his home. “And we were thinking, ‘Hey, I don’t know, I know a lot of bands from France. I know bands from Italy. I know bands from Sweden, and it’s all because they sing in English. So for me the decision was simple: we have to go independent.”

The decision quickly worked out for Siames. Their 2016 track ‘The Wolf’ broke the band internationally, pulling in over 146 million views on YouTube. Today, the Siames fanbase stretches everywhere from their native Argentina to the US, Europe and Asia. 

It’s an empire they’ve built entirely on their own. Being independent meant the band had to “figure everything out” themselves, from how to upload music to streaming services to the process of getting booked for shows. Selling their own merch also quickly became part of the plan.

Siames band member wearing their band t-shirt

The band had big ambitions for their merch line. They wanted to create a large, ever-updating range of designs, inspired by Blakk’s prolific childhood heroes KISS. As well as the vision, the band had the artistic ability to make it happen – lead singer Stolz is also a talented graphic designer. The only thing they had to figure out was the logistics of getting their t-shirts to fans around the world.

“We wanted to have a really great aesthetic presence, but we didn’t know how to make it international,” Blakk says. “There were a lot of people writing to us like, ‘We love your stuff, how can we get it in the States? Or even bizarre requests, from Bangladesh or Russia.”

Eventually, they found Spring: a social commerce tool that makes it easy to sell merch online. Spring manufactures and ships merchandise internationally – you simply submit your designs, and they handle the rest.

“It was amazing because it was just, problem solved,” Blakk says. 

Today, Siames consistently sell 300 or 400 items per month, with sales often spiking even higher if they’ve just released new music or designs. In the band’s earlier days – before their streaming numbers really exploded – merch was making up 30% of their income. For an independent band, it was a vital income stream they could use for things like hiring rehearsal rooms or heading off on tour. And because Spring allowed them to deal directly with the supplier, there was no third party in between taking a slice of the profit.

Siames aren’t alone in making serious money off merch. Merchandise has long been a reliable way for artists to make extra cash, but it’s really boomed during the pandemic as Covid paused live tour plans. In Australia, for instance, widespread lockdowns in 2020 meant that that merchandise became almost 100% of some musicians’ income.

And once you’ve sold one piece of merch to a fan, it’s easy to make them a returning customer. Blakk believes many of their fans have bought one item and come back to collect a new design later.

“I answer everything on social media – every message on Instagram, or wherever. And there’s a lot of people who say, ‘Hey, I got this t-shirt from you. Now I want to get the hoodie.’ I think it’s because we work really hard on the designs and because the quality of the fabric is fantastic,” he says.

“I think that’s the trick that makes people want to buy more – because if you order a t-shirt, and you wash it a lot and it’s still awesome, you will definitely go and buy another one.”

A phone showing Siames band shirts using the Linktree Spring integration.

Linktree has been another powerful tool in Siames’ arsenal. As well as doing away with the need to create and maintain a costly website, a partnership between Linktree and Spring has allowed them to create a mini merch storefront on their Linktree. Up to six items from a Spring store can be embedded on a Linktree profile, making it easier than ever for fans to grab a new design.

“The thing that is awesome about Linktree is that we don’t have a website, we don’t need a website, we’re just using Linktree,” Blakk says. “Go to our Linktree and boom, you can find our tickets, you can find our merch, you can find new music, new videos, whatever we want to spread the word about.” 

Blakk advises any independent musician to consider starting their own merch line. In 2022, you don’t need to wait for a record label to do it for you.

“In the music industry, for years, the way it worked was ‘we’re going to do everything and you can have 10% of the profit’,” he reflects. “But right now, it’s really simple to do it all yourself. We’re definitely at that stage of the digital era where you don’t need any middleman in between.” 

“So definitely do it yourself. You can. We have.”

Jesse Golden Linktree Profile