Marketing matters, as up and coming bands aren’t guaranteed profit from the get-go.
For indie punk band Clairvoyant, consisting of three Humber College and University of Guelph-Humber students, band merchandise not only provides revenue but helps cultivate a visual identity for the musicians.
These punks purchase more sale inventory with their merchandise earnings, so it’s doubtful they care about making a lot of money, at least right now. What they want is recognition.
Clairvoyant consists of guitarist and vocalist Hannah Edgerton, a second year Creative Photography student at Humber’s North campus, bassist Riley Barnes, and drummer Robyn Bond, both Media Studies students at Guelph-Humber.
“Once you get to the point where you want to do music seriously, you have to have merchandise because that’s how you’re going to get most of your revenue,” Barnes said.
But selling merchandise can be tougher than being in the mosh pit.
Clairvoyant started playing shows in the spring of 2016, and their first foray into merchandise was t-shirts, closely followed by stickers. For the past few shows, Clairvoyant has sold patches.
Clairvoyant, which will be playing the Horseshoe Tavern on May 17, has ordered 80 t-shirts. They said about 70 have been sold, or one per show.
Upwards of 100 CDs of their debut EP Rot have been sold, or three per show. Rot is also available on Bandcamp.
“Especially when you’re signed to a label, your music doesn’t actually get that much profit, so a lot of the revenue of people who are living off music comes from merchandise and stuff like that,” Barnes said.
Bond said merchandise is the tangible connection between a band and the crowd, helping to build a sense of community.
Bond, who worked at an outdoor theatre during the summer of 2016, recalled an experience with an unlikely consumer.
“The audience was all old people that obviously didn’t know our music and probably wouldn’t like it,” Bond said. “But one of my coworkers that came to a show bought one of the shirts with our album cover and literally one of the members of the audience, like a really old lady, came up to her and was like, ‘where did you get that shirt?’”
The woman, who found out Bond was selling the shirts, approached her eager to buy one.
“That speaks volumes,” Bond said. “Merchandise goes past the point of it needing context, it becomes a statement in itself.”
She said when a band has shirts with effort put into them, people will buy them be they a fan or not.