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What I Learned From My $12 Cup Of Coffee

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Ari Herstand
Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based musician, the founder and CEO of Ari’s Take and the author of How to Make It in the New Music Business.

Last night I went to a spot in Koreatown known for their coffee. I learned this after I went in. Actually, I was just walking around the neighborhood looking for a cafe and found this spot because they had a sign out front with a photo of a sexy looking coffee cocktail.

My brother is in town vacationing from the frigid Midwest winter and I was showing him around LA. I drink black coffee. The coffee cocktail caught his eye.

We sat down on the patio near a heater (so I’ve shed my Midwestern skin – what!) and opened the menus.

We went just for coffee and dessert. My brother found the coffee cocktails and I found the page listing the pour over black coffee… for $12! This had to be a misprint. For black coffee? No booze?

When the server arrived I went all John Travolta in Pulp Fiction on his ass. He informed me that they import their coffee and all of these had been rated by “an international rating system”- the name is slipping me. Sure enough, listed next to each blend was its rating. All in the 90s. I chose the Hawaii Kona.

5 minutes later the coffee chef… er barista?… came out with a tray carrying two beakers, a tiny porcelain mug and saucer, a single serving ‘pour over’ filter, and a tin (looking) vessel with the boiling water.

He did his little science experiment in front of me and 3 minutes later I had a tiny cup of $12 coffee.

Why did I order such an expensive cup of coffee? I bitch when coffee tops the $2 mark. Because I couldn’t believe it! I had to try it.

Making something more expensive increases its worth. Merited or not. Was this coffee 6 times better than a normal cup of coffee? Absolutely not. But I didn’t pay for beans and water. I paid for the experience, the story, the instagram photo and to satiate my curiosity.

Don’t be afraid to increase your value and worth by charging more. But make sure you deliver.

If you normally charge $5 for a local concert, why not plan ahead for your next show, turn it into an event and charge $10. Doubling the price signals to your fans (and the local music community) that this is something special.
+Shows Sell, Events Sell Out

Create expensive merch packages for your live shows and your website that contain “secret” goodies. Don’t list what the secret item is. Just list that it will be in the package. “For $25 you’ll get our CD and T-shirt AND a special goodie hand picked by us.”
+Double Your Income… No Really

The curiosity will get people to pony up for this package.

Even if it’s a plastic tchotchke from the dollar store, your fans will have fun talking about it, Instagramming it and knowing that it is a one of a kind item picked by you.
+How To Pimp Out Your CD Release Show

Your worth and value is what you make it

If you price your merch and shows ‘cheaply’ people will consider you a cheap band (or cheap merch). If you overcharge (and under deliver) they will never come again (or not buy another merch item). There’s definitely a sweet spot in what you charge, but don’t be afraid to step up your game and increase your prices.

About the Author

Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based musician, the founder and CEO of Ari’s Take and the author of How to Make It in the New Music Business.

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