After playing so many shows and talking to so many people after a shows, it gets easier to know what kind of fan will buy a specific item from your merchandise table. We thought we’d write a post based on our own observations. Let us know what you think and definitely add your input.
YOUR MOST RECENT ALBUM
This is what people want more than anything else. They want it simply because it’s newer. They also want it because you are most likely playing more songs from this album than any of your past albums. In most cases, the average fan who buys merchandise will leave your table with just this one item.
YOUR OTHER ALBUM(S)
This could be your first release, your EP, your “Live” album, or all of the above. This is the album people buy when they already have your most recent album. Fans gravitate to these albums when they’ve worn out the new project but still want more. A real fan has more than one of your CDs and will often return to re-buy albums for friends and family.
These albums sell especially well when you sell bundles. 1 CD for $12 // 2 for $20 // 3 for $25. The better the deal, the more albums you sell. Having an older release has been one of the biggest advantages for me at live shows. I currently run a 1 for $10 or 2 for $15 special. Nine times out of ten, people get both albums.
T-shirts are a touring band’s best friend. They cost more to make (per unit), so they’re definitely a huge expense that you should think twice about. So why should you have T-shirts? Because this is the item a fan purchases after they’ve worn your CD(s) out. Die-hard fans buy t-shirts. Based on observation, “first-time” show attendees and “new listeners” rarely buy T-shirts; they want the music. After they’ve come to 3, 4, or 5 of your shows, follow you on Facebook, and feel invested in who you are and what you do, then they get the T-shirt. They love you and your music enough to wear you.
BUSINESS CARDS: The Very Important Reminder
Often people will come up to my merchandise table and ask if they can get my music on iTunes. I say “Of Course”, reach for a business card, point to the iTunes address on the back, and give the card to them. Your business card is a visual reminder. Even if someone truly wants to buy your album off iTunes, they can/will easily forget when they get home. The card won’t let them. Even if they temporarily forget, the card will remind them when they’re cleaning out their pockets before doing laundry. The card is also the best visual reminder for getting people to add you on Facebook and Twitter when they get home. Never take that card for granted.
ACCESSORIES & TRINKETS
These are the keychains, stickers, tote bags, and other things that people usually gloss over. They’re not nearly as important as CDs or shirt, but they’re fun to have and keep people perusing at your merch display. Accessories are especially great to have during Christmas time. You can mix and match items and create bundles that make great gift packages.
THE MAILING LIST
Ask people to sign up. Plain and simple. This list is SO important. We’ve referenced the importance of a newsletter in over 20 posts on this blog. But this one will break it down: MAILING LISTS & SOCIAL NETWORKING.
DISCLAIMER: DON’T USE YOUR FANS!!!
Often “perusers” will come to the table and ask “Can I order this stuff online?” That most likely means they don’t plan to buy your album(s) or T-shirt. No big deal! Hold a conversation with them. They are just as important. Don’t use your fans. Don’t “get to know them” just so they will buy your stuff. That’s so LAME! Just talk with them, thank them for coming to the show, and tell them you hope to see them again.