A Simple Tactic for Selling More Band Merch

A Simple Tactic for Selling More Band Merch

Want to sell more merch?

Unless you’re already selling hundreds or even thousands of dollars of merch per show, you’re probably wishing you could move a lot more product than you are right now.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

We tend to make a big deal about money as musicians. It’s become somewhat of a taboo subject.

But if you were to get honest with yourself, you would recognize that there’s a part of you that wants to be able to make money from doing what you love to do.

Don’t be ashamed of that.

You work hard at your art, and you deserve to earn more from it.

Here’s a simple tip that will help you sell more merch.

The Problem with Digital

It’s simple really.

Although digital downloads and music streaming apps are convenient, they aren’t tactile – you can’t hold them in your hands.

Even if you were to promote your music from stage, a vast majority of listeners either won’t have heard you (it’s kind of noisy in a lot of venues), and even if they do, they’ll probably forget by the time they get home.

So you play a show, the audience loves you, and you go home to look at the reports only to find that you only got a couple of sales.

Discouraged, you go back to the slog of booking more shows and promoting your music unsuccessfully.

This cycle repeat itself.

Getting People to Buy Online

Your situation may not be as bleak as the picture I just painted – and by the way, that’s a good thing.

But the problem persists – digital products are hard to sell in-person.

You can send fans home with download cards, but how many of them will actually use them? My friends have tried, and they tell me the conversion rates aren’t very good. If you find that they work well for you, I would love to hear about it.

You can get people on your email list at your show and tell them about your release later, and I do recommend doing that, but an email open rate of 20% is considered standard and even “good” for most marketing campaigns.

It’s hard to get people to buy online for a variety of reasons.

Physical Merch

So you probably think I’m going to tell you that physical products are the answer. Well, you’re partially right.

See, there are some problems with physical merch too – especially recorded music. There will always be a contingent that wants CDs and vinyl records (at least in the foreseeable future), but they probably only represent a smaller percentage of your fans.

The goal is nevertheless to have your audience walk away with something from the show, whether it’s a T-shirt, wrist band, pin, sticker or whatever.

Here is how to make that happen more often.

Place it in Their Hands

Even if fans don’t rush your merch booth during a break or after the show, odds are some will come up to you and want to chat.

If you aren’t taking advantage of this opportunity, then you definitely aren’t selling as much merch as you could be.

What I’m about to share with you is not a sales technique.

You can think of it that way if you want to, but it’s really more of a means to make your fans aware of what you’ve got.

Let’s face it – unless your audience has been following you for a while, they have no idea what your latest merch item is or what you have to offer them (yes, even if you announced it on your blog, in your emails, or from stage).

So here’s what you do when the conversation naturally turns to what you’ve been working on.

You place the CD, the T-shirt, the sticker or hoodie in their hands (be careful with pins/buttons).

Really think about this for a second. Physical products have weight.

And I’m not just talking about the actual weight of the merch item, I’m talking about the blood, sweat and tears that went into creating that product.

When you place an item in a fan’s hands, they can physically see it and feel it. They can even smell it.

And that, my friend, is a completely different experience than going online to buy MP3s.

Now, if they hand the item back to you, don’t fight with them, but many will choose to buy at that point.

Create an Experience for Your Fans

Performing is all about creating an experience for your fans. Why should selling merch be any different?

You can tell your audience to go online to buy your music, and some of them will. You could even be more proactive about passing around a smartphone or tablet to collect emails addresses and earn sales.

But at the end of the day, there’s no experience like a live experience. You have a much better chance at touching people’s hearts and getting into their wallets (not in a sleazy way) if you put your energy into creating “moments” in your show.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t sell online. You would definitely be leaving money on the table if you don’t set up a proper e-store.

But merch is really about helping your fans capture a memory. Give them the opportunity to take a memory home. Better yet, give them a reason to.

Final Thoughts

It’s a simple tip, but it has worked for me.

People are skeptical. They may not even believe that you have CDs to sell unless you show them. They may not buy unless you give them the chance to hold one in their hands.

Again, don’t see this as a sales tactic. But don’t rely on what you think your fans do and don’t know about you or your merch, because a lot of people aren’t that aware. They’re wondering what’s in it for them. That’s why creating an experience is so important.

Place merch items in their hands so they can see your awesome photos and artwork. Let it sink in.

Any thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!

TQP 013: Words – Beacons of Creative Power or Mere Devices of Communication II

TQP 013: Words - Beacons of Creative Power or Mere Devices of Communication IIPhotosynthesis is the process in which plants convert light energy into chemical energy that can be used to fuel its activities.

But what about this idea that when plants are praised and spoken to positively, they thrive and grow?

MythBusters once conducted an experiment in which they got hold of 60 pea plants and divided them into three greenhouse groups on a rooftop.

The first group of plants was exposed to a soundtrack that featured loving praise. The second group was played cruel insults. The final group was not given a soundtrack. I watched a little bit of the show, and the hosts were also shown verbally praising the plants and hurling insults at them.

They conducted the test over the course of 60 days, and what they found was rather interesting. They discovered that the silent greenhouse performed the poorest of all, with lower biomass and smaller pea pods compared to the other greenhouses.

Interestingly, they found no major difference between the greenhouses that were exposed to the two soundtracks. Whether it was loving praise or cruel insults, the soundtrack appeared to have a positive effect on the first two groups of plants exposed to sound.

This is somewhat of a narrow study in the sense that they only experimented with one type of plant and only over the course of 60 days.

In this episode of The Question podcast, you will hear highlights from David Andrew Wiebe’s presentation on Words, and the music of Frederick Tamagi.

Thank you for listening!

What questions will you be taking with you after listening to this episode?

We encourage you to connect with us via social media:

We look forward to interacting with you.

Lessons in Creativity, Part 5: Working with Others

The goal of employment is to work for money and other people.

The object of entrepreneurship is to have money and people work for you.

I currently work with a few contractors, and I’ve also learned to leverage the talents of freelancers for one-off gigs – graphics, photos, blog posts, and so on. But I wouldn’t say that I’ve arrived or that I’ve built my personal dream team – I’m still learning daily.

Moreover, “leverage” probably sounds like a bit of a dirty word when applied to people, so let me put it this way: you need help.

You’re doing too much. If the “real work” is painting the picture, drawing the storyboard, writing the script, or composing a song, then odds are you aren’t spending enough time doing the real work.

We get caught up in everything else: administration, customer support, bookkeeping, scheduling blog posts, writing emails, interacting on social media, and so on.

When you’re first getting started, this is unavoidable. You’re going to be wearing many different hats, because that’s what your passion requires of you. And it’s not a bad thing to go through that.

But there is no scaling if you’re the go-to person for everything. You won’t be able to grow, because there’s only so much time in a day, and there are only so many hours you can work before you start hating your life – trust me, I’ve been there. Recently.

I’m not suggesting that creative work is all about balance – I am actually somewhat opposed to that idea. I don’t think Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods got to be the athletes they were because they tried to achieve perfect balance in their lives.

At the same time, it doesn’t make sense to burn out just because you can. And that’s why you shouldn’t be doing it alone. You need the support of others.


My best friend called me up one day and told me he was starting a business. I was sold – he didn’t have to sell me on it.

We got together for a few meetings to hash out the details of what would become Academe Design, an “integrated” graphic design company. The idea was that we wouldn’t just design things – we’d actually deliver the files to our suppliers, pick up the printed goods, and get them to our clients.

There was one major problem – I wasn’t a people person, and neither was my partner. We both had a lot of fears around talking to people.

In ensuing years, we picked up clients at the alarming rate of about three or four per year. Our business was profitable by a very small margin, but never lucrative. That went on for nearly 10 years.

But I will say this – I learned a lot about people as result of that experience.

I still recall one instance in which a friend of ours asked us to design his album artwork. My partner and I put together a solid design based on the provided photography, some of which wasn’t high resolution and wouldn’t look that great once printed. We made sure he was aware of this, but he didn’t seem to mind.

Apparently, he was working on some pretty tight deadlines, and he didn’t tell us that he’d already promised CDs to radio stations, promoters, fans, and so on.

I was the point person on this project (which wasn’t a role I was comfortable with), so I was the one handling the back-and-forth with the supplier and the client. I created the quote and laid out the timeline for the project.

I made mistakes on both fronts. With regards to the quote, I threw out a rough number, forgetting to tell him that it was just an estimate and not a final quote. In the end, I ended up eating the costs on that project (i.e. we didn’t make any money).

As for the timeline, I was pretty confident I had delivered the right information. But one day I got an angry call from the client saying he was going to have his CD release party by such-and-such a date, and that he needed the discs yesterday.

I needed to say something – and fast. The CDs weren’t in yet, even though the replication and printing should have been done. In the end, I told him that the processing period was in business days, not calendar days. That seemed to calm him down.

I actually made one other mistake with this project, though it’s not worth mentioning, because no one noticed. Let’s leave it a sin of omission.

As far as learning experiences go, this was a bit of a rough one. One moment I was growing up in Japan, grieving the loss of my dad, returning to Canada… The next, I was being reamed out by a client who was also a friend.


Most of us dream too small, which might explain why we tend to compete with our peers for the same low-hanging fruit. No wonder so many of us never actually get the fruit!

Now if you’re creating because you want to create, because it’s in you to create, because you’re inspired to create, because you can’t imagine doing anything else, then don’t let me stop you. That’s why I keep creating without always thinking in terms of profit, fame, or accolades – it’s just in me. I can’t stop creating!

It’s the perfectionism that us creatives need to set aside. I believe it’s one of the main reasons we tend not to trust others with our work. We don’t think they’ll do it up to our personal standards.

Well, if you’re doing the real work, then you’re right. But if you’re trying to nudge the logo on your website over three pixels, what the hell are you doing?

I find myself wrestling with my own dreams. My dream muscle has been stretched. I’ve seen what’s possible, because I’ve been around people that have achieved a lot. That’s why, despite how irrational it may seem, I keep coming back to the bigger vision of what I desire out of life.

And the only reason that dream can remain big is because I also have others people mind. There are things I want to do for those around me, and there are complete strangers I want to bless. If not for that, maybe my dreams would be smaller than they are.

I don’t think big dreams can be realized without working with others. You can no doubt be brilliant in your own work, but it’s through community we discover ourselves and the hidden potential that lies within.

Do you like what you read? You can pre-order the new book now.

Music Marketing Monday: How To Protect Yourself When Marketing Your Music Online

This guest post comes to us via Cassie Phillips, an expert in online security and data privacy.

Marketing your music online can be a lot of fun, but it’s also important to stay safe while you’re doing it.

Cassie provides us with some valuable tips around how to protect ourselves online.

If you’re interested in contributing something to the community, make sure to check out our guest post guidelines.

Without further ado, here’s Cassie!

I would like to thank David for publishing this article. His site is a fantastic place for all aspiring musicians to get genuine tips from an industry veteran! After reading this, be sure to check of his post on some great ideas for successful marketing.

Any aspiring musician knows how important promotion is, and in the online age we live in, internet marketing is probably the most crucial aspect of all.

For independent artists, it’s the ideal way of getting your name out there for a fraction of the cost of a physical marketing campaign, and it gives you the power to reach audiences from all around the world.

However, there’s one element of online campaigns that often gets overlooked, no matter how experienced a musician or marketer you are, and that’s the security of the project.

What many people fail to realize is that falling victim to a cyber-attack could not only be financially destructive, it could also destroy your reputation and integrity.

Here are the steps you can take to protect yourself when you’re marketing your music online.

1. Don’t Fall Prey to Malicious Email

Have you ever received a spam email from a strange email address? Would you ever trust another message from that sender again? Probably not.

One of the most common hacks that people can fall victim to is spam injections, or malvertising, which involves a less-than-savory company piggy-backing your advertising campaign in order to promote their own product.

These types of hacks are usually a result of poor personal security, so they are easy to remedy using the following steps:

  • Be stringent about opening attachments or clicking links from unknown senders.
  • Use email systems that automatically vet potential spam emails.
  • Have a working firewall installed and updated.
  • Use anti-virus software and perform regular scans.

2. Use a Virtual Private Network to Protect Sensitive Information

Another key factor in successfully marketing your music online is to stay active.

An artist who punctually replies to questions, thanks fans for their supportive comments and shares related and interesting projects is always bound to find they have a wider reach than someone who posts once and never checks in again.

This means that you have to commit to updating while out and about and relying on public WiFi, and unfortunately, these open networks are notorious for bringing about their own set of security problems.

Because data is left unencrypted, it means malicious hackers can easily get hold of account passwords and even bank details. Luckily, this can be easily overcome by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which encrypts your data and allows you to browse confidently.

There are many great VPNs on the market, so do a bit of research to find the best one for you. This Secure Thoughts review has some great options to check out.

3. Create Strong Passwords

For most, the ongoing warnings about passwords and their importance in security are starting to wear thin, but it honestly can’t be re-iterated enough:

Strong passwords are the key to strong security.

Whether it’s referring to your email accounts, social media, your website admin panel or even your bank account, if you fail to ensure that your passcodes are unique, complex and strong, then it’s possible that you’ll fall victim to an attack.

Tips for strong passwords include:

  • Not recycling old combinations.
  • Avoiding common phrases such as “dog123” or “password”.
  • Not using personal information, such as birth dates.
  • Using a variety of characters, including numbers, capital letters and symbols.
  • Surpassing the minimum password length—over eight characters.
  • Not using any terms from the dictionary if at all possible.

If you’re worried about having to remember so many different, complicated codes, then there are many great plug-ins, such as LastPass, that can do the remembering for you.

4. Get Social Media Savvy

Any good music marketer understands the power of social media. So much of our lives are based on these platforms, and they offer a great way to snowball interest via shares and likes.

However, social media marketing is one of the most vulnerable forms of marketing that there is.

Facebook has an option that allows you to see how many times someone has tried to access your account over a certain period of time, and anyone who has ever looked at their own stats will know that it is an alarming amount.

The trick with social media is being able to find the balance between locking down your profiles and keeping them safe, while still ensuring your posts are being seen by the right people.

No matter which platforms you use, take the time to really investigate the privacy settings available, create secure passwords and activate double-locking features (for logins from new devices) if this is an available option.

5. Stay Updated

Unfortunately, in the ever-evolving digital world, protecting your online marketing campaign is never a one-off endeavor. The best advice that can be given on the subject is to stay up-to-date.

This refers to two things:

First, it’s important to make sure every program that you run is regularly updated. This is because new versions are usually released in order to resolve the security holes that their predecessors failed to notice.

This includes literally everything: your internet browser, any plug-ins you run, programs you edit on, even your operating system!

Second, following online blogs and websites that regularly share updates about new potential threats is a great way of getting ahead of the game before a problem arises.

Marketing your music online has unarguable advantages, and taking the steps to keep your campaign safe is a necessary extension of that.


These five points are a great starting place to ensure optimum internet security, but if you have any more ideas, then be sure to share with fellow musicians and leave a comment below.

TQP 012: Words – Beacons of Creative Power or Mere Devices of Communication I

TQP 012: Words - Beacons of Creative Power or Mere Devices of Communication IIn the movie, What the Bleep Do We Know!?, a reference is made to how the molecular structure of water can be affected by the words, thoughts and feelings it is consistently exposed to.

This isn’t something they pulled out of thin air. It is based on the studies of Dr. Masaru Emoto, a Japanese author, researcher and entrepreneur.

Dr. Emoto was born in Yokohama Japan in 1943. He graduated from Yokohama Municipal University and began his studies on water in the mid-90s.

Emoto believed that water is the “blueprint of our reality”, and that emotional vibrations could change the physical structure of water. He claimed that water exposed to positive speech and thoughts would create visually pleasing crystals, while negative thoughts would results in ugly crystal formations.

It is said that 70 to 80% of the Earth’s surface is water. You might be able to think of something else that consists of 70 to 80% water – our bodies.

This causes one to wonder whether or not there is any connection between the words we speak and the lives we live. If words, thoughts and feelings can change the molecular structure of water, then what are the implications for the things we say to ourselves and to the people we routinely come into contact with? How do the things we say affect our lives?

Are words beacons of creative power, or are they mere devices of communication?

In this episode of The Question podcast, you will hear highlights from David Andrew Wiebe’s presentation on Words, and the music of Frederick Tamagi.

Thank you for listening!

What questions will you be taking with you after listening to this episode?

We encourage you to connect with us via social media:

We look forward to interacting with you.