File Under: Creating and Selling Your Merchandise, Making Money With Music

In last week's blog, we talked about singer/songwriter Clare Means who performed nearly every day at Santa Monica Pier, streamed it, and built a large following. Since, as the last web column showed, the internet rewards consistency, she soon grew her audience to over 36,000 periscope followers. But there's a second lesson to learn from this: how to create and sell merchandise that brings in top dollar.

While other DIY Advisor articles stress the importance of selling atoms not bits, how to make merch for $0, how to design t-shirts that sell, and techniques on how to sell more merchandise when you play live, Clare Means teaches us about the underlying forces of merchandise pricing. She was able to use some clever techniques to ensure she sold merchandise that cost very little for hundreds of dollars.

She used a novelty Record Booth at Santa Monica Pier to record live performances onto a vinyl record. Her streaming fans made requests and then bid against one another to own the record. In one case, a fan bought her record for $250.

Keep these three forces in mind when designing your own merchandise strategy:

1. Scarcity drives prices higher.

As we said in a previous blog, sell atoms not bits because computer files aren't worth much in the minds of fans since you can make as many of them as you want. Mass-manufactured merchandise is worth more than bits, but less than something that is crafted and hand-made. But what's worth the most is an item that's one-of-a-kind, such as Clare's single vinyl record of her live performance which had great value to her fans. And since there were many fans vying for the one record, this brought the price up.

2. Experience mementos have value.

Clare created the record live in front of her fans. And although they all watched it being created, only one fan would be lucky enough to own the result of the experience. This created a unique "experience memento", something you can build into your shows by selling items that are part of the performance (such as drum sticks) or recordings of the performance so fans who were there can experience it again. Note that even your set lists have value since they're a memento as well.

3. Custom items made on demand have more value.

Lastly, Clare allowed her fans to influence the end result. Fans watching her live at the recording booth could request what song she was going to record. This added to the novelty of what she was doing.

Remember: this all worked because Clare worked hard to develop a large audience first. If you're just starting out, your one-of-a-kind merch items may have as much value as they do on the market without your name attached to it. These types of things gain more value the larger your audience and following. That said, you can always add one-of-a-kind items to a merch table even when you're starting out (and always make sure to have a high-end item available because someone might buy it). Your merchandise will gain value as you build your music career.


#merchandise #sales #selling #scarcity #makingmoneywithmusic

Photo credit: Gavin St. Ours