Merch can provide singers and bands with an additional – and sometimes lucrative – revenue stream. But keeping track of stock and sales can be time consuming. Online platform Merch Cat claims to make the process of ordering and selling your t-shirts, caps, hoodies and vinyl quicker and easier. iSing spoke to Merch Cat founder and CEO Vanessa Ferrer to find out more.
What is Merch Cat?
Merch Cat is a musician-friendly platform that helps artists sell and manage merchandise at live shows. It’s a point of sale system powered by Square or PayPal (artists can also transact in cash only), with real-time inventory tracking and sales and data analytics. Artists would use this to keep track of what they’re selling at each show, understand what people are buying, know when inventory is low and get a more organised understanding of their merchandise business so they don’t leave money on the table. Merch Cat has a clean and intuitive user interface that was tailored to artists.
How much does it cost?
It’s a price point that’s affordable for musicians at $7.99 USD (7.99 GBP) per month or $84.99 USD (79.99 GBP) per year.
Do you also help artists source merch?
Yes we do. We’ve been doing it in casual way for a while now but are putting together a more formalised merch services division that includes merch strategy. We’ve also been building a network of affiliate partners to not only source the standard merch items, but also be a liaison to make artists aware of companies out there who are also artist friendly and doing cool things that they may not otherwise find out about. Being in the trenches for a few years, we now understand that artists need more than just a technology platform – they need a trusted, central place to go to for all things merch.
Why did you start the business?
My original background is in accounting and finance. I worked as a Certified Public Accountant and then as a fund controller and asset manager in commercial real estate private equity for 14 years. I had always been passionate about music but never knew what to do with it, and eventually discovered a way to marry that with my business skills in the form of artist management. I started my own company, InFocus Artist Management, on the side and it was through those in the trenches experiences that I came to understand how important merchandise was to an artist’s business. It’s one of the only solid ways to put money in their pockets in real time, and they can earn high profit margins if it’s managed properly. I was using Excel and PayPal and tally sheets and Word docs to try and piece things together. I knew that if I was having a hard time and spending way too much time understanding what was going on with merch, then other people must be face the same issues. I couldn’t find the tool that I was looking for, so I held on to the idea until my personal circumstances changed and I had the capital to build this tool I had dreamt up. I decided to take the leap and do something impactful in music, and so Merch Cat was born.
At what point should a band/artist start selling their own merch?
As soon as they have a brand/logo, a couple of fans who will support, and are playing shows. Eighty percent of merch sales take place at the live show when fans are engaged in the moment, so it’s super important to capture them there. One thing that artists seem to be slightly unconvinced of is the fact that people want to support them. If you give fans the ways to support, they likely will. If you’re an artist playing shows and you don’t have merch to sell, you are definitely leaving money on the table. And the thing about merch, especially shirts, is that people need clothing to wear. Unlike music which they can stream, a shirt is a wardrobe essential and can be worn over and over again. And hopefully, if it’s a good logo/design, it’s not only income, but free advertising for the artist as well.