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  • Quality Merch: 10 Tips To Make A Ton More Money

    A solid merch selection and setup can often make or break your tour. When you present it properly, merch can mean sales that bring a huge profit and ensure your tour is a financial success.

    Basically, you can make a ton of cash if your merch looks good, is well displayed and professionally manned.

    Want 10 tips to put you on the merch money train? Read on... :

    1. Design

    Make sure you have merch designs so awesome that a fan of any band at the show will want to buy them. The more creative the design, the more people they will appeal to. Remember that your merch is your brand so get creative. Move away from the standard white logo on a black shirt.


    2. Merch: Must Haves

    If you have nothing else, focus on the following:

    T-shirts and tanks for males. Ideally have 2 designs for each.
    T-shirts and tanks or spaghetti straps for females. Ideally have 2 designs for each.

    CDs and/or Download cards

    Freebies (choose from)
    Custom guitar pics
    Promo postcards
    Printed 11x17 to sign & share

    Creating this merch doesn't have to be expensive, in fact it shouldn't be. You want the best quality merch possible for the lowest prices so you can get a great mark up.


    3. Merch - Additional Options


    Obviously some of these are season dependent, but you can figure out what works best for your tour.

    4. Tip Jar

    ALWAYS have the gas dollar tip jar out on the table. Lots of folks will throw in some change or a few coins/notes if they can't afford a shirt. This goes a long way on a tour when there is gas to pay for!


    5. Bundles

    Do bundles to spike sales. Make big signs to direct attention to your bundles. They should be the main focus. Think of something like “CD + shirt + poster only $20” or similar. Bundles do great on tour and bring in a ton of cash.

    6. Oddities

    Touring bands often offer a signed drumhead or a signed broken cymbal or tour art sketched in the van. Oddities like this are really cool to super fans.

    7. Presentation

    Set up and display is crucial. Set your spot apart using a tablecloth, a red sheet or piece of velvet - something that is standout and looks cool. Hide any boxes under table so they’re not in the way. Use lighting to draw attention - a police style siren light from a party store works great for merch areas in big venues and bring clamping lamps to illuminate tables in smaller venue dark spots and corners.

    Here's a great example of a merch stand http://gretschpages.com/forum/rumbles/built-a-new-merch-display-for-my-band/53599/page1/

    8. Do the selling

    Make sure that you go help sell merch after performances. Fans are more likely to head over to chat and buy if band members are there. Guaranteed.

    9. Mailing List

    Have an iPad ready for signups or a mailing list printed out and ready to be signed by everyone who passes by your merch stand. Here's your opportunity to make valuable connections for the future.

    10. Payments

    Make payments easy. Have a “square” card reader or similar, have a small money lock box hidden under table or somewhere it's not in view. Have change ready if possible. You want to make sure you can capture every sale.


    Basically, merch sales are the bread and butter of your tour. With a little merch prep work, you can dramatically increase your revenue on the road.






    The Art of Landing Endorsements

    Every band wants awesome endorsements. Think of this, though: Every endorser wants awesome bands.

    They are actively looking for committed bands who are ready to promote their products to their growing audience.


    Getting quality endorsements may be easier than you think. In fact, there's an Art to it...

    Read on!

    There are 3 main - and very obvious - benefits to getting endorsements:


    1. You save money on gear.
    Always a good thing. What's better is that you can redirect the cash you save on gear into other areas where you can support your band.

    2. You establish credible industry relationships and associations.
    You're establishing a direct relationship not only with the brand and the brand's rep, but you are beginning to build credible industry associations in general. The more named, recognized brands who believe in your band, the better it looks to other industry decision makers. It’s a snowball effect.


    3. You get your foot in the door.
    This can be the start of an ongoing relationship with each brand that endorses you - meaning access to awesome products and support. Often endorsers will promote you to their own networks and connections too.

    So what does any potential endorsement company need to see from you?

    Well, they want to see that you’re serious about your music. This means having all the things we talk about in these blogs in place (quality music and recordings, strong visual brand, videos, a show history, active social media and so on). They want to know that you guys are serious about what you're doing and that your band is worth their time and investment.


    They want to know that you have a growing fanbase and strong audience interaction. They want to know that by investing in your band their product gets exposure to a wide audience for them.


    They want to know that you are a fan of their brand. They're going to want you to be loyal to them. So when you're looking for an endorsement it really helps if you can explain why you love the brand - and ideally that you have been using their products already.

    * Bear in mind that the top tier endorsement companies will be looking to endorse top tier acts. This means established bands with high reach and a long established audience. If you’re a brand new band with 500 likes on Facebook, one of the top name brands is probably not a good fit, but there are countless awesome mid-level brands you can confidently work with. These are the best ones to go for at this stage.

    How do you approach an endorsement company?


    You'll want to create a short presentation for them with a well-written bio and relevant links for them to review. The idea is to demonstrate to them that you have the presence and influence to help promote their stuff to your audience (which should also be their target demographic).


    A company's main goal in endorsing you is to expand the promotion of their brand. Reassure them that you are on the same page with this. Here are some ways you suggest to highlight and promote their brand:

    • Hang their banner at your shows

    • Add their logo to show flyers and posters

    • Add their logo and link to your online sites

    • Use their gear exclusively at live shows

    • Use their gear exclusively in videos

    • Create a promo ad with the gear

    • Do clinics or in-stores promoting the gear

    • Wear their shirt on stage

    * Remember to be confident. The idea is for this to be a mutually beneficial relationship where you both bring something to the table and you both gain from the relationship. So feel confident that you have plenty to offer and know that you are finding out if this relationship is a good fit for you as much as the other way round.

    If they say no:


    It's ok. You can expect to hear "no" from time to time. You can ask the company what what the deciding factor for them was and how you can fine tune your pitch and bands presentation. Learn and grow and it will come together. There are plenty of credible brands you can approach to work with.

    When you get the deal:


    Keep your word. Do all the things you have committed to in order to promote the brand.


    Be realistic. Most entry level endorsement deals are cost price deal, meaning that you'll pay something, but considerably less than at retail. The free stuff is traditionally reserved for the major acts with a huge draw and reach, but once you get in and prove yourself you can grow with the brand and can likely move to increased levels of endorsement.


    Stay on track with your music. Keep everything going in a great direction and you will keep your endorsers happy. Then you can grow the relationship and benefits.

    Good luck!





    Why Now Is The Best Time EVER To Be An Independent Musician

    Now is the best time ever to be an Independent Musician.

    It's a bold statement, right?


    Yes, teaming with a reputable company may give you funds and connections you don't have access to now, but guess what? They won't be interested in your band if you haven't got yourselves together - including awesome music, a growing audience and a strong brand.


    Being an Independent Musician right now not only means you have the ability to set all those things up, it also means you have the ability to create revenue streams to support yourself and your music.

    It takes work, but there are great resources available to musicians now, many of which were not there before.


    Let's talk about some of them:

    1. The Nuts And Bolts Stuff


    By this I mean the everyday band related things. The essentials.

    Recording - You can get affordable (and often free) quality recording software.
    Videos - You can film a kick-ass video on your phone and edit it afterwards online.
    Merch - You can choose from pick and pack or pre-order merchandise options.
    Websites - There are multiple cheap or free quality platforms online to enable you create an awesome website.
    Social Network Sites - Pick where you want to and how you want to connect with people and promote your brand.


    This is only the start of it.

    Basically, you have whatever you need at your fingertips to have really strong recordings, videos, photos, websites, merch, design, branding and other essentials for your band.

    2. Direct Communication With Your Audience


    Through encouraging your audience to sign up to your email list and then regularly emailing them you can set up and maintain direct communication with your audience.


    Have a new line of merch for sale? A special edition track on release? You can contact your fans directly in their inbox to tell them and sell to them. In marketing they call this "hot leads" - selling directly to people you already know are interested in your stuff.


    Got questions about which song you should make a video for? What's the best artwork for your album? Engage your audience.

    Want to know which t-shirt design is best? Ask. That way before you create products for your fans you can be sure you are creating what you love AND what they want.


    3. Show Trading


    You can connect with bands in cities you want to play and trade shows. Soooo many benefits here... you can be sure you are playing with bands that are a good fit for your band. You can have greater control over playing in a cool venue with an actual audience.


    Also, you can find out from the bands you're trading with about where you can do in-stores or who to contact for interviews and features.

    4. Finance Yourself!

    Besides the more traditional ways of making money (Music sales, Show sales, Merch sales etc.) there are multiple other ways to finance yourself - from doing online shows to running Kickstarter/Crowdfunding campaigns to fund your upcoming album or similar. Also, when you have an established and loyal audience, you can look at options like Patreon, for more regular income.


    5. Creative Autonomy and Artistic Freedom


    As an Independent artist, you run the show. You can work with who you want and have your music placed in movies or ads or whatever the case may be - all without requiring permission or being restricted by a company you are in contract with. You call the shots AND you still get the opportunities. How cool is that?


    6. Independent Does Not Have To Mean Small.


    You probably remember back in 2013 that Macklemore and Ryan Lewis topped the Billboard Hot 100 with “Thrift Shop” as Independent artists. Last year, Chance the Rapper's "Coloring Book" became the first album to chart on Billboard entirely from streams. Independently.

    If that’s possible for them as Independent musicians, who knows what is possible for you!





    5 Ways To Make The Most Of Your “OFF” Days on Tour

    Sure, there'll be off days where you'll need to rest, but when you're on tour every day counts. OFF days on tour offer so many chances to promote your music, connect with people and make money!


    All of this pre-supposes that those are things you really want to do - which means being committed, being organised and taking your music seriously. If that describes you - read on to find out how to make the most of your "off" days when you're on tour:

    1. Do interviews - radio, press, TV, podcasts.

      Not only are these great ways to make valuable connections, you get practice doing interviews and you get your music out to new audiences. Be sure to film or photograph all of these things for your social media.

    2. Organize acoustic performances - or some sort of music workshop.

      You could do this in a coffee shop or in a music-related store or even a street performance. This is a chance for you to promote your music in a different way to playing in a venue. You may be able to arrange a payment, but even if you play for free you can still sell some Merch or gather a few bucks in your Gas $ tip jar. You might get free lunch. You might make new fans. At the very worst you'll get a rehearsal in and can film some footage for your social media - all of which is really valuable.

    3. Meet with promoters, agents, press people, bloggers:

      Basically, meet with anyone who supports the music you do. Hanging out with people in the same industry as you not only means you get to make connections and build relationships, it also gives you the opportunity to learn more and see how you can be of help or assistance to them too. And if you think about it - everything in life comes through connections, relationships and building value.

    4. Take care of business:

      Confirm details and advance upcoming shows, do laundry, fix any equipment, pick up any spare supplies you need, get showers (you can rent a hotel room and rotate shower time or grab showers at a truck stop along the way). You never know, it could be days before you get to do this stuff again. Plus taking care of practicalities on one day frees up time to do other things another day. (Also read: The Critical Importance of Advancing Your Shows)

    5. And if you need it:

      Rest. Hang out. Relax. Sometimes that's the best use of a day off. You never want to risk driving while exhausted and you'll need your energy for your shows!


    YES, It's Absolutely Possible To Make Money Touring.

    Guess what? It is absolutely possible to make money touring BUT you have to be organized and well prepared.

    I know that "organization" sounds boring, but when you think that the outcome is a killer, profitable tour, then being organized and well-prepared doesn't sound so bad, right?

    It's like this...

    Being organized involves researching and advancing the cities you're targeting - this can be as simple as hitting up established bands in the areas you are touring and having as much as possible taken care of before you hit the road (but we’ll come back to that in a minute.)

    And the budget part…

    Sort the facts before you leave. Establish as many details as you can. Know what your outgoing and incoming cash amounts are going to be. Underestimate income and overestimate expenses rather than the other way around. Also, allow extra cash for unexpected items - they WILL come up. Make sure everything is balanced so that - worst case scenario - you will break even, but in all probability you'll be in profit.

    So with that said - let’s talk about some ways to make money:

    1. Guarantees: Make sure you know what payment / terms you’re getting from the venues you are playing. Negotiate the best possible deals you can in advance and get this confirmed in writing, by email at least, so there’s documentation to fall back on. Try to get food and drinks with the deal as bonus to save you paying out on the days of your shows. Tons of venues have a kitchen and will at least offer half price food and drink!

    2. Merch: It's obvious, but can't be left out - have solid Merch for sale. Include bundles to give people an incentive to support and buy more. Be sure to include some lower price items, like high quality printed 11x17 posters or custom guitar pics etc. When you cater to people of all budgets the smaller dollar amounts can really add up. Check out: Quality Merch: 10 Tips To Make A Ton More Money.

    3. Gas Dollar Tip Jar: Have a donation/tip jar at the Merch stand. This can go a long way. If a new fan doesn’t have the cash for T-shirt they will often throw a few bucks in the gas dollar tip jar. Every dollar counts!

    4. Get Creative: Look into doing house shows, which are essentially a private show or party at someone's house. These can be unexpected gems! Then there’s music store endorsement workshops or similar in cities along your tour route. Many artists offer 30 minute lessons with fans for a small fee. You can get a decent chunk of change from these types of situations. Probably a good idea to have an acoustic or lighter set prepped for radio stations too.

    5. OFF DAYS: Do performances on off-days - busking, coffee shops, in stores etc. Even if you're not being paid for these, you can potentially sell Merch, rock the gas dollar tip jar and maybe get lunches or similar (which means you don't have to pay for them and can keep that extra money in your pockets). Also, check out : 5 Ways To Make The Most of Your "OFF" Days On Tour.

    So can you see how this is where being organized in advanced comes in? Sure, you can set some of this extra stuff up on the fly, but it's always better if you have some contacts and plans in advance. Often times existing fans can help put some pieces together. Make it about the fans and treat them like friends. In the end, you want super fans!

    And be super-smart with your money. When you're on the road, avoid spending unnecessarily. Rally fans and friends at the shows to get places to crash, organize food in as many places as possible, stock up on water and snacks in markets along the way to keep in your van (to avoid having to stop off and eat in diners or fast food joints.)

    Also, be sure that your van and trailer are in legit working order before you go - save you spending out for breakdowns.

    So there you go… There are many extra ways to generate money while on tour and these are just a few!

    Here’s to many a great tour!





    The Critical Importance of Advancing Your Shows

    Never underestimate the importance of show advancing! What am I talking about? Show advancing is sorting all the “day of show” details in advance to ensure a smooth running event.

    Typically, you'll confirm most of the info you'll need for your show on the day of booking. Then you'll promote on an ongoing basis and 1-2 weeks out from show day you'll need to re-confirm the key show details and fix up any potential problems.

    Let's go through it.

    When you confirm your show, find out (as much as possible):

    The basics:
    - Arrival time / Load in
    - Soundcheck time (if applicable)
    - Set times
    - Your set time
    - Names of the other bands

    Electrical Outlets
    - Make sure you have what you need and can provide for anything that is lacking

    PA / backline
    - What is in place and what do you need to provide?

    - Get a contact name and the venue address so you can send printed 11x17 promo posters (tape a few sets back to back so the promoter can hang them in the window & have them visible on each side).
    - Ask for the local online & print media contact list of any places that might list or feature the event.
    - Find out if there is a supportive radio program and seek a day-of-show interview, acoustic performance and/or a ticket giveaway.

    - What's your compensation?
    - How, when and with whom do you settle out? (i.e. Who pays you?)
    - Is anything extra included in your deal? (Any food? Water?)
    - Merch terms (Does your band get to keep 100% of merch sales or does the venue expect to take a cut?)

    - Confirm that you can record, film and take photos at your show. (Believe it or not, some venues restrict this).

    In the weeks leading up to your show:

    - Get online and heavily promote the show.
    - Tag the other acts and the venue.
    - Make sure the venue promoter remembers to add you to their website calendar.

    1 - 2 weeks out:

    - Reconfirm the details listed above, including contract details with the hosting band and/or promoter.
    - Reconfirm any promo arrangements with the press/media in the area.

    If you're on tour:

    Consider creating (and even printing out) a “tour day sheet” for the bands review and to eliminate confusion. Each day is very different on the road.


    Some due diligence on the front end will not only make life easier but almost always secure an invite back. Not to mention allowing your tour to be a fun and productive experience, not a 6 week panic attack!


    Always be courteous. People working at venues are always busy, so bear that in mind and work as a team for a successful and stress-free event.

    Prove yourself to be a professional who takes your career seriously. The host / promoter will be happy that you’re trying to be thorough and be far more willing to welcome your band back in the future.




    Why You Should Play Cities Other Than Your Own

    You may be running the show in your home town, but there's a problem with that: over-saturation. You can literally reach a limit beyond which you can't grow or expand. You reach a point where you've gone as far as you can go.

    Here's the obvious and simple solution - Play cities outside your own!

    Why? Well, lots of reasons...

    Playing in other cities expands your audience (and more).

    Obviously, you get to play to new people and reach new fans. But there's more. You expand your revenue (selling merch, show sales etc). You expand your reach (growing your email list, your social media interaction and numbers, your street team). You expand your ability (you get better through playing in different places, to different people and outside what is familiar to you).

    Make it a goal to build as many new contacts from each show as possible.

    Playing in other cities expands your connections.

    Not only do you connect with new fans, but you meet other bands, promoters and influencers in each market you visit. The more you nurture these connections the more they are likely to promote and share your band, to welcome you back to their city and to create new connections for you with people they know. Simply put - a ton of opportunities can open up for you through the connections you make. (Everything in life comes through relationships).

    Playing in other cities gives you great content and leverage.

    Posting pictures, shouting out the other bands you've played with, shooting on-the-road and backstage videos, streaming songs from your shows - all of this is awesome content for your social media. You can leverage this to show how great your band is and how well your band is doing - and you can connect online with the bands you played with and engage them and their audience.

    Playing in other cities shows you're serious about music as your career.

    It shows you're putting your money where your mouth is - actually getting out and building your career. This carries a lot of credibility and weight with industry influencers.

    When you are able to consistently book and play gigs that cover a larger area, you start to get a real momentum going - and all of this will get you noticed.

    Playing in other cities is good for your creativity.

    You get out of your comfort zone. This is always a great thing for your headspace and to stimulate creativity. It also opens you up to new experiences - and a ton of fun!





    Show Trading And Why Your Band Should Try It!

    Show Trading opens up a world of benefits that can make a huge difference to a working band - and this goes WAY beyond having awesome shows booked.


    You get to book the best possible show for your band...

    This part is probably obvious. You determine the bands you play with so you can make sure you're playing in quality venues with awesome bands. It's not just about music, either. You can choose bands who are a match for you in terms of commitment and ambition too.

    You get to play quality shows with an actual audience...

    When you show trade, you can be sure you're playing in great venues and you can be confident that you'll have a great audience come out to see the show. This is especially true when you are trading with bands who have built a kick-ass following in their own city.

    Makes a world of difference to have a great set up rather than arriving at a venue that is just bad and where your show has been promoted poorly so pretty much nobody arrives.


    You maximise your potential for media and other opportunities in the cities you are playing...

    When you show trade with bands who are serious about what they are doing (and it's a good bet that they're serious if they're signed up to show trade in the first place) you can get access to their connections.

    You can find out from then what the most supportive local radio stations are, who to contact about print interviews, where to play in stores in their locality and so on.


    You're building valuable connections...

    Beyond making connections with the band you're trading with, you get to building connections with anyone who is supportive in the music industry in each and every area you play.

    When you have quality, direct connections, you fast-track getting publicity in these new locations as well as maximising opportunity to make the most of your "OFF" Days. (Also, check out: 5 Ways To Make The Most of Your "OFF" Days On Tour).


    Your career is in your own hands...

    When you show trade, you guys have a ton of control over the choices you make. Plus you guys are the ones building relationships, not any intermediary person working on your behalf.


    It's win-win-win-win.