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“Someday I hope to have my own independent record label,” says Aileen Burns, who has spent the past four years touring with the Plain White T’s as their “merch girl.”

“My responsibilities include picking designs, ordering, handling shipments on tour, selling merchandise during shows, settling with venues, and keeping track of stock,” says the 24-year-old Carlsbad resident.

“The hardest thing about my job is uncertainty about our future scheduling. I can’t plan things very far in advance because we may or may not be on tour. It’s also difficult to have a personal life because you’re never in one place very long. And, as a female, sometimes the job can be tough, physically.”

She says the T’s fan base is typically female, aged 12 to 20, a sometimes difficult demographic. “I have customers trying to barter prices with me all the time! Parents are the worst about it. They’ll want a deal when buying three shirts for their daughter and her two friends.”

Other merch-girl hazards? “Sometimes I get flirted with on tour, just because it’s not unusual for me to be the only girl on tour. I’ve always felt and acted like one of the guys, though. I’m also starting to find that I’m older than a lot of the bands we tour with! I end up taking on a big-sister role with a lot of guys, which I’m perfectly happy with.”

You can meet Burns the merch girl when the Plain White T’s play House of Blues downtown on Friday, April 3.

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Josh Board April 1, 2009 @ 3:54 p.m.

This was a great read.

A few of my favorite merch people: This gorgeous gal working for The Raveonettes. She was as pretty as the blonde singer, and a great accent to boot. There were only 40 people at 'Canes watching the show, so nobody flirting with her (other than perhaps me).

The merch guy working for Doors guitarist Robby Kreiger (Doors guitarist). I bought a shirt, and we were talking about our favorite songs. He then said, "Oh, I gotta go!" I said, "Go? Where? The show isn't over." He then got up on stage, and sang Moonlight Drive and another song, which he played harmonica on. Now, that's getting a lot of use out of your merch guy.

The dude working the booth at Belly Up for Stan Ridgway, I remember as working for Arthur Lee and Love. We caught up on how insane Lee was. He told me some great stories, including the fact that Lee wrote a 1,000 page book he hoped to publish (but it was all ramblings of a bizarre nature).

And lastly, the woman working the merch booth at 'Canes when I went to see Juliana Hatfield. I was trying to decide which shirt to buy, and she said "I drew the picture on that one." I then said, "Uh...are you Juliana?" Turns out, it was her. And, she works her own merch booth before the show starts.

Times are tough...even for the musicians!


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