Playing shows can be the funnest part of this business and also the most profitable. Who doesn’t wanna make money while having fun? But... are you doing everything you can to make as much money as possible at every gig?
We’ve asked some of our touring clients for advice on how to maximize profits at every gig. Here are their tips on what to do before, during and after the show, which will help you maximize your revenue.
Before the show:
Show up for load in and sound check on time! Be respectful and nice to everyone who works at the venue. They are potential fans, and a little good will from the staff can go a long way. Introduce yourselves to the soundguy and everyone else that you have contact with. Ask where you can set up your merch table. If given a choice, set up your merch in a high traffic area. An ideal spot might be near the venue entrance or, like it or not, close to the restrooms. Give people plenty of opportunity to see your merch multiple times.
If done right, your merch table should generate the majority of income for you, unless of course, you’re getting paid handsomely for your performance. Have cool items for sale. Do the obligatory CDs and T-shirts, but also look at selling some varied items your fanbase might want and can afford. Water bottles, tote bags, key chains, coffee mugs, hats, hoodies, stickers, postcards, DVDs, baby stuff, custom iPhone covers... you get the idea. Try to select merch that fits your style. If you’re an acoustic act that plays a lot of coffee shops, then maybe coffee mugs would work well with your crowd, while pacifiers might not be so relevant for the crowd at rock clubs... Displaying your products the right way is key. Make sure your price tags are big and readable. If you’re in a dark room, light up your table. Hang up T-shirts, hoodies and other wearables on the wall behind the table for easy visibility.
If you’re lucky to have someone sell your merch for you, make sure they wear your product! T-shirts are especially infectious. The more people see others wear them, the more likely they are to buy. Keep an email list at your merch table at all times and encourage fans to sign up!
Now it’s easy for everyone to accept credit cards anywhere. Both Square and PayPal offer free card readers that pop in the headphone jack of your iPhone or Android smartphone. It is super easy to use, and they only charge 2.70% of every transaction. Sign up is easy, and there are no monthly fees or commitments.
Last but not least, tip your bartenders and servers.
During the show:
While you are on stage, be sure to tell the crowd that you have merch for sale and point to where it is. Tell them what merch items you have and how affordable it is. Give something away during the show. How about a free T-shirt, CD or flashlight to the first person who makes it up on stage? (Tread carefully with this suggestion, especially if you have an active mosh pit...) Announce that after the show, you’ll be at the merch table for a meet and greet. Also mention your website and that you have an email list that fans should be a part of to receive special announcements and offers.
After the show:
As soon as your set is over, the singer, or the best looking person in the band (sorry to be politically incorrect, but good looks never hurt) should get off stage, grab your email list and work the crowd. Walk around and ask people to sign up for you email list. Offer them a free sticker if they do. But be careful not to be too pushy when doing this. You don’t want a lot of spam complaints when you send them your newsletter. Be nice and courteous, ask politely and make pleasant small talk. If you’re not the small-talking kind of person, keep in mind that everybody loves to talk about themselves, so just ask how their day has been. What do they do? Where are they from? Do you they go to shows a lot? Etc. Thank them for coming to your show!
Someone should head straight over to the merch table, and do the meet and greet. Talk to your fans, sign CDs if requested, pose for pictures. Your fans that attend your shows want to feel connected in some way. Taking home a reminder of the night in the form of merch is spontaneous. Don’t count on fans to buy your merch or download your songs as easily after the “moment” of the gig has faded away.
The next day:
Send an email to those who signed up for your list. Thank them for doing so and tell them what they should expect from being on your email list. How often will you email them? What will your emails be about?
To manage your list and to make nice looking html emails, Mailchimp is fabulous. It’s very easy to use, and is integratable with a variety of web services and hosting options. Best of all, it’s free for lists up to 2000 subscribers. They have a great interface, lots of templates to choose from and a cute little monkey as their mascot.
Do you have any tips on how to make more money at gigs? Please share your ideas in the comments section below.