The last few weeks have seen the SOUNDSxSA programme deliver a variety of events and presentations to Adelaide up and coming musicians and artists. Covering areas including our own Fresh Air Open House event as well as live panel discussions on the future of local music, workshops on innovation, protecting your music rights, movie collaborations with up and coming bands and music ‘speed dating’, the programme wrapped up on Wednesday night with a look into how to merchandise yourself as an act.

David Grice, Managing Director of Musitec, opened the event with a run down of the current state of South Australian music and its connection with local council and state government. He identified that the partnership of these governing groups had allowed them to work together to co-fund groups such as SOUNDSxSA and Musitec as they now consider music to be an important and credible industry rather than just a hobby. He identified that the Merch Yourself event was an opportunity for designers and marketers to meet up with musicians in order for them to work together to help ‘sell’ new bands to their audience.

The core of the event was a sit down one on one discussion between Brian Taranto (aka BT) from Australia’s leading music merchandising company Love Police and interviewer Alice Fraser founder of Adelaide music event and production group The Jam Room. The interview focused on Brian’s long association with touring bands and his in-depth of knowledge of the music industry and how it all works. Brian’s been around the music scene for almost 30 years and in that time he has worked with some of the biggest names around, everybody from the Rolling Stones to Kanye West, Powderfinger and The Temper Trap so he knows his stuff.

His recommendations were not ground-breaking but sensible observations of what is required to make your products and your band or group a success. They included;

  • Touring bands do not need to be excessively clever with their T shirt designs. Keep it simple, a black T-shirt with your logo on the front and the tour dates on the back will always be a smash and are hands down always a tours biggest sellers.
  • New bands should focus on their music first and merch themselves well when they have gotten their name out and started to make an impact.
  • If you want to be a truly successful artist or group then build your connections across the industry, there’s way more to being a band than making a few good tracks and selling some merchandise. You need to have links with all parts of the industry, no point having great merchandise if you’ve got no industry traction.
  • Work with good designers and agree on how you will use their artwork when you start the association, pay them a fair price for their work and your relationship will remain strong. On the other hand, designers shouldn’t over charge or be too precious about their designs, at the end of the day, if everybody is wearing your designs then that has to be a good thing for your career.
  • Stay on top of the latest technology and product trends but don’t let it be the deciding factor in your merchandise. For example, the latest dye-sublimation printing may be trendy and cool but it can be expensive and may not provide you with any greater sales than more basic or traditional techniques.
  • Old can become new again, for example, bucket hats and tie-dye are rapidly becoming popular again so keep your eyes open for what is happening around you when you go to events yourself, it may help you come up with new ideas for your group and will keep you on top.
  • Do short runs of new lines to see how they sell to start. It may be a bit more expensive to start but it may save you having large quantities of products you can’t sell.

It was obvious from the discussion that Brian knows his stuff and takes it all in his stride. He was adamant that he’s never really had a disastrous product or event and because of that he is happy to share his knowledge with newcomers and groups who are trying to make their way. No doubt, you can do worse than speak with his staff at Love Police about how to market your group and where to take your merchandise design wise.

This final event was a successful closure to what has been a great series of workshops, discussions and presentations. We at Fresh 92.7 have been very proud to be a part of it and look forward to what Musitec and SOUNDSxSA will be putting together in the near future. For more info on how to get involved, check out their websites below:

Words and photos by Richard Isaacs

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