Most seasoned pros develop their own strategies and habits concerning merch, and every live context demands flexibility and adjustment. In this article I’m sharing some tips that will increase your potential of generating a solid merch-turnout, while relaxing the whole process and offering structure.
So let’s start off with the people involved:
1. Have a band merch delegate
Especially in the early stages of artist development, most DIY musicians can’t afford to pay an added person to tag along the tour solemnly to sell merch. So – think about designating a person of our musical entourage, preferably a talkative and lively person to act as a merch delegate. While the others engage in stuff like setting up the stage, talking to technicians etc., the merch delegate can make sure that the merch is correctly located and displayed within the venue. If you have no one to watch out for the products while you’re playing, set everything up beforehand so you get a quick start later on.
As soon as the gig is over, while the others pack up shop, this merch delegate should rush to the merch stand and start interacting with the crowd. This is a pragmatic approach at dividing purposeful roles within the band, and – if planned properly – can really lessen the stress on a busy, fast paced tour.
2. Newsletter forms work
Even if most of your crowd is social media based, always try to remember bringing newsletter forms to your gigs. You never know how certain platforms will develop, and e-mail is a constant form of communication that will endure the changing fashions of digital communication.
Make it really easy and prepare a couple of sheets, lay them out by the merch and maybe even add an incentive like free exclusives for all the newsletter followers.
A newsletter base is worth a lot, and many labels invest a lot of money into various forms of campaigns to obtain these contacts. Be aware that your gigs are valuable opportunities!
3. Supply Quantity
Most musicians and producers new in the live game underestimate the purchasing power of their audiences. Try not to make the mistake of being stingy when packing CDs and merch for tour.
Again – even if you assume your crowd is strictly digital, only buying or streaming music on various platforms, the act of buying something physical at a concert is something completely detached from distributional trends.
If they love the gig, they’ll want to take home more than memories.
4. Plan way ahead
It’s really easy to underestimate the amount of time it takes to create and produce great merch.
Things get messed up, printed wrong, not printed at all. Take all these mishaps into account and save a lot of headaches and stress when planning your merch. Key to that is having a solid time-frame in mind and setting things up way before the tour, months in advance.
Set yourself early deadlines that give you some headroom to adjust if things go wrong. Remember –even if you can count on yourself to get a job done properly, you’re working with outside factors, and most of them lie out of your control.
You really don’t want to start an exciting tour with a frustrating debacle like last minute merch drama and disappointment.
5. Plan in some cash for change
So, this actually happens A LOT: A band plays a great gig, the audience is hyped, the merch is hot, the line before the stand is long. Things should run smoothly from here, right? Well, things can pretty much stall to a halt if you forget to bring any or enough cash for change.
Try to remember bringing enough cash, maybe ask the merch delegate to take care of that. You can also bring a little steel register with a key to stash the change and merch money in. Its oldschool, but it works.
Venue owners and barkeepers are constantly running after their own change, it’s a common issue that can only be resolved by careful planning. Some might help you out, but most of them will be mildly stressed out by your request to lend you some change. It may even shine an un-professional light on your agenda, considering the fact that extra cash for change is a fundamental aspect of selling products.
6. Be aware of international legislation
Most countries have strict laws handling the import of goods and products. Believe it or not, chances are high that you will be handled like a proper company when entering a foreign country, having to declare any goods that you are planning to sell.
It’s up to you to offer that information, and if you fail to do so, things can turn pretty sour when arguing with foreign boarder patrols.
Be aware of that when packing your merch, and make sure to check out local laws and possible costs that can arise when traveling with merch. It will really save you a lot of nerv-crunching headaches if you keep this important factor in mind!
Try not to underestimate the challenges connected to selling merch on tour – with good planning it can be a fun and hastle-free endeavor.
If you ‘re interested in more DIY tips on live musicianship, check out the ForTunes Blog and leave a comment if you want to get in touch. We will get back to you asap!2 join the family and show some love for this!