For a working band these days, a merch table is as essential as a microphone.
It's either humbling or exciting, depending on one's point of view, to discover that making music is not the only thing that connects performers to fans, and makes the entire operation financially feasible.
OUR MERCH TABLE
We were excited when we first made our WannaBeatles tee shirts, and began selling them at our gigs. And we still feel like proud papas seeing our various CDs stacked up for sale alongside the tee shirts. The addition of bumper stickers and guitar picks gives the display a bit of variety, and a chance for customers to buy something inexpensive.
We're happy that we can hang out with fans after our shows, get pictures taken with them and sign copies of the CDs. The merch table is not only a place where items are bought and sold, it's where relationships are formed and enriched.
Dennis refers to it as our "WannaBoutique."
And now our little store beside the stage has expanded into another small but significant layer of marketing. We're now offering copies of a hardback book - "Come Together: The Business Wisdom of The Beatles" by Richard Courtney and George Cassidy.
Local Beatles fans are familiar with Richard Courtney. He's one of the most knowledgeable and rabid Beatles fans in Nashville, having sponsored several Fab Four Festivals here, which is how we met him. We played the Fab Four Festival in 2009. He even got us to back up Joey Molland of Badfinger.
If you visit the lobby of the SunTrust bank at the Music Row Roundabout, you'll see a museum-like display of Beatles memorabilia, from clothing to instruments, much of which was donated by Richard.
Richard is also a successful real estate agent, who writes a weekly column for Nashville Ledger. He's written books before - one experimental novel called "I Never Saw a Beatle," and a real estate book called "Buyers Are Liars & Sellers Are Too."
"Come Together: The Business Wisdom of the Beatles" is unique. Rather than rehash widely known facts about the most famous band in the world, the authors explore how the Beatles' career can viewed - and applied - as a source of fundamental principles of success.
So how did the book wind up at our merch table?
It started in September, when we were playing the Tennessee State Fair, and we needed a sponsor. We asked Richard, and were delighted when he agreed. We took a sign with his name and put it up over the stage when we played the fair.
David and his drums under the Richard Courtney banner
Richard surprised us by offering to continue sponsoring us on a monthly basis. That led to fresh ideas about how to promote him and his business. Offering his books for sale at our gigs seemed like an obvious win-win for him, us and our fans.
BIRTH OF A WANNA-JINGLE
Dennis, wanting to find a fresh way to promote Richard, and always quick with funny musical ideas, came up with a customized parody of "Nowhere Man."
It goes like this:
He's a real estate man
And a WannaBeatles fan
He sells homes like no one can
That really hit the spot. We rehearsed the harmony and added it to our show last Saturday night at Puckett's in Columbia. We also offered Richard's book for sale at our slightly enlarged merch table.
The retail price of the book is $25. We offer it with a WannaBeatles discount at $20. Richard is donating his profits to the local Habitat for Humanity.
Discovering that Richard was contributing to a charity brought extra community-building spirit to us and our merch table. You have to read the fine print.
The new addition to the merch table:
And the poster that explains it:
As readers of this blog have learned, we've partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee. They have used our song "If We Simply Love" as a theme song, and made a video with that version of the song accompanying photos of their mentoring relationships.
They had just made DVDs available to us, to give away with our CD, so people could learn about (and get inspired by) the work of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee while getting two versions of our song.
And those DVDs were offered for the first time the same night that we also offered Richard's book.
And so, in the process of adding a bookstore to our merch table, we've added opportunities to serve the community in other ways.
It makes a WannaBeatle feel good.
-Bloggin' Bryan 29 November 2013