Posted: Apr 16, 2018
Category: The Musician Business
**Guest post written by Scott Aumann, originally featured on The Legit Musician blog.
"Accepting a credit card was once something that only big-time stores could do. A couple of decades ago, this wasn’t a problem for small businesses because most people paid with cash or checks anyways. Times are very different now. Most people don’t even carry cash and never use checks for anything. Your band, which is your small business, needs to change with the times and accept credit cards. Don’t worry, it is very simple to do.
First off, let’s talk about credit card swipers. There was originally a clumsy machine that made a carbon copy of your card along with the receipt. They were hard to use and even harder to get. You had to have a merchant account which cost lots of money and you usually rented the machine. Then the customer would walk away with a copy of a receipt that was sometimes next to impossible to read. You also lost part of your sale to use the credit card swiper.
Luckily, none of them are those old clunky machines. Most of them involve using your smartphone or tablet as the brains. You just plug in a unit in order to physically swipe the credit card through. This unit reads the card’s magnetic strip and puts the card’s info into your app for charging the customer. The app is basically the front end of your store and works like a “cash” register. You should do all your sales through the app, even if the customer pays cash. This gives you detailed sales data that you can use to run your band’s merch business more efficiently.
Square was one of the first smartphone credit card swipers out there. You see them anywhere from your local farmers’ market to your corner coffee shop. They even have a new version to accept the newer CHIP style credit cards or wireless smartphone payments. The app even works if you don’t have access to DATA. You can take orders offline and send the data later when you connect to your cellular signal or WiFi. You will need to sign up for a Square account.
PayPal also offers a version of the credit card swiper. This links up to your PayPal account which you probably already have if you read my previous post about digital payments. PayPal also has their version of the reader that accepts CHIP cards and wireless payments.
I have used both of these and each one has pros and cons. Each service will charge you a small percentage in order to use them. This fee is very small and well worth the cost. I would suggest looking at each one and deciding which one fits your needs better. The best part is that you can get the basic reader from either one for FREE. So you can’t really go wrong if you decide to switch services.
How many times have people walked past your merch table because they blew all of their cash on drinks during your set? They might have bought a CD or shirt if they had an extra $20 on hand. Don’t give them any excuses to walk away if they are interested. Make it easy for people to buy your stuff. Make it easy to see that you accept credit cards. Have your credit card reader visible, or even make a sign telling people you take credit cards. You’ll be surprised how many people will line up with their cards ready to buy.
Want to learn more tips on making money from your music? Check out my free e-book.
Let me know your thoughts below by commenting."
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