Hey there, musicians. So you have your sound, you have your style, you've played a few gigs, and now it's time for more. In this month's article, you'll get tips on taking your band to the next level from Musicpage.com's David Codr.
Have you listed any of your merch in the FNO Marketplace yet? It's free to list and you only pay a small fee when your item sells. Read more about fees here.
As always, if you have any particular topics you'd like to see covered here, or if you'd like to contribute an article to the FNO newsletters - drop me a line!
FNO Newsletter Editor
Guerrilla Promotion and Artist Development: All About The Benjamins
By David Codr
Founder of Musicpage.com
After promoting or producing around 1,000 concerts, managing bands, booking tours and scouting talent, you pick up a few tricks of the trade. That's how I started doing artist development work. The gang at Festival Network Online asked if I would share a few of my artist development techniques in this newsletter.
So if you are looking for some artist development techniques, read on.
Its All About the Benjamins; Free Money, Double Your Money (Or Go Home)
Making money has always been a challenge for independent bands and solo performers. The good news is it doesn't need to be.
Very few independent artists make real money from live show guarantees or their cut of the door. Even regional touring acts struggle with gate receipts. So if you are a new or developing band who is counting on that as your primary source of income, you need to rethink things immediately.
Merchandise is the lifeblood of any band, especially when you are independent. As you know there are countless places to spend money. The real question is, what is the ROI (Return on Investment) on the money you spend.
One of the bands I managed had saved up a good chunk of money. During our weekly management meeting we were discussing where to spend that dough. The lead guitarist wanted to get a big banner printed up to hang behind the stage so there would be a backdrop with the band's name and logo.
"It will look badass," he kept saying. While the badassedness of the banner could be debated, I asked him a simple question; "Do you really think that backdrop will make for a better show or make the band more money?"
As an independent band with a limited amount of income, its extremely important you spend your money in ways that will either get you more fans or make you some more money. A banner backdrop doesn't accomplish either, so the band went with a new T shirt design.
T Shirts are probably one of the best, yet most under appreciated merchandise option out there. Think about it. Someone is paying you money to wear a shirt that is essentially an advertisement for you or your band. Spending money on T shirts will help get you more fans and make you money. A two-fer!
Just make sure you are getting a good price by whoever prints up your shirts and are ordering enough shirts to benefit from a volume discount. Some screen printers will charge you $7-$9 per shirt which makes it impossible for you to make any profit. Look for someone that can print your shirts for $3-$5 per shirt (A number of great T shirt printers have Musicpage profiles). The bottom line is anything over $6 per shirt and you're paying too much.
While price is an important factor, dont just go with the cheapest shirts to save money. Cheap material will fall apart after its washed a few times. You want your shirts to last because every time your fan wears it, he or she is advertising your band for you.
So you need a balance between a good price and good material, something you wont find from many silkscreen shops. If you can get them done for a good rate locally, go for it. But in my experience most local shops wont be able to compete with a company that specializes on band t shirts.That's why we include a Merchandise category on Musicpage.com. Its always better when you have options.
Already have a T shirt? Well come up with a new design. Or get the T's you have in different colors. Another option is to get some other merch that you can sell. Stickers are good as they are cheap to produce and help with branding. Hoodies, towels, under ware, microfiver cloth screen wipers, etc. There are a lot of traditional options out there.
Remember the cardinal rule, when it comes to having merch, more is always better.I've seen people come up to a band's merch table and announce "I want to buy one of everything!" Make sure that when that happens to you, that you have more than a single T shirt to sell.
Since its that time of year, I would be remiss if I failed to address one other mistake I have seen independent artists make for years. If you are paid to perform, you are a professional musician. That means there is a good chance that any money you spend on equipment, training or any related cost can be deducted from your tax return (Check with a certified tax accountant to be sure you qualify); that new guitar you bought, the amp you needed to repair, the CD's you bought to learn a new song etc. If its music related, you can probably deduct it from your tax return. That's free money folks - something you should never pass up.
Just make sure you reinvest that extra money into some more merch and not a "badass" backdrop.
- David Codr
David is the founder of Musicpage.com, a secure online community built to help musicians find and connect with music industry professionals from all over the country. Musicpage is free to use, but reserved exclusively for use by Musicians and Music professionals. To create your own Musicpage for free, visit www.musicpage.com
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