Bad Deals, Buyouts, and Brand Outreach
(7 min read) Abby Govindan on negotiation tactics, touring economics, and navigating a membership platform transition
Abby Govindan sells out 300-person comedy clubs, and opens for Hasan Minaj, but rent in New York is expensive, and touring economics kind of suck (more below).
Despite her success as a touring comedian, Abby pays the bills as a multi-hyphenate Creator with over 250,000 social followers.
She’s made some smart moves and has had some tough learnings along the way.
Let’s get into it!
While Twitter is Abby’s largest audience, it’s declined in value to her business.
Partly as a result, membership is her #1 income source.
You may remember the drama this summer from Passes’ unexpected acquisition of Fanhouse.
Well…Abby was a Fanhouse Creator.
While many Creators might either:
Roll with the inertia (“Fanhouse is shutting down…I guess I’ll just transition to the acquirer”), or
Jump to a company they recognize (“I don’t know Passes, but I have friends using FanFix, I’ll move there,”)
Abby knew that starting her membership from scratch would risk her livelihood.
She mitigated the transition risk by securing a deal with Passes to guarantee her previous level of Fanhouse revenue!
Abby’s touring business is her 2nd largest income source, and TikTok is the sleeper driver for this.
Even though she sells out most of her few dozen headline shows each year, the margins aren’t great.
It’s not about the money, though - comedy is all about honing the craft.
She knows she’s not the only digital-native comedian who has to find other income sources to make ends meet.
Abby’s approach to brand partnerships focuses on outreach over inbound.
Her negotiation approach is an elegant solution to the classic Creator problem of how to price oneself.
She starts with a high number to anchor the conversation on the high side of the buyer’s range.
By softening the number with “Don’t let this number scare you. Let’s have a conversation about it,” she prevents the buyer from walking away.
Sometimes buyers try to negotiate even when she’s in-budget.
Her advice? Don’t do that.
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Web Designer - Wendy Nguyen
Website - Bluehost + Wordpress
Email - Mailchimp
Graphic Designer - Nikita Srinivasan
Abby’s merch creative strategy is the one I think all Creators should pursue:
Examples include clothing bearing the phrases “Hot Girls Can’t Do Math” and “Go Down on Your Girlfriend or I Will” (a reference to DJ Khaled).
Merch Storefront - Shopify
Merch Manufacturing + Fulfillment - Printful
Before her current setup, Abby had a nightmare merch partnership.
Let me explain.
There are two ways Creator / Artist merch can be handled - bulk manufacturing or print-on-demand.
With bulk manufacturing, the merch company orders a bunch of inventory, holds it in a warehouse, and ships it when purchased.
This is good for touring artists, because they can take some inventory on the road to sell. It also enables higher margins from economies of scale.
The problem? Someone has to buy and hold that inventory, and unsold merch is money lost.
Abby never saw profit because it went to buying new inventory, and she ended up owing her partner money because that inventory didn’t all sell, but her deal with them put her on the hook.
She’s a really good sport about it, but I’ve done merch partnerships for 13 years, and this story upsets me.
I guarantee that company made money on every one of those merch items. Abby should have too.
Regardless, she now does a print-on-demand model, which means that there’s no cost up front.
Once a merch item is purchased, then the product is printed, so no one is on the hook for inventory.
Profit margins are lower, but they can actually be taken instead of needing to be reinvested in inventory.
Link in Bio - Linktree, is planning to change to her own website
Membership - Patreon + Passes (formerly Fanhouse)
Abby doesn’t use any tools for project management, but does think she needs help.
Finances - Self + LegalZoom
Credit Card - Chase Sapphire
I also have this credit card, it’s fantastic. Not sponsored, just true.
Representation - Jake Wachtel @ No Worries Entertainment
Video Production - iPhone + CapCut (on iPad)
Video Distribution - Posts natively
Team - 2 producers, web designer, graphic designer
Abby sources her team members through open calls on Twitter, and then trains them herself - thus giving them the experience they need to get a foot in the comedy door!
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