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Teespring vs. Printify vs. Gooten vs. Printful vs. Teelaunch: Best Print On-Demand Merch Companies for Musicians

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Teespring vs. Printify vs. Gooten vs. Printful vs. Teelaunch: Best Print On-Demand Merch Companies for Musicians

Which print on-demand merch company is best for musicians: Gooten, Printful, Printify, Teelaunch, or Teespring?

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Lennon Cihakhttps://lennoncihak.com
Lennon Cihak is an entertainment media professional specializing in music journalism, podcast production, and music production. Through podcasts, social media, and featured articles on critically acclaimed online publications, his work has reached over 40 million readers around the globe increasing fan engagement and brand awareness.

Selling merch is one of the best ways for artists to earn extra income, connect with their fans, and build community. 

It’s a great way for your fans to further support and remember you for years to come. Start building your tribe. Not to mention it is the way you will be profitable on the road – doubling or tripling your income. 

+How to Double Your Merch Income …No Really

Merch is important, but it can also be a headache. A big one. It’s a financial and logistical nightmare to calculate how much you’re going to have to spend, the quantity of each item, and then storing the extra product. Not to mention the amount of time that will go into the creative design of each item. 

Just because touring has come to a halt, doesn’t mean you can’t still engage your fanbase and sell them some merch. And with print-on-demand services you won’t need to stuff  boxes of t-shirts, stickers, magnets, mugs, and frisbees in your spare room. 

I still have vacuum sealed bags with t-shirts from an event I DJ’ed years ago. I’ve moved across the country twice and have dragged those bags with me both times. They were stored in my spare closet in Florida and now they’re stuffed under my bed. I could use that space for other junk I most definitely don’t need! 

Anyways… 

Here’s how print on-demand works 

You select the item(s) you want, like a bandana, customize them, and put them in an online shop at a rate you set. When someone orders your merch, the manufacturer will print, pack, and ship it to the customer without you ever having to touch it. 

The best part is that your merch isn’t printed or shipped until someone orders, so you don’t have to store boxes and boxes of merch. Save your extra space and the environment!

The companies we’ve selected allow you to whitelabel your store. This comparison is focused on companies that allow their customers to whitelabel their service and make it your own. That means that you can seamlessly integrate your website instead of sending fans out to a different service to make their purchase. The gold standard for this integration is Shopify. You can use this link here for a free 14 day trial which is enough time to get your store set up and start converting some traffic. 

Shopify is its own service and allows you to build a store directly on their platform, but it can also be used as a plugin or integration with a number of the companies listed in this comparison. For example, you’ll be able to pull your designed products from Printful or Printify into your Shopify-integrated site. I’ll get into this later in the article. 

How am I profiting with print on-demand? Isn’t it expensive?

No. It actually doesn’t require any upfront expenses like the old method of ordering merch. We’re in the new music business – out with the old! 

Let’s use a t-shirt from Printful, one of the print on-demand companies we’ll cover in this comparison, as an example. On Printful’s website the black Bella + Canvas 3001 shirt is $12.95. You customize that t-shirt, import it into your merch store, and mark it up to $25 (or whatever price you choose). When someone purchases it, you pocket the extra $12.05. 

It’s important to note that these are not upfront costs, meaning you do not have to pay anything out of pocket to get started. It’s really as simple as select, customize, and then profit. 

+How Much You Should Be Charging for Merch

Who is print on-demand for? 

Until you’re selling enough merch to merit bringing in a full-fledged merch company that will design, print and ship (for a hefty commission), print on-demand is the way to go if you don’t need on-hand inventory. Whether you don’t have a lot of money and aren’t sure of what’s going to sell or you have already created a merch empire but want to automate the warehousing and shipping process, print on-demand is a great solution. If it doesn’t sell, there’s no harm to your wallet. But it doesn’t make sense to order 100 tees that will end up in your extra storage space.

Each print on-demand company has a different method of getting merch to your fans. Some only offer integrations with Shopify and/or Etsy. Some can get your merch into online retailers like Walmart or Amazon. And some allow you to build your store right on their site.

As you read through this comparison, it’s important to remember that each company is vastly different in the products and services that they offer. There is no one size fits all. Find the one that works best for you and your needs.

You also don’t have to handle customer support. The print on-demand companies will handle that.

If one of your customers receives the wrong item, t-shirt size, or somehow their card gets charged twice, the print on-demand company will handle these inquiries. Some companies offer support through live chat, phone, and email. The specifics of each company’s customer support options are listed in the chart below. 

Do not use other copyrighted and trademarked logos on your merchandise. 

You can and probably will get banned. And you run the risk of being sued. That’s not a fun venture for a creative to go through. It could ruin your entire career and reputation.

I spoke with an entertainment attorney about trademarks. She once had a client use a trademarked logo (without even knowing it). Her client had this logo printed on pens, business cards, their website, banners, fliers, everything. Then they got sued by the trademark owner. Once it was all settled, they had to trash everything. It drained their bank accounts, and they were put out of business. 

When print on-demand first started taking off, copyright infringement did run rampant. But since then the industry has kept up with self-policing. Programs are also being developed to assist in catching copyright infringements on products, but you still need to be cautious.

Bottom line: Don’t use a trademarked logo on your merchandise. And check with an intellectual property attorney before having your merch printed and sold. 

We also looked at CustomInk, Redbubble, Spreadshirt, and Merchbar. 

We decided not to include them. As I mentioned above, this comparison is focused on companies that allow their customers to whitelabel their service and make it your own. That means that you can use these to integrate into your website and aren’t just going into a creator’s marketplace.

Merchbar is a service that integrates with hundreds of companies and allows artists to put merch on their Spotify profiles and YouTube channels. They are not a company like the ones below; they are virtually a middleman between YouTube, Spotify, and merch companies.

Melanie Martinez Merchbar Spotify

If you’d like to use Merchbar on your YouTube or Spotify profile, then you can apply via their website to become a partner. After completing the application at the time of this article’s posting (11/25/2020), you’ll be directed to a thank you page that states the following: 

“We are currently processing a high level of inquiries from artists, brands, and entertainment properties waiting to be added to our platform, so please be patient while we work through these requests.”

CustomInk is a big player in the merchandise business, but they do not offer print on-demand.

Onto the comparison between Gooten, Printful, Printify, Teelaunch, and Teespring.

Gooten

Gooten is named after Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press. They were founded in 2015 and are headquartered in New York, New York. 

They have integrations with Shopify, Etsy, WooCommerce, and offer their own Gooten API.

They offer more than 110 products across categories like apparel, home and living, wall art, accessories, pets, and cards.

One of Gooten’s unique features is their Dynamic Routing. This Dynamic Routing maximizes efficiency by pairing the right production partner and shipping provider together, which lowers the cost of the products. 

Quality control can be a bit elusive with the Dynamic Routing system, even though it maximizes the efficiency, since it’s being outsourced to other companies.

Pros

  • 100+ products to choose from
  • Direct and indirect fulfillment
  • Multiple fulfillment centers around the world
  • Volume discounts
  • Free shipping options for your store
  • Premium subscription and deals 

Cons

  • No free samples (exclusive to Plus, Pro, and Elite VIM plans)
  • Does not accept returns
  • Fewer than 5 store integrations
  • No premium subscription and deals 

Printful

Printful is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina and launched in 2013. They have locations all over the world, including in California, North Carolina, Mexico, Spain, and Latvia and partner with fulfillment centers in Australia and Japan.

They recently partnered with Getty Images to give customers access to their repository of 80 million+ images for their products. Customers will be able to purchase images for around $1. 

We use Printful for the merch in our Ari’s Take Academy store. It seamlessly integrates with the WooCommerce plugin on the site. We designed the products on Printful’s website, published them, and then the products populate on the frontend of the site. When someone orders a piece of merch, we receive an email with the information, and Printful fulfills and ships it to the customer. Simple.

Ari's Take Academy Printful edit black t-shirt

Additionally, Printful is one of the only companies on this list that offers print on-demand for embroidered products.

A big benefit with Printful is that they own all of their own factories.

This means that their quality is more consistent because everything stays in-house and they’re not outsourcing products to third party companies.

And since Printful owns all of the factories around the world, your customers will receive their merch in a timely manner. When a fan orders one of your pieces of merch, it will be fulfilled and shipped from the factory closest to them. 

Pros

  • 200+ products to choose from
  • Samples offered (20% off)
  • Direct fulfillment
  • Accepts returns
  • Multiple fulfillment centers around the world
  • 5 or more store integrations
  • Volume discounts
  • Free shipping options for your store

Cons

  • No premium subscription or deals

Printify

Printify was launched in 2015 by James Berdigans and Artis Kehris. They are headquartered in San Francisco, California.

They offer eight integrations with Shopify, Etsy, eBay, PrestaShop, BigCommerce, WIX, WooCommerce, and their Printify API. They also have more than 300 products to choose from. 

Printify does not have any hidden costs for print on-demand. The product, print, and shipment costs are indicated on each product you put in your catalog. Their platform is free to use, and you can publish as many designs as you. 

Annabel Lee Makeout t-shirt Printify

Their Printify Premium Plan allows you to receive 20% off all Printify products and a one-time subscription bonus credit that they apply to your Printify balance. This subscription can be cancelled at any time and costs $29/mo. 

We use Printify for Annabel Lee’s merch. Her site is built in Squarespace, and Printify is integrated with the Shopify plugin there. When someone orders a piece of merch, Annabel Lee receives an email notification and Printify handles the rest. 

We’ve had an artist reach out and mention that they’ve gotten ‘really screwed’ by Printify.

They mentioned that Printify sent them the wrong merch (it wasn’t even in their merch store), had bad print quality, and were even misprinted. That’s a risk that’s taken with services like Printify. They use an extensive network of independent printers. While we are all about supporting small businesses, it creates room for these types of quality control issues. Since it’s not all under one roof the Printify team can only reach out to the printer and can’t take full ownership over these types of issues.

Mistakes happen, but when dealing with branding reputation there should be no mistakes.

Pros

  • 300+ products to choose from
  • Accepts returns
  • Multiple fulfillment centers around the world
  • 5 or more store integrations
  • Free shipping options for your store

Cons

  • No free samples
  • Indirect fulfillment 
  • No volume discount
  • No premium subscription or deals 

Teelaunch

Teelaunch is headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It was founded in 2013 by Christopher Hamze. He’s always had a love for technology and purchased a printing machine for $200,000 around the time the company was founded. They struggled for a few years after purchasing the machine and poured their money into an application that connects Teelaunch’s systems to a customer’s Shopify store. And finally Teelaunch… launched. 

They have a very small team of six people: two developers, two customer service representatives, and two designers.

Teelaunch is an application, as mentioned above, and is available for Shopify, Etsy, Facebook, and eBay. 

When they first started selling merch, they only sold t-shirts. But the business quickly evolved and they found that their clients weren’t making any money by just selling t-shirts. So they  expanded their product offerings to more than 100 products like t-shirts, tumblers, blankets, pillows, stickers, balloons, coasters, bowls, and more.

They currently have about 20,000 active customers and more than 130,000 application installations over the past four years. 

Each of their products comes with a PDF template that you can use to design your products. So, for example, if you’re going to design a mug you’ll download their PDF template and customize it using Photoshop, Illustrator, or any other PDF editor. 

It’s worth noting that their customer support team is most comfortable with Photoshop, so that’s what they recommend you use.

They also offer “personalizable products,” which allow your customers to upload their own images. For example, if you have a tumbler with your artist name on it and a customer wants to add a picture of their dog to it, Teelaunch has that capability. Who wouldn’t want to be on a tumbler with a dog?! 

Pros

  • Sample orders (25% off once a month)
  • Direct and indirect fulfillment
  • Accepts returns
  • Free shipping options for your store

Cons

  • Fewer than 100 products to choose from
  • Limited fulfillment locations
  • Fewer than 5 storefront integrations
  • No premium subscription or deals 

Teespring

Teespring was started in 2011 by Walker Williams and Evan Stites-Clayton in Providence, Rhode Island. They are now headquartered in San Francisco, California. They have offices in Kentucky and London as well.

They offer products in apparel, home decor, phone cases, accessories, and mugs that can be customized using their Teespring Launcher. Once you’ve finished creating your design, you can use their Boosted Network, Marketing Tools, and Partnership Integrations. 

Teespring’s Boosted Network can get your products into major retailers like Walmart, eBay, Wish, Amazon, Etsy, and more. 

You’ll have to meet a few requirements, however. You’ll have to maintain a good trust score, which is assigned to each account after the first sale. To maintain it, your designs must comply with Teespring’s design policies. 

You’ll also have to drive sales. Teespring prioritizes products based on sales history. If you can generate sales on your product(s), then they will prioritize them and get them into the Boosted Network much faster.

Finally you’ll need to create unique content. Teespring is always looking to add seasonal designs, trending designs, and adding new design categories that aren’t already in the Boosted Network.

The Teespring Launcher is free to use, but you’ll have to create an account with them in order to use it. You can create your own account or sign up using Google, YouTube, or Facebook. 

Ari's Take example merch through Teespring

They provide a number of stores, promotion codes, and buyer messaging. Furthermore, using their Boosted Network you can get your merchandise listed in places like Amazon and eBay.

Teespring also offers integrations with Twitch’s merch shop, YouTube’s merch shelf, and Instagram Checkout.

If you want to learn how to be successful livestreaming on Twitch or YouTube, check out the Ari’s Take Academy course: Livestreaming for Musicians. 

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The Twitch merch shop can be integrated within your Twitch account to allow for live alerts and exclusive sub-only merch. So you’ll receive notifications during your livestreams when someone orders your merch. You can also offer your fans exclusive merch if they’re subscribed to your account.

Kitboga Merch Shelf on Twitch through Teespring

Teespring also offers an integration with YouTube’s Merch Shelf. This allows you to integrate your merch right within your YouTube channel. Your channel must meet a few requirements, however, before you can add this feature to your channel. Once integrated, your merch will have its own tab on your channel and will show up below some of your videos.

ThioJoe Merch Shelf on YouTube

ThioJoe Merch Shelf below YouTube Video

Lastly, Teespring’s Instagram Checkout integration allows you to sell merch right from your Instagram account. Your customers don’t have to leave Instagram to make the purchase, which Teespring claims to “reduce barriers like clicks and load times and ultimately increase sales for Teespring users.”

instagram-image Teespring

It’s worth noting that we haven’t tested the integrations ourselves. So if you have experience with them, please leave them in the comments below. 

Teespring’s customer support is one of the most diverse and accessible. They offer live chat and email support.

They have robust customer support options, and the team consists of over 50 agents in every time zone that speak seven different languages. 

Their live chat is available for buyers Monday through Friday 9am to 5pm EST. Emails are responded to within 24-48 hours, as are follow-up responses, depending on the issue(s). 

Teespring will provide any buyer with a solution to a defective product as long as they contact them within 30 days of receiving their order.

While Teespring has the most diverse customer support options, we haven’t had a positive experience from them. 

They’ve given us the runaround. We reached out to them via their chat to confirm if they sold the Bella + Canvas 3001 t-shirt and how much it would cost to design on it. They told us to reach out via email about this first. 

We never heard back from them through the email they provided. We waited for nearly 48 hours, followed up, and then finally heard back from someone about 58 hours later. 

When someone finally responded through email, the agent sent a generic response that didn’t answer what we were asking.

Teespring customer service

The agent had no idea what products they had. And they were actually Googling the products that they offered. How can a company not know the exact products they are selling en masse? Red flag. 

After we further clarified our question, they sent over their product catalog that still didn’t directly answer our question. However, we concluded that Teespring only offers the Bella + Canvas 3005, which is a v-neck. The 3001 is a crewneck rounded unisex t-shirt. 

Pros

  • Direct fulfillment
  • Accepts returns
  • 5 or more store integrations
  • Free shipping options for your store

Cons

  • Fewer than 100 products to choose from
  • No free samples
  • Limited fulfillment locations
  • No premium subscription or deals 

Gooten vs. Printful vs. Printify vs. Teelaunch vs. Teespring Chart

Conclusion

There isn’t a one size fits all print on-demand company. They all do similar things, but each have their own unique qualities and perks, so it’s completely up to you on what will work best for you and your business.

If you have questions, comments, experiences with any of these companies, or suggestions for other companies, please share them in the comments below. We will update this comparison article periodically for each company and add new ones as well. 

About The Author

Lennon Cihakhttps://lennoncihak.com
Lennon Cihak is an entertainment media professional specializing in music journalism, podcast production, and music production. Through podcasts, social media, and featured articles on critically acclaimed online publications, his work has reached over 40 million readers around the globe increasing fan engagement and brand awareness.

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