Rules of Engagement: The Merch Table
|All right, so my oldest and dearest job title with what all I do nowadays is Merch Girl. I started this little escapade about a year and a half ago, and while I've stacked on more responsibility, this one remains an important part of the tour day.|
Be present. When it's appropriate, like at a louder venue where people aren't just sitting and listening quietly, I stay at the merch table the whole time because people will come by immediately after particular songs and ask if they can buy that song. It's good to give people immediate gratification and it probably seals the deal a lot faster than forcing them to remember what song they wanted out of the 20 they heard.
They're all my favorite but try this one. People ask me my favorite all the time, and since all of the albums on the table are like unique little snowflakes full of goodness and wonder, I can't pick. But I always do for the sake of giving the buyer some direction. They don't really care what MY favorite is, they just want some decision-making help.
Know thy merch. It's not hard for me, because I love Susan's records. I came into the job already studied up on each album. It's been a big help when people will come up and say, "I like the tree song, where is it?" or "the one that goes something like, 'doo doo duh nuh dooooo,' I want that one." People get a kick out of an exuberant salesperson. I've had to sell merch for other artists that I've just met sometimes if it's a shared gig, and it's a LOT harder to even begin when I'm not familiar with their material.
Some nights, it pays the rent. Ideally, if I'm doing my other job as the booker well, this is not the case, but...some nights the merch sales are what make the difference between the artist walking away with zero profit after paying the band and buying the gas to get to the gig versus walking out with an ok payday. I try to make this a rare occurrence, but that's how the gig cookie crumbles sometimes. (So if you're ever on the fence about buying a CD at a show and the charming Merch Girl doesn't convince you, think about this paragraph).
Be part of the show. I find it always helps when people know me as "The Merch Girl." When I'm a character in this traveling road show that people come to see, it can be an extra bit of uniqueness to the concert-goer and potential merch buyer.
Be a good example. When I'm at the merch table, which is sometimes in the back and sometimes front and center in the room, I try to be a good spectator. It helps that I love listening anyway, but I'm always aware that I need to show the respect to the performer that I expect the audience to give the performer. Sometimes it can't be helped (see point number one, when someone wants to buy something in the middle of the show), but overall I'm sharing in the experience the crowd is having, and that makes things work smoothly. And I have been known to give death-stares to really loud and/or rude people who are getting in the way of people's listening.
There we go; some more notes from the road. I'm fortunate that my excitement and support for what I sell is 100% genuine. Your mileage may vary, but these things seem to work for us. I did get promoted to Super Merch Girl after all.