Bob Baker's Indie Music Promotion Blog

Music marketing ideas for DIY artists, managers, promoters and music biz pros

December 01, 2011

Two Questions That Can Help You Sell More Music & Merchandise

If you're not selling as much music merchandise as you'd like, you might be neglecting to ask these two important questions ...

Question #1
What products, services or artwork are your fans most enthusiastic about?

Maybe your fans are really interested in more limited-edition merchandise or hand-screened posters made by members of the band. But you keep trying to sell them cheesy looking beer koozies.

Think of how your grandma goes shopping for you. She thinks you'll love that new sweater vest, but in reality, if she just asked you what you wanted, you'd be getting a leather jacket.

Your t-shirts might not be selling because you're offering sweater vests instead of leather jackets. Sure, just like grandma, you had good intentions, but few people are really all that interested.

The best way to find out what your fans want is to ASK THEM what they'd be willing to buy!

Feedback from your fans may very well inspire fresh ideas for new merchandise you hadn't thought of before. Your goal is to offer something of value that they want - to fill a true need that your fans have.

Action step: Post an online survey with a few t-shirt design ideas and see which one your fans like best, then print that one.

Warning: Always print a short run of any new design, despite how people vote in your survey. I can tell you from experience that what people say they will do in a poll (which simply reflects their intentions) can be quite different from the actions they take in the real world.

The only thing that matters is how fans end up voting with their dollars. If they don't actually BUY the new thing you offer in sufficient quantities, let it go and try something else.

It's all about experimentation and not being attached to an outcome. In other words, don't try to force feed your fans something they don't really want.

Question #2
What do fans buy from other artists that you could do better or create with an original twist?

Yes, you should also be looking at what other successful artists (as well as cool companies) are doing with their merch selections. I'm not talking about ripping off their ideas. But observing what items are working for others might inspire a spin-off idea you can uniquely make your own.

One band that is always blazing new territory with merchandise sales is the Flaming Lips. Recently, Wayne Coyne and company released new songs on USB drives that were embedded in bizarre objects like Gummy Skulls and strobe light toys.

Check out this Hypebot post for more examples of how the Lips push the boundaries and give their fans new merchandise options.

Of course, your merch ideas don't have to include skulls. But can you take an idea like it and adapt it to your own style? Can you find interactive ways to spread the news to your fans about limited-edition merchandise?

The goal here is to create conversations with your tribe of supporters and show them that their input is important.

Besides, they can only wear so many sweater vests.

Have you asked your fans what they want, or have you been shoehorning them into grandma's sense of fashion?


P.S. This post was partially inspired by this "How to Turn Website Visitors Into Customers for Your Creative Business" post by Mark McGuinness. And thanks to Kendra for her valuable input on this post.
Get more tips like these when you subscribe to my free Buzz Factor ezine — the longest running music career tips email newsletter on the planet. Since 1995. Learn more about the free subscription here.

Or just sign up using this quick and easy form:

Your First Name
Your Primary Email

Your email address will not be shared. Unsubscribe at any time.

Connect with

posted by Unknown @ 8:16 AM   2 comments


At Dec 4, 2011, 2:59:00 PM, Anonymous Phil Johnson Comedy said...

Good post Bob. One thing I've learned about t-shirts is that you have to design something people will actually want to wear.

Comedians learned long ago that people didn't really want to wear a shirt that just has some dude's name on it. So the shirt always says something funny on it. Mine says "Be yoursel... Unless you're an idiot." And includes my url, writ small, under the saying.

Bands could incorporate titles and lyrics into their shirts with a nice design. It keeps people connected to the art and lets them use it to define themselves as well.

At Dec 5, 2011, 9:36:00 AM, Blogger A. Adams said...

My band used custom made T-Shirts to promote our band at a local weekly festival in Buffalo, NY this past summer( We spent a lot of time on graphics and this helped us sell all of our merchandise over the course of the summer. We used which is a company that we discovered through Facebook. Even if people don't know your band or music, if the t-shirt is appealing they will buy it.


Post a Comment

<< Home