Before we start off on this article, we’d just like to point out that gigdoggy is not as of yet playing gigs and selling tons of merchandise, so any knowledge we are passing on here comes directly from other bands who were gracious enough to share their insight with us (and from our experience as concert-goers who have dropped many-a-10$ on t-shirts and CDs in the past).
Also, we know that a lot of musicians don’t care about making money from their art, and more power to them. As we see it, merchandising is something that bands that ARE trying to make living from their music should consider, and the following article offers a few ideas that we think would work.
We’d love any comments or feedback that would let us know if we’re on the right track!
In our last article we had fun thinking of ways to market your merchandise to your audience, now we’ll look at what you can sell them once you’ve got them to your merchandise booth.
What can bands sell at shows?
As a consumer and as a fan, I buy merchandise at a show for 2 reasons:
- The item is original, useful and/or trendy.
- I am feeling impulsive, and buy the item for it’s souvenir value, even though it may be overpriced.
Concentrate on the impulse buy and try marketing what your audience will relate to.
This applies not only to t-shirts but to everything your demographic might have an interest in. For example if you’re a reggae band you can sell hash pipes. If you’re a classic rock band, try selling zippos . If you’re a heavy metal band look into ash trays with little skulls. Anything your demographic likes having you can try selling.
Design is essential. The poster that you are selling should be able to sell in a store to someone even if they had never even heard of you – and if that means the name of your band isn’t even recognizable, then be it. As long as someone wants to hang it on their wall, that’s what counts. Same applies for shirts.
Since a lot of fans are musicians themselves, instrument-related merchandise is a sure bet. Knowing that half of the attending people will be guitarists, you could probably sell guitar-picks in addition to giving them away. I buy picks every time I get the chance, especially if they have a cool design (they make me play better a whole lot better). www.intunegp.com sells a bundle of 144 custom picks for only $40. That $0.27 per pick. Very cheap. Sell them at $1 and your making almost a %400 profit. Taking this guitarist idea a bit further, you could team up with an artist that does embroidery and sell guitar straps. Buy a strap and get a pick for free. Better yet, sell a songbook with the chords and lyrics to your songs. The process is time consuming but do it once and you’re set. I’m sure those guitarist fans would respond positively to such a product. I know I would.
Partnering with one or more local artists who create art that is pertinent to your audience (for example, graffiti-type prints if you’re a DJ, watercolor paintings for a more mature crowd etc) could be a good way to “mashup” art-forms and generate sales. See it as outsourcing your business and split the revenues.
Let’s not forget the music
However you make ends meet, whats important is getting your music through to the people. Display the album of course, but don’t forget one or two sets of singles (considering they bought a ticket to see you play plus a couple of drinks, fans will prefer spending $4 on your 3 best songs then $12 for the whole album). Why not sell one or two songs with all separate tracks so your audio savvy fans can have fun remixing your tunes?
By googling you can find everything you need (we went ahead and did that), and to save you some time here are a couple of links you can look into:
- weneedmerch.com: Custom t-shirts
- bandwear.com: t-shirts, posters, business cards, buttons
- curlyandspike.com. Good screen-printing prices here – check them out
- shirtsforbands.com: Custom merch with a cool editor.
- StickerGuy.com: Specialized in sticker printing. More or less $25 for 250 stickers (2.75″ x 2.75″)
- BusyBeaver.net: Great place to order buttons and pins. 100 colored pins for $100.
- Intunegp.com: As cited above, this online site specializes in production of guitar picks.