Posted tagged ‘sales’

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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“Distribution Follows Marketing”

August 10, 2009
Brooke Waggoner

Brooke Waggoner

“Distribution follows Marketing.”   Its a very popular saying in the music industry.  Many artists wonder why they still have 5 boxes of CDs sitting in their basement or why no one’s buying their music on iTunes.  Don’t be deceived, getting your music on iTunes or Napster does make it accessible, but it does not just automatically generate sales.  What generates sales is creating awareness of your product. 

Becoming a Househould Name (or something like it)
It’s just like any other industry.  A food company doesn’t make the big bucks simply because its product(s) are in grocery stores.  But they do generate sales when they advertise on TV and make their product(s) a household name (i.e. Ragu, Dannon, Hidden Valley,  Breyer’s…etc).

Or take, for example, the  music & movie industry. The only reason you know so much about Amy Winehouse or Brittney Spears (and their bouts of craziness) is because they’re always in the news.  What does this mean for you? It means being repetitive – playing out as much as possible, making sure everyone knows how to find you online, thoroughly promoting your shows, continually making new fans, dot dot dot.  Just like that “Active-ON” commercial, you wanna be repetitive until people can’t forget you.

If You Can’t do it, Find Someone Who Can
I recently played a show with someone who told me “You’re only job as a musician is to write good music and perform it.”  I couldn’t disagree with her more.  There’s nothing worse than being passionate about your music but not passionate enough to tell others it exists.  That’s not only a waste of studio time, but a waste of your money.  Good luck selling CDs.

According to, “there were over 75,000 new releases put out [in 2007] and over 56,000 of them sold less than 100 copies.”  Can you imagine?! If you’re actively pursuing music but don’t want to put the time/effort into marketing your CD, make sure you have someone (a publicist) who does.

Want a Distribution Deal?
Everybody wants a distribution deal. But first things first: don’t aim for a distribution deal unless you have a way to generate mass interest. Think about it this way: if Borders orders 500 units of your music, puts a copy in 500 of its stories, and only sells 5 or those 500 CDs, you’re gonna lose that deal.  Those CDs will be pulled and returned to you after a few months.

The best example I know for all of the above is Brooke Waggoner.   Check out this older post for more on her.
As a musician, don’t expect people to magically want/buy your CD. Make sure you have a game plan for letting people know it exists. You’ll know you’re doing something right if you’re at a show and people are buying your CD before you even take the stage.

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CDBaby vs. Paypal

December 1, 2008

Ok, perhaps this posting will only be relevant if you have a CD…

If you’re like most independent artists, you’re either working with Discmakers or Oasis to mass produce your CD and line up digital distribution via iTunes, Napster, PayPlay…etc.  Discmakers tends to be the most popular and the avenue I’m most familiar with. Dismakers is great but not wonderful.  Why?

Don’t Use CDBaby if you don’t have to!
When Discmakers sets up your distribution, they also setup a site for you.  It will look something like For every CD your sell, CD Baby takes a $4 cut.  Ouch!   Can you imagine how much CD Baby is making off of indie artists each year!?  It’s ridiculous!  What’s the alternative?  Use  No doubt about it, Paypal is the most innovative tool for small businesses, entreprenuers, and individuals looking to make $ off of what they do.  Its a free service.  No charge to set up!  But Paypal takes a minimal cut from the money your make (63 cent from every CD I sell).  Compared to $4, that’s nothing!  Visit Paypal to learn more.

People Like Sales
Once you setup your paypal account, have a sale! People love sales and are prone to buy more when you have one.  It’s just the way it works.  From experience (and also common sense), there is 5x more interest in my CDs when I’m having a sale.  So it’s Christmas!  What can you do? Here are a couple suggestions…

  • Tell people they can get 25% off your CD if they buy it through your website
  • Tell people the CD is buy one get one free
  • Tell people they get FREE shipping!

Paypal will allow you to set prices, shipping rates, tax, basically anything you wanna do. It’s really just great! And they will handle all the $, exchange rates, credit cards…etc

The Only Negative of PayPal
Depending on who you are, this may not be a negative atall:  If you use paypal, you must ship out your own product.  (CDBaby takes care of shipping for you)

 Leave your own Holiday Money-making comments!  And remember…

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