You have a hot song, a hot video, fans that adore you, shows and gigs lined up all over the calendar, so what are you missing? Something for people to take home of course! You need your fans to be able to engage with you even after the show is over, after the music video played, after the song switched to something else. Your fans are your walking marketing tools so you need to utilize them.
If you are just starting out, as most indie artists are, your finances may not be exactly where you’d like them to be right now. And, chances are, all that stuff in the first paragraph is more like a dream that you would love to be living right now. However, the world is seriously your oyster and you can do anything you set your mind to accomplish. All it takes is will, determination, and a little bit of creativity.
There are millions of apps that you can use on your smart devices to create logos, graphics, and other things that you can use to promote yourself on tee-shirts, media devices, and even coffee mugs, if you want to go that route. So have fun with it and be creative. Think of something to have your logo on that not many other people have thought about. Have something that is special for true fans that come to your gigs, or as promotional items to get the word out about your brand. If you are in the business of getting your brand out there and purchased, then you need to be able to invest in yourself in order to do so.
One of my artists came up with a great idea for merchandise to sell at his show, which by the way was in a small coffee shoppe that does live music every Thursday night. Because it was a coffee shoppe, and because he was known there locally, and also because people came to the coffee shoppe on Thursdays just to hear him, he decided to go with a “Cup o Joe” approach and created miniature coffee mugs with his brand on there. It was real cute and everybody loved it. Many of his fans have kept it as souvenirs. This is what I am talking about: It’s something small, but it keeps your brand in people’s mouths and keeps you relevant.
When you do a show, be prepared. It’s not enough to just have business cards. Those are great to have, and please if you do have them, make sure they are spelled correctly and have all the correct information on there in order to connect with you. You should also bring something with you to have those who are interested in your music, to sign up to receive updates about you and your future gigs. People lose business cards all the time. It’s not their fault, really. Sometimes, they just run out of toothpicks or something and really need to get something out of their teeth. Disgusting, I know, but it’s true.
We live in an age of smart technology, so….have an iPad or a tablet out on a table, hopefully with someone you know and trust to watch it, and have it open to an app that can collect names and email addresses. Have your logo on there, don’t badger people, but encourage, there’s a difference, to sign up to receive all the latest info on you. Make the announcement once when you start your show, and again at the end. Oh, put on a great show, too. Then kind of point over to where the table is, and it couldn’t hurt to have someone there with a really big inviting smile to encourage them to sign up. Oh, you might want to let people know you are not in the business of sharing their email addresses with anyone and that it’s merely a way to update them on your future endeavors. Make it so that they WANT to sign up and don’t need much coaxing. These are potential fans to put money back in your pocket!
Now, I have seen some pretty cool merchandising from all kinds of artists. From hats, to tee-shirts, to coffee mugs, to pens. But, if you think about it, what can you make that would not only be cool, but stand out AND be useful? Think outside the box and get really imaginative with it. Do I have to double dog dare ya??
In conclusion, merchandising is not as difficult to get into as one may think. You have plenty of tools and resources at your fingertips, literally. It’s time to use those bad boys for more than just texting or instagramming or facebooking or whatever. Put those babies to work! Who knows, you might create something that every one HAS to have and then boom, you will be moving on up to the East Side just like the Jeffersons! – Jilli