Music Merch Sales And The Power Of Variable Pricing

12196050_983959295002087_4374685412285576458_n-650x488Many artists may feel that the time and money they've sunk into producing their album requires that they charge the same price for it wherever they go, but by adapting the price based on audience demographics, or offering package deals, some artists are finding they can actually increase sales.


Guest Post by Chris Robley on The DIY Musician

We’ve talked before about how flexible pricing can help you sell more merch.

In a previous article I suggested that the value of your band merch (including CDs) changes from gig to gig, and should be priced accordingly:

This is NOT “Name-Your-Price,” but an alternate system where the band and manager keep the context of the concert in mind when setting today’s “market price.” And unlike fish, your music won’t grow stale,… right?

If you’re one of those folks who thinks, “Hey, I spent a lot of time and money on my recording; I say it’s worth $12– for everyone, everywhere, all the time!”– well, I understand that attitude. But consider the possibility that you might sell more music if you thought of your merch items as mementos from an event that will never happen again.

As Tom Jackson says, the art of live performance is all about “creating moments” on stage, moments that stick with the audience so much that they want to take a part of that concert home with them. And if that’s the case, your merch is worth only as much as the memories you created.

So, that’s one way to think about pricing your merch — factoring in the demographics of the audience, the uniqueness of the event, and the quality of the merch itself — and then changing its value based on the night.

Merch tiers, tickets, bundles — oh my

Another way to test variable pricing is to offer tiered merch/ticket packages, so that — hopefully — there’s something available for people at every level (of interest AND income).

The band Caught On Cline recently tried this approach at their album release party, and it was a huge success. Here’s what they did, in their own words:

12241176_984804901584193_6826930977890433847_n-488x650We had nearly 150 people show up, and sold 90 albums, 50 t-shirts, along with other merch!

There were a few options to choose from at the door:

Door: $5
Door + single: $7 ($10 value)
Door + Album: $12 ($15 value)

This strategy helped us sell more albums, and also allowed for us to give those attending a unique “VIP” deal as a thank you for coming. The merchandise table was directly next to the door so that everyone who came could see that we also had t-shirts, posters, and stickers, in addition to the single and the album available for purchase. We also gladly signed any merchandise at the end of the show.

It’s a pretty simple plan.

But I can imagine for many bands, the merch booth and appropriate pricing is the last thing you think about when you’re getting ready for a big album release party.

Let this story serve as a little reminder: the right pricing can move tons of merch and end up making the night even more special for you and your fans. So give it some consideration today.

How have you used flexible pricing, or tiered your merch offerings, and found success at your concerts?Let me know in the comments below.

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