Killer blues and soul singer, songwriter and harmonica wailer John Nemeth had this music lover from the first notes of his first set last night at 2nd Street’s Twisted Tail Bourbon House and Juke Joint. Then he won my gizmo lovin’ heart, too, when he pulled out a portable credit card processing machine mid-set and launched into the grooviest product pitch song I ever heard - “Get Your CD.”
Every musical artist carries “merch” on tour with them these days. Usually the CDs and T-shirts get hawked at a table in the lobby or club alcove. That requires an extra warm body, tending to the goods. And if you want a disc signed, you gotta hang around for 15 minutes or longer after the show, for the artist to show up.
Nemeth has come up with the ultimate in direct response advertising – and he’s “frankly surprised nobody has copied me.” He doesn’t just announce “I have albums available in the lobby, and I’ll be signing them after the show.” He launches into that groovy “Get Your CD” chant and pitch as part of the performance – pushing his latest, multi-blues award nominated “Blues Live” and “Soul Live” concert albums and inviting you to come right down and nab ‘em. In the process, he’s bringing the audience into the act, boogalooing to the stage and testifying to their admiration for his work.
“Don’t have cash? I take credit cards, too,” he added from the stage, waving a portable credit card terminal from TransFirst. The wireless gizmo can get your charge on and approved in just a few seconds, since the transactions are usually a modest $20 (his “two for one” CD special.) “And if you run into hard times, you can always sell these CDs,” he told the crowd, after a fan shouted out “aren’t these albums on iTunes?” They are, he confirmed, but “try and sell an MP3 – it’s worthless.”
The blues man first dreamed up this stunt for festival gigs, where it’s hard to keep the audience around after your show. 'They’re running off to another stage, another band. If we’re going over well, I can make as much as two grand in a very short time.”
Nemeth testifies that the TransFirst terminal is “much better than the dinky credit card swipers” (Square) “you can get for an iPhone.” This one’s a sturdy piece of dedicated electronics with its own wireless connectivity that costs him “$35 a month to use, plus a 1.75 percent fee on the purchases. That’s lower than most merchants pay with in-store terminals.”