Selling CDs and merch at your shows

Whether you’re a rising local artist or an international touring musician, selling CDs, vinyl and merch at shows can be a significant revenue stream. It also creates a unique opportunity to interact with your fans, turning them into superfans. Here are some tried-and-true tips to boost your sales during live shows.

1. Location, Location, Location: Where to Set Up Your Merch Table

It may seem like a no-brainer, but the physical placement of your merchandise table is crucial. Try to set up near the entrance or exit, making it almost impossible for concertgoers to miss your table. It’s also beneficial if you can be close to the main stage so that your merch remains visible throughout the show. If you only have a few items for sale, you can even put it ON the stage.

Merch displayed on stage

Keep it neat and organized so it’s appealing for your fans/customers. A pro tip is to roll up the T-shirts and use masking tape to indicate the size. If you have wallspace, hang up samples of your items for sale. Have the person who works the table wear one of your T-shirts. 

2. Announce Merch from the Stage

Don't shy away from self-promotion. During your performance or right before your last song, make an announcement letting fans know you have merch for sale. Write it on your set list so you won't forget. Introduce one of your songs by pointing out that it's from your last CD which happens to be for sale at your merch table. Announce any special deals, limited editions, or exclusive items. This direct appeal not only reminds the audience, but also adds a personal touch, making fans more likely to purchase something.

3. Offer Multiple Payment Options

The easier you make it for fans to pay, the better. In this age of digital transactions, not everyone carries cash. Ensure you can accept credit and debit cards, as well as Apple and Google Pay, using mobile payment systems like Square, PayPal Here, or similar services. Offering a variety of payment options removes one of the biggest barriers to making a sale.

4. Create Bundle Offers

Everyone loves a deal. Bundle products together to provide value. For example, you could offer a CD and a T-shirt for a discounted price when purchased together. Or a vinyl record with a limited edition poster. Bundles make it more tempting for fans to buy more. Consider creating bundles tailored for different types of fans—newcomers, casual listeners, and superfans—so that everyone finds a deal that appeals to them.

5. Introduce a High-End Item

Psychology plays a big role in buying decisions. Introduce one high-end item, like a limited edition vinyl set or a signed guitar, to make other items seem more affordable by comparison. Most fans will opt for mid-range items, but that expensive item can act as a point of reference that makes everything else appear to be a good deal.

6. Personally Man the Table

Spend some time at the merch table yourself. Fans are more likely to purchase items if they have the opportunity for a brief personal interaction with you. Signing CDs or taking photos with fans not only makes their night but also increases the sentimental value of the merchandise, encouraging more sales.

Announce when you'll be at the table during your performance so that fans know when to find you. A scheduled appearance generates anticipation and creates a more structured opportunity for fan interaction.

7. Social Proof: Word of Mouth in the Digital Age

Pose for pictures with your fans and their newly purchased CD, vinyl, T-shirt, etc. Encourage fans to share their own pictures wearing or using your merchandise on social media, and tag your artist page.

Feature fans who have purchased your merch on your social media platforms. Tag them, thank them, and use their testimonials to build credibility and entice others to check out your music and merch.

8. Data is King: Keep Records

Use a simple spreadsheet to track your inventory and sales. Over time, you'll start seeing patterns that will help you refine your merch strategy for future events.

+ 7 Effective Ways to Rock Your CD Sales 

Physical merchandise sales are about more than just making money, they offer an invaluable opportunity to deepen your relationship with your audience. Adopting a strategic, thoughtful approach will not only boost your revenue but also contribute to building a more loyal and engaged fan base. By following these simple tips, musicians can make the most out of their live shows, in terms of maximizing revenue and connecting with fans.

Photo credit: Timothy Wildgoose, Moonshine and Wine

Written by Silver Sorensen & Alex Ingram




  • Scott Frye

    Thanks for the tips!

  • Srikanth

    Great points, especially #5. :-)

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