7 Ways to Magnetize Your Band's Merch Display

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How can you make the crowd swarm your merch booth after the show like a Depression-era breadline?

Your merch display doesn’t have to be attractive, but it has to be ATTRACTING! Whether you’ve pimped out a thrift-store suitcase, constructed a sleek and chic portable display, or simply spread CDs, T-shirts, and candles across one of the venue’s tables, you’ve got to make sure that something besides your undeniable musical genius catches the attention of the people in the audience.

7 easy ways to attract fans to your merch table

1. Make it intriguing, capturing the attention of concert attendees before they hear a single note. 

2. Avoid clutter, clearly displaying the products for sale and their prices.

3. Quickly convey your artist aesthetic. It is an extension of you and should “jive with your vibe.”

4. Make it accessible. The merch booth has got to be easy to get to, unobstructed, and clearly visible to many people at once so long lines don’t hinder sales opportunities. Also, don’t let it become a hangout for friends. A congregation of people chatting away (but not buying anything) will dissuade folks with actual interest and actual dollars.

5. Diversify. Offer a few different items (CDs, t-shirts, stickers, mugs, etc.) and bundle them together for a reduced price to entice fans who might be on the fence.

6. Get your email list up there front and center. The merch booth is your opportunity to attract new fans even if they don’t buy anything. Have your email list and website info as the center- piece. This may be the only chance you have to turn a stranger into a lifelong fan. Don’t miss it!

7. Be visible at the booth following your performance. If you’ve created a moment on stage that made a fan say to themselves “I need to take some memory of this home with me” then what better way to ensure a lasting connection than to have a conversation with your audience after the show.

ARTIST ADVICE: “LED’s. Seriously, LED’s. If you’re not keen on assembling something yourself from the raw parts, go to Autozone and pick up the stuff people use to pimp put their cars. I found windshield washer replacements that acted like colored spotlights/uplights and could just be bolted down to the backboard of my display, strips of white LED’s to provide some soft fill lighting (doesn’t do much in a lit room, but how many clubs are well-lit?), and even some strobes that ended up just being annoying. All of this stuff is designed to run on 12 volt car batteries, so you could either get a plug-in adapter for the lights (also found at Autozone) or rig up a couple of 6v batteries to power the display from any table in the bar. Worst case scenario? Just buy a couple of good LED flashlights and find a way to diffuse the light so people can see your table in the dark.” – Matthew Ebel

ARTIST ADVICE:Make sure your display is eye catching, yet simple. I like to make sure my name is big and bold, and that I have enough stuff displayed to look interesting but not overwhelming. And if you get to choose where you put your stuff, pick a location with a lot of traffic, near the entrance, and make sure you’ve got someone manning the table at all times. In my opinion, when it comes to the merch table the smallest decisions can make the biggest difference. The most important thing is to be organized and visible.” – Allison Weiss

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  • Melissa

    So. You know that thing in the back that your shirts are hanging on? Where can I buy one of those?

    • I'm not sure where the band whose merch is photoed got their setup, but you can get a similar kind of stand-up backdrop at Lowe's or Home Depot.

  • Sixx Digit

    We often set a TV on our merch table and run music videos, and random show footage the whole time. It grabs the attention of anyone walking by it instantly.

  • Normandie Wilson

    Depression-era breadline? O_o I’m a big fan of your articles but you really could have found a much less offensive, tacky, and clichéd line to use to describe people wanting something. Black Friday would have been better. Could barely read the rest of this article without thinking about, you know, all the homeless people in America right now because of the recession. Not really funny in today’s day and age.

  • ChristianBandHelp.com

    Make sure everything you use assembles quickly and breaks down for super easy transport. Displays are no use to you if you have to leave them home because they won’t fit in the van.

  • I love LED's for merch, mike stands, etc. This site http://goo.gl/Xiubw (I have no affiliation) has loads of low-cost, battery operated LED's, without retrofitting AutoZone car stuff…. just need AA batteries.

  • SweetTunes

    Great tips! Where can I find a banner stand like the one pictured?

  • The little stand that holds up the 8.5×11 paper? I bet you could find that on Amazon.

    @ChrisRobley