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: