After my last post, I had a show at a great venue (Venue 2 for those keeping track). I played in my friend Steve’s band for his CD release show, and then had a solo set of my own as part of a showcase of performers that evening. During my set I mentioned that I had t-shirts for sale. I think the exact way I phrased it was, “I know a lot of bands out there think that the music is their most important product. Well, I do things differently here. Who cares about the music when you can get a fantastically designed Neon and Shy t-shirt! I’ll be selling these in a dark alley after the show, so come and find me.”
See, I had some extra credit from Vistaprint, that I got through a Groupon, and in addition to restocking on my business cards, I decided to buy 5 custom t-shirts. Vistaprint is really more known for its cards than it’s apparel, so they were overpriced, but I really was just experimenting to see what it would look like and to see if there was any demand. For the 3 shows I had played since I received them, they were routinely ignored, so at this point I figured they were something funny that friends of mine might be interested in.
I played my set, which went very well. When I got done, I packed up my accordion and walked around to the lobby to meet up with friends of mine who had come. I was surprised to find there were several people waiting for me to buy the shirts, including people I didn’t really know. I immediately sold out of the shirts. I was asked several times for the rest of the evening if I had any more, once again from people I didn’t know.
I’m beyond surprised that there was such a demand for them. Again, I figured it was just an interesting novelty for the people I know to have a t-shirt with me on it. I’m now in the process of ordering a larger batch with more variety of sizes, but I can see this easily backfiring. It’s so hard to figure out what it is that connects with a listener. It could be the venue, the crowd, the sound, the panache of that particular performance, or, yes, the random merchandise. What if that was just a flash in the pan, and I just get stuck with a ton of custom shirts?
I also finished up with the Neon and Shy Punchcard from last week. The people who received their Whoopie Pies (4 in total) seemed to like them, but the overall scheme didn’t seem to generate much interest. After I posted about it last week, my friend John commented that he loved the idea. I asked him how I should retool it to make it more viable, and he said, “Do it again. And again. Until it becomes a thing.” And that’s a great idea.
“Becoming a thing” really translates to “finding a niche.” I’m still figuring out what that niche is and what I want it to be, but I’m enjoying this process of experimenting. I tend to have a whimsical approach to my songwriting and performing, and I like my marketing to follow in the same vein. And with that, I leave you with the next big thing: the Neon and Shy Action Figure! With Kung-Fu accordion grip!