Merch sales have declined this year in a tough climate for the concert industry, but products connected to bands and tours are still an enormous driver of revenue and artist marketing. Here are three tips for maximizing merch sales and getting fans to wear and share their devotion.

Tie it to the Tour
Connecting merchandise with an experience, rather than just the vague idea of a band, is a proven strategy for moving product. “Axiom number one in the merchandise bible,” according to Live Nation Merchandise CEO Dell Furano, is that the best selling merchandise are the designs related to the imagery, photo, itinerary and logos that promote your tour, as well as the new album cover artwork. He also notes that “it’s still a staple that has not changed in 35 years--everyone likes the tour t-shirts with the itinerary on the back. Everyone likes to see the dates, turn the shirt around and point to their city.” T-shirts of various styles remain the biggest sellers at shows, but other standard strong sellers include programs, caps, posters, mugs, buttons, guitar picks, shot glasses and beer mugs. And pop acts with young fans do well with posters and 8x10 glossies—“It’s kind of the pop sensation,” says Furano, “you want paper products to decorate your room.”

Limit the Options
Limit choices to what is expected to sell well—don’t add endless colors and styles and thongs on the chance that you’ll lure one more buyer. Fans have a lot to fit in at a show—go to the bathroom, buy beer, listen to the actual music—so the longer they have to stand in line while other fans choose what to buy, the more sales you’ll lose. In addition, people increasingly want to pay with credit cards, which slows things down further. This means that more is not more when it comes to selection. “Ask Doc McGhee, Kiss’s manager about this,” says Furano. “He uses a stopwatch to clock the transaction times--if it is too long he has us reduce the choices.”

Be Inclusive
While you don’t want to give any one person too many choices, you do want to make sure all your fans can show off their loyalty. “We sell a lot of women’s-fit shirts, as well as double extra-large, so it’s smart to make those styles available - sweatshirts for cool weather, children’s sizes etc.,” says Furano. Also, keep in mind who your fans are, and consider adding less traditional products that will work specifically with your band’s identity and audience. “AC/DC sold these devil horns, it was extraordinary how many we sold,” says Furano.

Check back on Wed. (Sept. 22) for Tips To Sell More Merch, part 2.

--Evie Nagy, N.Y.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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