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IMAGE BY CHRISTIAN TAKES
THE MERCH DESK Story
When the Coronavirus pandemic hit, and lockdowns were put in place, lots of my musician and comedian friends lost months of upcoming gig income overnight, and suddenly they didn’t know how they were going to pay their rent.
I wanted to help them out, but I didn’t have vast amounts of cash to throw their way. I thought buying some of their merch online would be a great way to be supportive. I was shocked to learn how many of them didn’t have any merch for sale online – primarily due to all the barriers that make it hard (if not impossible) to do so.
So, I decided to build a dedicated platform that removes all those barriers, to help artists diversify their revenue by selling their merch online.
Given the devastating state of the gig economy amidst the coronavirus, there was no time to lose – so we just made it happen. A week later, the site was live.
This crazy startup timeframe was only made possible thanks to the support of several individuals and organisations – check out our Shoutouts page to hear about the kick-arse humans involved in the story.
Within a couple of weeks we had listed artists, processed sales, shipped orders and paid profits to artists. It is only early days, but if the incredibly support, trust and customer orders we have already received is any indication – we are going to be well placed to support artists and fans well into the future.
These are the goals we will be tracking our progress against (see below). If you have any feedback on how we’re progressing, as an artist, a fan, a maker or creator, we’d love to hear it.
The mission comes first.
Our operating model will reflect our primary goal of supporting artists (as well as local businesses and the environment) – and reflect our commitment to putting 50% of profits back into the mission as a social enterprise.
The platform will have the flexibility to work for all artists engaged in the gig economy, including (but not limited to) musicians, comedians, burlesque dancers, drag queens, photographers and more.
Fast and easy setups.
Our platform and process helps artists to start selling quickly. Whether you are just starting out, or a household name with a pool room filled with awards – we got you. We offer extra help for new artists with no logos or visual identity branding – because we understand arranging that can be a hurdle unto itself.
Low or no upfront costs.
There is no need for artists to have any bulk cash upfront to start selling merch.
Profitability for artists.
We will deliver the maximum possible profit share to artists, retaining only $1 per item sold to cover our costs, so the bulk of the profits will flow to the artist.
Artists will be able to see the complete cost breakdown before sales commence so they know the costs of making the merch, and the costs of any external transaction fees, in addition to the $1 per item retained by The Merch Desk.
Artists set prices.
Artists will have full flexibility to set the prices of their merch, though we can provide them with advice and guidance based on current market rates.
Artists supporting artists.
We will provide detailed sales reports that allow artists to calculate and make profit-sharing payments should they wish to do so, for example, to the creatives who designed their merch (artists supporting artists).
Great merch, fabulous service.
We’ll deliver both. We understand that fans who love the quality of the merch and our superior service will keep coming back to support the artists they love. More sales = more money for artists. It’s a no brainer.
We’ll start with t-shirts and expand the range quickly to include exciting, innovative and exclusive options across a range of price brackets to suit the budgets of different fans. We know that super fans will show their love by buying multiple items, or coming back for new options – if you give them a range of options. We’ll also collaborate with local creatives and makers to introduce new and exciting merch options, exclusively available at The Merch Desk – because your fans deserve great merch options.
We will put an end to the need to bulk order t-shirts in advance with no knowledge of whether they’ll sell, sit in garages or take the express lane to landfill. We’ll only print merch when a fan orders an item. Oh, and we’ll ship people their orders in environmentally friendly packaging direct from Australian-based makers/printers.
Fans will love receiving their orders quickly (within days not weeks), and speedy delivery fast tracks getting the payments cleared and the profits paid to the artists. Everyone wins.
Supporting local business.
We will unashamedly preference local Brisbane/Australian makers, creatives and printers when sourcing our merch – to help them keep their staff employed, to support the local Australian economy and to be more sustainable.