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Music Business

Behind The Barricade, The Best Advertisements Are The Ones That Walk Around

A Guest Post By David Koonce

Merchandise is the life blood of any touring band.  It is also one of the best forms of advertising. You can literally have thousands of walking and talking billboards that cost just a few bucks.  Be careful though. You can lose money just as fast as you can make it with merchandise.  It is all about proper branding, organization, responsibility and plan ol’ simple math.  Follow the rules and some nights you will possibly count in more money at the merch table than your guarantee from the show.


Let’s start with your brand.  As an artist it is crucial that you have a good brand.  If I showed you a photo of red lips sticking out a big red tongue and asked you what band that was, you would immediately recognize that the logo represented The Rolling Stones.  The logo doesn’t actually have the band’s name on it but you know who it is. This is because Mick, Keith and the Boys have mastered the art of branding.  Creating a logo that people can remember is the final goal here.  Creating one that spikes curiosity enough to ask is a good place to start.

Come up with a logo that shares the feeling of your attitude as an artist. It is smart to keep it simple. This will be an artist venture so don’t make that a rule. It’s just a suggestion that has been tested.  Once you have your logo it’s time to put it everywhere. It needs to be on your website, on flyers and posters, t-shirts, stickers, hats, everywhere.


Let’s start with the basics. T-shirts have been a staple in musician merchandise history since the beginning.  It is an everlasting goose chase of what your fans will like and dislike, unfortunately the only real way to figure it out is to design a shirt and put it on sale. If you sell out quickly, it is a winner. If you hold onto them for 1 year and still have 70% of them, then it is time to go back to the drawing board. I have lost count on how many times I have come up with a t-shirt design that I thought was going to be a smash hit and I still have 25 of them in my garage that I wax my car with. It hard to tell what people want so don’t get discouraged...Read More!


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