photo © 2008 Nick Ares | more info (via: Wylio)Being in a band is about making some kick ass music, but unfortunately if a band is going to survive they need to be about more than just music. Bands also have to sell merchandise. I spent years working with the band that broke all the rules when it came to band merchandise, KISS. Maybe KISS is known more for their toys than their music, but there is no denying their success and influence. What is your band doing to sell merchandise? And more importantly, are you looking at what sells and what doesn’t sell to determine what you can do to sell more? Remember this is a business. I also spent years working for the largest merchandising company in the music industry, Signatures Network now a Live Nation company. I saw the process that went into determining a product line, designing a t-shirt, reviewing sales and adjusting to make the most money you could at each show.
Here is a great list of 10 reasons your merchandise may not be selling. Read it and think about your merchandise.
I would also add one more tip: You don’t adjust the prices. Your t-shirt from last year should not be the same price as the newest shirt. You might be surprised to see how many old $5 t-shirts you sell. Get rid of that old inventory and get yourself some cash for new merchandise.
Here’s an excerpt of the most salient points from an excellent post by Bruce Warilla from the music blog Music Think Tank. It’s regarding selling your merchandise (actually not selling your merchandise), a subject that every musician with swag to sell is concerned with. It was actually supposed to be the top 10 reasons, but for some reason he left out number 8, so that’s one and the bonus tip are from me.
10) You never create anything different. It’s the same merch you were pushing two years ago, but you tried to change 2008 to 2010 with a Sharpie.
9) Your merch looks like your little sister drew it…using crayons.
8) There’s nothing different between your merch and what other bands sell. Try another kind of product, get a better design, or try a different color. Do some market research before you spend money on inventory.
7) There’s not enough lighting on the merch table; everything looks monochrome.
6) The merch table is next to the dance floor / mosh pit.
5) Your manager (smaller acts) has too much pride to be hawking merchandise, but he or she should be…
4) You can’t process debit cards. Get a wireless solution.
3) You underestimate the importance (to the band) of grabbing that extra $100 to $200 per show, so you don’t bother making the effort.
2) The lead singer refuses to promote merch. Solution: give him or her a pitch speech that doesn’t sound desperate or cheesy. Write and then sing your signature “buy my stuff song…” three times a night.
1) You don’t connect with your audience; you don’t make eye contact; you don’t know the name of the bar you are performing in; or you forget that you were in Portland last week (Seattle this week).
Bonus tip: Announce from the stage that the band will be at the merch table to talk to the audience directly after the show. It’s amazing how much you’ll sell just by your presence.