How to Make 'Em
Article by Kenny Love
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Want to learn how to turn *each* of your future live performances (starting with your very next gig) into $500-$1,000
profit-makers (minimum), regardless of what the gig is actually paying you to perform?
Okay, you may have had some high-paying gigs that are in the $1,000 range or above, but let's admit it...these
are few and far between. In other words, if you are playing three times per week, are you earning close to $1,000
for each gig?
These are the crème de la crème gigs that are, primarily, limited to such private functions as weddings,
corporate conventions, holiday parties, etc.
For the most part, not only do you fight for as much consistency to get these types of gigs, but you also find
yourself fighting for the menial paying jobs that are so common to clubs as well.
So, how can you increase your live performance income without doing more low-end gigs?
Merchandising at Gigs
Merchandising at gigs, that's how! For the most part, it is my experience that most gigging bands tend to limit
their products sold at gigs to their CD. And, while this is a good peripheral product to have, there is so much
more potential for sales than simply making your CD available.
A couple of things that you should first do, however, are:
1. Ask your prospective gig client (club manager, club booker, show rep) if it is okay for your act to sell additional
merchandise, aside from your CD at their location.
This will not only show them your respect for their business, and that you are not simply seeking to use their
establishment as a source for hock.
But, it will also serve to immediately let you know how they feel about your doing so, instead of you simply bringing
along all of your merchandise and, possibly, incurring embarrassment in response to their rejection of your selling
If you do get authorization to sell your merchandise, be sure to grace, at least, the person who authorized you
to do so, with complementary merchandising items to show your appreciation, and to continue to be able to sell
at this gig during subsequent shows.
2. In respect to private functions, such as weddings, you might, however, wish to reconsider approaching sponsors
of these types of gigs altogether, as it could tend to leave a bad social taste, so to speak.
Gig Product Ideas:
1. Your complete
2. Your First
Single on CD.
You could have your first single manufactured at your retail plant that you used for your retail recording or,
for a cheaper route, burn copies yourself from your computer.
Even better, is to invest in a dedicated compact disc duplicator (for top-of-the-class Harvard and Yale graduates,
that's commonly referred to as a CD burner). :-)
You might also want to divide the duplication duty among several of your fellow band members so that not only one
person gets stuck with it.
3. Your First
Single Music Video
Whether acted out via a commercial production, or simply performed as a musical selection that could be produced
by a film school student, you should also consider getting an inexpensive music video produced for your first single.
A music video would serve the dual purposes for both promoting your music worldwide on Indie music video shows,
as well as the interest of having another product that you can sell at the retail and gig levels. A triple benefit,
would be for it to further serve in securing more work from club owners or other sources.
4. Your Video
This could simply take the form of an interview with each band member regarding how he feels about the new release,
the band's past, present and future aspirations, the band interviewed as a group, musical clips, etc.
You could either offer this video bio as a separately sold product, or as a bonus to people who purchase your music
video, inspiring more sales because of the perceived bonus value.
5. Your CD Bio
This is a separate CD that could contain the audio tracks to your video interview clips, yet, can be sold as a
separate product, or given as a bonus to people who buy your music CD.
6. Your DVD
Again, and as in Item #4 above, this could simply take the form of an interview with each of the band members regarding
how they feel about the new release, the band's past, present and future, the band interviewed as a group, musical
You could have different shirts that contain your band's name, your current CD title, your single, your Indie label
name, even shirts representing each band member's name, along with your band name and label underneath.
Also, diversify into even more products by deciding to split this information on the front and back sides of the
As with the tee-shirt, you could follow suit with the baseball cap product as well, although you would not nearly
have the space to include all info as with the shirt. However, this info could be nicely split into two or three
separate caps, thereby, providing you with even more products.
Ditto as above.
Ditto as above.
Don't have the big bucks it usually takes to get merchandising set up (usually, thousands of dollars)? Then, perhaps,
the easiest and fastest solution to getting these products, without paying a setup fee, is to take advantage of
such free online merchandise sites as Cafepress.com.
Cafepress.com can create a number of products with any of your logos, slogans or artwork on
them. And, they do so absolutely free, and at no upfront costs to you. Their money is made on back-end sales,
minus a sales commission to you.
The way the process works is, generally, you set up a FREE account with them, then utilize their online system
to generate and assimilate your graphics onto their products (you get to watch the entire process take place online).
You then save the product graphics to your hard drive, then upload them and their corresponding generated sales
page to your web site for sale, which is a click-through to the Cafe Press site, whereby, all sales transactions
are handled without your effort. Cafe Press then sends you sales commission checks for any sales.
But, why not also make even more money by reselling Cafepress products at your live gigs? Now, I'm not certain
if Cafe Press will go for this but, since it is your logo and slogan it is using for various products, I don't
see why they would not allow you to purchase the products at a wholesale cost or discount for resale at your gigs.
But, even if Cafe Press will not allow you to purchase products at a wholesale or discount rate, this is still
a great deal because you can simply add a profit on top of your retail cost.
If this is, indeed, the case (retail price), just be sure to limit the number of items you purchase at a time (unless
your uncle is Bill Gates).
But, even at purchasing your products from Cafe Press at retail cost, you can simply add $5-$10 on them at your
gigs and still make a nice bag of bills at each performance.
Depending on when you set up your account with CP, as well as the time of year (they always have seasonal items
for sale), you can test a limited number of products at your gigs, again, based on their "seasonal" sales
potential, i.e., coats.
And, even if your customers later discover that your products are available for less on your site, the good thing
is that there is a general acceptance that selling online often also means that things are, indeed, less expensive
online, and they would expect online your online prices to reflect such discounts.
Beside your band manager (if you have one), you should hire, at least, one additional person (and, preferably,
two people) who you trust to watch, secure, promote and sell your merchandise during each of your gigs.
Hiring two people insures that your merchandise is *always* covered, should one person need to leave for a break,
while eliminating the possibility of theft due to unattended merchandise.
Actually, you could, at some point, turn the complete operation over to these particular people without your further
need to concern yourself with ordering product, or keeping accounting of product you have on hand for future gig
Your could pay them, say, 5%-10% sales commission on your sales, along with your covering their meals and lodging
(if necessary). At the same time, you are making money from your merchandise *during* your gig, in real time and
Also, take into consideration that both your music audio and video products should be used as part of your promotional
media kit for continuously obtaining gigs and performances.
In fact, personally, I would provide both products (if available) to prospective gig sponsors, in the interest
of showing professionalism as well as, practically, guaranteeing gigs. Just be sure that your audio and video
are professional in all areas, both musically and technically.
Now, take the audio and video products, and add them, in part, in streaming format to your web site for even greater
With this level of consistent gig merchandising, you can easily see how you can turn *each* of your gigs into $1,000
babies minimum, regardless of what the gig itself is paying (or not paying) you for your performance.
p. s. for
related gig/performance info, be sure to read the articles, "how to $tiff-proof local gigs" and "how
to $tiff-proof 'outside' gigs, with links at http://www.mubiz.com/servicelinks.html.
Kenny Love has
an extensive background in both the Music and Writing industries. Learn about the new services that he is providing
to unsigned and independent recording artists in response to today's shaken and fractionalized Music industry by
sending an email request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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