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4 Creative Ways to Sell More Merch

October 28, 2014 Featured News, Marketing No Comments

merchThis article, written by Founder of New Artist Model, Dave Kusek, originally appeared on Sonicbids. We’re excited to be working with them to bring you the best and most relevant content for your business!

A lot of people in the music industry call merchandise one of the best revenue streams musicians have left. Sometimes, however, getting people to buy your branded T-shirts or other knick-knacks can be difficult, especially when you’re just starting out.

Merch can become a great revenue stream for you and your band – if you have some strategies in mind when pitching and selling your merch. Here, we’ll cover four you can start implementing right now or at your next show.

1. Let people know you’re selling merch

Okay, this one isn’t exactly “creative,” but you’d be surprised how many musicians fail to do it, whether it simply slips their minds, or they aren’t comfortable playing salesmen.

We’ve all been to a concert where the excitement of the music and being with friends means we just don’t think about merch. Something as simple as mentioning that you have a merch table or even directly asking fans to check out what you’ve got for sale will increase the number of people who stop by.

If you want to really go above and beyond, take some time to walk through the audience (not during any other band’s performance, of course) and get a conversation going with fans. Carry some merch with you and make transactions right from your smartphone with a card reader like Square.

2. Make it fun

Sometimes the prospect of T-shirts isn’t enough to draw fans to the merch table. Once you actually get people there, however, the chance that they will buy greatly increases. One of the best ways to get people to walk over to the merch table is to make it an event. Don’t entirely leave your merch to some random assistant or venue employee – before and after the show, hang out there yourself!

Of course, you could just hang and talk to fans and that will certainly be effective, but, if you want to go one step further, take some time to think about how you can really turn it into a fun event. If your audience is primarily teenage girls, set up a photo booth with fun props where fans can take pictures with you and the band. If you play Hip-Hop or EDM, host a spur-of-the-moment dance contest over by the merch stand. Something fun will draw people – and purchases.

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Buy Stuff (Read: Music) on Twitter

October 20, 2014 Featured News, Marketing No Comments

Twitter Buy ButtonLast month Twitter started testing a buy button that would allow users to purchase directly from a tweet on a mobile device. They are still rolling out the feature to a small amount of US users, which will grow over time. With the holiday season around the corner, we may be seeing offers in our feeds soon.

What is interesting is who they partnered with to start the test, the group includes charities, brands, and artists, including Death From Above 1979, Brad Paisley, The New Pornographers, Ryan Adams, Paramore and Megadeth to name a few.

The potential this tool could provide artists, bands, and labels is vast. You may already have D2C (direct to consumer) packages planned for your upcoming release that you are offering directly to your fans; with ‘in tweet’ purchasing you could expand on this idea by creating exclusive music, merch, tickets for your Twitter followers — basically another channel to reach your fans and offer them the flexibility to buy while never having to leave Twitter. Your future sales could be a few taps away!

Case Study: Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings “Give The People What They Want”

SJDK_CaseStudy

Goals

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings’ highly anticipated fifth studio album, titled Give The People Want They Want, was originally due to come out the summer of 2013. After Sharon was diagnosed with cancer — as our original campaign was already in full swing — the release of the record was pushed indefinitely to many fans’ dismay. When Sharon beat the disease and re-announced the album for a January 2014 release, we adjusted our worldwide strategy with the goal of reinvigorating interest from her fans, expressing Sharon’s appreciation for their support and creating a stronger overall social media presence for her to accomplish this beyond just the album campaign.

Tactics

The first step was reskinning Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings socials with updated art. In addition to the basic background and thumbnail images, we updated FanRx, Bandsintown and Instagram tabs on Facebook and provided Best Practices to the band for how to maximize their social activity.

To match their website with their socials, we created several customized splash pages throughout the course of the campaign. The first was used to share the album announcement and the visually stimulating music video for “Retreat.” The next versions highlighted two key aspects of our campaign: the #wewantsharon campaign and the Spotify contest. Finally, we created one in support of the band’s tour. These splash pages all included remarketing tags.

Riffing off of the album title, we came up with a special hashtag, #wewantsharon, to drive Instagram and Twitter activity. We kicked it off the day Sharon participated in the highly-televised Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, encouraging fans to tag all their photos and videos with #wewantsharon on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Later, we set up a share-to-unlock initiative, where in exchange for using #wewantsharon on their socials, fans were able to unlock a new track from the album, “People Don’t Get What They Deserve.” In addition, their tweets and Instagram posts were aggregated on Sharon Jones’ official website splash page using Tint, a social feed display app. Sharon Jones herself encouraged fans to support #wewantsharon through a personal filmed message available on YouTube and embedded on her splash page.

To continue driving shares post street date, #wewantsharon was incorporated in a Spotify playlist contest we organized. Fans were asked to create a playlist which included Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings music and share it with the hashtag. The selected winners received Spotify Premium codes, one pair of tickets and a signed vinyl copy of Give The People Want They Want.

#wewantsharon was also cross-shared in physical advertisements at Amoeba in LA and Other Music, even making it to the Beacon Theater marquee the night of the tour kickoff in NYC.

Results

  • Through the duration of the campaign, which went from November 2013 through March 2014, we aggregated 1,300 social posts, attracted 10,200 views to the social aggregator and reached 2.12 million people across all socials.
  • In line with our goal to drive engagement on Twitter and Instagram, Twitter was our top network for sharing, followed by Instagram and then Facebook.
  • As compared with the four months preceding the campaign, we noted a 738% increase in Instagram Likes and 370% increase in Instagram comments, a 205% increase in Facebook Likes and a 195% increase in YouTube Video views
  • Via the remarketing tag on the website, we were able to target a highly engaged group of 148,000 fans with Facebook and banner ads
  • Give The People Want They Want debuted at #22 on the Billboard Top 200 (and remained on the chart for 7 weeks), #1 Independent Albums, #2 Tastemaker Albums and #3 R&B Albums
  • The album hit #1 R&B Albums and peaked at #36 on iTunes’ Top 200 Albums in the U.S.
  • The #wewantsharon campaign continued organically months after we stopped pushing the hashtag, with the most recent post to date being from September 1, 2014.

For Your Viewing Pleasure

Tell a Story With Google Maps

Google-Maps-iconThis year, we’ve seen artists take to Yelp and Craigslist to tell the stories behind their songs. If you’re looking for another way to share the places and experiences that influenced a record, try making a custom Google Map. A custom map will allow you to include points of interest with your own names and descriptions. All you’ll need to get started is a Gmail account.

Create a new map by opening maps.google.com, clicking on the empty search bar and selecting My Maps. You’ll see the option to then create a new one. Google Maps work in layers. The base map layer will change how the map itself looks. If you want to remove standard Google Maps features (like the names of businesses or public transit stops), change the base map to something simple. You’ll automatically have an “untitled layer” – use this to add your places. Add some icons to locations you’d like to highlight by clicking the marker icon under the search bar. Icons will default to your standard red Google Maps icon, but each icon can be a different shape or color. There are preset images for things like restaurants, bars, music venues, and more. There’s even an option to use your own custom icons, although you’ll need a “pro” account.

Google Map Layers

Try highlighting the places songs are about, where they were written, or the venues where they were first performed. You can even create separate layers for different categories, like in the example above (Songwriting Spots and Inspiration). Description text supports links, so you can add a purchase link. There’s also the option to embed a video or image. Try adding YouTube videos to stream within the map!

Description with Video

When you’re ready to share your map, click the green Share button and make sure your settings are at “Anyone who has the link can view.”

Looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

How to Make an Impact With Your Album Artwork

PhotoShopThis article, written by music journalist/venue owner/freelance writer, Jhoni Jackson, originally appeared on Sonicbids. We’re excited to be working with them to bring you the best and most relevant content for your business!

Once upon a time, it was pretty uncommon to preview tracks before committing your cash to the whole shebang. Particularly in the heyday of CDs, your best bet was a store’s listening station, and it was typically limited to whatever discs were already loaded, and it always seemed to be occupied anyway. Preexisting knowledge of an artist was usually reliable but, without that, you were kind of shopping blindly — save for the album artwork.

For people who remember browsing aimlessly hoping to discover a new favorite group, this happened often: The coolness of a cover would either lure you in or discourage you from buying. If a foreign-to-you group presented itself with a compelling enough photo or a super-rad design or anything else that caught your eye, it was likely sufficient bait to get you to the register.

These days, of course, we have the luxury of listening before buying. Sometimes, in fact, we don’t even pay — artists often offer singles and even full albums free of charge. All that considered, why should anyone bother with album artwork?

Because your album cover is still a direct representation of your band, that’s why! Covers are still used on most every internet listening medium, from iTunes to Bandcamp to SoundCloud to Spotify. Plus, a lot of labels and distributors use album covers as links to purchase or learn more on their websites or press blasts. Alluring art is still an attention getter, and failing to consider it — or, even worse, not bothering to include a cover at all — is like a giving someone an unwrapped birthday present. It’s glaringly incomplete, and some might even consider it a little lazy.

Here are six different examples of great cover art with tips for making yours just as effective.

Are We There – Sharon Van Etten

arewethere.lpoutWhy it works: Heart-wrenching wistfulness is a much-used motif in Sharon Van Etten’s material, and the artwork for her latest LP channels that, but with an added dose of catharsis. Who hasn’t bent their head out of a car window hoping the fresh air will relieve you, at least briefly, of emotional hopelessness? Nostalgia is a seductive tactic, especially if it recalls moments of despair you’ve long since overcome.

How to it make your own: Opt for black-and-white, and capture a simple image that applies to a wide audience. Be careful not to be too cheesy; shots of hand-holding or dead roses are a bit trite. Instead, consider seemingly insignificant moments in your own life — your rain-drenched clothes after a poorly timed jaunt in the city, for instance. What you think is personal minutiae can make for a surprisingly impactful flashback for someone else.

S/T – Sultan Bathery

Sultan_BatheryWhy it works: This trippy artwork is mystical, wondrously pretty, and incredibly detailed. It’s one of those images that demands close inspection; it’s captivating. Plus, it’s a spot-on reflection of the Italian trio’s chaotic-yet-melodic brand of garage-psych. Both are instantly mesmerizing.

How to make it your own: Intricacy is the goal here — it doesn’t have to be a mind-melting style like this one. It be accomplished in any medium and in any style, but maintaining a sense of order amid the complexity is paramount, because messiness is unappealing. Get meticulous with the details, and you’ll find yourself in the right realm.

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The Orchard is a pioneering music, video and film distribution company and top-ranked Multi Channel Network operating in more than 25 global markets. Founded in 1997, we empower businesses and creators in the entertainment industry.

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