Stay Mello, Vol. 2 - Mental Processes and the Merch Apocalypse
When something changes or when I change something, my instinct is to worry.
If you see me making a decision, you can safely say that there was a great amount of bellyaching taking place prior to it. The same can definitely be said for most of the life decisions I've made in the past two months (we made it!) regarding my music career. Multiple times, I have set myself down and said "you're crazy, you know that. You're actually doing crazy things."
"NO", I have to say, with conviction. "What would be crazy would be going back to the way I used to live, working for other people so they can make money. It's my turn to make a living the way I want."
But still, these times do come, which brings me to a very important part of being self-employed as a musician that I have dealt with in the past month--staying sane. Here are a few tips: If you're floundering, make a plan or schedule. Maybe even a hypothetical plan for something you actually can't do yet. Some structure-building does wonders for distracting your brain. Here's another tip: exercise. This is great no matter what your occupation is, by the way. After I exercise, I feel accomplished and relaxed, regardless of what I have or haven't already gotten done that day. Third tip, and this is the last resort: Do something to make yourself happy, within reason, financially. If you feel like you're really at the brink of your sanity, don't push yourself any further. Go out and split a pizza and some drinks with a friend. Do some light "retail therapy". Figure out how to make up the money loss to yourself later, for now, think about what YOU need to feel better and get back in the zone.
Besides keeping myself sane, the other thing I've done in the last month is to create several different types and pieces of merch for myself. I already had some merch--some handmade copies of my albums that were not physically sound enough for me to feel comfortable selling at a premium price, but were charming enough to bring out to shows. I needed something better, and I found it at Kunaki -- cheap CD printing and distribution. VERY CHEAP. I produced some nice physical copies of my album Night Walks. They came in shrink-wrap! Nothing was more official and exciting than the shrink-wrap. Kunaki is amazing.
So, that's CDs. What about T-shirts? This was the scary one. T-shirts are monsters in pricing, complication and logistics. How many do I want of each size? Do I want full-color, which is extremely costly, or can I find a way to pare my design down to 1 or 2 colors? Will I make this crazy amount of money I'm spending to print them back? So, yes, these are all relevant issues. I would recommend trying to find a printer at which you have a personal connection, and work with them to see how you can get the best and cheapest shirts to print on, the best deal on screen creation (the screen is a physical object that prints the image on the shirts) and the best price of the printing itself. For smaller runs of shirts: if you know someone who has screen-printing capabilities, you could buy some shirts on your own and just have them make a screen and do the printing. That way, you can get the shirts any way you want and only have to pay someone else for a screen and the printing costs!
Lastly is patches--I'm sure stickers are much more simple and I'll have those too soon, but for now people seemed pretty excited about patches. I got my 2 Mello logo patches made at 24/7 Patches, and they were a little expensive for what they are, but they're a great little add-on item to give people if they buy the physical copy of an album that already came out, or to offer as a pack-in with other items at shows. Also, it's nice to have a little item if someone wants to buy something but doesn't want to spend too much.
All right, that is it for this month. We'll see what's coming my way by September. Stay Mello, y'all.