The Berklee College of Music recently asked Jakprints, as a progressive authority in the printing and apparel industry, to create an educational video series to use in their curriculum.
In this video, industry experts Jacob Edwards (Founder and President) and Nick DeTomaso (Director of Operations) share insights and advice on how to get started when marketing your music and yourself as a brand and musician. Drawing on years of experience and deep roots in the music industry, Jacob and Nick touch on everything from the still relevant, one-color black t-shirt, to the fact that marketing and branding are necessary to the survival of the independent artist or musician.
A Few Key Take Aways From The Video:
Nick DeTomaso: Jakprints focuses on Full Color Printing, Apparel Printing- like t-shirts and hoodies- Stickers and Labels. We also do Large Format Printing- like banners, stage backdrops, among many other products.
Jacob Edwards: We are a printing company but also a really cool products company that we’ve developed from the ground up to support bands, brands and any real creative in the market.
Nick DeTomaso: The thing that you have to think- about any sort of artist or musician- if you want to make a career out of it that’s sustainable- than you need to have a solid brand. Even though that’s a very business term and profit may seem like a bad word.
Jacob Edwards: Really, being able to turn a band into a business was something that was necessary in order to even get in a van and have gas and oil to be able to drive anywhere and play for anybody else.
Nick DeTomaso: It doesn’t really matter if you invented Oxi-Clean or you’re trying to sell an album, it’s still 1% Inspiration and 99% Perspiration. Just because you scrounged up the money to print some merchandise, create some merch or promotional printing to promote your show or your album, you still gotta get out and pound the pavement. Build a street team or build a network of people that will help you distribute all those materials or throw events together with you that you can co-brand or co-market. Don’t leave any postcards in your bedroom that are just going to get recycled or pitched later. At the end of the day, you paid money to print. If you decided to go with 5,000 or 10,000 pieces because you were ambitious, get them all out there and get them out there immediately. They’ll do their job. They’ll get the message out there.
Jacob Edwards: If you are able to produce your first merchandise for a competitive enough rate and keep realistic with the images and the cost that went into it, you can sell through those and have not only enough money to repay your mom. who you borrowed the money from, you also are able to now make shirts, and now those shirts are pure profit.
What are you leaving behind with your fans, so that they have artwork around their offices that remind them of times that they did stuff? You don’t want to just go play a show and then people watch it on the Internet. You want to produce shirts for the show. You want to have posters around town. You want to let them leave at least with a sticker, at minimum- so they can stick it on their car and be like- “I’m cool, you don’t know what that is, but when you figure it out, you’re gonna notice that I’m cool.”
I mean I can show someone a company logo and they’ll go- “I’ve never heard of that.” And then I can show them a Kiss logo and they’re going to go- “I’ve seen that!” And it doesn’t matter if they’re telling me that in 12 different languages, they’ve seen it.
If you don’t have merchandise, you really don’t have any way to make that additional income of running your business. You’re already writing music, you’re already running that business.
These bands that, just out of total accidental success, they didn’t have money to print full-color shirts, they had their buddy in the corner. That’s why the Red Hot Chili Peppers logo is a one-color, red logo on shirts. That’s why the Misfits skull is still the most popular thing you could ever put into the world of punk rock marketing and it’s a single color hand screened skull.
You just don’t want to over think it. As you get the clients, as you get more traction, you can start pushing more things out into the world. You can start doing some girls items, you can start doing some necklaces. Now you’re really just in the world of merchandising, because now you are Nike. You’re just a brand, and you’ll just throw whatever you can at the wall.
But until you’re there and until you’ve got people to buy in on the brand that is your band, you want to just keep it simple so you can return on the investment, you can get out on tour, and you can layer the world with your brand so people can see it, it’s in front of their eyes. Essentially once they’re done buying into it you can really just do whatever you want, other than write bad music because that will just tear it all back down.
This is the first in a series of videos that we’re working on. We’d love to hear your input! Let us know what you think in the comments.