Sunday, July 31, 2011

Is your merch table a cash cow

 As a performing musician You need unique & engaging musical performance to encourage repeat customers and increased ticket sales. Statistically individuals are going to fewer show, so there are to be a compelling performance and high entertainment factor to bring people
out en masse.
Often when working with artists, I find their merchandise table either missing completely, or missing significant sales opportunities.

I pulled together 5 tips to help you:

-Increase your sales
-Create meaningful engagement with your fans
-Manage inventory / cost
     1)  INTERESTING TABLE:  Think about high traffic areas in stores, they often have colorful interesting displays to capture your interest.  Think of your merch table as your own personal fan store. Even if you only have a table with a mailing list on it, have a colorful tablecloth and a sign (something that ties into your bands image) if you’re a country act, a picnic table w/ tablecloth vase of flowers and a framed sign. A Punk band might have a black vinyl or red PVC material with chains and a metal box displaying cds. Your local fabric store often has remnant materials you can buy for next to nothing, also look at recycled items to repurpose.
Many venues often offer you a tiny cocktail table to sell from so you need to be creative and prepared- having a card table that you can set up, it takes up a  small footprint and  doesn’t use a lot of valuable space in the tour car/truck.

2)   MAILING LIST: At the very mimimum your table must  have a clip board & mailing list that you can pass around and have people sign up.  TIP: Between songs right before the break take a few pictures of the crowd from the stage, tell them if they sign the mailing list, you’ll be posting the pics in your next newsletter for them to see THEIR mugs  at the show.  It WORKS!

3)   INVENTORY:  If you are just starting out, you may only have a couple of songs or a demo cd of “pre-released” or live songs. Give a free demo or song to everyone who signs your mailing list. Stickers, are also a very low cost, easy to give away item in exchange for a email address. Remember, you want to give them a reason to come back, and tell their friends about your show.

If you have several inventory items display them in a interesting way so people can see different styles.
Make it clean & well organized and have something at various price points- If you have a $15 admission fee, you better have something for sell for $5  since everyone will have at least a left over $5 from the $20  they paid at the door.

4)   ACCEPT CREDIT CARDS: You are losing 30-40% of your sales if you do not have a card swiper. Think about that!   If your fan’s spend their $5 from item #3 on a drink at the bar, you want them to use that cute little debit card in their wallet. Keep it simple and have a swiper machine and the credit card slips  it’s the best $30 you will spend   You can also use various apps with your iPhone/iPad as a cc machine however, you need to have a strong internet connection for them to work. You don’t want to worry about losing merchandise sale because the bar your playing in doesn’t have a cell signal right?

5)   ATTRACTION:    If you are the performing act, during the break and after the show, you work the merch table, talk to your fans AT THE TABLE. Do not go to the bar, you are working!  At the table  you can sign cd’s, shirts, and invite folks to join your mailing list. Usually artists have PLENTY of enthusiastic fan will offer to buy you a drink I promise! If you see someone always showing up at your show, give them a free cd or shirt, they are free walking billboards for you!   Yes you want to make money AND spread the word.

 Recruit the cutest sales gal you can find to wear your band T-shirt and work the table during your performances. Men and women can’t resist talking to a cute girl with a smile on her face! Honestly your sells will go up accordingly.  Make sure you give them a little cash or at the VERY least pay for their dinner for helping YOU make more money that evening / tour. *Remember NO eating at the merchandise table- no one can sell well if they are shoving food in their mouth, save the noshing for AFTER the show when the audience has gone home.   Having a merch. person keep track of the money and being proactive about working your “store” while your performing will make a huge difference to your earning potential and turn your merch table into a cash cow when you look at it as your own personal fan store!

Ultimately, it is about reaching out to your fans, and creating a new connection with them so they come back and bring their friends.

Do you have a really cool merch set up, email me a pic if you think you have a awesome space efficent merch set up!


CD baby  swiper
Merch case:

Looking for something fun to collect your merch $ in? How about your VERY OWN cash cow!


Monday, July 25, 2011

Preparing your business for a cross country trip

To have a successful business, ANY business, YOU have to work REALLY HARD.
If your business involves YOU or a small group of individuals who create the product you produce, You figure out very quickly that there is more work than  2,3, or even 4 people can do full time.  

Outlining the direction you are moving as you head toward you final destination,  & the resources you are going to commit to moving toward this destination. is called a strategic plan.

 If your desire  is to have a business where you make a living wage doing the creative thing that you love, then you need to have your business organized so you can succeed in doing that!
ANY successful business needs capital.  You have to be able to finance your business, for it to be healthy and grow.   Just imagine driving on a cross country trip with no map, no gps, or no fuel..... You are not going to get far.   

There is no room to “just throw it out there and see what happens”-  the work doesn't stop when you record the demo, or book the show....if that is your current plan how is that working for you?    To attract potential investors like- gallery owners, publishers, labels,  when they see you have a organized well run creative business THEY COME TO YOU. 
 If that isn't happening, then your next step should be to schedule a consultation with a   experienced business professional. Investing in the right person to  be part of your team,  will help you be prepared for the "cross country trip" providing you with a map  & GPS to assist you with your strategic planning & fuel  in the car to move you and your organization  toward your final destination.  

Recommended reading:
Outliers: The Story of Success    
In the book you will learn:
The Beatles performed live in HamburgGermany over 1,200 times from 1960 to 1964, amassing more than 10,000 hours of playing time BEFORE they ever came to America- to be "overnight sensations"  (that is more than most bands play in their entire careers!).

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Top 5 reasons artists fail

Top 5 reasons bands / artists fail:

1)    No action plan: You MUST have a map and a destination in mind to get anywhere.  Like taking a road trip, you can meander hoping that someone will find you- Legitimate Producers, Booking agents, managers, attorneys won’t work with artists who haven’t achieved some level of success, and are diligently working on growing their careers.  Be ready to make a LONG-term commitment (Being a overnight success takes a minimum of 5 yrs of VERY hard work).

2)    Having the right tools:
Artist Website (this is the center of your social media universe)
-       Artist Bio (with good quality photographs)
-       Demo 3-5 songs 
-       Reviews or recognition
-       Mailing list
-       Booking info
-       Business cards (you’re a business, act like a pro)

3)    A Great Product: One thing that has never changed you MUST have great music and a great show- this is your job; you need to create the BEST music possible and lots of it!  Rehearse, play lots of shows, and constantly work on refining your craft to stay ahead of the competition. The industry is saturated with wanna be’s with little or no talent. Know what your strengths are and utilize them.

4)    Educate yourself:  To have a successful music business you need to know how EVERYTHING works- If you don’t know about distribution, or booking, use the internet, go to conferences, consult with professionals who can help you. Gather facts, and make informed decisions.

     3) Business Expert: Most artists don’t have a experienced business expert to help them guide their careers, since most business managers are busy with their successful clientele, you need a professional who can help you stay focused, and on track saving you valuable time and money.

Recommended book to have:

The Indie Bible, 12th Edition