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Bundling Tickets, Merchandise and Common Sense

Indie-Music-TicketingLately, I have been talking to independent artists about “fan club” ticketing and how it can really work for them. By the way, I hate the term “fan club.” Not only does it remind me of The Bay City Rollers, but it also disguises the benefits that taking control of your ticketing offers. For that reason, I refer to it as “advanced ticketing,” but that’s enough about my hang-ups.

When booking shows, it is common to get 10-15% of the potential ticket sales to sell to your fans, or community, anyway you want. These tickets are designated to be either sold or returned to the venue/promoter before tickets become available to the general public. Typically, this must be agreed to an arranged at the time of booking. You may run into stumbling blocks. If you meet resistance from a venue or promoter about this, I recommend pushing for it to a point, but be careful not to tick them off.

Why Advanced Ticketing is Worth It

A few reasons make advanced ticketing worthwhile. One is that it gives you a reason to talk about a show or tour, with your community or fan base, much earlier than you normally would. If you were to simply announce a show three months in advance, there would be little reason for anyone to pay attention. But if there is a limited amount of VIP tickets or something offered with the advanced ticket purchase, it becomes more noteworthy and memorable. Whether or not people buy advanced tickets, the event has been acknowledged and will be more familiar and welcomed when you or the venue/promoter do the second round of promotion.

Advanced tickets appeal to fans for a variety of reasons. Some come from a distance and want to make sure they will get in. Or you’re just that good and easily sell out every show. But much more likely (no offense), it is because they like your music and want to support you.

So Many Ways to Bundle

If you are lucky enough to have a lot of people who want advance tickets, make the most of it. Bundle the ticket with a discounted copy of your new album, t-shirt, DVD or a combination of any of the above. You can even offer a VIP package at a ridiculous price. Note that the value of the ticket must be kept to face value, or what the venue/producer will charge. The extra charge is for the extra merchandise/value you give in the package.

When people purchase online, they are more likely to add on to the purchase if they are getting a special deal. Offering advance tickets with merchandise also allows timid folks to buy your merchandise without having to approach your merch table.

Choose the best option for delivering the merch. You may choose to ship it immediately, which gets your new album heard earlier than if purchased at your show. And if it gets passed around at all, before your show (and it is liked), people are more likely to attend than if they never heard you at all.

If you don’t want to, or just can’t ship out merch to your customers, you can have them pick up their orders at the show. At least you will know the minimum amount of items you need and where on the tour you will need them.

It may seem like a lot of work to sell an extra CD or T-shirt here and there, but once you get a method down, it will go faster. And the more people see this and get used to it, the more comfortable they will become with ordering. These days, every sale is important. So even if you only sell a couple advance ticket/merch bundles per show, they add up. Plus there’s a chance that those sales may not have occurred the day of the show.

Those who do not have this infrastructure will need to get something in place, or find a service that can fulfill their needs, and not take too big a piece of the already small pie. This can be tough when you are not guaranteed a ton of sales right away. There are plenty of services for ticketing and merchandise fulfillment, but most of them charge a set up fee, have big fees for your customers, take a large percentage of the sales or all of the above.

“The more you keep in-house, the more revenue streams are open for you to tap into”

Brown Paper Tickets is a great service for artists and small labels to use for implementing the concept of advanced ticket bundled with merch sales. I am not saying this because I work here. I work here because of their business practices. There are no minimum sales requirements, it is completely free for the artist/label and I truly believe our services and tools are great.

No matter how you do it or what service you use (if any), it makes common sense to take control of your advanced ticketing and turn it into additional promotion and/or revenue.

In fact, for truly independent artists, take control of as much of the business side of your career as possible. You’ll need help and a team, but the more you keep in-house, the more revenue streams are open for you to tap into.

Source: “BandSmart” – Martin Atkins

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New Research: Independent Musicians Face New Challenges in Digital Age

Musicians at SXSW 2014You heard the rumors: there’s no money in music anymore. Bassist, drummer, keytarist. You are hosed. The only music you’ll make is the tap, tap, tap drumming your fingers on the surface of your cubicle-enclosed desk.

Or not. You’ve probably also heard that the digital age offers a wide-open creative landscape replete with opportunities, free from corporate interest. Send music to fans on the opposite side of the world in mere minutes. Make an album at home, in your jammies with your own recording software. Put it on an online streaming service, promote it and watch the dollars roll in.

Wait—which one is right? Maybe it’s time to take a more scientific look at indie musicians in the digital age.

Brown Paper Tickets Music Doer, Billy Geoghegan and University of Central Florida Professor Kevin Meehan, PhD co-authored the published paper, “DIY Noise and Compositional Horizons: Indie Musicians and Promoters in the Age of Digital Reproduction.” Other studies on music in the digital age zero in on high-profile artists. Geoghegan and Meehan explore digital reproduction at the grassroots level, “where smaller, independent, emerging and DIY musicians operate.”

Their research shows that while digital technology means that the cost of recording, manufacturing and distributing have dramatically decreased; corporate control and mindset still are an issue—even with DIY and independent musicians.

Musicians, creative types, digital entrepreneurs will likely relate to this research published in summer of 2014.

The authors conducted surveys with indie musicians and promoters and used a breadth of sources for their research. Attali’s Noise: The Political Economy of Music provides the framework for the argument. Geoghegan contributed anecdotes from decades of experience in indie records, live shows, booking and managing tours.

Indie Musician Research Highlights
The essay covers sound quality, promotions and what the emphasis on touring means for the future of the musician. For purposes of one brief blog, it would be impossible to include everything, so here are a few key findings:

Artist-Audience Relationship Changed with Digital Tools Like Social Media
In the study, 75% of quantitative survey respondents agreed that digital technology improved the artist-audience relationship—ease of reaching fans was found in the top pros of digital technology.

But respondents of the qualitative survey felt that though social networking helps promotions, the interactions aren’t authentic. A quotation from one survey respondent, “It’s still all about networking, and pre-digital networking may have been less convenient and less far-reaching but each connection had more gravity behind it.”

Building Fans and Notoriety More Complex Now
Some survey participants expressed that digital technology actually makes it more difficult to attract fans and there’s more pressure to conform to corporate business models. “There is more, not less, pressure to succumb to having PR, a tour manager, and all that because the music press, the blogs, the venues, and the local promoters are increasingly less likely to respond to an inquiry from an actual band … the pressure to take on some kind of business model from above has been increased rather than decreased by digital technology.”

Don’t be shy. Comment away with your thoughts and experiences. What have indie musicians gained and lost in the digital age?

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The Mid-Week Beat: Rockage 2.0

Rockage2.0As someone who grew up in the 90’s (which wasn’t that long ago right?) music and video games were very much the soundtrack to my youth. One would be on your screen and the other would be on your hi-fi. For me it was indie rock that was making the walls shake and Nintendo that was making my thumbs sore, with the TV being muted to hear a killer riff or the tunes being turned down to hear a satisfying “You Win….Perfect” on “Street Fighter II.”

Well for all my fellow music-loving, video game fanatics, the upcoming Rockage 2.0 festival in San Jose, California promises to bring back this magic mix of entertainment in a three-day indie music & retro gaming celebration taking place this weekend. The whole she-bang starts on Friday, February 8 and runs until Sunday, February 10.

As well as hosting over twenty different bands and DJ’s and fifty different classic arcade/pinball games there will be food trucks, panels, guest prizes, and classic gaming tournaments! You can check out a host of bands and DJ’s as well as attempt to recreate your gaming achievements of the past!

Check out their promo, which is loaded with tons of retro video game references:


Read More…

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