Posts Tagged ‘merch’

indie_artist_x_logo_smJust a quick note to let you know that David Rose, who is editor over at www.knowthemusicbiz.com and responsible for Artist X’s website, has published an article yesterday on his strategies for getting X’s site up and running. Once again, this is a good overview for any musician who lacks website creation skills and who needs to get things rolling fairly quickly (and who is on a budget of $20/month)

The final choose for X is a mix of popular online band services:

  • Bandzoogle for its website templates
  • Reverbnation for its plethora of widgets
  • and Audiolife as a complete e-commerce solution (for merch, physical CDs, Mp3 distribution and warehousing.)

Read the article here. Nice breakdown of what every service offers and can accomplish for X.



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audiofileI have been playing a little with this new e-commerce solution for bands called Audiolife. It’s a custom online store where bands can sell their music (albums, downloads and ringtones) and their merch very easily. Through their widget you create and display your goods, then you proceed to place that widget everywhere you want on the web. In contrast to other e-stores like Nimbit or Zazzle , Audiolife’s widget can be embedded on a multitude of social platforms and is therefor not only limited to MySpace and Facebook. Bellow are all the social sites you can place your widget on, and of course, as always WordPress.com isn’t on the list. Still, pretty impressive for a widget of this caliber.

untitled-21Its nice clean interface and easy navigation make it fast and simple to get your stuff online in no time.

To check out what the store looks like, go to our Facebook profile and scroll down a little to ‘My Stuff’.


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Nimbit is a complete music commerce solution for bands. The free version of their OMT (online merch widget) allows bands to sell songs and display a neat profile. For $4.95/month you get to sell merchandise in addition to your songs, and you get access to their digital distribution network composed of iTunes, eMusic, Rhapsody and others.  For $12.95/month you get some other things like being able to update content information on different sites at once, having access to a unique branded skin Nimbit sets up for you, managing multiple artists through one store. You can even manage your physical CD sales through Nimbit. They take 20% off each sale.

It’s an all-in-one service that seems to be doing very well and making headway as its OMT just became MySpace’s official application for selling songs and merch. Before there was Snocap, but they didn’t fare so well due to their “inability to get visitors into the habit of purchasing music from a small box on a page that typically offers free music and video streams” as Glenn from the Coolfer, music and industry blog puts it. Nimbit has now taken its place with a more complete and up-to-date setup and faster check-out procedure.

So in the list of all the sites you can try out for your e-commerce solutions, Nimbit appears to be leading the race.

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This is the second part of our chat with John Wilder, Ain’t Yo Mama‘s guitarist (the first part is here). Here he explains how his band makes money with gigs, as well as the type of scheduling they put in place to optimize their earnings.

How they deal with gig-revenue and merchandise sales:

What does the above net me a night? In our area if I do all this and follow through, I can usually draw 250-300 people.

  • When we handle the door we charge $7.50 a head, that’s $1875-$2250 a night.
  • Some clubs give us all the door, some I have to give up to $300 to get the venue, but if I go back usually I get it free the second time.
  • I’m spending around $300 on ads, swag to the girls.
  • I don’t account for all the running around I do.
  • And don’t forget merchandise. You need a full complement of stuff to sell people. #1 is a cd. Even a cd of covers is worth $5. T-shirts, we have sunglasses, beer huggies, lanyards with backstage pass on them. I’m currently trying to find some guitar pics with our name on them.
  • You need stuff starting at $1-$2, all the way up to t-shirts for $15-20, I found these cheap tote bags that we stuff with a bunch of stuff for $30, and yes people will spend the money. Last Saturday we played a wrestling event and sold $660 worth of swag. Get some kind of merch to sell. At our gigs we gross $400-800 in swag sells.

As you can see our band can gross around $3000 a night in places where you might get $300. It’s all in how you handle it.

How they manage their gig schedule:

Another thing is we don’t want to play an area more than one time in a 3 month period. If you play the same place over and over you just become a house band making $60 a member a night. Currently we are working a 4 city area and looking to expand. I’m only scheduling club gigs every 3 weeks, but the band winds up making more in one of these gigs than we would playing 3-4 gigs a month the traditional way.

Concluding words of wisdom:

Remember this is a business, to be successful you must treat it that way. Most people are so protective of their music, like its so special, well Im here to tell you its not. There’s thousands of other bands playing almost the exact same thing that you are. Just start thinking about what you can do to stand out. Don’t take the rejections personal, just move on to the next thing. And DON’T, I REPEAT, DON’T BURN ANY BRIDGES, the people you cuss out over not booking you or listening to your music may pop up again and again in the position to help you. Bite your tongue and go cuss a tree or something, and never badmouth anyone in the business just mention oh yeah hes a great guy even if he is a jerk. He could be hiring you in the future. I know most of these things from mistakes Ive made through the years.

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Last week we posted part 1 of our Q&A with The Los Dos Bros where they had a chance to explain their methods for booking and securing gigs. Now we give you part 2 focused more on dealing with booking agents and club owners.

GD: Do you guys work with a booking agent?

LDB: Having a booking agent is, obviously, awesome.  We had an agent in 2007, and after booking ourselves for 3+ years it was a great relief… although now we are without an agent again.  This year I was playing as a sideman in Louis XIV which led to The Los Dos Bros supporting them on the second leg of their US tour… something that probably wouldn’t have happened unless, well, I was playing in their band. It is very difficult to get an agent, probably harder than getting a record deal… most want you to have an established route where you can guarantee commissions for the agent… so it is back to the basics, band 101, establishing a fan base!  And that means booking yourself!

GD: And how do you manage bookings by yourselves?

LDB: Someone in the band usually has business skills, or at least the knowledge of making business happen on the phone… maybe someone is a telemarketer or did sales in the past… remember, this is basically a sales role.  You are qualifying, and closing a potential client, in this case, the promoter or club owner.  So find the person in the band that is comfortable doing the research and picking up the phone and making connections through myspace, and email.

In our case, the two of us, Derric and myself, do the booking.  I handle California and Derric handles rest of the western region (AZ, CO and NM)… so it is fair, we split the work duties (cause it is a lot of work!).  The agent that we had in 2007 was essentially a consultant to us starting in 2004.  He taught us the best routes, and the best places to play where we could establish a working relationship with club owners that understood the dynamics of building successful clubs or restaurant/bars that feature music.

Again, as you learned from our earlier discussions, we wanted to develop a route off the beaten path that we could repeat every 6-8 weeks… starting out with the club owners was of course difficult, having to prove on the phone that we were a band with enough material (enough to play 2-3 hours, cause again, these were the type of places we were playing), a band that understood that covers were critical (people want to dance) and at the same time having strong original material, a band with good sound equipment (most of these places don’t have their own sound), a band that would show up on time and not take 2 hour breaks… thus, where action speaks louder in this world, it was a sales pitch.  And we closed a lot of business cause we sold ourselves at a high level, came across professionally, and at the end of the day delivered on our promise.

So again, someone that can sell the band on the phone, having the necessary amount of music to play (which means a lot of practicing on the front end), a reliable tour vehicle, responsible band members, and the desire to work harder than you probably ever will in life (while barely breaking even).

This scenario is not going to work for everyone… if you are a punk band, or hard rock band, or psyche rock, or just weird, well,  this plan won’t work for you.  The types of places that we play tend to air on the Americana, pop and country side of the table… to get people dancing, country is always the answer… i don’t care if people hate country music, if they are drunk in a bar, and there are hot girls dancing, everyone will be out on the floor swiggin’ beers and gettin’ naughty.  We learned to master the country cover, people eat it up… and then when we play our originals, they actually listen, and many end up buying the CD.  This is not to say that country is the only answer, find your niche, and deliver a song that everyone knows, you will thank me for it.  And to boot, making people have fun will lead to private gigs (and festivals), cause people want to hire bands that can get people in a bar having fun.

GD: How about club owners? How do you deal with those guys?

LDB: Club owners are selling alcohol, not music.  Getting people to drink is key… we always sold the shot.  Calling out from stage that it was time for a shot, well it led to most in the bar ordering shots.  Yes, after playing 2-3 hours of music, drinking, we usually ended up drunk at the end of the night.  But after doing this for 3 years, we were a pretty kick ass band that can get people moving if the night calls for it.  Nothing like mixing in your ballads after a kick ass county bender, folks actually listen.  So club owners love us, and they always continue to book no matter what, we deliver a good time, every single time.  Continuing to play these types of gigs is of course not our goal in life, but it was the means to the end.  We were able to negotiate more money with club owners the longer we stayed with them (we were loyal, once we picked our place in every town, and liked it, we stayed with that bar, exclusively, which was part of the initial pitch with owners), and eventually we were getting free food, all the alcohol we could drink, and in many cases, hotel rooms.

GD: Any mruffin conclusions?

LDB: So to recap, ya gotta do the research to establish your route (and keep it within a days drive of your home base), make the connections with the bars/clubs/restaurant, get the gig, have a kick ass band, deliver 2-3 hours of high quality music (and don’t forget covers), make people drink, have fun, sell CDs and merch, meet the people (go out and introduce yourselves, make connections, this will lead to private and corporate gigs), and repeat!

They are The Los Dos Bros:


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This is part 1 of a Q&A we had with a band called The Los Dos Bros. Very cool guys who play very cool music. They’ve been around the block quite a few times and have paved a unique path to their current musical careers. Check it out and check them out (links at bottom of the post):

GD: Whats the best way to secure a gig with venues that don’t know your band?

LDB: If you are chasing the bigger venues in town the best way to get them to notice you is by being proactive on a smaller scale and building a buzz.  Find the local brewery or off-the-beaten-path-venue that has a built in crowd.  These types of venues will usually pay a modest performance fee and allow you to play 2-3 hours instead of a 45 minutes slot with 4-5 other bands!  Pick 5-6 markets that are within 8 hours of your hometown and research the venues that not every band on the circuit is playing.  Again, breweries, restaurants, cafe’s, smaller venues, etc. Hit these markets every 5-6 weeks consistently for 1-2 years.  These types of venues typically have a built-in crowd that yes, don’t know who you are, but are easily won over if you are good (and play a few covers).  You can sell Cds and merch, make a couple hundred in guarantee, and usually get food and even possible lodging

GD: What’s the best way to find bands to share the gig with?

LDB:  Well again I suggest following above advice when building in a new market.  Who wants to try to develop new markets when you are playing with 3-4 other acts that are not in the same genre.  The above scenario will allow you to meet local musicians (because they hang out in these types of places when they are not playing out themselves), build relationships, and better meet folks that know folks that book the bigger venues in town.  It is all about building a relationship through the back door in… if you are good you will be invited back again and again and soon will find yourself playing with the best local bands in the best local venues (because you cut your teeth the real way… learn about how Willie Nelson built his career).

GD: Gig swapping and sharing gigs is common practice to open up your ‘zone of influence’ when you want to access a new town and new fans. You don’t go down that route?

LDB: I have to agree with your “zone of influence”… this has worked for a lot of friends of ours… joining together to bring fan bases and promotion efforts spread amongst a few bands.  I think this works for bands that have a more established genre… we just felt that we were too “out of the box” and really wanted to develop on our own, we just had to figure out exactly what it is that we were doing… thus playing 3-4 hours a night for 2 years helped figure it out!  We tried it a couple of times with mixed results… end of the day we just didn’t like playing clubs with that “local band night” feel… we have violin and tuba in the band and most sound guys just don’t know how to mix it right, and with the limited amount of time (cause more than one band playing) you have to sound-check it would usually sound like garbage… obviously now that we have a lot more experience with how our sound works we can do these types of gigs opening for nationals on bigger stages and know how to work with sound guy to get it right.

They are The Los Dos Bros:


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Branding of the Bands

We previously posted a topic on why bands should consider music licensing as an alternative revenue model – here’s taking it a step further. Brands are starting to open up their doors to independent acts. We already had top shot mega stars in bed with brands (think Michael Jackson/Pepsi venture, 50 Cent and Jay-Z in a footwear deal with Reebok and even Axl Rose’s deal with Dr. Pepper for the release of his album ‘Chinese Democracy’ that has been in development for the last 17 years). What we are now seeing are lesser known artist hopping on the band-wagon. For instance, Apple, which had previously used U2 and Feist for iPod commercials, now chose a young unconsolidated singer Yael Naim for the release of their MacBook air commercial. In the experimental dance community, Groove Armada have just settled with Bacardi. The marketing deal encompasses recordings, touring and audiovisual content. A Barcardi representative cites:

“Essentially we are taking over the role of a record label, producing the music, promoting new music, and the artist is playing at our events.”

Brands thus can represent a good alternative to traditional record labels: they got money and they’re promotion gurus. Of course the branding will have to stay subtle enough so that the band’s image stays intact. Not many bands would agree to have a big Coca Cola sticker right on the bass drum, but hopefully brands won’t head that way. Here is an interesting article on the subject where a member of an indie bands muses:

“It’s as if we’ve suddenly become aware of the truth behind the smoke and mirrors of the record deal. Most artists now understand how the business works and who their fans are. That is always going to be valuable to a brand. It’s certainly a freer, more equal relationship. Record companies have to own everything, because their whole model is based on selling records – ‘Is it a hit, will it make us our money back?’ If brands do nothing other than free musicians from the tyranny of needing a radio-friendly smash to have a career, it has to be a positive.”

Brand your band !!

Also, consider literally branding your band. All bands do this to some extent but not all see it as something crucial for their commercial success. I mean making a good quality logo, putting up decent posters, gig swapping with appropriate bands, handing out not only flyers but business cards, perfecting your personal live sound. Everything you do to make your band go a step forward should help people remember you and you only. Branding is the art of association and the more things your fans associate you with what they relate to, the better. That’s why selling merchandise is so important. A t-shirt bought at a concert doesn’t only stand for something to wear with a cool design, more importantly it represents a souvenir, an impalpable sensation of a past well being that you made possible. Merch shouldn’t only be for the money and the promotion; it should help your fans identify their everyday lives with your music (when using or wearing your merchandise that is).

Here’s what Clif, who hosts the cool critical music blog Music in 2d has to say:

“The one thing that artists who hope to make any money via the web need to realize right now is that the people who will profit in this industry are those that monetize the attention that the artist generates. Companies desperately want to reach the people you reach. And the more people you can reach consistently, whether they buy your music or not, the more valuable you become. Whether that means revenue sharing, sponsorship, etc – or perhaps it enables you to sell something else – is up to the artist to decide.”


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