Most bands are missing out on money. A lot of money.
How? Too many artists make arbitrary decisions based on gut impulse or what they see other artists doing and don’t take the time to test their methods and collect data to see what works best for your specific project.
Everything in your band is sales, and that means you need to test everything. Not all at once – in fact, never more than one element at a time. But, over time you will find that you’re able to sell more tickets, music, and merch, by following just a few basic business principles.
Listen now to learn about testing each aspect of your band’s business so you can get more fans, sell more music, and have a healthy career!
What you’ll learn:
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#82: Every Band Should Be on Patreon: Ty Christian of Lords of the Trident
#96: The Myth of the “10,000 Hour Rule”
– “Spit It Out” (live version)
Fronz (article: Fronz taking over Warped Tour)
Welcome to episode 97 of the Bandhive podcast.
It is time for another episode of the band. I've podcast. My name is James Cross and I'm here with Matt Hoos of the band rubber baby buggy bumpers. I mean, Alive in Barcelona.
How's it going today, Matt? It's going pretty good. I'm impressed to watch you struggle through that. For those of you who don't know that's what I that's what I do. Every time we test our recording audio, I say rubber baby buggy bumpers and I do it over and over and over again and it makes me laugh every time. It's pretty comical. And for the record I have to say that three times to get it right or even close to right. I'm not that get tongue twisters. I get tongue twisted very easily.
Like I'm not typically clumsy, but sometimes I am and then when it comes to speaking, especially speaking quickly, I'm incredibly clumsy. So I just want to say shout out to our editor Leland for making me sound not like an idiot because he goes in and cleans up all my flubs when I Invariably have to repeat myself more slowly and clearly because I twisted my words. There was actually a quick story, quick story on one of the episodes probably about five or 10 episodes ago in the outro. I was saying we will be back next week and I just cannot say we will be back next week quickly.
And so like the third or fourth time I just said we'll be back next week because like why not? So he literally left a marker in the pro tools session like after the second or third failed attempt being like you okay dude, I saw that and I cracked up. I'm like yeah, ok I just can't talk today or any day. Really? Leland, thank you for making me sound cohesive because there's so many times where I just stop and back up and repeat a whole sentence because I can't talk.
It happens to the best of us man. I feel like there's a red hot chili peppers. Can't talk. Can't stop. There's a pun in there somewhere but I'm not going to drag it out. Uh No, isn't there sound called Can't stop? Oh yeah, there's there's can't stop for sure. You know the same thing but can't talk. Can't talk. Dad, dad, dad, dad, dad, dad. It's such a good baseline. You probably other lyrics I just remember, I can't stop. Like that's that's the only thing I remember from that song.
That's the thing. The brain is a very powerful tool. You turn on a song that you haven't heard in a little while and it's like dang. I still remember every lyric to this song And that's like pretty much like a 40 page short story when it comes to the chili peppers. They have more lyrics than like any band in history. And then there's a f I who I don't understand half of their lyrics, it's like Davy Havoc, just picked up a thesaurus and was like, what's a synonym for this?
That has 20 syllables when I could just say I'm sad and I'm also gonna sing it like you're like, wow, I have no idea what he just said, but it sounded great. Yeah, the music in that band is Chef's Kiss. That's all I gotta say. Well, you know, that's actually a really good band to look at their discography and kind of uh segue into what we're talking about today because a F. I. Is a band that has kind of had a whole, I mean, you listen to every album and their style has changed, saying like, Bring Me the horizon.
There another great band to listen to, to kind of hear the evolution of their music. And I think that is really accomplished by the way that they write their albums and each and every album essentially is a test. That's what we're going to talk about today. We're gonna talk about testing and how important and paramount it is to your band, your business and really in every aspect and it's really kind of a confusing topic to jump into, because most people will ask the question, what is testing and and how do I test things.
So James, how do we test things? Well, if you're a sound guy like me, you know that you lift on three, so you always say testing, testing 1212 and that's how you test, but that's not what we're talking about today, basically it's anything you do when you're playing a show, you're setting up your merch table, online presence, your email list, you probably have an idea and you say, okay, this is how we're going to do it, Okay, that's fine. That's how most bands and most businesses really do it.
But what if there's a better way to do that thing. Sometimes the tried and true method works, sometimes it doesn't, and something new is better. On the other hand, you might figure out something new and think, hey, this is great, let's do it this way and just do it that way. Whereas if you test it and compare it to the old method, you might say, hey, this new way actually, like it seems better, but it's not. So we're going to focus specifically on testing when it comes to sales because this is really important for any business.
Like I said, most businesses don't do this, but they should because if you can improve your sales without improving the number of people you are reaching, that means you are doing the same amount of work, but earning more money in a band, essentially everything you do is sales your stage banter that sales, the clothing you wear in your promo photos in on stage. That sales the prices of your merch sales, your website. Yeah, it's sales you know whether it's for your merch store or getting people to buy tickets to your tour or you know if you have a Patreon, anything like that, all sales, your set list. Yeah.
That sales to I've seen so many bands where I see the live show and I'm just like you know, they're set would have been so much better if they swapped like song three with the song one because there was so much more energy like get that energy going and then go into like the more melancholy stuff and then build up to a high note to end the set. And I would see bands that just like start off with a slow and depressing song and then get into him like no, if you want a slow song at the start of your set, it has to be dramatic to go back to a f I misery A Cantar Prelude 12 21.
Both great songs, relatively slow songs but their dramatic, they build, they draw you in, it feels like there's this big thing happening and you can feel it building your heart, you're just like, oh my God, what's going to happen, like who's going to die for the case of um december, running around right after prelude 12 21 comes kill caustic guitar just like then the jumps, you can put a put a bottle and then screaming, it's like okay, that's what it was building two. It's just like in your face, it's like slow these chimes going on but you can feel it building and then the vocalists come in like big powerful corners vocals and then it ends on kiss my eyes and lay me to sleep and it just fades out and then kill cost boom hits you right in the face.
I'm sure they tested that. Their producer said, hey what's the flow? So we have this intro track, we know this song is going to be the intro. There's no question about that. What comes after that? Well, we could put the single and go from the chinese just like that Nice Miss Murder bass intro. But no, it doesn't really, I know what, let's punch him in the face and that's how you put together a track list for an album and you've got to keep that in mind when you're building a set list as well.
The way that they tested that was even more powerful because when the music video for Miss Murder came out the intro, it was a part of the music video. So when people started to hear the single, Miss Murder, they had already attached this intro to it. So when you bought the album and track one played your brain was ready to hear Miss Murder, all of the fans had already seen the music video because they launched it as a single, they were expecting Miss Murder. It was all the Diehard fans, all of us bought it like first week and we're all sitting there, we put it in and we're already for the, you know, we're already for that baseline to kick in and it gets to the end and then it just goes in to kill caustic and it was like, whoa, it instantaneously re hooked the album.
So I think that not only did they test how they laid out their tracks on the album, but specifically they kind of set up this grand misdirection in a sense by releasing that song with the music video. And so that sets a whole different, you know, precedent for hearing that album and when it came in it just made it so much more rhetorically effective. Yeah, that's a great point. I'm glad you thought of that because I didn't even think of that on the Die Hard af I fan here, but I didn't think of that, so, thank you for bringing that up.
That's absolutely right. And if anything that made it more intriguing because the people were like, whoa, this is different, like what happened here and then just to go back to misery of kantar, the next song was the leading song, Part two, which starts off with that long tapped guitar intro and that's still building and then the verses like okay, like there's some energy here, they're screaming but then when the chorus hits you that it's like whoa. And again they could have taken a different song, they could have put, you know, leaving song part one in there, clean electric guitar with vocals, there's no drums or anything behind it.
Great song. But that that's not a track to on your album. The flow of misery A cantar until the leaving song, Part two is great. Don't ask me why leaving song. Part two comes before part one. I don't know the answer for sure. Some people say the order on the cd is actually not the order and you're supposed to start with like track eight or track nine and that's the intro. Yeah, track eight the great disappointment, long building intro, then paper airplanes and then it comes back around and Death of Seasons is actually the end of the album.
So you start with track eight and end with track seven but that's a different topic for a different podcast. That's not what we're here to talk about. I couldn't turn out about F. I all day. That's when there was a ton of money in music and so bands could afford to have concept albums and really just cool concept changes like that. A lot of what comes out and successful artists is not just the music, they put out its the persona they put out like you're saying everything is sales co heating Cambria is a band that all of their songs are about the characters, co heat and Cambria Emery is is a great one the the album.
The question if you, you know, you read the song titles, you don't understand it. But then when you read that, the question is, where were you when I and then you basically take that question and apply to every song. There's a certain level of theatrics that that bands have been able to bleed from the real world into their, their musical career as as personas and stuff like that. Like you were saying James everything is sales and back then bands had the ability to kind of, they had enough of an album budget that they could take some time and right complex overlaying stories and like any more, a lot of that is lost from music, which really stinks and and that's why we do what we do because we want to see a revitalization of like that real awesome art quality content.
But anybody that hasn't ever listened to Silent Planet, they are brutally heavy band, but they're phenomenal and they're uh vocalist slash songwriter. He, this guy is so intelligent that he footnotes his lyrics because everything that he writes about, he like pulls from sources and actually writes like really complex and it's an awesome thing and whatever level you decide to push to like it's all sales and you can test yourself as far as you want to go and when you set a road map for yourself and you know what things you want to test and you budget it out, then you can really like see yourself grow leaps and bounds, find out what works, see if you want to paint your face white or you know, see if you want to wear crazy clothes or do you need to get face tattoos, do you need to be drunk on stage, do you need to light yourself on fire?
Like what is the test that you're going to try? What I've got here is uh ghost with papa emeritus Ronnie Radke from escape the fate and falling universe and till Lindemann from Ramstein, those are the three examples, is that, what are you thinking of her? Who are you thinking of dude? Okay, so for for which one hitting your face White was ghost? The face tattoos was Ronnie Radke and then setting yourself on fire was gum stein, of course Ramstein was correct. However, my painting your face white was one for three, I'll take it good old mud vein bassist, the first outfit that he like started where his face paint was like a red spike with white face and like black circles around his eyes, but then he played shirtless dude played a Warwick bass and it's just so beautiful Ryan martin, Yes, okay, and so he was the one I was thinking of with face painted white, the face tattoos.
I was actually thinking of post Malone. Oh good example. He was also the one I was thinking of when I said be drunk. Yeah because he has a nice nice lot of based tattoos and being drunk on stage and then yes Ramstein I also in my mind thought defiance because defiance set himself on fire for one of their music videos and I remember how pumped Dennis was to do that. It's like it's gonna be awesome. I'm setting myself on fire and I was so pumped for him.
Good song name. I've heard I set my friends on fire. We've played with him a few times. I set myself on fire. Would also be an interesting song name. I've forgot you mentioned the drunk when my guess would have been Tyson Ritter from all American rejects for that one because I saw him on work toward 2010 and the dude was absolutely wasted and it was like they were playing in the early afternoon, it was like 1 30 or something. That poor man has not aged well. I believe he played a B roll in like a T. V. Show where he was supposed to be like a cannibalistic hill person essentially and it was like I don't even think they had to put makeup on him to be fair.
I would say that Derek Webley is even worse off. Like I love some 41. Derek Webley is awesome, but he looked really bad a couple years ago when I saw them still sounded great instincts to because all american rejects. It's like one of my favorite bands growing up, every album got better. Every single album got better. Saw him live. They were phenomenal. It was just, there were few bands that were able to do that and they were definitely one of them. Yeah, I was actually, I was listening and move along the album this morning.
Yeah, move along is phenomenal. Good stuff man. There's like four hits on that album. That's crazy in my opinion. That entire album is a hit. Like every song, that's one of the few albums that when I put on, I don't skip a single track and there's only like four or five of them be a good episode, maybe episode 100. We just ramp on music. We love nerd out about music and why We love it. The unskippable albums, I dig that. I love to do that, but for now we'll have to move along and actually get back on topic.
You just can't stop. I did not set that up for real. I did not set that up. I mentioned the album and I was like, we should get back on track, let's move along and was like, oh, I have to say this. So anyway, to get back to the topic after turning out about album track orders track lists for 10, 15 minutes. there's a lot that goes into sales where you're not actively selling, but you're creating your set list or choosing an outfit. All that kind of stuff goes into crafting and experience for your fans and the more invested those fans are in your experience in your brand, the more likely they are to buy.
So that's why your set list is important. You want to get people excited, you want to look the part. I always say like, don't wear cargo shorts on stage unless you're in a school band. That's the thing, if you go up on stage and you're in a death metal band and you're wearing cargo shorts, people can be like, why? But if you have a cohesive brand image and you stick to it and that's your appearance on stage. That brings people into the experience because you're not just quote unquote playing a show, you're putting on a performance and when you put on a performance, you take things to the next level.
It's not just you playing songs on stage, it's you putting on a performance, you've rehearsed the performance, you haven't just rehearsed what you play, You actually have rehearsed what you do. Maybe that means like, hey, at this point of the song, the bassist and guitarist run over two opposite sides of the stage. So the fans on the other side can see that person up close, you know, then you run back at this point, you guys do a coordinator jump off your ego risers. If you have the vanity to have ego risers, which I mean, hey, if you're not headlining, probably not.
But if you're headlining have ego risers, you know, it can be something as simple as like Iraq, that's empty, like the amp head case that you took off your amp whatever point being you make it a performance. The reason for all of this is if you can sell $6 per head of merch instead of $4 per head of merch at the same show, you're earning 150 as much for every show you play. Now, I'm not gonna get too much into detail on the per head we've talked about in the past episode, but essentially it's how much you earn in merch sales for the amount of people at that show, let's say you do $600 in merch and there's 100 people there, then that's a $6 per head.
If you do $400 in merch sales and there's 100 people there, that's $4 per head. That's the basic calculation of it. Same thing goes, if you send out an email blast to your subscribers and 8% of them end up buying something because of that email, they would have bought 4% you've doubled your sales, you have the same number of subscribers, but you've doubled your sales without doubling your fan base. And that's the real key here is it can be really tempting to get more fans and obviously audience growth is incredibly important and that's a good goal, but it's always easier to sell to existing customers, meaning your current fans than it is to sell to new customers, meaning new fans.
So it's just incredibly important because you can make sales so much easier for yourself. So matt, we've got a big list here of how to test, Can you take us through the start of that please? Oh boy, yes, I can. I just kind of want to start with this. I know it kind of seems confusing to say like the clothes you wear is sales. It seems like a very interesting paradigm and reared equation, but I just want you to think about, close your eyes, put yourself in this position, okay, you are dressed in your show apparel, maybe that includes black pants, a lot of rock bands, like black pants, black shirts, maybe a jacket or maybe some leather even.
Okay, maybe some makeup hair done, some people wear stuff on their head hat, some people wear bandannas, right? You have these like kind of layers and then now just imagine it's 100 and 10 degrees and you're playing an outside festival with no shade. It feels like a performance. There's another perfect example James for those of you who can't see what's going on. James. Just put his glasses on inside, put some dark shades on and try to play your instrument in a dark room, simulating your on stage. Tell me that doesn't feel taxing.
Tell me that doesn't feel like hard work and it's all those little tiny pieces of hard work that you put into your project that become the performance for your fans. And just so you know that was specifically a reference matt To last episode where you were talking about the singer who has shades that look dark but aren't on episode 96. Absolutes. I mean he literally had those custom made, so that way he can actually, he can look like he's wearing sunglasses but it doesn't affect the darkness inside of the room so he can still play while looking cool and that's kind of the whole point, it's a performance.
There are things that are sleight of hand, I can't remember who it was, but there was an old, I want to say he's around the frank Sinatra era and he used to drink iced tea while he was on stage, but he would drink it in a little pounder glass with ice cubes and he would keep the rest of it in a whiskey decanter and he would just pour himself iced tea and everybody just thought that he was drinking whiskey the whole time now as word started getting out about this instead of trying to clear it up, saying that he was just drinking iced tea, he decided to start slowly but surely acting a little bit more intoxicated throughout the course of his show and fed into it.
And so then he got this reputation was like, wow, this guy can perform even when he's hammered and he's one of the best singers we've ever heard. Meanwhile he was just drinking iced tea. He was just staying hydrated. The performance is, you know, like what people really want. They want the story when you can attach history or just just something in general to something that's like that's the sales just with memorabilia and things like that. There's a story, there's a originality, there's a unique aspect to it.
So now I'm going to jump into to how we can test, There are so many business events that you can track, you can track your shows, you can track your online store, you can track email blasts, you can track your merch sales. There's literally pretty much anything you can think of that as a business related expense. If it's incoming or outgoing and it's event related. There's variables that you can test. So these things might be like, oh, how are we going to make our performance better? What does this look like?
Well, maybe our performance will change by us standing in different places James, you mentioned ego risers. I love that because when we used to play in the Persevering Promise, we absolutely used risers and one of the main reasons was there was a certain song where we had a guitar solo and during that guitar solo, I would walk up and I'd stick my leg on the riser and then my guitarist would get on the riser and put his leg up on my knee. And he would play this face melting guitar solo and everybody loved it.
So I was elevated above people. But then he was even elevated above it and he was using me as his stand and people absolutely loved it. Was it difficult? No, not at all. Was it weird to have him standing on my knee? Sure, totally. It was part of the sale. It was part of the performance. It was part of everything. You can practice all sorts of different things. You can say, hey, you know what? Maybe I need to move to the front of the stage at this point.
Maybe there's a certain spot in a song. How many have you ever seen an artist where at a certain point in a song, it's high intensity song and then the intensity cuts out and maybe goes to an acoustic guitar part or maybe just a backing track with vocals and it's real simple, but maybe the lights come on and all the band members walked to the front of the stage and maybe they all get you clapping and you see every single member in the band coming and doing this together.
Or maybe they all come in there waving their hands left to right. they pull out their lighters. You don't think about these things when you're trying to build the system, you think about them when you go and you see an awesome show and you're like, oh my gosh, they drop balloons on me. They shot confetti cannons, they threw beach balls into the crowd. They had flame cannons, They did all these different things, They did a call and response Yellow card at Warped Tour. Eons ago had the coolest circle ever.
Because first they taught everybody before they started their songs, they taught everybody a response to the lyrics that they say and I, I can't even remember, I can't remember is that you my only one, only one and they, they taught, you know, they basically wanted the crowd to do it. But while it happened, they also got everybody running in a circle pit And it was probably a circle pit of like 3-500 people and they would get to the only one and everybody would just scream it back and it was incredible the amount of control they had over there, crowd slip knot, you can watch their live DVD and they still do this regularly at their shows.
There is a break, I believe it's in, spit it out, I believe. Don't quote me on this, but when their live performance plays instead of going into like the final part of the bridge Mick, just sits there and ramps on whatever, he's like drop whatever, disgustingly low note and it's just sitting there and Corey Taylor tells everybody to sit on the ground and they literally do not continue the show until everybody in the entire venue is sitting on the ground and the last line of the bridge is jump the fuck up.
So then he goes through the bridge and when he says that final line, you literally see like 5000 people go from sitting on the floor to just a wave of chaos and I promise you everybody that was at that show, remember that forever, I believe that year slipknot won an award for the band that has the most control over their audience and that is very powerful, it's not about control, it's about having enough influence in these people's lives that they are looking for an experience, they're spending money to come out and see you on friday or saturday night, so you test different things, you say what's gonna be different between the show, so you need to determine the key elements of each of those events.
So with shows, it might be your set list, it might be how you set up your merch, table, how you price your merch table, it could even be something as simple as how you light your products, Sam Walden, the founder of walmart, he was on the floor in a department store in a third world country and he was arrested at the time, This is the richest man in the world. When his family members came to this third world country to bail him out of jail. They said, you don't understand this, This is Sam Walton.
He started walmart and Sam's Club. You need to get him out of here. This is the richest man in the world. He said, oh, I'm sorry. Well, when we arrested him, he was crawling around on the floor of a department store. We thought he was just a crazy person. And uh, so they said, Sam, what were you doing? He said, I was measuring the distances between the racks and they said, well, why? Because I was trying to see if they knew something that I didn't. So this is a man who was already the richest person in the world and he was still testing his own ideas of how to run a store, even though his story was already the most successful store in the world.
And he was seeing the distance between their aisles because maybe they were able to make more money per square foot than he was. And that is the level of testing that basically you need to take in. You know, I need to say, do I need to have more lights? Do I need to have music? What needs to be displayed? How many items with my brand do I want to have displayed or I have two shirts that have the same image, but one is white and one is black.
Well what if I fold them in half and lay them next to each other so they take up the same space on my merch table as one and people can see the two different designs side by side. What are you going to test? That's all product related. What about price? What are you going to do as far as testing Price goes? Are you going to do this shirt is $10 or why don't you enter what's called Price Discovery? Change the price of your t shirts every show, find out what people are willing to pay for it.
That's what price discovery is. I just want to add in there real quick. You're not just looking for the top amount people will pay, You're looking for what gets you the most profit because it's quite possible that you can still sell it at $30 and you can still sell it at $10. But you find that more people will buy it at $30 and they will at $10. But when you go to 20 even more people buy it. It's not always about the quantity of sales you want to figure out. Okay, This was our per head for the show or this is the gross income because obviously if you can sell 10 shirts at $30 that gets you the same income As 15 shirts at $20.
So if that's the numbers, you sell more merch at $20 a pop 15 shirts, you sold five shirts more but you have higher costs. So it might be advantageous to sell fewer shirts And sell them for 30 because your net profit is going to be higher because you have five shirts less that went out. So even though you earned the same amount of money, you've spent less money to earn that same amount and we can even compound on that even more when it comes to sales, which is the area that I probably love more than anything.
There are certain psychological barriers that you need to get past. Why does the $20 sales seem more appetizing than the $10 sale Simply because the $20 bill is the most used and circulated bill in existence. People are used to having a $20 bill in their pocket. They are not used to having a $10 bill in their pocket. There is some weird psychology but comes in where 10 is rarer than 20. And so if you have a shirt for $10 people think this is an iron on transfer, it's going to get destroyed and it's going to shrink.
You can't even buy a regular shirt for $10. So how is this going to be quality? This happens all the time. You immediately jack the price up and people say, I understand that I'm buying quality because I understand there is a certain expectation for a price when it comes to a certain quality of product. I know for a fact that if I pay $10 for a shirt, it is not going to be printed on american apparel, it costs over $17 to get a blank american apparel shirt. So I know that if I'm paying $10 for it, unless it's a clearance item or getting rid of this last of our inventory, I know that I'm not getting this high quality shirt for a super low price if it's this new print and you're like, oh, exclusive now $10 I'm like, okay, whatever.
Now, if you're saying, oh, exclusive shirt now for sale, 30 bucks, now, I'm going, okay, that's probably not guild in, that's probably not 100% cotton, that's probably a cotton polyester blend, which is more comfortable on your skin. It probably has some elasticity to it. It's probably super comfortable to wear and when you're at a merch table, you can actually see that I want to throw out here. It's always good to have high quality shirts. Bella canvas is great. American apparel is great. If you want to learn more thai christian of Lords of the trident, he was on episode 82.
Every band should be on Patreon. We talked extensively about Patreon, but he also talked about what makes a good band shirt. If people wear a good band shirt, they're not going back to guild in or Hanes beefy t or anything like that, you want to sell good merch and you want to price it in a way that shows people it's good marks. Just like you were saying that on top of that, that doesn't mean that you can't have the same design printed on american apparel and then someone building and if certain people are like, wow, I love this design, but I don't want to pay 30 bucks for a T shirt, then you'd be like, hey, I actually have a $50 version of it that's printed on a lower quality material where your margins are still the same.
Yeah, it's like the iphone, whatever we're up to versus the iphone s. E. Exactly. It's like you can have a light version when Xbox releases a new console, they have a like a small hard drive and a big hard drive version. When Playstation introduced their PS five, even though I still can't freaking by one, they have a version with a disk drive and one without a disk drive. So essentially they've tested the market enough to know that there is a market for both of these things. Certain people like discs, certain people like digital download.
So that allows them to put out two products, one of them cost more money because there's more moving parts and there's more production that actually has to go into the product and that's okay. You can have different versions of similar versions of the same thing and offer premiums to people for it. Some little kid doesn't care that he's wearing american apparel. If you have a little kid that's standing at your merge table and he really loved your music and he wants something, you know what sell the kid a guild in shirt that you paid $8 for, then you make seven bucks on a $15 sale and maybe if you're feeling really generous, you're throwing a cd for him because hopefully you're buying 1000 at a time and so that your average cost is about a dollar and eight cents.
So I mean between that you spent $9 and you made 15 and you just made a memory for this kid that he'll remember forever. What I call this testing is using fish to fish in business, you have to spend money to make money sometimes. Like you were saying earlier, James where it might be more advantageous to sell something at a lower rate because that might be harboring a better relationship with the consumer. So your first and foremost creating an experience. Now the experience has to be profitable. So you need to know kind of what your margins are as far as like how you can bend or if you have this like swinging range of money, it's like if I buy an $8 shirt, I want to be able to at least make $5 off of that sale or whatever.
Let's assume that the arbitrary numbers, Well that means that if you're selling that for 15, then you have an extra $2 gap in there that allows you to say, hey, I'm going to give this kid some stickers. I'm gonna give this kid a broken drumstick, I'm gonna give this kid a C. D. For free because he doesn't have the money to do it. But that's fine. I would rather this kid walk away from this concert saying, dad, mom, did you see how he gave me that stuff when his eyes light up and for the next month he goes home, he frames that, he puts it on his wall.
Then all of a sudden this kid has such a passion for music. He starts going out two more shows, he's going to see other artists maybe that he wouldn't have before. A rising tide raises all ships when you create memories for these individuals. It's not just your own band that you're supporting its everybody because then they start looking for more of these experiences when you start testing different ideas where it's like maybe I can do this, maybe I can give this away. Maybe this, you know, this is my swing profit zone.
So I'm okay with only making this much. And once you can figure out concrete figures for that and you can start doing things like bundle deals and you're like, hey, I know that I want to make at least X dollars. And so that means I can do one shirt for 25 or two for 40. That is personally my favorite deal because people often come to the merch table with their friend. So you say, hey it's one for 25 to 40 some people are like sweet, here's 25 bucks, we just want one, you're like awesome, sounds good, we paid $13 for a shirt, so we just doubled our money on that shirt almost.
And then when they come up with a friend, you didn't almost double your money, but you know what you did do, you kind of created a little bit of experience there and you had some time to talk with them and say like well if you have 20 and you have 20 then you both get a shirt, you get a $5 discount, you get a $5 discount and they're like that's absolutely fantastic, let's do that. Once you know what your profit margins are on each individual thing, then you can really learn what are good bundle deals and then you can start testing different bundles with, you know like there's a cd shirt combo.
A popular thing is a vinyl cd, a common thing. What if I have an exclusive piece of merch and this is where your online store is like super super valuable, you can have companies like print fel that they're essentially drop shipping and they'll do fulfillment, you can just give them a design, they'll print your shirt, they'll charge you when it's purchased and then they'll give you your percentage of the profits. So you can literally do this, you can go have somebody create a design, get on principle, put these designs up and then have a store ready to rock and roll, integrate those with your store.
And then every single time somebody buys that, you just make money and you don't have to worry about anything. Printable gets their information, they manufacture the shirt, they send it out. And then at the end of it, you just collect a little bit of money. So you can set up little systems like this and then you use those and try different bundles, try it with exclusive products. It's Halloween. Make a Halloween shirt to Halloween is coming around the corner, let's make a Halloween shirt. I'm gonna make 30 of them were going to try to sell five at each show and I'm never going to print it again.
Now, you have the same concept of, of scarcity and exclusivity and memorabilia. That's when you're selling something that is more of an experience. Again, it's just like the broken drumstick or the broken symbol or smashed in signed drumhead. We intrinsically know that these objects have more value because they're more unique. My drummer is probably gonna break 500 symbols in his lifetime, at least maybe more. No matter what, There's only ever going to be like 500 smash symbols, even that it's like if we have a popular shirt designs, like I've already sold well more than 500 of our shirt that has our logo on it.
So people intrinsically apply this already. So test different bundle deals, test different product combinations, figure out, do the math on your products, figure out what your profit margin is, make sure that that's an adequate profit margin for you to be able to make these swing deals. And if it's not, then increase it because you're still in price discovery. What price discovery is is like you're creating an object and you're seeing if that object has a certain amount of value to your consumer And you'll know because if it doesn't have that much value, they won't buy it.
If it does have that much value, they will buy it. That's the nice thing about price. If nobody's buying your shirt at $40, you know that you have to lower the price in order for them to purchase. So that's how you make things work nice and simple price discovery, test different products, try it with exclusive things. Try changing the colors on your website. Try email blasts where you're changing your subject line from new song two. Hey, are you interested in a deal? You know, try different key phrases, try different types of language that people use when metal bands were really hitting covers hard.
What was the name of the band that covered blank space. I'm drawing a blank space. It wasn't. I prevail, was it? No, no it was. Yes. Yes. Okay. So when I prevail when they covered it, they're subject line before this everybody had just said like blah blah, you know it wasn't even them talking to, its like new cover, blah blah blah blah blah blah. You know, it's very s E. O. Wordy, that's what they would send in their email blasts and that's what they put in their bio and stuff.
It's just very like business. E and these guys decided hey we're gonna talk like people talk to each other and we're gonna say hey check out this sick cover of blank space. But it prevails and then that's what they used, that's what they marketed with. They said hey we're gonna try a little bit different language. They tested something out and because of that now it was a good song to, it was also them covering a relevant song, but also in my opinion, it was a huge, huge, huge benefit for them to use that kind of language.
Because then people who looked at a glance might not see that that was like the bio of the song, they might say like oh this is my friend sending me a message saying hey check out this song. So then lo and behold this song blows up, you can test everything that's really what I'm getting at. You can test everything. And this is why James said everything is sales with sales. It's just everything is uncertain. You don't know what your customers want when they walk up to the merch table, the way that you test what people want.
You don't walk up and say, hi, what design do you want on a shirt? Most people wouldn't know what to say to you. Anyway. They'd be like, uh, I want an owl, who knows what they would want. Some people may have thought about it. Some people may say like, oh, this would be the coolest shirt ever and they might have a good answer, but honestly, most people wouldn't even know. And so you have to learn these things with your prices, with your actions with, hey, maybe this makes more sense if the basis is on the other side or maybe it makes more sense if at this point the guitarist switch sides.
So that way people aren't always looking at the same guitarist for the whole show. Hey, maybe we're going to try wearing different clothes today. Hey, maybe we're gonna test out makeup to see how the responses. Maybe we are going to take our project to the next level. Kiss Gene Simmons, they literally wrote a song, I will rock and roll all night and party every day and Gene Simmons made his band members sign a contract saying that they would not drink or do drugs. Gene Simmons also knew that if he wore face paint and dressed as crazy Cycle people that people would absolutely eat it up and love it.
And he was absolutely right. He knew that acronym names were a big thing and that they were going to be a big thing for a long time. So he named his band Kiss Knights in satan's sanctum. If he tested everything, he figured out what was going to work and then you know what, When he took it to market, they became one of the biggest bands ever and they performed, they performed so hard to the point where they were singing songs saying I rock and roll and party and meanwhile none of them are drinking or doing drugs and everybody is eating them up as this party band and lo and behold, thanks to a little something called Game Theory in the market because this idea that a party band was what everybody wanted.
You have bands like motley Crue getting really, really popular. It's crazy to kind of see like what inspirations and other things that you can have just by bringing things like to test the market. And now even to this day, we still have party music, See franz from Attila Attila, they are a party band who might be taking over warped tour. Really, yep. Apparently, uh franz and kevin Lyman are good friends and franz made a statement about a year and a half ago saying, We cannot relaunch work tour until about 2022 for legal reasons, but he's in talks with Kevin to take it over to buy it interesting.
That could be sweet. We'll see if that happens, it would be a party if he takes over warped tour and they did what, like five of the six last work tours or something like that. They were out there every year. Pretty much yep, absolutely. And relevant to that article will be linked in the show notes at Bandhive got rock slash 97. So also there's your, there's your performance, you can try different things with your performance, you can try things like stage banter, blink 1 80 to go see any live thing.
The blink 1 82 ever did and you will see some of the most ridiculous stage banter ever, but it's also been popular. We've thrown out a whole bunch of examples. It might not work best for you, but you're appealing to a certain crowd. So like blink 1 82 is all potty humor and they appealed to a specific crowd and that crowd ended up so much so that it gave birth to bands like all time low who also consequently have just kind of ridiculous near potty like humor. Their performance impacted these kids so much.
And that gave us all time low. They did it, you can do it, take notes, track your data, whatever it is. You're testing, you know, if you're testing specific shirts that emerged. Table, keep a detailed log, if you're testing, like, hey guys tonight at this show, we're really going to focus on switching sides as much as possible, How do you test your live performance, Bring a video camera, bring a video camera and set it up next to the sound guy, then you can watch your whole set, you'll be able to see what's embarrassing and what's not and honestly there's something very humbling about watching your own performance because when you get to the end of playing a performance, like man, I felt so good about that and then you watch and you're like, dude, there's so much I did, that was horrible.
This is testing, you test, you refine, then you test again and then you refine you repeat this for every part of your business until your business is optimized and then hopefully if you've optimized a part of your business, the next step would be then outsourcing and so ideally you're going to learn how the system works first and then you're going to find somebody that can do it for you obviously, except for things like you're not gonna outsource getting dressed, you're not going to outsource your actual show, you're gonna play those, but you might outsource, you know, like who's gonna be working at your merch table, You might outsource who runs your blast emails or your social media and so these are things you need to test out, if these people aren't willing to test out new things, then you need to test out new people.
So everything is a test, everything grows your brand. Hopefully it's important to remember that there's no such thing as bad data. So like when you're testing out things like yes day one, you might make more money day to you make less money day three, you make even less money because you tested out new prices don't get discouraged. This is learning, you don't learn the perfect way. The first time you start learning the perfect way by learning the wrong way over and over and over and over again and the wrong way.
I don't even want that to have a negative connotation. I want you to understand that you have learned the right way how not to do something. And so it's not negative. It's that I understand in this market and keep in mind that markets are geographic. So like if we go to new york city and you sell a shirt for 10 bucks, nobody's gonna want to buy that because the average price of shirts, it's way higher. So they're going to assume a lower value, lower quality if you sell it for 30 40 bucks, that's something that they're more used to seeing in in their stores.
And so because they're just a little bit more familiar with that, that allows a lot more faith. It's just like when you sit down in the chair, you don't bust out a protractor and ruler and do all the measurements on a chair every time you sit down. You have seen a chair before, you have faith in the chair that it will sit, you will sit in it and it will not collapse. The price market is kind of a similar thing. If I'm gonna pay $20 for a pizza today and $20 for a pizza at the end of the week, I would expect that those pizzas would have a comparable taste or at least a comparable value.
If you say like, oh why is domino's pizza $6 and this gourmet pizza $20. Well maybe it's because the quality of the ingredients, maybe it's because the procedures that they have in place. These are businesses that have tested different markets. It's okay to have different things. You can have t shirts for $30 and t shirts for $10 in the same market. Also if you have a shirt that sells for 40 bucks in new york city, but then you drive to like somewhere in the midwest or somewhere where the cost of living is far inferior to where you know, somewhere like the Northeast, the wages are lower when the wages are lower the prices of everything is lower, when the prices of everything is lower, when you're selling a shirt for 40 bucks, they're looking at that going, oh man, I just work minimum wage and I make like eight bucks an hour, that's like a full shift.
So then maybe you say like, Hey, these shirts are going to be $20 in this market and that's okay too because markets have different variables, certain people make more money. So when people make more money, cost of everything tend to go up. If a business has to pay a lot of money to somebody, they need somewhere to live close and this happens over and over and over again and slowly and surely metropolitan area is built up and the cost of everything goes up. So discover the prices on your, on your products.
Yeah, absolutely. I fully agree. And I have two things to add to this before I jump into some caveats. I love that you brought up pizza because that reminds me to point this out always be honest and open with your fans. The way pizza ties into this is the other day I grab dinner with a friend and I ordered a pizza and I asked them if they could sub out mushrooms for bell peppers because I'm not a bell pepper fan. So I said, hey, can you put on mushrooms into the peppers?
They said, yeah, sure. No problem. When I got the bill, I saw they charged me for the mushrooms and had taken off the bell peppers, which it was two bucks, no big deal. And had they said, yeah, we can do that. But we have to charge you for the mushrooms. I would have said, yeah, whatever that's fine. But the fact that they said they can swap it and then instead of swapping it charged me for it as if I was adding it didn't sit right with me.
So always be open and honest with your fans and this ties in here. Because if you have a fan that travels from show to show and they buy a shirt for $30 and then see it a couple of days later for 20, they might not be happy with you. They might not ever mention that, but kids still leave a bad taste in their mouth. So be careful about this, but also have consciousness that this is what you have to do in business. And you know what? If somebody isn't happy about it, if they mention it, you can just be like, hey we're so sorry, like we're just testing the prices.
If you'd like, I can refund $10 to you right now or I can give you X. Y. Is the other item at a discount? Maybe that's the better thing to say, hey you know what, I'll give you another shirt for $10. You bought it a 30 it's 20 now. So it would be two shirts for 40. If you have another $10 I'll give you a shirt for $10 and now you've just given them another shirt, they have two shirts, they walk away happy. Or maybe they say no, I'd rather take $10 back. But if they like your music they're probably going to say, oh I can get a shirt for 10 bucks.
Yeah, I'm going to do that and then they're going to be happy. The other thing is This is going way back 10 years ago, AP Tour full 2011. I went to the 3rd and 2nd to last shows of the tour and I saw that gallows, who is a U. K. Band was selling their merge for dirt cheap prices shirts were $5. Hoodies were 10, I've been to like the fifth show of the tour at the start and it was like 24 shirts and 45 for hoodies and they had signs saying, you know, and of course sale, we got to get rid of it all because we can't take it back to England.
So I was like I know this is quality cause I saw the high price, they're saying it's on sale because at the end of the tour, so I know it's not like damage or anything like that because at the end of the tour, yeah, of course I'm going to buy a $10 hoodie, I still have that hoodie. I mean I don't wear it much anymore because it's beat up and ratty because I worked so much in the best, but you know, I'll wear around the house or if I'm doing some yard work or something because it's still comfortable, it still keeps me warm and it cost me $10.
10 years ago that hoodie has cost me $1 per year. So don't be afraid to put up a sign that says hey we're having a sale for X. Y. Z. Reason and I'm not saying follow the J. C. Penney model where everything is on sale all the time. I don't think that would work in a merch environment. But who knows? Maybe it would test it, please go ahead and test it and send me an email at James, that band, I've got rocks and send me your results and we'll talk about it.
It works for Cole's. I'll tell you what, it did not work for them. Yesterday actually went into close yesterday to look for slippers and was like no I have $5 off and I can still find it cheaper on Amazon. So that did not work for them yesterday. But point being maybe it'll work for a band. You know, put up a sign that says hey we're on sale. All marches on sale, 20% off because we love ST louis whatever reason, you know like merch is on sale because we want to make enough to go to Disney World on our day off tomorrow, whatever it is, put a reason you build your reason exactly make it legit, Don't make it stupid like it has to be believable and communicate it to your fans now to get into the caveats, like you were saying that different markets have different prices and one thing I want to point out that you should watch out for here is don't react to one spike in your data.
So like if you say, hey, we sold way merch per head than ever before on this night. Don't react to that one spike and say we're doing it from now on this way. Keep testing until you see a pattern start to emerge. So you know, like tapping three times four times it's been different markets. This price seems to work now we can stick with this same thing with your set list. You know, some markets are more energetic than others. You want to be sure that the results are consistent and not just a random fluke.
One night that you played a show where everybody their work for google and they're earning six figures a year versus the next day. You play a little farm town in Iowa That's a long drive from San Francisco Highway. Let's say Idaho, I was thinking of Idaho the next night you're there and nobody's buying shirts because there are $30. Like you're saying that minimum wage, you know, it's tough. The next thing is when you're testing on email or your website, there's an easier way to do it than testing separately saying, hey for this month we're going to do this.
And the next month we're going to do that. Most website builders, if they're any good and most email providers, if they're any good, we'll let you set up an A. B testing campaign. So for example, I use active campaign and in there I can say I'm gonna do an A. B test when I do that. They say, what do you want to test the headline? The content are both. Typically I just do the headline because my content might call to action is going to be similar. So I do the headline and then right before I send it, it'll ask, okay, how do you want to split this?
Do you want to split it 50 50 Or do you want to do some other split like 60 40 Or do you want to split it to 25, and then which everyone gets better results? Send that to the remaining 50 and that is how you can test to a small group of people and then choose whichever converts better for the rest of your list. So let's say you have 1000 people on your list. You split test it to 250 people with version 850 people, version B And then, which everyone does better goes out to the rest of the 500 people that are remaining on your list.
And that way you have the best chances of making a sale from that email because 750 people out of 1000 got the quote unquote winning email, going back to set lists. Like I said, there's going to be different energy but over time you will see how crowds react to your set. So you want to make sure you're testing things a couple different times. Maybe it's, you have an A set and a B set and you switch off every night. That's how I would do it. You know the 1st 10 shows play the A set on 13513579 and then the B on 2468 10 and then say, okay, Crunching all the numbers from these shows, we sold more merch and got more email sign ups on the nights we played set B. So we're going to the city.
That's how you track that data. You want to keep as many notes and information as possible. So you can refer back to it one last thing and I cannot stress this enough. You only want to test one thing at a time because if you test multiple things, you're not going to know which of those variables cause that results. So let's say you change your set list, your stage appearance, your pricing and how the merch is laid out on the table all on the same night and you sell way more murders than you ever did before. Awesome.
You sold way more. But can you do it again, which one of those factors that you changed result in that or was it just a fluke? Who knows? But if you change one thing, for example your pricing or your set list and only choose one of those things, then you can accurately track that and you want to be sure that you have a list of all the variables for every show you play. So you can refer back to those variables and say this is the one we change that night and it gave us this result.
Let's test that again to make sure that result is accurate. Then once you have one thing in place, you can go ahead and test the next thing and the next thing and the next thing as you knock them all out and you find what works best. And then as soon as you have new songs, new merch, whatever it is, as soon as something changes keep testing. So the takeaway for this episode should be test, test, test, analyze your results and test again. If you can keep improving your messaging, you will sell more merch and you will gain more long term fans.
All you have to do is be consistent with your testing. Think about always improving your business and be genuine with your fans. Yeah, that does it for this episode of the Bandhive podcast. As I say, every single week, we really appreciate you tuning in and listening. It means a lot to us and I really hope that all of these episodes are helpful to you as well and we're always looking for feedback. So if you have any requests for topics, feedbacks on what you like or what you think, we can do better any of that stuff.
Please feel free to email James at band. I've got rocks again, that's James at band. I've got rocks with your thoughts. We also have a great facebook community with, I think just about 550 members in it now and it's all about the business of running a D. I. Y. Band. So I encourage you to join us there. You can find it by going to band. I've got rocks slash group or searching for Bandhive on facebook. Again, that's banned Hive dot rock slash group or searching on facebook.
We hope to see you there soon. In the meantime we'll be back with another new episode next Tuesday at six a.m. Eastern time, right here in your favorite podcast app. Until then, I hope you have a great week, stay safe. And of course, as always, keep rockin
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