Crash Course: Merchandising

Conference Panels

Crash Course: Merchandising

Austin Convention Center, Wednesday, March 12 If you only need a few T-shirts for friends and family, go see a printer. If you're ready to merch -- network, brand your name to thousands of accessories -- then Felix Sebacious, president of Blue Grape Merchandise, is your man. Sebacious has the keys to putting that bling and ching in your pocket. First, trademarking is key. Lock down your name, logo, symbol, likeness, and any other aesthetics that embody you, your band, your music. Not later, now, even before you make it "big." Next, begin branding all the appropriate apparel -- from action figures to pink panties. Sebacious' strategy lies in knowing just what your fans want. "It's all in keeping the integrity of the band, and not every item will be appropriate for every band." The Strokes wanted die-cut magnets for their nonsquare sound, while Mudvayne introduced the hospital scrubs, and Slipknot banked with specially made coveralls. In order to maximize the market, you must have an item for every spending limit. Once you have this locked down, you're ready to strategize, calculate, and peddle to potential buyers, especially the exciting, newly added world of e-commerce. And remember, it's no longer about $2-per-head at shows; it's about repeat customers, online contests, and global distribution. Now sit back and count the multitudes of monetary rolling in, while also protecting your trademark from bootleggers worldwide. Sebacious sums it up: "It's easy to think about merchandising as being at a show, beer in one hand, girlfriend in other, and the happiness of buying a souvenir, just to say, 'Hey I was there.' But the whole purpose of merchandising is to maximize profit, and there's a huge network of retail stores, tours, though not every item makes sense."

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