There are very few parts of being an artist as deeply personal—or loaded with as much opportunity—as your merchandising. From traditional vinyl to limited-edition apparel, your merch is your calling card, your billboard, and, for many of you, an intensely lucrative revenue stream. But it’s missing the point to reduce your merch to dollars and cents. At every show you play, there’s a room full of people who want to get to know you better. Long after you’ve loaded out of the venue and gone to bed, they’ll be poring over your liner notes, trying on your T-shirt in front of the mirror, or fastening your enamel pin to a jacket.
And gone are the days of mail-order catalogs: In our hyper-connected, E-commerce-enabled music economy, physical objects are being bought and sold in ways that would have been unthinkable just a few years back. And as distribution has changed, so has ambition—and the potential payoff. So here’s a question to turn over in your mind: Do you have a merch strategy? At this event, we’ll be walking through the basics, digging deeper into innovative tactics, and highlighting some of the smartest new ways artists are approaching their merch today. We hope you’ll join us. Click here to learn more and sign up.
Who’s going to be there? An amazing group of working artists; our host, Mark “Frosty” McNeill (Co-Founder & Creative Director, dublab), and four merch experts from in and around the music industry:
- Ben Brannen - President & Co-Founder, atVenu
- Mitra Khayyam - Creative Director and Brand Strategist
- Ian Stoufer - Art Director, Studio Number One
- Lauren Kessler - Creative Director
What’s going to happen at Co.Lab: Merch?
You’ll have a chance to learn strategies for your career, gather some useful resources, meet other artists, have a couple drinks, and get your picture taken. It’s going to be a good time.
5:45pm ..... Doors open.
6:30pm ..... Kick Off: A quick panel with our experts and host. This is an opportunity for them to introduce the Merch theme and for you to get to know the experts a little before deciding what to do in the Breakouts.
7:00pm ..... Breakout No. 1: Your choice of Group Sessions or Office Hours.
7:45pm ..... Chill. Fifteen minutes between Breakouts for you to catch your breath and grab some food or another beer.
8pm Breakout No. 2: Your choice of Group Sessions or Office Hours.
8:45pm ..... Roundup: A chance for our host and experts to recap some of what they discussed with artists during the Breakouts and say goodnight.
9pm ..... Social: You’re invited to hang out in the space for as long you want, as long as you leave by 10pm. :)
What are Office Hours?
These are one-on-one conversations between you and an expert. You get five minutes; first come, first served. This is a space for scheming, collaboration, and access that would not otherwise be possible.
What are the Group Sessions?
Managing Merch Doesn’t Have to Suck Ben Brannen, President & Co-Founder of atVenu will use his expertise to arm you with the data and best practices to help you max out your merch profit potential. He’ll show top-selling merch items by genre; sales averages across genres and venue capacities; and how data can make the fun part of merch (designing cool stuff) more effective.
Getting on the Same Page with “Creatives” Ian Stoufer, Art Director at Studio Number One will serve up some tips on how to get the most out of your merch collaborators: Start by making a (semi-) formal brief. It’s not glamorous, but it’s the only way to ensure everyone’s thinking about the same things. In this group session, Ian will take you through some of his “maxims for making,” show you the elements of a brief, and then lead an exercise where you’ll actually make your own merch.
The Power of Saying No Join Mitra Khayyam, a creative director and brand strategist, for a discussion on how to use merch to build your brand. Sometimes it’s better in the long term to say no to that licensing opportunity in the short term.
This Is Your Brand On Fashion In this group session, Creative Director Lauren Kessler will discuss how developing relationships within the fashion industry can give your merch that extra boost, including insights into her firsthand experience connecting fashion and music through her work with The Chainsmokers.
Co.Lab: Merch is happening soon (Oct. 24)! Check out the Co.Lab website for all the details, including how to RSVP. And there are more events in the Co.Lab series on the way, and updates coming, so follow along on Instagram and Twitter or you might miss something!