So you’re in a band, part of a collective or have the opportunity to sell merchandise at a venue. Definitely take advantage of this situation, especially if you are in a band that performs regularly. Perhaps you already do but sales aren’t as strong as you would have hoped. Here are some ideas, tips and thoughts to help you merchandise fly off your table and send you home with a nice fistful of dollars.
We all know that hard-copy music sales are down, and hard-copy art while attractive doesn’t necessarily sell itself with the expensive prices you need to equal the time you put into it. Whether you are musician or artist its time to find some other items to sell at your merch table. Items people will actually pay for…readily. You have the ability to add on to your gig revenue with some amazing results.
Consider this before you read onward. You probably have die-hard fans at your show or venue, and they’ll pay for anything but the fringe fans or newcomers will need some convincing so be weary of overcharging for your merch, find a happy middle ground.
1) Buy the Right Stuff
You’re going to have some overhead costs involved with this endeavour, so make sure your decisions will pay off. Apparel is your key to a strong merch table. T-Shirts are your best bet and will garner the most interest. Stick with the brands Gildan and American Apparel if you can. They are the most widely available and most respected within the industry. You’ll get these for under $10 a piece (even with the design printed) so don’t fret about the money yet. Stick with some popular colours, especially black and don’t take too many risks. Darker colours are better than lighter ones as a general rule, and make sure you focus on offering 15 Smalls, 50 Mediums, 25 Larges, 10 Extra Larges if you are ordering in blocks of 100. As a general rule, blocks of 100 are better than blocks of 50 because you never know what type of size interest you will have.
2) Design the Right Stuff
My suggestion is to get someone else to design your apparel if you aren’t well versed with Adobe Illustrator as you want a nice vector design for this project. The good thing about vectors is that they are not made of pixels and will not degenerate when playing around with sizing, making them perfect for screen-printing. If you can’t find someone to help you, design it yourself but send the design around to get some input. People won’t wear just anything…
3) Sell it the Right Way
When your on stage or near a mic, do a shout out that you have awesome merch for sale and keep it somewhere in a high traffic area, no matter how much of a nuisance you might be for people trying to meander around it. It’s all about exposure. Once people have come to your table you don’t want to deter them with high prices, so for t-shirts use $30.00 as your ceiling, and $20.00 as your basement. If you can afford it, try selling posters, key chains or lower priced items at your table for people who can’t spare money on apparel. One way not to move merchandise is to have everyone in your posse wearing it. It makes you seem like you don’t know what you are doing at all, and people will see it as lame if nothing else, so try to shy away from that method of getting the word out if possible.
In conclusion, for your t-shirts pick a design that works on some black apparel, charge $20.00 – $30.00 and offer some fringe products at a lower cost.