The Tour and Tech Academy took part in a merchandising workshop this week. Working merch for a band isn’t a simple job. Merch people need to be fast workers and crazy organized. It’s not a job for the faint of heart, especially at the arena level.
If you’re brave enough, here’s what you need to know about setting up the merch table:
1. Use Your Space. Make sure your displays are visibly pleasing. Avoid gaps and hang smaller items at eye level for fans to see.
2. Label! Label! Label! Include a master list of all items and then also tag each item individually. Include the sizing, price, and what sizes are still available. This will help make transactions as fast as possible.
3. Specialty Items Should Be Marked. Signed merchandise or limited edition items should be clearly marked and separate from any non-signed versions. There’s usually a price difference for these items and that should be marked.
4. Tape Things Down. If you’re placing anything on a table in front of you tape it down. Tape one CD face up and one face down so fans can see both sides without needing to hold it. Leave out one example and keep the rest of the small items under the table or behind you.
5. Everyone Loves Free Stuff. Buttons, pins, and promo posters are great marketing tools. If your band has giveaways put them in front of you on the table.
Is the Festival Life for you? Here is a list of upcoming deadlines:
Canadian Music Week
Canadian Artist Deadline: November 30, 2013
International Artist Deadline: December 31, 2013
Festival Dates: May 8-10, 2014
Location: Toronto, Canada
The Great Escape
Deadline: January 1, 2014
Festival Dates: May 8-10, 2014
Location: Brighton, UK
North by Northeast Conference and Festival
Early Bird Pricing Increases: December 1, 2013
Deadline: January 31, 2014
Festival Dates: June 13 - 22, 2014
Location: Toronto, Canada
Deadline: February 14, 2014
Festival Dates: August 1-3, 2014
Location: Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada
This week at our Tour and Tech Academy CMTTA we are talking about the importance of contracts at live shows! Our co-founders Eric and Rob break it down for you.
Here are some examples of different live performance contracts:
Our #Tour and #Tech Academy #CMTTA is officially in full swing and everyone is itching to get on the road. But how many know how to advance a show? Or border etiquette? Or the other, essential, skills needed to be a successful Tour Manager? Our Coalition Music co-founders Eric and Rob share their knowledge!
#CMTTAtricks #1: Advancing and Prep Work
A tour does not get confirmed until the manager, agent and artist have approved the entire routing, offers and logistics, as well as trying to get funding in many cases. This means that, a lot of the time, the Tour Manager and crew gets hired very last minute with very little time to “advance” the shows with the local Promoter – be prepared! You will have to sort out all logistical issues before the tour starts. The TM will have to make sure that the artist’s Riders, Stage Plot, Input List, etc. are up to date and send them off to the Promoters. You will need to follow up with the Promoters to make sure they received them. You and the Promoter will need to speak well (more than once) in advance of the concert date in case there are any technical and non-technical issues. Be mindful that many promoters are busy and may not get back to you quickly. Simply sending an email and waiting 3 days before you try again won’t cut it. Pick up the phone and call him/her. If they don’t get back to you in a reasonable amount of time (24-48hrs) then you have to let the manager and/or agent know.
For the aspiring (and well seasoned) stage-tech, here is a list of the tools that you need at your disposal at all times while on the road.
-Flashlights (small one and large one)
-Small Roll of Gaff Tape
-Small Roll of Electrical Tape
-Toothpicks for cleaning in-ear monitors
-Solder Gun and Solder
-Spare Guitar Picks
-Furniture polish for Guitars and Drums (cymbal cleaner for TV/Video shoots).
-Blank Paper for Set Lists
-Spare Electronic ends (1/4”, XLR etc)
#CMTTAtricks #4: Be A Jack Of All Trades
• Drive a car, truck, van, a driver’s license (minimum class G), is a must. There will be numerous occasions when you will be renting a vehicle or driving the band’s vehicle.
• Manual transmission. You never know when you’ll jump behind the wheel and look to your right (or left in some countries) and see a stick shift and three pedals on the floor.
• Backing up a trailer. An absolute must. This is something that will instantly label you as a loser if you don’t know how to do it properly.
• Circular saw, drill, soldering gun, hammer. Learn to use these things. You will be asked to do some crazy shit at times and your ability to use these tools will make you a superstar.
All of these things will come in handy pre and post tours and make you a valuable team member.
We at Coalition Music entered the second year of our relationship with Indie Week Canada and had the opportunity to meet and consult with a great group of new and developing artist entrepreneurs in Toronto last Friday, October 18th. This year we doubled up our time and dedication to our Touring Panel by creating two 45min sessions.
The first session was entitled “Before You Get On The Road” and with our team members Julian (Logistics), Liam (Management), Jocelyn (Merch) and Jesse (Production) we talked about booking your band, hiring crew, the value of your project, marketing, travel, and more! The second session was called “Now You’re On The Road” and it covered collecting payment, dealing with promoters/venue owners on site, selling more tickets on show day and so on. We met some great artists and were most impressed by the questions asked by Handsome Distraction from Victoria, BC only to find that they book and run successful, money earning tours.
At The Rivoli at 6pm, for the first time, we ran a “speed-dating” session and gave 20 new artists the chance to spend 5 minutes with 6 different departments from Coalition Music. We set up 6 tables each manned with 2 folks from the following departments - Management, Radio and Publicity, Marketing and Funding, Social Media, Studio and Touring. It was fast and furious but a pretty amazing opportunity for the artists and a great chance for us to meet potential clients and candidates for our Music Incubator.
Next came my favorite part, where I don’t have to speak and instead get to listen. 6 artists from our Music Incubator Artist Entrepreneur program performed with Human Kebab from USS hosting. Wow was I impressed. The Dean Project, Angela Saini, Danielle Knoll, OYANE, Lumberjunk, and Jutes all delivered great and inspirational sets. Can’t wait for next year!
- Eric Lawrence
Coalition Music Co - Founder
As you can see, we know a thing or two about the subject. Coalition Music co-founders Eric and Rob share their knowledge on Touring in this installment of #CMAEtips.
Touring, Part l : Merchandise
If you’re an emerging act don’t go crazy with numerous designs and products. Keep it simple. A couple of t-shirt options, a hoodie (depending on the season), a hat or cap, and maybe something small yet creative should get you started. Remember, you usually have to pay for it when you pick it up from the printer and you have to store all this stuff somewhere when you’re off the road and between gigs. If you’re lucky (or savvy), you can arrange for payment terms from the printer such as 30 days with no interest. Make sure your merch messaging is strong - your logo (a must), striking image (a must), artwork that is in line with the type of band you are (a must). Be sure to set aside all the money you make from the merch sales to pay the printer. Many bands tend to use the merch money to pay for tour expenses and then come home with nothing but debts.
Touring, Part ll: Merchandise pt. 2
If you can afford to take a merch person out on tour with you, do it. His/her fee (usually a commission job) will be worth it because you’ll have a dedicated sales person making money for the band. Some merch vendors can also double up as part of your stage crew. If you’re touring with a headliner, you will usually have to talk to them before the tour starts and ask them about the merch restrictions. Depending on the act, the headliner will tell you how many pieces you’re allowed to bring and they will usually tell you that you have to match their prices. After all, they want to sell their merch and can’t have any of their fans buying your stuff because it’s cheaper. If you can, don’t be afraid to bundle stuff together. Sell a t-shirt with your music for $15 to get your logo AND your songs out there. At a show, go to your own merch table and sell yourself to make a lasting impression on your fans…you may even sign some autographs!
Touring, Part lll: Road Crew
Most young artists have some close friends who’ve been coming to their shows to help set up gear or lend a hand or use their minivan. Most of these friends have little or no experience in setting up gear but just want to help where they can. What they lack in experience they more than make up for in enthusiasm and this is extremely valuable when you first start out. They are trustworthy people who only want to help.
We’ve seen many bands take a friend out on tour to sell merch or help set up drums. But, as the band grows they most often end up not being very productive because you, the Artist, have not set down some guidelines between friendship and work. This is the toughest thing to do but MUST happen, especially when you begin to pay them. They are there to work for the band. That means that they have to be tearing down your gear while you and your bandmates should be in the dressing room speaking with guests or at the Merch table meeting and gaining fans. As managers, we’ve often had to tell friends to get out of the dressing room so the band can do their thing. If you want to save your friendship, establish a working relationship or leave your friends at home. Your friends, and sometimes relatives, can become valuable crew members but they’ll definitely need some instruction and experience (see our #CMTTA program description below). There will come a time when you will need to hire a professional crew who do this sort of thing for a living. A good tour manager or tech will have plenty of references you can speak to. If they are good, you will hear about them. Ask around, production is a small world and everyone knows everyone.