A while back, I went out to see a hard-working Schwilly Family Band at a venue near my house.
They dazzled the crowd with grace and charisma in a way I hadn’t seen before.
They get booked a lot, playing about 300 shows a year.
They had one of the most diverse and interesting merch setups I’ve seen in a long time. ALL homemade stuff. Even the CDs.
They were truly impressive in every way, so I figured they must be making some pretty decent money.
As it turned out, they were still struggling to make ends meet and to make sure they had enough gas to make it to the next city.
It only took a short conversation in front of their awesome merch table to get to the bottom of it.
They had implemented the genius idea of DIYing their merch. Really beautiful and creative stuff. And a GREAT way to save on costs.
But then they undid their efforts by WAY underpricing their stuff.
Here’s the deal:
DON’T try to be the “Walmart” of music. They have to move a LOT of volume to make up for their small profit margins. And you’re not ever going to move that kind of volume.
You make premium art, which should be reflected in your pricing.
If you have the time and creativity to make your own merch (or anything else related to your business), that’s great! Use that as an opportunity to lower your costs… NOT your prices.
Otherwise you’re just undercutting other musicians, undervaluing your own work, and reducing the perceived value of music in general.
And worst of all… you’re being your own slave labor!
Put a value on your time. Account for that in your pricing, and pay yourself for your work.
I promise that REAL fans will be happy to pay what your stuff is worth. And those who aren’t, must not be that into you. So there’s no reason to cater to them.
It kind of reminds me of an unsubscribe message I got recently: “Thanks, but I’m trying to save money”.
I didn’t bother to respond to her, since she has opted out of receiving my free advice.
But I’ll happily give that advice to you…
“Saving Money” and “Making Money” are two VERY different goals. But it’s a LOT easier to save money when you’re making money (as opposed to saving it as a way of avoiding spending it).
As Adam Carolla (an actual rich guy who started out poor) says:
But now that I MAKE money and pay myself first by funneling 10% into a secret savings account before I even touch it, I have enough in there to cover a few months worth of expenses if anything goes wrong.
If you want to learn REAL business skills (which are often at odds with conventional wisdom), that’s exactly what I teach in the Musicpreneur Apprentice Program.
If you want to start MAKING money so that you can start SAVING money, the best thing you can do for yourself is invest in an education that will teach you how.