Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog

News, notes and ideas on music marketing, self-promotion, artist empowerment and more

July 27, 2005

How to Boost CD & Merch Sales

Carlo, a blog reader and member of the Filipino hip-hop group Audible, sent me the following e-mail regarding Monday's post on Top CD & Merch Sales Tips. He asks some questions that I'm sure have crossed the minds of many self-promoting musicians:

"I know that if you don't ask for the sale, you won't get it. But let's say you've announced CDs and merchandise for sale before, during and after your performance. You deliver a great show and people approach you afterwards, but the amount of sales is nowhere near what you expected it to be. What do you do? Do you go approach the audience and ask 'em if they want CDs? Or just stay where you are and let people come to you?"

Great questions. I'll give a few of my own suggestions and then encourage the smart people who read this blog to post additional comments below.

Yes, take it to the people. In addition to having a merch table that fans must go to, some artists also have "helpers" who work the crowd to inspire mailing list sign-ups and CD sales. And they actually carry the CDs with them while wearing a band T-shirt.

On his Bards Crier site, Marc Gunn covered this when he highlighted Sharon Wothke and The Rogues. Here's an excerpt:

We started from the very beginning employing the use of a roaming basket. It is very effective and other groups have successfully copied our approach. Our sellers walk around holding up the product so people can see them. Our sellers try to blend in with the show and not be pushy, just visible. I personally enjoy interacting with the crowd, spoofing off of what is being said on the stage and telling jokes to make the audience laugh. And I will talk and be nice to everyone, even if they don't buy a CD, simply because I enjoy people and I am trying to be an ambassador for the band. They may not buy today, but chances are they will think about it and buy a CD at another time.

But there are also ways to entice more people to visit the merch table area, such as:

Set out free candy or snacks, available to anyone who walks over to the table.

Hold a drawing. To enter, people must put their business card or form into a bowl, which of course sits on the merch table.

But at the core of Carlo's e-mail was the question: How do you get people to actually buy instead of just browse? One great way is to make special offers. Have a regular price that people pay if they buy from your web site, then a special "live show only" discount price.

You can have some fun with this, too. When I saw Kim Massie in St. Louis recently, she joked that the normal price of her CD was $9,999. But if you bought it that night, it could be yours for only $9.99. People in the audience laughed ... and bought a lot of CDs that night.

These are just a few thoughts. Again, I encourage you to post your own ideas for inspiring sales. Just click the Comments link below.

posted by Bob Baker @ 9:47 AM   4 comments


At Aug 2, 2005 1:05:00 PM, Blogger Phil Johnson - Roadside Attraction said...

It's important to not only have helpers in the audience, but for the artist to actually step off the stage with CDs in hand and talk to people.

Contests are great for getting the mailing list going. Also for finding out which of your current fans attended the show for thank you notes afterward.

If you're playing with other artists, do a package deal with your CD. 2 for $15 or 3 for $25 or whatever. Works like a charm.

At Aug 2, 2005 3:30:00 PM, Blogger pale beneath the blue said...

Putting together a good looking display for your wares can boost your sales as well. Make sure that you have some nice signage--I printed some up on the computer and mounted it on a piece of thin cardboard. Then attached them with those big binder clips. There's no not seeing the price--or a package deal if it's physically attached to the CD.

At Aug 12, 2005 1:13:00 PM, Anonymous Charles "Max" E. Million said...

Too few artists (especially those looking to make an impact) realize the power of merchandising.

Getting known outside your own local area, especially if you are trying to push a CD or single to radio, is an expensive proposition.

Merchandise sales done correctly can pay for a lot of promotion....and for wearable merchandise, they also serve the purpose of getting your name better known.

The artist should let people know that at the end of the set or at the end of the night they will come over to the merchandise table and sign the items that have been purchased. Don't forget to have Sharpie's in assorted colors for the signing.

At Aug 23, 2005 10:05:00 AM, Blogger JULIAN said...

I'm single, and my HIT SONG "Get the Picture" is an INTERNET DATING AD. So, I run a contest every gig to win a date with me! (They must sign up for my mailing list.) My single is on over 500 TV & RADIO stations currently, so they feel like it's a big prize to win too!

Lynn JULIAN A.K.A. Cookie Cutter Girl


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