Posted: Apr 19, 2022
**Guest post written by Atomic Disc, CD & Vinyl Manufacturing for musicians, by musicians.
"RIAA, the Recording Industry Association of America, reported that in 2021 CD sales increased by 47.7% and vinyl sales saw a 67.3% jump from the previous year. These numbers are mostly for major label releases, but according to multiple manufacturers of CDs and vinyl records for independent artists, they have seen substantial growth the last few years as well. This tells us that music fans obviously want physical formats of music.
Listening to music via a physical format is a completely different experience than streaming an mp3 from your phone. You get to take the CD or vinyl out of its sleeve, put it on and read the liner notes and look at the artwork and photos while listening to an album in its entirety, as the artist intended.
After two years of pandemic lockdowns, some of us are starting to feel a glimmer of hope that gigs and tours will soon return to their pre-pandemic stages. With that comes the biggest opportunity for independent artists to sell physical formats of their music and merch. When people are at your show, all amped up and excited to finally be out to see live music, they want the experience to last, to take a little bit of it with them home. This is where the money is for indies.
To simply make minimum wage as an artist you need to sell 1,450 CDs with a $10 profit margin in a year, or get 2,900,000 streams on Spotify. Which do you think is easier to achieve?
Set up your merch table in a high traffic area, close to the exit, bathroom or bar. When more people walk by your table several times during the night, you increase your sales potential. Display part of it on stage, even.
Make it look nice and keep it organized. It should be easy for you or whomever is manning your table to find the right sizes of shirts, more CDs, LPs, and stickers, etc. Don't make customers wait unnecessarily while you rummage through a pile that looks like dirty laundry. Your merch table is a store. Make it one where people would want to shop. Use lights when you can to illuminate your display. Hang up your T-shirts. Display your prices clearly to make it easy for fans to see.
You have the mic, so use it to your advantage. Several times during the show tell people that you have merch for sale and point out where it is set up. Be specific and say things like: "This next song is from our newest CD that you can buy at our merch table for only $10". Point out audience members, bartenders and other staff that are wearing your T-shirt. (Give some out for free before the show to make sure this can happen.) Invite your audience to come hang out with you at the merch table after the show.
It is 2022 and there is no reason why you shouldn't be able to accept credit cards. You get free card readers for your smartphone from Square and the fees are rather nominal. It is better to make 97.4% of something than 100% of nothing from the people that don't have cash on them.
Make it a priority to hang out at the merch table before and after your show. During your show, have someone man the table. If you can’t yet afford to tour with a crew of any kind, maybe you have a dedicated fan that can run the table for you while you play.
For independent artists, releasing music in physical format and selling music and merch at shows, can be a generous revenue stream. Making sure to maximize every opportunity is critical to keeping the band on the road."
Photo credit: Moonshine & Wine
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