As an independent artist, you make your money through several different avenues. One of these avenues has a very high potential to almost double your earnings at live shows. It is why artists make the most money touring. They are making their money from ticket and merchandise sales. Venues like to take a cut from ticket sales, but merchandise? Not so much. Merchandise is your ticket to the gold! This revenue category allows you to showcase your creativity apart from your music. It also gives you control over price points, offerings, and you can take 100% of the profit.
1. Get someone to man the table while you are performing. Some people will get up and leave halfway through your set. Not because they’re not having a good time. Their babysitter called with an emergency or the pipes burst or they just remembered they had somewhere else to be. Whatever the reason, people will come in and out of your show. Don’t miss out on a potential purchase because no one was manning your merch table. Also, it might be worthwhile to have someone walk through occasionally with your CD raised in the air as a reminder that they are on sale. Maybe you could even get this person to wear one of your t-shirts as advertising.
2. Sell from the stage. Do a special “unique-to-this-show” promotion where you are offering a deal for “tonight only.” Make sure it’s a good one and announce the name of the deal and the price right from the stage. If your next tune is a popular song on one of your albums, don’t forget to mention that this particular song is on your album and how much it costs. If they like the song, they will remember what you said and ask for it when they come to the merchandise table at the end of your show. Another idea is to do a giveaway from the stage offering a free merchandise item to one lucky person. This gives you a chance to showcase this item as well as other items for sale right from the stage.
3. Sell stuff your target market would be interested in. I do lots of songs about women empowerment. Naturally, I’ve got lots of women as fans. It’s no surprise that my fitted tees sell much better than the unisex tees. See if you can identify items that people in your target market would want to have or wear. Sell what your market wants.
4. Offer something at every price point. Maybe someone doesn’t want to spend $10. Do you have something for $5? At this point your options are earning $5 or $0. Which would you rather?
5. Up sell. Are there two items you can pull together for a combo? Think of it like McDonald’s asking if you would like fries with your burger. It’s a way to offer the customer something of more value and provide them with a better deal. Most people will take the offer. They get more for their money and you get more of their money. It’s a win-win.
6. Talk to people after your shows. I’ve increased my sales by 20% at shows just by striking up a genuine conversation with people. I try to make it a point to work my way around the room just to say hi to people out of appreciation for them coming to see me perform. If you can do this, it will result in them buying a CD from you. (Don’t do it with the sole intention of making a sell because it will not be genuine.) It certainly helps nudge folks along especially if they were already thinking about buying something from you in the first place.
7. Put effort into your set-up. People are attracted to aesthetics. If it looks good or is interesting it will entice them to come over and look at what you have to offer. Put your t-shirts on display if you have the space. Use elevation and levels to showcase or highlight things. Make your table attractive to get people to come over. Use this opportunity to make a sell. Also, make your offerings diverse. The more options you have, the more chances you have at selling something. I’ve come across some folks who just aren’t interested in music or t-shirts but they want to support somehow. So I created specialized earrings and key chains. I sell out of these most of the time.
8. Give people a reason to come by. Offer a giveaway at the merch table, ask people to come sign up for something. Put chocolates or candy out. Once they come, ask for the sell.
Take another look at your merchandise table and your approach to selling and see what you can add or do differently to increase your sales. The sky is the limit when it comes to merchandise. Use it to your advantage.
Also, remember to offer every from of payment possible. These days, most people pay with credit cards. You can get a free app and mobile equipment from companies such as Square, which will allow you to accept credit card payments with your smart phone. The equipment and are free, but each time you accept a payment a percentage is taken from your sales to pay for credit card processing fees. However, I have a referral link that you can use to get free credit card processing for your first 180 days. Click on my referral link here to take advantage of this offer.
This is not an all-inclusive list and if you have any other ideas please let the community know by posting in the comments section.