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10 Sales Tips For Artists

When it comes right down to it, we’re all selling something. Every day, we’re selling our products, services, brand and our personal selves over and over again. As an artist or band, you have to be aware that sales are a big part of your equation for success. Here are 10 sales tips from my book Music 3.0: A Survival Guide For Making Music In The Internet Age that can help you not only increase your revenue, but your fan base as well.

“Here are ten sales tips to always keep in mind.

1. Ask for the purchase. Never forget that even though you’re selling yourself, you’re still in sales.

2. Sell a package. With a ticket you get a CD, with a CD you get a T-shirt, with a T-shirt you get a ticket. The idea is to make each purchase something with added value.

3. Sell merchandise at as an affordable price as possible. Until you’re a star, you should be more concerned about visibility and branding than revenue. If you want to spread the word, price it cheaper.

4. There are other things to sell besides CDs and T-shirts. Hats, a song book, a tour picture book, beach towels—get creative but choose well. Too many choices may actually reduce sales as a result of buyer confusion. You can now sell a variety of branded merchandise with no up-front costs using or

5. Begin promoting as soon as possible. That allows time for the viral buzz (aka free promotion) to build and ensures that you’ll get a larger share of your fan’s discretionary spending.

6. Capture the name, email address, and zip code from anyone who makes a purchase, particularly ticket buyers.

7. Always give your customer more than he or she expects. By giving them something for free that they did not expect, you keep them coming back for more.

8. Give it away and sell it at the same time. In the Music 1.0 to 2.5 days, you used to give away a free track to sell other merchandise such as the album. Now, if you give away a track, that track will help you to sell more.

9. The best items to sell are the ones that are the scarcest. Autographed items, special boxed sets, limited-edition vinyl that’s numbered—all these items are more valuable because of their scarcity. If the items are abundant, price them cheaper. If the items are scarce, don’t be afraid to price them higher.

10. Sell your brand. You, the artist, are your own brand. Remember that everything you do sells that brand, even if it doesn’t result in a sale. Just the fact that people are paying attention can result in a sale and more revenue down the road.”

Remember, even though you’re in the music business you’re still selling something all the time. Follow these 10 tips to help you make that job easier, and get the best price.


Bobby Owsinski is a producer/engineer and author of 16 books on music, recording and the music business including “The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook” and “Music 3.0: A Survival Guide For Making Music In The Internet Age.” He posts every day on The Big Picture production blog and the Music 3.0 industry blog.

Reader Comments (5)

holy crap. i've made every one of these a point with my old band. it seems we have the same list

March 27 | Unregistered CommenterLarry

Thanks Bobby. I fight with my clients about #1, I love #4 (also hard to convince my clients), #6 is great because everyone should be tracking everything. I also love the scarcity idea in #9.

I may differ with you on #3. I always advise my clients to look at profit margin. I believe that not to be looking at profit is unwise. Sure give some t-shirts (or other merch) away or sell it at cost to get the word out and call the loss in revenue an advertising expense. However, I would recommend being strategic about this. I don't think that independent artists should be waiting until they reach stardom before they are concerned with making a profit. It's a fine line as a musician. You want to be building your community (your brand) but you have to be smart and run it like a business at the same time. Perhaps that is what you are saying with #9, make your margin with a scarcity model and get the word out with the high quantity merch. I could be misunderstanding you.

Anyway, great ideas. Thanks for the post.

Tom Siegel

March 27 | Unregistered CommenterTom Siegel

I do agree with #3 and I battle with others about it. Great list :)

March 28 | Unregistered CommenterHelen Austin

Great advice!

March 29 | Unregistered CommenterCarvinAbuser

Hi there,

It's tough to balance the need to operate like a business with the need to never forget that musicians create art. That is special, and it's not just 'brand marketing' all the time. Often times undiscovered musicians are too quick to give away the farm in exchange for a little bit of attention. Always good to bear that in mind, because selling art requires more respect for the product than selling t-shirts or toothpaste or any other product.

The music is the ultimate sales tool. Better music = more merch sales. Better Live Show = more merch sales. If you can perfect those two things, you can charge what you like for your merch, and people will pay it.

I also really like the idea of the scarcity model, and the idea of having a range of product offerings. Not a ton of different t-shirts to choose from all at the same price, but a range of items that hit different price points. Something rare and cool for free, $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, and $50.

Limited runs, constantly introducing new products, and phasing out the old ones, coupled with better music and a better live show... you'll be raking it in, hand over fist.

April 1 | Unregistered CommenterIan Heath

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