Your merch game may start with a t-shirt and you should definitely have some of those. But to really please your fans while maximizing your revenue,getting creative with music merch is the way to go. At a recent CMJ panel, a group of music entrepreneurs and artists gathered to share their perspectives on going "beyond the tour t-shirt."
CMJ 2012 included a variety of educational panels including "Modern Merch: Beyond the Tour T-Shirt." The panel was moderated by Digital Cowboys' Dave Kusek who is co-founder and Chairman of the still to launch Merchluv. Panelists included Zach Bair, Mary Sparr and Alexandra Starlight.
Button & Postcard Set from Alexandra & The Starlight Band
Ale Delgado attended the panel and came away with 5 Ways To Go "Beyond the Tour T-Shirt" plus a bonus tip. I've taken the liberty of summarizing them as:
6 Tips For Upping Your Merch Game
1. Think of merch as an extension of your brand
Example: Alexandra Starlight's "one-of-a-kind rainbow glitter vinyl record" is a great match for her style and image.
2. Cater to your spectrum of fans
"You should have something at your merch table for the fan who just wants to snatch a free download card and for the fan who wants to buy everything."
3. Be show-specific
Example: Mumford & Sons created a ticket passport that could be stamped at the merch table at each show for those following the tour.
4. Work your merch like a pop-up shop
Display items so they're easy to see, stay organized and provide friendly customer service.
5. Extend the experience
Example: "Make sure there’s someone taking pictures of your show, including grabbing a few shots of the crowd. Then post it on Facebook and encourage your fans to tag themselves."
6. Include limited edition collectibles
Example: The Hold Steady Foam Hand is sold out and likely to be on display in the homes of fans.
It's an insightful post and well worth a closer look.
[Thumbnail image courtesy Incase.]
BY: MATTHEW MYERS
I sometimes get approached by aspiring recording artists looking for help, and I’ve broadened my skill set from a songwriter to music producer. One of my long-term goals with Leet Music is to be serve as a music / label and publisher for artists within the anime, video game and “otaku” music genre. This article outlines my plans and how I hope to benefit from it.
What is artist development?
Recording artist development is how an publisher (record label, etc.) partners with an emerging artist to create a music product for the first time. Often the artist will provide creative assets like vocals, sometimes the music and lyrics, and the publisher invests in the business of music production, assets like graphic design and music video, as well as promotion and distribution of the record. In exchange for assuming financial risk in the project, the publisher often takes the lion’s share of the earnings from the music.
If the product is a success then the publisher turns a profit and starts paying the artist a percentage based on the terms of the contract. If the product turns out to be an extremely successful release then the artist will usually be able to broker a better deal with a publisher for their next project. If the product is a flop and the publisher never recoups their investment then the artist usually will not receive any royalties. The relationship is similar to that of an entrepreneur and a venture capitalist.
Investing in the career of an emerging artist is extremely high competition and high risk. Even at the major record label level only 1 new artist out of 20 turns a profit. The costs of recording an album and making a music video are very high. Often seeking press and promotion requires established industry relationships and credibility. Because of the amount of competition and cost of product development, artist development is a dangerously big bet.
Breaking a new artist pays dividends when it works. If the song / video becomes popular then fans become extremely attached and loyal to the artist. Future releases will have a built-in fan base eagerly awaiting. Opportunities to perform and tour, as well as partner with other businesses become more available. With new releases and new fans banking on the success of the past, it adds up to a lot of money over time! The artist turns into a brand and franchise and that can be the basis of a life-long career.
Because of the high costs of artist development, the publisher needs to strongly believe that the end product is going to be a commercial success, capable of recouping the development funds and turning a profit. This means that publishers are extremely cautious about working with new talent. They tend to dedicate the most resources to a project they believe in the most, and do little or nothing to support a project with expected middling results.
For a small publisher with limited financial resources, the best way to approach seems to be focusing on a small product category and aiming to become a leader in it, rather than trying to be everything. Sub Pop produces alternative music. Death Row produces gangsta rap music. Fueled By Ramen produces emo music. This helps carve out an identity for the publisher to be recognized by fans rather than merely a department of a large conglomerate. For someone like me with a background in video games, anime and convention performances, it makes the most sense to continue to focus on anime, video games and the “otaku” genre right now.
To establish a new artist, the product is an extremely high quality pop song. It needs to be so good that it’s capable of being somebody’s favorite song. The song release is then accompanied by a music video to amplify the promotion, as well as a full album to add artistic depth and commercial value to the release. Nobody knows which song is going to reach a critical mass all the time, but some songs obviously stand a better chance than others. In order for the artist to have a sustainable career they need to be capable of producing further hit songs, putting on an entertaining live performance that will entice fans, and be attractive to partnerships with other brands.
>> FULL ARTICLE <<
- "Alice's Restaurant" - Arlo Guthrie
- "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" - Sly & The Family Stone
- "Thank You" - Dido
- "The Thanksgiving Song" - Adam Sandler
- "Thank You For The Music"- Abba
- "Thank You Lord" - Bob Marley
- "Thank You" - Led Zeppelin
- "We Are Family" - Sister Sledge
- "Thank U" Alanis Morissette
- "Thank You Girl" - The Beatles
What Happens To Your Turntable.fm Playlists
The Turntable.fm team "want to at least go outin style":
- All playlists and songs can be exported to Spotify or CSV by going here.
- All the avatars they’ve designed are now accessible for everyone.
- They have created a special t-shirt to remember turntable.fm and it will be available for purchase next week.
- Theys are working on making anonymous raw data dumps for developers to have fun with.
The company is planning a "last day party" online at turntable.fm on December 2.
From Founding To Failure
But the turntable.fm story began at launch in May 2011 Turntable.fm as a project of Seth Goldstein and Billy Chasen, the co-founders of Stickybits.
In less than a year turntable.fm was an underground hit on its way to the mainstream. Closet DJ's were spinning online next to celebrities hoping to extend their reach. $7 million in investments rolled in from a who's who list that included Union Square Ventures, Troy Carter, Jimmy Fallon, Tim Kendall, Courtney Holt, Guy Oseary, Lowercase Capital, Polaris Partners, First Round Capital and Vivi Nevo.
While presumably some of the $7 million invested remains and will be used to develop Turntable Live. But for turntable.fm, the cost demanded by a handful of powerful major labels and publishers to licenses music proved too high.
It's a tale we've heard before, but one that we're likely to hear less often as investors tire of of the losses.
To be honest, I've been checking out music on SoundCloud for what feels like a long time, at least in internet years, but I've never thought of it as a place to discover new music. The discovery happens on blogs and other external sites where SoundCloud happens and then in the related channel where I then seek out similar tracks but the external discovery has always been at the heart of the experience for me.
trending streams for both music and audio
trending streams organized by genre
lean back listening by simply pushing play from the main stream or genre stream
Explore is a great look for SoundCloud which is not just an indispensable service for so many artists but increasingly a key part of music's infrastructure on the web and mobile.