Posted tagged ‘tip jar’

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.

YOUR MERCH TABLE IS YOUR BREAD
For more thoughts on your merch, makings sales, and creative ideas, check out the merch category.

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Making the Most of Your Coffeeshop Gig

June 23, 2010

Chloe's Coffee in Gaithersburg, MD

Here’s a follow-up to last week’s post: Making the Most of Your Club Gig.
So, coffeeshops are great, but you probably won’t make a whole lotta mula.  Well, it all really depends. Even if you don’t, playing coffeeshops has huge perks that you won’t get from a club.  Here are some thoughts on the matter.

Learn the Community.
Coffeeshops are known for their presence in the community. Take advantage of this. Make the most of the location by reaching out to be people who live around the corner instead of your whole fanbase. It’s a little less work and you’ll probably get more of a response from the locals. And hopefully the coffeeshop will buy into your approach since they exists for their locals.

Have Fun!
Community is almost synonymous with coffeeeshops these days.  The great things about these types of shows is that pressure is usually low. People are there to spend time with each other and exist in a place when others are…even if they’re not talking to anyone. All this to say, don’t take yourself too seriously. Talk with your audience and have fun. Keep it laid back. If you can, make it feel like your living room.

The More the Merrier
Considering that most coffeehouse gigs don’t pay, go ahead and put more people on the bill. Invite 7 songwriters out and do an in-the-round event. You’ll get a great turnout if everyone tells a few people and you don’t have the stress of splitting $10 between 7 people. hehe.

Don’t forget to have a Tip Jar
Be nice and remind people that you are a working artist and that you would appreciate their support. You can pass the hat as well. You’d be surprised at how some people make a decent killing off tips (sometimes that depends on the neighborhood).

Just Because You’re A Band…
Doesn’t mean you can’t play in coffeeshops. Some of them are fine with full bands.  You can do an unplugged set, a setup with 1/2 of your band, or just tone things down a bit.

The Ugly Side of Coffeeshops
A few things that make coffeeshops hard…

  • That grinder. There’s nothing worse than trying to compete with that blendy thing. Make sure the stage you’re playing on in’t right beside the front counter. I just had this experience and it was miserable.
  • All ages venues can sometimes mean young kids with nothing better to do and nowhere else to be. Ask them questions to make them part of your show. This will keep them engaged.
  • Everyone isn’t there for music. Some people are there to study…so don’t always expect everyone to close the laptop or stop your conversations and give you their full attention. Its the nature of the beast.

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