Archive for the ‘Making Money’ category

What’s Your Merch Setup?

November 10, 2010

Don’t know how we missed this, but Baltimore Band Stars and the Sea posted this comment a few months back.  Check out there merchandise table setup above.  If you’ve got a clever merch setup, post a comment below with a link to a photo. Here are their comments…

Here’s our merchandise setup:
I’m using light tubes from Home Depot for the lighting
Total cost $30 for the Small Old Suite Case, $7 or so for the light tube.

I’m also making a small treasure chest type donation box with a U Bolt and a Chain so I can lock it to a table.

p.s. check out Their website is nothing short of great!

See: Must Haves for Your Merch Table

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Where Has All The Funding Gone?

October 20, 2010

Funding is fading! At least that’s what it feels like.

Funding for the arts has always paled in comparison to funding for other things; but I’ve noticed even more of a decline in the last year. I especially can’t believe how many “sorry our budget is much smaller this year” conversations I’ve had in the last few months.  I’m finding that I have to be more creative and sometimes less creative (read on, you’ll see what I mean) to get paid gigs.

Here’s one of those less creative options.  Sometimes we get not because we ask not. I’ve found that when I’m asked to do a pro-bono weekend gig, it’s not always possible. Just like for a waiter or waitress, Fridays and Saturdays are the best gig times – more customers (audience), more tips (sales).  This post was pretty popular when we put it up over a year ago. Check it out:  Money: Ask and You Shall Recieve…Sometimes.

It’s weird how this works, but the more options you have, the more money you make.  Having more options guarantees that there’s an alternative for the hard-to-please customer and that you can always do bundle discounts for folks who choose to buy both albums (a perk that really does work). More often than not they’ll by both if its a good deal.

House shows will make you solid fans and they will also give you an intimate venue where you don’t have to split the cover with a doorman. Read this post for more details: What Are Your Thoughts on House Shows?

Brainstorm some unconventional ways to do what you do.  Chances are, if everyone is doing it, there’s less money in it. Think of your ideas like inventions. If you create something that’s completely unique, you can patent it, put it on the market and make 100% of the profits.

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Is Bandcamp Really Worth It?

October 13, 2010

THE ARTIST: Caleb Pogyor (Pittsburgh, PA)
THE QUESTION: I was just wondering if Bandcamp has been good to you in terms of fairness and profit. Is it worth signing up and selling a $5 record? I’m releasing my new album on October 25th and was trying to find a good site to sell through.

THE ANSWER: I really love Bandcamp and I’ve written alot about these guys in the past. Here’s one of those posts: Bandcamp- A Great Place to Pitch Your Tent. But is it worth it financially?  Here are my thoughts…

1. Bandcamp has the artist in mind. Most download sites take roughly 30% of your track sales. On Bandcamp you can set the price of downloads and it routes through your paypal. Bandcamp takes 15% and then paypal takes a cut as well…but it still doesnt add up to 30%.

Bandcamp is also a good place for doing  promotionals. The site allows you to get people’s email addresses in exchange for a free download.  Things like this will help you build your fanbase. You can also run special promotional code discounts and other promos that you wouldn’t be able to run through iTunes or the bigger download stores.

Bandcamp will also give you a good platform for allowing people to hear your full CD before they decide to buy it. Some people might never buy it if they can hear it anytime for free, but some will.

2. iTunes has more customer loyalty. The reality of it is that most people will get your music from iTunes no matter what. Use Tunecore for this. Tunecore is a platform that allows you to submit your music to big dogs like iTunes, Amazon, Napster…etc. Read this post for more on that:  Alternatives – CD Packaging, Production, & Distribution.   iTunes is pretty much a monopoly in this game of digital downloads. So if you’re looking for a spot where 95% of people are already visiting, put your stuff on iTunes.

3. Who says you can’t do both? iTunes in great, BUT  Bandcamp is awesome for the folks who dont want to submit to “the man” 🙂 and folks who are looking for unconventional ways to do what they do.  So who says you can’t do both. Put your eggs in multiple baskets and they’ll both benefit you in different ways.

You might want to apply for Paypal’s “Micropayments Rate“.  According to Bandcamp, if the items you sell are under $12, it’ll be more advantageous to go the micropayments route so you get the best bang for your buck.  Think of it this way:

If you’re selling a $.99 track through bandcamp, Paypal will still take 30% of that and bandcamp will take their 15%.  You’ll get roughly $.55 of every dollar. That’s not exactly ideal. But if you set up micropayments, Paypal will take a much much smaller percentage and you make more to the dollar.

This is yet another reason why i love working with Paypal and Bandcamp.

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Must Haves for Your Merch Table

September 27, 2010

Goodwill, Craigslist, your garage? Pick you spot and start you scavenger hunt.  When it comes to your merch table, there are so many ways to make an interesting display without spending a ton of money. I’ve found most everything I need at goodwill. Here are some very useful suggestions.

A Folding Table
If you’ve ever arrived at a gig with nowhere to display your merchandise, you’ll understand why this is the single most important part of your merchandise display. I bought a folding table from K-mart a year ago and now use it at 30% of my gigs…even when there is a table. Even if a venue provides something, I sometimes prefer to use my own because is the perfect size or because I can set up anywhere I like instead of using a venue’s table in the back of the room that’s been bolted to the floor (just an example). Don’t let the lack of a table prevent you from making sales at a gig. Get something small and portable. You can easily find something like this on craigslist.

An 8×10 photo Frame
Print out a sheet with the various prices of your CDs/T-shirts/stickers. Then stick it in the frame. Its just something a little more presentable.

A Tip Jar
Buy a vase, a mason jar, or anything clear. Smack a label on it and call it your tip jar. And/or you can use it as your cash register. Most of us cant/don’t have a roadie but would like to have the option of selling our merch during our set. Keep your table within eye-sight and welcome people to stop by your merch table during your set if they like what they hear.  People will.  They’ll often buy CDs and stick the payment in the jar without feeling obligated to wait for you to get off stage. Sometimes people can’t stick around for the whole set. This method has worked for me for over 5 years and I think it has made the difference in sales. Give it a try and tell me what you find. (works especially great at farmers markets, art festivals, and open-air spots).

A Lamp
Ever wonder why its harder to sell merchandise at clubs? Its dark and people can’t see .  A friend and I decided to place a lamp on our merch table at venue we always play at. We noticed that the added light caught the attention of our audience and helped us to push more CDs. This might not always work, but it definitely helps.

An Old Briefcase
Get something small and portable. Tons of artists are doing it these days. Arrange your T-shirts and CDs in the briefcase and you have a ready-made display. I’ve seen some artists use empty violin cases or guitar cases as well. Get creative.

For more thoughts on your merch, makings sales, and creative ideas, check out the merch category.

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“How Do I Get My Album Sales to Register with Soundscan?”

May 24, 2010

Today’s Ask Grassrootsy question…

THE BAND: Laura Harrison
THE QUESTION:  Hi Grassrootsy, I was hoping you may know the answer to this. My only motivation, at the moment, for selling my CD through CdBaby is because of Soundscan. I want the sales reported to Soundscan. Is there any way that Paypal can do that? I went to Nielsen website and they said that the dealer needs to have a Point of Sales (POS) inventory system…does Paypal do that? I went to Paypal and can’t find it on their site. Thanks so much for your time.

Hey Laura. I couldn’t find anything about this through PayPal either. I honestly don’t think PayPal does this. While many musicians use PayPal, I think it was originally created for
traditional small business owner. So my guess is that Soundscan isn’t one of their top priorities.

BUT there is a backdoor way to make sales through Paypal and still have payments registered through Soundscan. The answer, of course, is Bandcamp!  When you sign a new project up with Bandcamp, they will ask you to enter your album’s UPC Code and ISRC codes. ISRC codes are just like UPC’s except they are assigned to individual tracks…instead of a whole album. Your customers purchase is setup to go to your Paypal. Here’s a great article on all this code stuff.  It’ll also help you understand the importance of reporting your sales.

In any case, Bandcamp wrote an article last July about Reporting to Soundscan through their platform. My assumption is that, since the article is nearly a year old, they are now in fact reporting to Soundscan. I could be wrong. But according to their feature’s page, they say, “We submit US, Canadian and international sales reports to SoundScan each and every week.”. So that lets hope so!

It’s not a bad idea to stick with CD Baby and also sell your merch elsewhere. There have been countless PayPal vs. CD Baby discussion on this blog  (see comments); but I personally like the DIY approach where I can personalize and mail out my CDs to fans, collect more from sales, and have more control over pricing.  In addition, while Soundscan sales are

If anyone has more insight into this topic, please add your comment.

Might Want to read these too:

Bandcamp – A Great Place to Pitch Your Tent
Selling Your Music – Setting up an Online Merch Store
CDBaby vs. Paypal

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Why Do I Need a CD When Everyone Listens to mp3s?

April 21, 2010

82% of music sales are digital

18% of music sales are CDs

90% of CDs sold are at shows

I attended the LAUNCH Music Conference last week. Over the course of two days and several hours of panels, I had a chance to hear questions and answers to the things that independent artists are thinking about these days.  So here’s a good one: Why spend money on printing hard copies when most people are downloading their music these days? Here’s why:

90% of CD sales are sold at shows
This is your income and people like immediacy. If your audience enjoys your live performance, they’re more likely to buy your music at the show than a few hours, days, or months later. Be sure to capitalize on the fact that the source of your income is in the room. Yes, some people will still go home and purchase your tunes online, but many will buy it at the show if you make it available.

Yes, there are still people who like hard copies
People still love liner notes. And some people still want to hear a project from start to finish instead of just downloading their favorite tracks. CDs are still important. Will they still exist in 5 years? I don’t know.

You don’t have to share the profit
Ya, it does cost a good bit of money to get your discs printed. But, once you have them, 100% of the sales are yours. This means you don’t have to share anything with iTunes, Napster, AmazonMp3…etc.  This is by far, the greatest advantage of having a CD.

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5 Things I Learned from my Kickstarter Campaign

March 31, 2010

Joy Ike

I first discoverd Kickstarter when I came across independent artist Allison Weiss last summer. KS caught my eye as an innovative idea – a recycled concept made fresh by techy art lovers using social media to help artists succeed. And they’re doing just that!

With the struggling economy, I began to reconsider whether or not I’d run a campaign for the Spring Release of my new Album, “Rumors”. Iended up launching the 10-week $3,500-goal campaign, which ends on April 2. To-date I’ve raised $4,015 (113% of my goal) and have learned a number of things that I thought I should pass on. The below is not self-glorification, just some facts that might be worth knowing. Here goes…

1. People will support you financially if they really love what you’re doing.

2. “If you spend more time thinking about the $$$ than the people, you won’t get either”
It’s a thought that popped into my head halfway through the campaign. I thought about how much this campaign would have tanked if I’d simply spent the last 5 years of my music career asking people for their money instead of asking people for their community. My personal opinion is that if you’re going into a gig for the paycheck instead of the passion, it won’t be fun. You can make money doing anything, really.

3. That email list is SO important
I’ve written several lengthy posts on the importance of having a newsletter sign-up sheet at each of your shows (and on your website). A newsletter is made up of people who have willingly signed up to be aware of what you’re up to.  Don’t take that for granted. My newsletter, was the single most important part of letting people know about the campaign. Here’s a really informative post: Getting People to Sign Up For Your Newsletter.

4. Your Kickstarter won’t raise money by itself
Don’t think that just because you set up a Kickstarter page, you’re automatically going to attract the funds. Nope! There is alot of groundwork that goes into have people committed and trusting enough to give you money. See Grassrootsy’s original Kickstarter Review for more on this.

5. Update, Update, Update
Second to my newsletter were Facebook and Twitter posts. In fact, I’m sure they all worked off of each other. Each time a donation came in, I would post a tweet or status update to let people know. This not only served as an update, but a reminder to others to consider donating. It also helped to prove that people are excited about the new album.

If you’ve used Kickstarter and have some ideas for readers, please post below in the comments section.

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