You can read more about the book as well as a few more excerpts on my website page that's dedicated to the Music 3.0 guidebook.
Performing live is only one ingredient of the recipe however. You’ve got to have merchandise (other terms include “swag” or “merch”) to supplement your income. It’s always been a huge part of the income of an artist, but until recently was considered just an ancillary revenue stream. Today it’s an essential part of most artist’s earnings.
It used to be that merch required a sizable capital outlay in order to get in the game. You had to buy enough to get some sort of economy of scale, but then you also had to worry about storing the inventory as well. And what if the item didn’t sell? What do you do with 4,835 custom keychains or 492 pairs of branded underwear? Luckily, there are now alternatives to make the buy-in easier on the pocketbook than ever.
Today both Cafe Press (cafepress.com) and Zazzle (zazzle.com) make it easy to provide quality merch of all kinds without worrying either about the upfront money or inventory. Both companies provide a host of items that they’ll manufacture to order, and they’ll even allow you to show examples of merch on your website or store. In other words, whenever an order is placed, that’s when they’ll make it. They’ll even drop-ship it to the customer for you so you don’t have to worry about shipping and inventory. All this comes at a cost so your profit won’t be as high, but it’s an easy and inexpensive way to get into the merch business.
So what kind of merch should you have? You can now get a huge variety of items branded with your logo, but typical merch items are:
T-shirts (probably the #1 item ever for a musical artist)
Bags (timely now since people use them instead of paper or plastic at the supermarket)
Just about anything you can think of can now have your logo on it. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that just because you can make it available, it’s a good idea. It’s still best to narrow things down as too many choices can actually prevent a willing customer from buying anything because he can’t make up his mind. Keep the number of items to a maximum of 2 at first until you’re sure they sell before adding more options.
Another interesting idea is a tour book of photos available from blurb.com such as the Grateful Dead did on their recent tour. Once again, it’s on-demand printing, and they offer a number of professional templates to make the design easy.
Don’t forget that, in the end, branded items such as T-shirts, hats, beach towels and frizbees are for marketing you as an artist, so be sure that the design is professional. If you’re going to spend hard cash, this is the place to do it. Find a pro or an advanced hobbyist to design it for you. Don’t forget the true reason for merch is that if enough people see your intriguing logo on a T-shirt, coffee mug or bumper sticker, some of them will be at least interested enough to check you out.
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