Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog

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

July 25, 2005

Top CD & Merch Sales Tips

Back in May I posted a request for music merchandising tips. And did the readers of this blog respond! I'll be posting some of the best tips over the coming weeks. Some great ones came from Laura Kist, who handles PR and merchandise sales for Bomb Squad, a funk-rock act based in New York City.

"The band received the 2003 New Music Award and performed live at the American Music Awards," she says. "They have two CDs out and a lot of merch, which I sell online and at live shows. I've learned quite a few things, lugging bins of merch from gig to gig."

Here are some tips Laura picked up along the way:

Location, Location, Location: Often, club owners/managers will want to stick you in a dark corner out of the way. However, you won't sell any merch that way. You need to make sure you are set up either next to the music (wear earplugs!) or by the door. By the door, no one coming or going can miss you.

What You See Is What You Get: Clubs are dark. Make sure there is enough lighting so fans can see what they might want to buy. I use a small battery-operated lamp so people can read the CDs, check out the tees, etc. It's also helpful when counting money.

Change Is Good: Definitely make sure you have change. If you make the customer go to the bar to get change, s/he may spend that $ on a drink instead. Also, price merchandise so you and the customer aren't fumbling with singles. I keep it to the 5's: $10, $15 and $20. Also, offer deals: 2-fors or "Buy this CD, get a free t-shirt" (I raise the price of the CD a bit.) It truly increases sales -- people love free stuff!

Organization and Presentation: I keep my t-shirts in plastic bins (get 'em for a couple of bucks each at Kmart). I separate the girls styles from the boys and sort them according to size. It makes it much easier to give the customer what they want, especially if it's a packed house.

Ask for Help: When I know Bomb Squad is going to sell out a venue, I make sure I have someone to help me. I have lost sales because I literally couldn't get to the customer.

Up with the Times: I pay attention to what people are wearing. When trucker hats came back in style, we got trucker hats with the Bomb Squad logo.

Get Creative: I discovered that t-shirts and other merchandise don't have to be limited to the band's name. One of our best sellers is our "Sophistafunk" baby tee, named after the title track of Bomb Squad's first album. It is so popular that I often have guys asking for it for themselves! (I really have to get on that ...)

Ship Online Orders Promptly: This is so important when it comes to online sales. I am practically best friends with my mail clerk as I'm in the post office every week. When I get an order online, I make sure to take care of it within a couple of days.

Thanks for the great tips, Laura!

posted by Bob Baker @ 12:06 PM   1 comments


At May 8, 2008 3:15:00 AM, Anonymous Alex Sobieski, CEO CULT STATUS said...


Great article, thanks for the tips.

It never hurts to remind people to visit the merch table a couple times while on stage too.

This is one thing that I have found a lot of musicians still don't do, but it's important to point to the dark corner in which you happen to be selling your stuff.



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