Selling merchandise is one of the best ways for generating income for your band, and as a matter of fact, it may be the only source of income that you as an artist can make that you can easily control. If you are a touring act, selling merch is often times your livelihood, providing money for food, and petrol to get to the next gig.
The most important thing when selling your band’s merchandise is the location of the merch booth/table and also having a trusted friends run the booth during the show. Visibility is crucial at whatever venue you are playing. Hopefully, if the venue has a designated area, it is in a well-lit and easily accessible area of the club. Ideally, you want to be set near the door or near the stage. If the venue doesn’t have a good spot, see if you can work with them, or come up with a creative idea to draw attention. Make sure you always bring a few small lamps, in case the area needs more light.
Being organized and smart with the quantity of merchandise is also key. Make sure you sure you count all your items with your trusted friends before and after the show. Make sure you have adequate change, and keep the prices at well rounded numbers. Keep all t-shirts with t-shirts, all hats with the hats, etc. Try to do your best to organize the items by size and by male/female apparel. Be realistic about what you expect to sell. If you are planning on doing a small tour of only 15-20 shows, there is no need to print 10,000 cds or t-shirts. There would be nothing worse than having a garage full of 5,000 extra t-shirts that say “2006 US Tour Dates” on the back, so make sure not to over order.
Try to create as much buzz around your merch booth as possible. It is always helpful if you can find a motivated friend that doesn’t play in the band to help out. Think outside the box in order to draw more people over. Hold raffles, give away small items for free like stickers, key chains etc. Offer deals like buy a t-shirt, get a cd, etc. Really try to push the limits on this one. There is a lot you could get away with in a club, but just to be safe, double check with the venue before you try anything too outlandish.
Lastly, fans love items that are tour or album specific. Try selling a previously unreleased track from the album your promoting, and sell it exclusively at your live shows.
A lot of these tips can be applied to selling merch online as well, just make sure your music contacts are heavily promoting the fact that you sell online too. The most important thing to remember with this is to be sure to punctual in sending out orders. No one likes to wait, and if you don’t send the item promptly, you may lose a fan.
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