Merch, CDs, and fan appreciation with The Accidentals

Described as, “one of the most ground-breaking musical experiences one might just have in a lifetime” (Jonathan Frahm at Yahoo Voices), The Accidentals (Savannah “Sav” Buist, Katie Larson, and Michael Dause) have amassed a LOT of experience on the road and have shared some of their tour and life hacks with The Disc Makers Blog. Reposted here with permission.

What have you learned from being on the road?

Sav: We’ve learned many, MANY things from being on the road… we’ve learned that fan support and collaboration are critical. We couldn't do what we do without the people who care for and support us. We’ve learned how to stay healthy among the 20-hour drives, gas station food, and the insane amount of stamina required to play shows in different cities and states night after night.

We’ve also learned how to run a business: managing finances, answering emails, advancing shows, scheduling interviews – we’ve been learning how to organize our hectic lives in a way that gets everything done.

Kate: We are continually learning how to create balance between our business lives, our public lives, and our personal lives. And we are professional trouble-shooters. In the past year we’ve learned how to deal with misplaced gear and personal items, equipment failure, van malfunctions… kind of daily crisis management.

What do you sell on your merch table?

Sav: We’ve tried different merchandise over the years to get a sense for what sells. We rotate seasonal apparel. In the wintertime, we carry sweatshirts, beanies, and t-shirts. In the summertime, we switch to tank tops, t-shirts, and baseball caps. Every once in a while, we carry a specialty item that supports a charity. People tend to like signature items – things that remind them of the band in a personal way. For instance, the cat tights and bandanas I wear on stage are popular. People also like to buy collectibles like pins, stickers, and guitar picks. I even designed our own brand of hot sauce, and I tell that story on stage to create a personal connection with the crowd.

Katie: We had a growing demand for vinyl, so in addition to CDs and USB jump drive bracelets (with all of our albums on them) we carry vinyl and download cards. Most people prefer CDs, but download cards are great as a giveaway incentive for people to sign up on our newsletter, or when we do workshops and conferences. We also have tri-fold fliers with all of our dates and information about the band that we give away for free, and business cards. I set up an iPad with a digital newsletter sign-up, so people have quick and easy access to the newsletter. We also made a DVD documentary at SXSW talking about our touring experience. It’s a great learning tool for young artists, which we wholeheartedly support.

What is your most popular selling item? Is there something you think every musician should bring to a show?

Sav: At a minimum, the most important thing to bring to a show is a sample of your music and a business card. The rest of your merch you can grow as you go. We’ve found people really like to walk away with something physical from every show, especially if it’s signed. CDs make up a large percentage of our merchandise sales.

Katie: People still love liner notes. They want to hold a piece of paper and have an experience, so the more creative and personal you can make your CD/booklet, the more appealing it is to a public that is constantly seeking content.

How do you interact with fans after the show?

Katie: The fact that people are taking time out of their lives to stay after the show to show support, share their stories, and make a personal connection with us is pretty incredible. We’ve shaken hands with 90% of our fan base, comped tickets to people who reach out, and tried to be as kind to people as they have been to us.

Sav: We are blessed with a hardcore fan base, and we love them. They have baked us cookies, sent us gas cards in the mail, crowdfunded our albums and tours, and been incredibly warm and friendly wherever we go. There’s no question about “will we” stay after the show to interact with them – it’s a given.

If you could offer one piece of advice for making it on the road, what would it be?

Sav: The key is creating a good reputation –  it doesn’t cost anything to be prepared, be on time, be collaborative and respectful, and to bring your “A” game to every gig, no matter how big or small.

Katie: My favorite tour tips:
1. Buy an EZ Pass. This will save you eons of time.
2. Check out indieonthemove.com – lots of great resources in there.

From 2012-2014, The Accidentals recorded three original albums, were guest artists on 15 others, scored two films, and landed song placements in commercials, documentaries, and music compilations while playing over 700 live shows. THEN they graduated high school from world-renowned Interlochen Arts Academy (adding Dause, as their touring/studio drummer) and opened for musical greats such as Andrew Bird, Sixto Rodriguez (Sugar Man), Brandi Carlile, Dar Williams, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Ben Solee, Rusted Root, The Wailers, Keller Williams, Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez, and more.

Check out The Accidentals’ website and Facebook page. Follow them on Twitter, and purchase their music on CD Baby.