Category Archives: Marketing & Promotion

5 Tips for Making Merch Work For You

By Stephen Babcock

1. If you’re gigging, you need to sell merch (merchandise)

If you plan on playing shows, you need merch. Anyone who has ever been to a concert or show knows that the best acts always have some kind of merch (T-shirts, posters, caps, etc.) to sell to fans. Whether it’s the local garage band playing their hometown, or Fleetwood Mac performing at Madison Square Garden, all great acts have merch.

Successful artists want their fans to remember their shows, well after the roadies have packed up and their concerts are over. They want their fans to have a great experience, a vibe they can enjoy and share with others. Selling them merch encourages fans to share their enthusiasm and it gives them something tangible to show off to friends and family. It also allows them to feel a deeper connection to their favorite artists and their music.

If you plan on taking music seriously, make merch a priority.

2. Know your brand and make a logo

You, your music or your band needs to have a brand.

Part of being a musician in today’s competitive music industry is being business savvy. Businesses from McDonalds to Coca Cola have a brand that is key to promoting their product to their market. By knowing your fan base and customers, you can sell your merch more efficiently. Add to that mix a logo or recurring image that is connected to your music, and you will make a major impact with merch. AC/DC, Kiss and The Ramones’ branding comes to mind. They have common, visually striking and memorable images on everything, from T-shirts to pinball machines. By using an image and/or logo that is common and uniform throughout your merch, fans can spread the look and feel of your music without saying a word.

A picture (image or logo) says a thousand words…your merch can too.

3. Start small and work up in size

This is why it’s important to start off small with merch items.

Just because some artists have big-ticket items, doesn’t mean you need to start off huge. If you are on a budget, I recommend starting off with posters or club cards. They’re a great way to get something in fans’ hands that they can take home. Posters and club cards can be placed anywhere too, which makes them great tools for free advertising. As a new band, nothing is more inspiring than seeing posters or flyers you made hung around the town your playing in, or plastered on the walls of your venue.

Like anything in life, you have to walk before you can run. So start small and build up to items like T-shirts, tote bags or specialty hats.

4. Know how to sell your merch

Once you create your merch, it’s important to make sure you package it to fans correctly.

Everything from the stand your merch is sold on, to the types of merch offered, should be bundled in a unique way, by you the artist. If your band’s name is “The Sailboats,” your merch packaging should somehow be involved with that theme. You could sell T-shirt’s bundled in a sailor’s knot or sell your merch at your stand storing your items in tiny boats. This allows fans to feel connected to the theme and has a great wow factor too.

Everyone has bought T-shirts before, but by making it new and fresh, you give your fans a chance to embrace your “brand” (as stated in bullet 2).

5. Stay involved

You’ve gotten your customized merchandise, you have a gig, and it’s time to sell your stuff. Now what? As a young artist, it’s important that before or after the show, you socialize with your fans.

If you meet and greet your fans, they are likely to buy something for you to sign (be prepared, always carry a Sharpie!). I’ve seen merch sales rise dramatically when artists say hello to their supporters after a show. So put on a great performance, but afterwards, shake their hands, take a picture and sign CDs or T-shirts. Also, taking photos with fans gives them a chance to be photographed with your gear, which is free advertising. Put a smile on their faces, and they‘ll post those photos on social media, even more free advertising.

Successful artists do this constantly because they know the value of a “fan-to-artist connection.”

Sharing and selling merch lets your fans stay connected to you and you to them. When they’re happy with the merch you created, you’ll know your merch is working for you.

[Editors Note: Are you looking for a new source for your fan merch? Open a TuneCore MerchLink account and have access to thousands of item. You can save 10% on one order placed by November 30, 2014.]


Born and raised in New Hartford, New York and now residing in New York City Stephen Babcock began playing guitar at the age of 15 after hearing John Mayer’s “Room For Squares.” Since then, he has continued to craft his skills as a singer-songwriter, recording and performing a catalog of original music, including two EPs and one full-length LP.  After releasing Dreams, Schemes, and Childhood Memories in May 2011 and Lost in July 2013, Stephen went on a touring frenzy. He stormed up and down the east coast of the US as well as the United Kingdom, hitting coffee shops, small theaters, and numerous singer-songwriter festivals. With dates ranging from Athens, GA to London UK, his sound grew and explored new heights while on the road.

Stephen’s new EP, Wishful Thinking, was written and recorded upon returning home from touring and was released in May 2014. The EP weaves southern charm with full band grooves to create Stephen’s most layered and complete sound to date. Drawing comparisons to artists like Brett Dennen and Matt Nathanson, Stephen’s robust performance and life experience come together to achieve a live show unparalleled in today’s pop music landscape.

Check out his music here:

Twitter: @StephenBMusic
Instagram: @StephenBMusic

5 Ways Research Can Help You Connect with Your Fans

[Editor’s Note: We work with SoundOut to offer our artists insights and analytics with TuneCore Track Smarts reports. Check out this post from SoundOut’s CEO and Founder, which describes how music research with fans can complement your music creation and marketing efforts.]

David Courtier-Dutton is the CEO and Founder of SoundOut, the market leading research and audience insight tool for new music that guarantees accurate and objective insight into your music, 100% powered by real music fans.

Can musical integrity and research make music together?

Why not?

There’s no reason why you can’t retain your artistic integrity, while also using music research to ensure you are targeting the right audience. Your music is a creative product and you want to spend as much time creating as possible – and as little time marketing to people who are not interested in it as possible. Research does not interfere with your creativity, it simply tells you where your market is and what kind of people will most likely appreciate and connect with your music. This enables you to consistently market to the right people who are predisposed to becoming your long-term fans.

Using research is simply a smart thing to do, yet historically good research cost thousands of dollars. However the power of SoundOut, the market-leading research company that works closely with all the major labels, CBS radio and many of the largest and most successful artists in the world, is now available to you via TuneCore Track Smarts reports at a cost effective price.

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There are multiple ways that Track Smarts can help your career, and we’ve compiled a quick summary of the most powerful ones:

1. Know your market

You might be thinking “I already know this one,” but without testing and marketing your music extensively in every different market in the world, how do you really know? Do you have enough fans to test all markets thoroughly? You can identify your target demographic by ordering a Premium Track Smarts report, where you’ll get a full breakdown of how your track resonates with 16-24s and 25-34s, both overall and specifically in your genre. This should help you identify the listeners who will be most responsive and receptive.

2. Listen to your audience

Reading your reviews on YouTube might help you to a point, but generally those people aren’t there to be constructive and comments are often bland, meaningless or unhelpful. The reviews you receive in your Track Smarts reports will be of high quality written by a range of consumers. Some know a lot, some don’t know much, but they all have something in common; they are all music fans and represent the people who will be buying your music. You may not agree with a lot of what they say, but you will quickly get a feel for what they like and don’t like about your music. Listen to what they have to say, however brutal!

comments TS

3. Market potential

We regard the overall market potential as being the most important feature of a Track Smarts report.   Our market potential ratings are generated by comparing your track against tens of thousands of others we have tested before – this will give you an idea of how your tracks sit commercially. If you use the Premium Track Smarts report, you also receive ‘In Genre’ market potential ratings, which indicate how your track compares to thousands of others within your particular genre. On top of this, you can conduct comparative analysis across several tracks, to help you identify which songs you should be pushing as singles.

4. Song Element Analysis

Asking your friends and family their opinion on your music is helpful, but they may hesitate to be completely honest, particularly on those elements of your music that may need some work (unless you really are better than Adele!). The Song Element Analysis section of your Track Smarts report will give you a breakdown of the different components of your track and how positive/negative the reviewers were about each specific part. It could help you identify which elements of the tracks you can improve on, or put your mind at ease about something you are not 100% sure about.

5. Opportunities

In addition to all the fantastic data and feedback you receive on your tracks, there are also a number of opportunities you could be eligible for.

A strong Track Smarts report opens up a number of commercial doors for you. We provide research to major record labels and have high-level label and radio contacts in the US who trust the data they receive from SoundOut. It is no surprise that these labels love receiving information about up-and-coming artists, certified by SoundOut/Track Smarts scores.  If one of your songs rates highly enough on SoundOut/Track Smarts, it is eligible to be evaluated for submission for radio play and/or be sent to senior record label execs at one of our partner labels.

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Research improves your understanding of your art, helps you to be the best you can be and connects you with as many new fans as possible.

Your creativity and research can make great music together.

TuneCore’s ’25 Songs of Summer 2013′ Compilations Now on Amazon

Last month, TuneCore Artists of all genres submitted their new music for our 25 Songs of Summer 2013 compilation album.  After an incredible response from our artists, we created two volumes of the compilation to showcase more new music.

Both volumes are now live on Amazon MP3 U.S. for free download, so take a listen and discover some new independent artists:


25 Songs of Summer 2013: A TuneCore Artist Compilation Vol. 1

Colors of Summer Rookie of the Year
Sunset Blvd Lancifer 
Guy I Don’t Know Caylin Walsingham 
Uptown Boys Netherfriends 
Show Me Something Audrey Rose 
Searchin’ Solar Heist 
Tout Tourne Intended Immigration 
Sundress Landon Austin
Sunday Girl Aprilemade 
Little Green Honda Tyson Leslie 
Wait for the Summer Shake Some Action! 
Ufos She’s Alive 
Last Night Almost Sunday 
Don’t Leave Me Burning Tyler Barham
Tastes Like Summer Dylan Jakobsen 
Muscle Shoals Music Man Tremayne 
Blues Del Camino Brok 
Ella Luis Terreros 
One More Try Lauren Mayhew
Just Can’t Get Enough Gedina 
Love Fever  Elyse and the Aftermath 
You’re All There We Were Indians 
Northern Rigoletto 
Manchester Prospect Hill
The Rising Sun ÆTHR 

 25 Songs of Summer 2013: A TuneCore Artist Compilation Vol. 2

I Be Gunnin (Yoon Yoon) Foolish 
Los Angeles Memoir 
Friendzone JoJo 
Summertime Isaac Lewis
Light up the Sky Tha Bizniz 
Marvelous kevlar
Remember Od 
Return of Rap (feat. KingPen the DonDada) G.a.B 
Erryday Millionaireswag 
Summer Rain Mello Deas 
Praise Break Sheldon Brown & Fresh Wind 
You Can’t Run from the Sun TheSoulofDaniel 
I Love the Summer The Ill 
Relaxing Lounge Unionsteve
Unstoppable Superhuman 
Issues (feat. Kim Olsen & Zahidah) Mark Bonafide 
Candles in the Rain Cash Campain 
Ooo La La Ajia Clark 
Good 4 Ya (feat. Deja Bryson & Dahliam) Six Fif
Meet & Greet Party (feat. Rock) Playa Keezy
Photo Shoot – 2:15 Sudan 
100 100’s Arcy Babypar 
For the Summer Jacey Jasnoch 
Ready to Ride (feat. Lance Wilson) Alex Sheridan
Rescue Me (feat. Occupation Unknown) Beatfiendz

#TCVideoFridays – August 9th 2013

Feel like watching some music videos from indie artists?  Great! Here are 10 TuneCore Artist videos to kick off your weekend…

Attic Wolves, “The Balladeer”

Ruby Jane, “Wake Up”

Ryan Darton, “Sing to Me Baby”

EverSay, “This Time”

Annie Becker, “Beez Neez”

Phebe Starr, “Jurassica”

Dexter’s Kin, “Spill Out the Lies”

Jeff LeBlanc, “What Do You Got to Lose”

Prospect Hill, “Come Alive”

TwentyForSeven, “All I Ever Wanted”

Do you have a video of a song you distributed through TuneCore? Tag us on Twitter (@TuneCore) and use the hashtag #TCVideoFridays with a link to your video.

New Music Tuesday: August 6, 2013

TuneCore Artists are releasing tons of new music every day. Each week we check out the new TuneCore releases and choose a few at random to feature on the blog.

Is your hit next?


Raise It Up
Distant Cousins


Lick My Wounds
Ron Pope


Pretty Fine Dream
Jake Coco

Cryptic Wisdom
Hip Hop/Rap


Time of Our Lives
What About Tonight

Hidden Gems
Various Artists


Alexandra Lee
Alexandra Lee

Native Air (Deluxe Edition)
Lowland Hum


Stay With Me
Skyhawk Drive

Get Out of the Garage with Converse, Guitar Center & TuneCore

Hey Indie Rockers!

Submit your music to Guitar Center and Converse’s “Get Out of the Garage” Contest for a chance to win a slew of awesome prizes (including free worldwide digital distribution from TuneCore)!

GOOTG Launch

Here’s how it works:

Submit a recorded live performance or music video here. Once you submit, get your fans to watch and share your channel through social media—views and shares help boost you up in the contest rank. Five finalists will be hand-picked to perform live at Converse Rubber Tracks in Brooklyn where one winner will be chosen.

Click here for more details about how judging works.

And now to the good stuff, the prize package…

The grand prize winner will get:

  • A 3 Song EP produced by Dev Hynes at Converse Rubber Tracks in Brooklyn, NY.
  • $25,000 Cash
  • Live performance at The FADER FORT Presented by Converse in Austin
  • New gear from top music instrument brands – Fender, Shure, Martin, Ernie Ball, Evans, Pro-Mark, Dunlop, Gretsch, Zildjian, Vox
  • Free worldwide digital distribution from TuneCore
  • Feature on an AT: GC Podcast with Nic Harcourt.

Ready to enter your music and start spreading the word? Start here.

Good luck!