You have just seen a great performance by a new independent band touring the country. You are already a fan after hearing two hours of fresh heart-thumping sound, and stopped to pick up their self-released album earlier during the concert break. You gaze over at the crowd surrounding the merchandise stand, contemplating whether or not you should join the masses.
You are hesitant because the line seems long, filled with other eager fans hoping to speak with their idols of the evening. Many concert-goers are paying for posters to have signed by grateful band members, and some are proudly donning their new T-shirts. Do you wait and sacrifice another hour of sleep?
For many indie bands their livelihood depends on creating a strong and loyal fan base. While they may have far off dreams of fame and money in the future, at this point they are still struggling to make ends meet. There is no rock star tour bus, no five star hotels and no royal treatment.
Their shows only bring in a limited income after paying for promotion, travel costs, managers, venue fees and various expenses. In fact, this band you have just seen may only have enough money to make it to their next stop on the tour.
Selling merchandise at shows is a key ingredient to a band’s survival, as it brings in much-needed income. Every sticker, hat, poster, CD and T-shirt a band sells puts them one step closer to success. Not only does the cash flow allow them to keep going, but the free promotion a T-shirt or bumper sticker gives them is truly priceless.
Next time you are contemplating on whether to stop at the merchandise table after a terrific show, think of how much you want this band to succeed. Perhaps that $10 shirt could turn into a collector’s item one day, and if not then you will always have the memory of that great night right on your back.