**Guest post written by Ari Herstand, a DIY singer-songwriter from Los Angeles, CA with 500+ shows under his belt, as featured in his blog Ari's Take.
When you're on tour, merch is your #1 income generator. This can't be stressed enough. Believe it. Bands stress over their guarantees and door splits and turnouts. If you want to survive financially with your music you must understand the importance of merch sales and approach it as such. I've played shows where 10 people showed up, but they had such an amazing time and I stressed the merch to them that all 10 people bought something averaging about $15. That's $150 in merch sales. That's good for any night.
Although vinyl represents only about 2% of total U.S. album sales, the growth in vinyl over the last few years has been dramatic. According to Nielsen SoundScan reports, vinyl LP sales rose 17.7% in 2012 compared to 2011, representing a continuing upward trend in the sales of vinyl albums since 2007. The most popular vinyl LPs are split between newer acts and classic albums, like the Beatles’ “Abbey Road.” Some of the vinyl chart toppers in 2012 came from acts including Jack White, Black Keys, Adele, Mumford & Sons, the Shins, Beach House, Alabama Shakes, and Bon Iver. So where can you get your own album pressed to vinyl?
Word of mouth is as important today as it has ever been, plus now it’s got the engine of online social media behind it. People are more connected than ever and music fans, as you know, love to spread the word about their favorite music and bands. Fans also enjoy being a part of the discovery process and the more you enable them, the more effective their promotions can be. After you win them over with your awesome music, it is key to engage your fans regularly and show them that you really appreciate their support.
Booking fees and ticket sales only represent a portion of a performer's income for everyone from the independent artist to the big name band selling out huge venues. As a result, it is essential to take advantage of any opportunity to bring in extra cash via merchandise sales for CD's, T-shirts, and the like. But how can you create an inventory of merchandise without breaking the bank? Here are a few places you might be able to score some great deals...
**Guest post written by Nifty of MusicFullTime.com.
"Begin by thinking of yourself as more than just a “hired” musician playing for an evening in a nice (or not so nice) restaurant. Viewing this opportunity as a typical “gig” is actually a 9 to 5 mentality that’s fatal to your income potential. The restaurant has hired you, not for the purpose of doing “you” a favor, nope. The restaurant owner is trying to add value to her customers."
**As featured in Indie on the Move's Touring Tips Section.
When first breaking into a new market, even the best promotion can often yield poor results in attendance because you have yet to build name recognition in that area. Other times, you are forced to play for exposure alone just to get your leg in the door at one of the local music venues. In either case, merchandise sales can not only get you to the next show and pay for gas, but also allow you to continue and finish the tour without going bankrupt.
**Guest post written by Phil Johnson, as featured in his blog, Big Whiz Bang!
So let me tell you my strategy for this. Just like on the internet, content is king. The more the better. Your goal should be to have a merch option for everybody that wants to take a souvenir home. And make no mistake, that’s what it is. A souvenir...
**Guest post written by Brian Penick, author of Musicians' Desk Reference and Touring Musician, as featured on Billboard.com.
1. Reality Check! (Setting Milestones + Goals) 2. Proper Merch Mentality 3. Take Care Of Yourself First - Initial Self-Servicing...
**Guest post written by Danny Schmitz, an indy musician, writer, and connoisseur of all things Mexican food.
"I had a conversation via email with a friend from LA, and another friend living in Singapore. All three of us are musicians and frequently talk about the current state of the music industry. We were talking about the streaming music subscription service Spotify..."
**Guest post written by Wade Sutton of Rocket to the Stars.
"When you take into consideration how many singers and musicians complain about the current state of artist-venue relationships, you would think most performers would jump at the opportunity to explore alternative methods of putting on shows and generating income...I'm here to tell you that there IS an alternative live show model, house shows, that many artists ARE having a great deal of success with...So I reached out to somebody for answers..."
**Guest post written by John Safari, President and Co-Founder of Orange County Music League.
"A lot of bands complain about the music scene for one reason or another. In my opinion, most of these bands aren’t thinking of the bigger picture, or outside of their band for that matter. I started Orange County Music League to put an end to pay to play. Bands are not a dollar sign. Here are some things that local bands are going to need to start doing in order to build a thriving scene..."
**Guest post written by Jorge Brea, Owner & Managing Director of Symphonic Distribution.
"By now it’s apparent that there is a ton of music out there – over-saturation is a term you may hear often these days. For anyone getting involved with the music industry, there is always a need for more exposure and promotion. If an artist or a record label has it, they will sell better, simple as that...Here are 7 quick tips that you can apply to increase your exposure and potential..."
**Guest post written by Randy Young from the Ottawa based rock band Cherry Suede.
"As musicians, we tend to think we can do it all. We’re independent artists. We’ve got our music, our talent, our fans—and nothing else matters. Well, at least that’s how it works in theory. The reality is we need help, and lots of it. I don’t care how good you are—there is simply not enough time to do everything and still be a master at your craft, which is the music itself. You need tools and you need to outsource. You need to learn how to run your band like a business, and being resistant to this fact is the fastest way to kill off whatever income—and independence—you have left."
**Guest post written by Ari Herstand. It originally appeared on Ari's Take.
"It was a great show [Low Cut Connie at the Echo]. So naturally I stopped by the merch table afterwards to get their vinyl and a T...when she told me the price for the vinyl and T I thought there must be some kind of mistake. $27?! For both? No way. They were charging $13 for the vinyl and $14 for the T. Way too low!..."
**Guest post written by Deuce Ellis, Buffalo-born and Brooklyn-raised rap renegade. Originally posted by Cyber PR.
"Here’s My Guest Blog After Attending the #YourMusic Seminar; maybe this whole thing is easier than you think…First things first, let’s demolish whatever train of thought you may have. Demolish it. Let’s destroy and rebuild..."
**Guest post written by Carlos Castillo of Schwilly Family Musicians - music marketing strategist, web designer, live performance recordist, international road-tripper, lap steel player, and Captain of the Schwilly Family.
""Don't rely on the promoters. As long as you put on a killer show and have killer merch, you'll always have enough gas to make it to the next stop"...The bottom line is that if you want to be a professional musician, you should have a solid merch setup and promote it effectively at your gigs. Because it might be the only money you make that night..."
**Guest post written by Megan Liscomb, originally posted on TakeLessons.com.
"Congrats on getting the big gig! Whether you’re preparing for your band’s first show or your album-release party, these tips will help you learn how to promote your band, make your best impression on stage, and get invited back to the venue to do it all again."
**Guest post written by Brad Barnett, professional musician and founder of Indie 411.
Most musicians have a general idea of how to promote their upcoming shows...With so many musicians actively promoting their gigs, it comes as a surprise to me that most of them stop there. What I mean by that is they work hard to try and get people out to their event, then don’t do anything to promote or sell their brand once it’s show time...If the goal is to get as many people to know about you as possible, then there are a few things you should be doing at gigs to maximize your reach.
**Guest Post written by Jon Ostrow, Director of Sales at Bandsintown, Founder of MicControl, lover of all things music, a raging Phish head, and a coffee addict. Also featured on Bandzoogle.com.
"Bandzoogle members have now crossed $20 Million in direct-to-fan sales through their websites (commission-free!). This comprehensive guide will show you how to set up an online merch store for your own band, and give you some ideas for the different types of merch you can sell to your fans."
**Guest Post by Ezekiel Morphis, San Diego based Americana/Folk Singer-Songwriter.
"If you just started playing music last week, this article will aid you further down the road as long as you stay committed and work on your music first. If you are like me — two EPs completed, well practiced, working on an album, playing for a handful of years, don’t mind smelling like beer and shame for days on end and still want to know how to tour DIY — then this is the article for you."
**Guest Post by Max Garcia Conover, modern folk singer-songwriter out of Portland, ME.
"i just did the taxes for my first year as a full-time independent songwriter and i wanted to share some details about the business side of the work i’m doing...so here’s me...taking some pride in humble, honest, hard-won earnings:"
**Guest post written by Jessica Kane, a music connoisseur and an avid record collector. She currently writes for SoundStage Direct, her go-to place for all turntables and vinyl equipment, including VPI Classic.
"The modern musical industry may be almost entirely digital, but this does not mean that streaming songs or downloading audio files is the best way to listen to music. Though they are not the main method of experiencing music anymore, vinyl album sales actually continue to grow, and modern vinyl sales levels have not been this high since 1988. Audiophiles might insist that vinyl is better because it sounds nicer, but there are also several other reasons why it is the superior format..."
**Guest post written by Joy Ike, creator of Grassrootsy.com and Independent Musician, as featured on Grassrootsy.com.
"We’ve been working on this list for a while and thought it was high time to share it. Keep in mind that this post is primarily for the working musician..."
**Guest post written by Melanie Kealey of Bandzoogle.com.
"What is key to a great music website? An engaging, easy to scan, music page, with lots of songs to listen to. It should reflect who you are as a musician, and offer lots of options for your listeners in an organized way."
**Guest post written by Wade Sutton of Rocket to the Stars.
"What I am going to talk about in this article is rooted so deeply in common sense yet so few bands actually do it. Your live show will ALWAYS be your most powerful tool when it comes to marketing your music, your merchandise, your music brand, and getting people to sign up for your e-mail or text lists..."