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Dear Little Bobby,
I’m in a new band and we’re having trouble selling our T-shirts, albums, stickers. How can we sell more merch at our live performances?
—Looking at boxes of merch
Dear Looking at boxes,
Depending on your band and the terrible economy for artists these days, this can be a hard row to hoe. There is not much we as individuals can do to affect the national economy, but you CAN affect your band.
Having a band whose merchandise people actually want is the beginning. That means practicing. It means putting on good shows, performing well, and being professional.
But it also means having merchandise that seems desirable. This covers everything from having songs that people like (or else they will not want an album) and it also covers…the cover. Is the package attractive? Is it professional looking? Remember, by definition, professionals get paid. Your friends might buy something from you no matter what it looks like, but strangers will not generally give their money away for something that does not look like it is worth something.
Are your T-shirts attractive? Lots of different sizes for different people? Ladies’ shirts as well as men’s? I remember once seeing a band that I REALLY love, but after the show I went over to the merch table and was very disappointed by what they had to offer. There was a T-shirt that was entirely forgettable. It had a tiny, nondescript design on it and you could barely tell what band it was for, so I passed.
Speaking of merch tables…do you use one? I have seen bands who do not even bother to put out their merchandise. Put this stuff out on display, before the show and after the show. Make it look nice, put some lights around it and make sure someone is there, not only to take money but also to interact with fans, potential fans, and anyone else. This not only helps sell more stuff right then and there, but it also is a great way to socialize with people, promote the band and sell the brand. When all of the band members just go straight to the bar after the show instead of to the merch table, THAT is an opportunity missed.
Let people know you have stuff to sell. When my band plays, I tell the crowd, “We have shirts and CDs for sale! Come and see us after show.”
And new bands would be wise to not charge too much for an album or shirts. I sometimes see new bands try to sell a shirt for $25 and albums for $20, which not only seems like a lot, considering what it cost to make them, but who exactly do they think is going to pay that much to support a band they have never heard of? Artists are free to value their work as they see fit, but sometimes they shoot themselves in the foot, when I think they should be trying to get their name out there.
Do not be afraid to have promotions like, “Hey, buy a shirt and we will give you a free sticker and button!” People love free stuff, and it is a nice way for a new band to say thanks for buying something. I recently saw a new young band named Moon Honey. They were on tour and after the show, the singer was hanging out around the merch table. I was speaking with her about my band, Shoulder Voices, maybe playing with them the next time they are in town, so she offered me a free CD. I said, “Hell yes, thank you,” and then I bought a $20 shirt to show MY gratitude. They are a great band and she knew how to read the situation, so they got my $20 AND they earned a new fan.
—Little Bobby Tucker
“I think he said, I think you know, it’s not the touch, it’s letting go” —Moon Honey
Dear Little Bobby,
My girlfriend and I have recently been exploring dominance and submission within our sex lives. It has been really interesting and we both like it.
My question is what kind of music goes well with such activities? When we are playfully torturing each other, I’d like to listen to something other than that Adele song.
—Fit To Be Tied Up
Good music can surely add to the experience as much as bad music can take away from it. I have always felt that when whips, handcuffs, ball-gags, and such are involved, the music has to be equally sexy.
But it depends on what kind of music you like. Someone once suggested to me that “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me” (with its “Tied up, tied up” refrain) would be good for dominatrix-led activity, but since I have a very different emotional connection with Smokey Robinson, that song would take me out of the mood.
The other well-known version by The Beatles is also NOT something I want to listen to while I am licking high-heels. So, what works for one person might not work for another. But I do have some more general tips that I hope will be helpful.
If I am about to have a session where She is in charge, I personally want to hear music led by a strong female voice. But since I do not want the sentimentality that I associate with music I know, I like to seek out music that I have not really heard much, if ever. For instance, I have never really listened to Siouxsie and The Banshees, but I liked what little I knew, and I am a fan of ’80s new-wave in general, so, I thought I would give it a try. And, turns out, it is sexy as hell! And even though the albums are 30 years old, they are new to me, and therefore they have another element of excitement for me, which adds to the rush.
But let’s be honest, if She is in charge, then the music selection is up to her. And when I hear, “Bobby, go put on some Joan Jett!” I know a good time is about to be had, and I put on a Joan Jett album as fast as I can. Ms. Jett’s first album Bad Reputation is perfect for strong female energy—so is Madonna’s 1992 album Erotica.
On the other hand, when I am in charge, I like to find a full album online from a band that is new to me, like The Sisters Of Mercy, Garbage or Placebo. Some of that music is powerful and dark, which is perfect for S&M, bondage and dominance and the like. Or if you want something that is softer, yet still powerful, try Sigur Ros or Mum, both from Iceland (a place where people know how to have fun indoors!).
I do not want to throw on a Bowie album, as incredible are they are, rife with sexuality, because I associate SO much with his albums, they would distract me.
But if that is not the case with you and your partner, then do what feels good for both of you.
You can try using playlists, but since I am old school, I like full albums. I like the way they set a mood. I also like the ebb and flow of a full record. The disjointed nature of playlists disrupts my mental continuum, distracting me from the moment.
Also, can we all just agree that if any of us have to listen to THAT Adele song even once more, that is a form of ACTUAL torture? I would much rather lick a dirty boot.
—Little Bobby Tucker
“Down on your bended knee, taste the whip, in love not
given lightly, taste the whip, now plead for me” —The Velvet Underground, 1967