The Value of a “Merch Girl”

Hi readers.

How is the rocking going? I feel like some people are shy about E-MAILING me their comments, questions and concerns. Please do so freely. I will answer whatever I am qualified to. At the very least, subscribe via e-mail or RSS over there on the upper right.

This week I wanted to talk about the value of having a “Merch Girl.” It doesn’t have to be a girl, although it may help if your target demographic is single males aged 18-25. ;-p (Did I really just type that?)

Mine is a girl though, and her name is Tracy. She is also a poet/lyricist and my co-writer on some songs, so that kills a couple additional birds. But I will focus for now on her capacity as a “merch girl.”

The merch girl’s, or merch person’s, role is basically to tend to your merchandise at shows and interact with the audience in an immediate and positive way, because most of the time YOU CAN’T (hint: you are performing). They kind of hover near your merch table and smile a lot and attract attention so that when someone wants to know, “Who is this amazing artist?” They can be there to field the queries and MOST IMPORTANTLY sell your MERCH to interested people. Maybe it’s just some creepy guy wanting to bust a little game on your merch girl…and they end up buying a CD so they have something to talk to her about. Success!

If interested fans have to wait until you are done with your set to talk to you, any number of things could happen. But the worst is that they leave before you have a chance to talk to them. Also, many fans will forget, get drunk, or be talking to someone else by the time you are roaming the room after your set. Having the merch person there gives the potential fan INSTANT GRATIFICATION. And doesn’t everyone want that? It goes a long way toward getting more merch sales.

I can honestly report having Tracy at my shows as my “merch girl” is one of the coolest things that has happened to me as a performing artist. My merch sales and mailing list subscriptions have easily tripled, if not more. I recently sold more CDs at a single show she was at than ever before. She also gives out my complimentary promo materials when I can’t because I am on stage. And she does it because she loves going to the shows and listening to my music (*blush*). It’s not something she considers work and sometimes she doesn’t want to and that’s OK.

The merch person can be a loyal fan or street team member, a significant other, or even a family member. The important thing is that they come to all (or almost all) your shows and are willing to socialize and talk to people (extroverted personalities work best, and if it is your girlfriend, don’t get her mad right before a show, OK?) about YOU.

You can even take it one step further and incorporate a merch person into the personnel line-up of your band. Some day I want to have a 5 member band in which only 3 people play instruments. The other two serve functions of sales/marketing (the merch person) and sound/transport (a roadie). Everyone busts ass to make the band the best it can be. Steal this idea if you want. I would like to see more musicians treating their music like an efficient business. After all, music is a durable good, just like a potter’s pot or a painter’s picture. The difference is, the artist can stand next to his/her art and glad hand the audience. The musician on stage has no such benefit. But the end is the same, you just need to find a means to get your music into fans’ hands.

The merch girl is one such tool. I would love to HERE FROM YOU other ideas that have worked for you.



About Manwich B. Khakazzi

Joe is a songwriter, producer, performing musician, and free agent in Madison, WI.

Posted on August 12, 2009, in Essentials. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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