Dave Cool

Musician Website Love: Ainsley McNeaney

Every week, we highlight one of our favorite websites on Bandzoogle.  

Who: Ainsley McNeaney
What: Pop Singer-songwriter
Where: Montreal, QC
Why her website rocks: All we can say is: dino-unicorn! Ainsley uses an awesome and unique illustrated background image on our theme Dusted to make a visually striking website that matches her new album branding.

We also love that she’s taking advantage of many of our new features. She uses our new Bandcamp integration on her music page, combines physical with digital music on her Store page, and uses the Sale Pricing feature to put several items on sale as well. Looks great Ainsley!

Check out her site at: www.ainsleymcneaney.com

Posted by Dave Cool on 08/29/2014 | 0 comments
Dave Cool

New Feature: Slideshow Photo Galleries!

We just added a new feature that many of our members have requested: slideshow photo galleries!

After adding the ability to create slideshows with your header images, the dev team have now added a new slideshow option for the photo gallery feature. This means you can add a slideshow to the content area of any page on your website!

How it works

First, add a photo gallery feature to the page. Then click on Gallery settings, and for the Gallery Type, select Slideshow.

Next, you can select to "Zoom image to fill frame" to have images that are uniform in height/width.

You can also select “Auto-start” to have the photos automatically advance when a fan lands on your site. If you don’t check Auto-start, the photos can be advanced manually using the forward/back arrows.

Hope you guys enjoy the new slideshow gallery feature. If you decide to add one to your site, be sure to post a link in the comments!


Here are some slideshow photo galleries in action right now:

www.jonhartmusic.com/pics

www.thesingerandrapper.com



www.bobbyj.biz/services

Posted by Dave Cool on 08/29/2014 | 7 comments
Dave Cool

How to Write an Elevator Pitch for Your Music

This is a guest post by Julia L. Rogers, Editor in Chief of MusicianCoaching.com. Julia also writes about business strategy, social media and emerging technology for corporate clients ranging from the Huffington Post to American Express. She is a classically-trained musician, a published author and a contributing music writer at Bitch magazine. Julia plays out regularly in New York City in various original projects.

In this post, she gives some great tips on writing an elevator pitch for your music. You can also hire her to write a professional bio for your project, find out more about that service here.


If you are a solo artist, songwriter, band or any other type of musician or ensemble and want to successfully promote your music, you must be prepared to explain your work and your overall brand in vivid yet concise terms. A well-written short artist or band bio, solid recordings, stunning photos, videos and other pieces of media are all incredibly valuable components of your press kit. But in the Internet Age, where attention spans are shorter than they have ever been before, you also have to be ready, on command, to deliver a quick elevator pitch that describes your music and mission as an artist.

The elevator pitch is a promotional tool often overlooked by artists – or an afterthought consisting of a few clever (or not-so-clever!) adjectives strung together haphazardly as part of a Twitter bio – but it is absolutely essential to your overall marketing strategy, a short message that is easy to share with others online and in person. And if you are good at communicating a consistent artist brand, your elevator pitch is the mission statement that you will speak, write and live out every day as you pursue your creative goals.  

If you have never put together any sort of a mission statement, summarizing your experience and accomplishments in a way that simultaneously conveys the deep, personal connection you have to the music you make may sound like a daunting chore. (I am frequently approached by frustrated artists that need help putting together a short statement because they have been staring at a blank page or lists of adjectives for months and are still unable to come up with a description that is true to what they are hoping to accomplish with their music.)

An elevator pitch does not need to be long. Some of the most efficient pitches are simple phrases of 5-10 words that describe an artist’s music with a mention of genre. (As an example, a guitarist and composer I work with and I came up with “[Artist Name] – Middle Eastern World Rock,” memorable words that fit the artist’s story, personality and his individuality as a musician, songwriter and performer.)

So, how can you illuminate the many dimensions of your personality, goals, artistic journey and art in as few words as possible and make people hungry for more information in a way that sounds natural when used as part of your other marketing materials and strategies?

The following is a collection of best practices that can help you create a solid elevator pitch – one that communicates your identity as an artist and attracts more fans to your music.  

Listen to your biggest fans. Think about what your most loyal fans and artists and musicians with whom you regularly collaborate have said about you and your music. What other musicians do people say you sound like most often? What about your voice, instrumentation, playing style and songs makes you different from other groups or artists within your genre?

If you don’t already know the answers to these questions, find out. The ease of connecting through social media gives you no excuse not to enlist the help of your fans by posting a quick survey on Facebook or Twitter, or sending out a few questions to your email list inviting them to give you feedback on your music or on the experience of working with you creatively and professionally. Outside perspective offers a fresh, unbiased view of your music and can also provide you with important insight into the “x-factor” that will attract new fans that have never heard of you.

Build your bio around your elevator pitch. Your bio is often your first chance to make an impression on someone who will support your music, and your elevator pitch is at its center. A well-written elevator pitch, much like a well-written bio, shows you have an understanding of your fan base, the industry you are in and that you are serious about making music your career.

A memorable bio offers a compelling narrative that highlights your individuality as an artist in a language that speaks directly to your fan base. Your elevator pitch should follow the same guidelines and be based on what others say about you and about the music you make rather than simply rehashing your own ideas about why others should enjoy your music. Think of your elevator pitch as a laser-focused introduction to your story, and you will be more likely to compel others to explore your music and everything else you have to offer.

Use your elevator pitch to simplify your online presence. Visitors to your website, Twitter profile, Facebook fan page or any other social media page do not want to have to work too hard (or at all!) to find information. When you are looking at your own website or social media profile, you read every bit of content on every page, whereas the average visitor will just skim, passively vs. actively surfing. Thus, visitors to any of your pages on the Internet need to know exactly why they are there from the moment they land in your universe.

When you make your elevator pitch the focal point of all your pages, you give fans and potential fans an instant feel for your music and style. And the user experience for a casual website or social media page visitor will be greatly improved when you keep the message short. The shorter it is, the more likely it will grab people as they search mindlessly.

Just act natural. An elevator pitch is called an “elevator pitch” because it should be able to be said aloud and should take no longer to get out than the duration of a brief elevator ride. Think about how you would describe your band if you got into an elevator with someone who asked, “What do you do?” or “What does your band sound like?” and you only had a few floors’ ride to explain yourself.

Whatever your response, it must show you have a handle on your professional and personal goals, the philosophy behind your music and what that music sounds like, in language that sounds natural and genuine whether written or spoken.

If you have the basis of your elevator pitch nailed down before you write a full biography, design a website, social media pages or compile any of your other marketing materials, you will have an easier time building your artist brand organically. (And if you feel overwhelmed by the prospect of doing any of all of these things yourself, you can always hire a professional band bio writer to do some of the heavy lifting.) However, today’s music business is full of talented artists and easy ways to make and distribute music. Thus, you have to be able to clearly state your artistic goals via a carefully-thought-out pitch if you want to stand out from the crowd and grow your fan base.

Posted by Dave Cool on 08/26/2014 | 0 comments
Dave Cool

Band Website Love: Diamond Bones

Every week, we highlight one of our favorite websites on Bandzoogle.  

Who: Diamond Bones  
What: Tribal Dream Pop
Where: Montreal, QC
Why their website rocks: We absolutely love the custom design the Diamond Bones put together for their website. They have a great logo, and used excellent colors, fonts, and images that go perfectly together for a nice, cohesive brand.

We also love that they actively use the blog on their Homepage to announce their latest news, which gives fans a reason to keep coming back to their site. We noticed on the blog that the band is playing a free show in Toronto tonight (August 22) at Yonge-Dundas Square opening for Young Galaxy! For any members and friends in Toronto, go check them out!

And check out their site at: www.diamondbones.com

Posted by Dave Cool on 08/22/2014 | 0 comments
Dave Cool

Want your songs in film and TV? Get Started with 3 Easy Steps!

This is a guest post by Bandzoogle member Shantell Ogden, a singer-songwriter based in Nashville, TN. Shantell Ogden's songs have been recorded by multiple artists, receiving airplay on 145 country radio stations nationwide. Find out more about Shantell and hear her music at her website, www.shantellogden.com and follow her on Twitter: @shansmusic

Film and TV placements are a great way to find a home for your original music- but how do you get started??? Here are three easy steps to get started!

1- Get the Right Songs- I love country music and specific story lines (i.e. goodbye was painted on the wall). The problem, though, is that these types of tunes do not work for film because they compete with the pictures on the screen. You need to be thinking in terms of songs with general emotions that are not connected to specific images.

2- Have Your Music Ready- You will need mp3's and Lyric Sheets, as well as high-resolution audio of either .Wav or .Aiff files of both your vocal and track versions. This is because music needs to be high-quality for film and also because sound editors may need to use portions of your audio without words. And speaking of quality, it needs to be professionally recorded and sound really good- even if it was done in a home studio.

2.5-  Get Agreement- This is a sub-step of getting ready. If you've written songs with artists or other writers, make sure you have agreement to pitch songs from everyone (including publishers) before you get out there. The worst thing ever would be to find a placement and then all of a sudden find out that your co-writer's publisher was not on-board.

3- Find a Place to Start- I started by doing research and going to a film festival to meet filmmakers. Like anything in the music business, it's about relationships. I stayed in touch and eventually got my first placement with one of the companies. This has led to referrals and other placements. You can also research companies online and find films that use similar music and follow up from there. There are also companies that broker music (RipTide, Crucial, etc). Do your homework about the reputation of the company you are working with and make sure you educate yourself on the terms of the deals.

As a final thought, make good on every opportunity you're given and for heaven's sake be easy to work with!  Don't send 15 emails when one will do. Don't send a hip-hop song if they are looking for singer/songwriter tunes. And, if you do have co-writers, pick one person to be the liaison for the film so you can collectively be effective in communication with the filmmakers. Again, this is about being easy to work with!

Any thoughts or tips? I'd love to hear your opinions and ideas!

Rock well and often friends!

Posted by Dave Cool on 08/20/2014 | 4 comments
Dave Cool

Annual Bandzoogle Employee Meetup This Week!

Hey Bandzooglers,

Our annual employee meetup is happening this week! Since Bandzoogle is a virtual company and all of our staff work from home offices throughout North America and Europe (while wearing our comfy Bandzoogle-branded bathrobes), this is an important time for us to connect and hangout in person.

This year we’re back at what’s becoming our usual spot, the beautiful Chateau Montebello in Quebec. There will be bonfires, sing-alongs (we promise not to post the audio), horseback riding, relaxing by the pool, and many shared meals and *drinks (*mostly by our Montreal staff, who really enjoy the drinking aspect of the meetup).

But it won’t be *all* play of course. We’ll be continuing to work on a brand new design system, which we think you guys are going to love. We’re also going to map out even more new features (have you seen all the cool stuff we’ve added this year alone? Check it out), as well as some more integrations with awesome services (like our recent Bandcamp integration!)

So, we won’t be as glued to our computers this week, which means Dave Cool might need to be treated for withdrawal. It also means you might experience longer than normal wait times for support replies, and live chat will be less available during the week. But our awesome team of dedicated support staff will be responding as quickly as possible, and support hours will return to normal next week.

Thanks, and have a great week everyone!

- Team BZ

Posted by Dave Cool on 08/18/2014 | 2 comments
Dave Cool

Musician Website Love: Keram

Every week, we highlight one of our favorite websites on Bandzoogle.

Who: Keram
What: Multimedia Artist/Composer/Producer
Where: Toronto & Los Angeles
Why his website rocks: As an actor, Keram has appeared in CSI, 24 and American History X (among other shows & films), and as a musician, he’s built an awesome looking website. We love the great illustrated background image as well as his logo, which gives his site a unique look and feel that works perfectly with the simple modern theme he chose.

Plus, Keram takes advantage of two of our integrations on his site. For his Music page, he uses our new Bandcamp Player, which automatically matches the design of his site, to seamlessly integrate his Bandcamp music onto the page. On his Photos page, Keram uses our Instagram integration to automatically feed his latest photos from Instagram, ensuring there are always fresh photos on the page. Nicely done Keram!

Check out his site at: www.keramsongs.com

Posted by Dave Cool on 08/15/2014 | 3 comments
Dave Cool

How DIY Musicians Can Benefit From Collaborating

This is a guest post written by Matt Dunne from FindMySong, an online platform that enables musicians to network, create and collaborate on projects, while managing their copyright. Find out more about them at www.findmysong.com and follow them on Twitter @FindMySong

Music is an art form comprised of sound and silence. After that… it is really up for interpretation. Music can be many things - It can be primitive. It can be sophisticated. It can be chaotic. It can be organized. But if you share knowledge, learn, and build consensus with others, music can even be many of these things at once.

Historically, music has largely been individualized - but with the resources we have today, the next great songwriting team could be nations apart, collaborating over the internet. DIY videos on Youtube have made learning an instrument, vocal training, and understanding your favorite DAWs far more tangible.

With an influx in resources comes an increase in competition, making it far more difficult to carve out a career as a musician. There is no clear formula in “making it” in the ever-changing music industry. Folk bands like The Lumineers and Mumford and Sons have cracked the same Top 40 that artists like N*Sync and Britney Spears used to dominate. Through collaboration, lyricists, musicians, producers, and songwriters can obtain greater resources, recognition, and reward.

It is beneficial for both parties to work with artists outside of their normal genre/style. Some of the most amazing music comes from artists testing the boundaries of their genre. Who would have thought that a Kanye West and Bon Iver collaboration would ever happen? On paper, Justin Vernon's relaxed, quiet demeanor contradicts Kanye’s in-your-face attitude. Vernon’s influence gave Kanye another layer to his already impressive production ability while Kanye gave Bon Iver mainstream exposure.

A more recent example is singer/songwriter Sam Smith’s collaboration with electronic music duo, Disclosure, on the hit song “Latch.” The collaboration helped put both Smith and Disclosure on the map in 2012. Both careers continue to grow, today.

How can the DIY musician benefit from collaborating?

Let’s face it - Kanye West isn’t walking through that door any time soon to ask you to be a feature on his latest tune. Find someone that appreciates your style of music. Creative art is primitive in principle. Begin by bouncing ideas off of each other - digging and scratching at various motifs until you settle on something. What you might find simple and boring - your partner might find beautiful and intriguing. You won’t always find success, right away. It may even take you years to find the right songwriting partner - but every time you leave a songwriting session you should leave a better songwriter. Pay close attention to their style and approach. Learn. Adapt. Create. Repeat.

Record everything.
Songwriting sessions can be overwhelming. Not only are you trying to hold your own - you are trying to listen to what your partner is playing as well. It’s easy to miss little moments of genius. By recording everything, you can go back and find those creative treasures and build off of them. These moments also become useful when you are stuck writing by yourself. Flash back to an earlier session and listen to a few ideas to channel your creativity.

Finish a project.
While it’s great to get a lot of ideas down in a songwriting session, it is also important for the participants to actually COMPLETE something occasionally. It’s good for both morale, and for perspective. Nothing is more frustrating for a team of songwriters than having 10 incomplete projects hanging over their heads. Finishing a song can be daunting, but little victories allow you to move forward with an idea you may have been struggling with. Remember, you can always go back and revisit it!

Leverage Social Media
If the song is satisfactory, share it on both your social media pages, tagging everyone who contributed to the project. Obviously, the more social media platforms and accounts you are sharing across, the greater your reach will be. Treat yourself as a brand and your music as your product. Cross-promoting your brands will not only boost your ‘likes’ on Facebook and ‘followers’ on twitter - but it can provide some outside perspective. Yes -- your fans can collaborate with you as well. Fans are often eager to give feedback to their favorite musicians. By sharing demos exclusively with your fans, you can generate a buzz over your collaboration.

Build a Team
A career in the music industry is not for the faint-of-heart. It takes an incredible amount of talent, courage, and desire to persevere through the tumultuous pathway to success. The camaraderie and support of other like-minded artists is second to none. Fans will come -- but it takes a real team effort to constantly remind each other why this is the path you have chosen. Don’t hesitate to lean on each other. Songwriting can be about making long lasting friendships just as much as can be about networking and building a business relationship.

While nothing can replace the organic creative process of an in-person collaboration, technology available today has changed the landscape of the music industry. Endless resources empower the DIY musician to replicate the success of popular musicians today. Not everyone has the good fortune to live in cities like Nashville, NYC, or Los Angeles - but the next great collaboration could be one mouse-click away from each other. Learn from each other, share your progress with the world, and lean on each other for support. The resources are available - use them.

Posted by Dave Cool on 08/14/2014 | 0 comments
Dave Cool

Bandzoogle in the News: Check Out These 3 In-Depth Interviews with CEO David Dufresne!

Our CEO David Dufresne has been a busy man lately. Besides his usual CEO duties (business development, song recommendations for staff, figuring out which city Dave Cool is working from that day, etc.), he’s done several in-depth interviews which we thought you might enjoy:
 

The Digital Music Trends Podcast had David as a guest in this tell-all interview about Bandzoogle, and making websites. Check out the video:


David also did an extensive interview with Rick Goetz of MusicianCoaching.com, where they talked about David’s background, how he became the CEO of Bandzoogle, and of course, how musicians can make better websites. Read the interview here.

Ultimate Ears University

Ultimate Ears University interviewed David about Bandzoogle, where he spoke about how we decide on new features for the platform, and how our users are our R&D Department. Check out the interview here.

Posted by Dave Cool on 08/13/2014 | 2 comments
Dave Cool

14 Rules for Being a Good Bandmate

This is a guest post by Christiana Usenza, which originally appeared on the Sonicbids Blog. Photo by Danny Clifford (via dailymail.co.uk)

A band is simultaneously a friendship, a collaborative partnership and a business. Although it might be less personal and intimate than a romantic relationship, it is quite possibly more complicated. That's because there are usually more than two people involved, and everyone has an opinion. We are artists after all, so being sensitive and having opinions come with the territory of creating things.

It goes without saying that it can be challenging to keep balance within the group dynamic. In order to keep things smooth, fun, purposeful and positive, it's best to have a clear direction and communicate openly as a group. It's also important to make sure that you're personally doing your part to help the band be the best it can be. Here are a few guidelines you should follow to optimize the experience for yourself and everyone else involved.

1. Practice your music

Know your parts inside and out before group rehearsals. That way the band can actually focus on the finer details or the big picture together and have more fun in the process. If you don’t understand a section of a song, talk about it and make sure to smooth out the kinks sooner rather than later. You don’t want those doubts to linger until it's too late to ask or you get on stage and the nerves kick in.

2. Know your role in the band

If you don't know your role, talk about it. Are you a support musician? Are you a band leader? Do you have a say in the creation and selection of the material? Or are you supposed to just learn your parts from a chart and do what you're instructed to do? Once you know this, you'll be able to make sure that you're not stepping on any toes, and you'll also feel more free within your defined role.

3. Help out

Whether it's carrying equipment or promoting the band, always help when it's needed. Depending on your forte and interests outside of music, find a way to contribute to the management of the band. Maybe you're a good driver and can get the band to gigs, or you love to design and can make the T-shirts and posters. Maybe you have a big social network, and naturally will be the promoter. Or maybe you host the rehearsals. What ever your part is, make sure you share the legwork, because it's way too much for one person. 

4. Place equal value on each musician

Even if someone is not the lead musician, they are of essential value – everyone contributes to the band's unique sound. Each instrument has its own details and complexities on which to focus, and each individual deserves respect. Every member should be included in band discussions and practices, and everyone should feel welcome to weigh in with suggestions when appropriate. This gives ownership and builds commitment. 

5. Be on time

The band members depend on each other to make “it” happen, so be respectful of each other’s time. Don’t be the one to hold everyone up when people are already making sacrifices to make time for the band between their jobs, families and possibly other musical projects. if you're too flaky, you might just lose your seat in the group.

6. Plan in advance

Schedule rehearsals and gigs in advance. If a show is booked and you've committed to it, don’t miss it unless it's a true emergency. It reflects badly on the whole band if they have to cancel or cannot produce what's expected. Also, give a heads up if you're going out of town so that your bandmates know when to book practices and shows, or have ample time to get a sub for you if needed.

7. Do social things together

Hanging out together is inevitable if you practice a lot or go on tour together. Whether or not you're friends outside of the band, try to find times after rehearsal to get food or drinks, or go to a show together for inspiration. Being social creates a bond. A real friendship and understanding of each other shines through in the music. Building a relationship as friends places importance on the art rather than the business side of things and keeps things in perspective. Also, the more you know each other, the more you can read each other and mend mistakes on the fly during a performance! 

8. Discuss style

Details make a band unique and stand out. This includes fashion! It's embarrassing to witness a band where everyone is dressed up except for that one person who rolled out of bed and looks downright slovenly. If you're going for the “I don’t care” or “grungy” look, that's fine – just be on the same page as everyone else. Prepare and discuss it in advance – maybe you want matching outfits, or you just want to be casual, or maybe dressy. These details matter. Your shows are a presentation of your art, sound and appearance all together. Paying attention to all of these aspects shows that you care about your presentation and your audience. 

9. Work on your stage presence

Being a musician usually means that you're also a performer. This requires stage presence. Enjoy it, and give a little love to the audience. This can be as simple as smiling, or thanking the audience for coming, or even creating choreography. Just make sure that you and your bandmates work together to always give good energy to the audience. This will increase your fan loyalty and it will also enhance the music.

10. Promote

Part of being a good bandmate involves putting effort into not only the music, but also the promotion of it. You've done so much work to get to this point, so now it’s time to share it. Invite your friends to shows and put up posters (in appropriate locations). If you're playing a lot of shows, just send out one list of upcoming gigs so that your friends don’t get overwhelmed.

11. Be transparent

I'm talking about money. If you're performing together as a band, there is money involved. The group as a whole should be open about it. Ideally, the group should decide together what to do with the funds. It could be small enough that you all go out for dinner together, or you pay a member back for the time they bought gas. If it's large you can divide it up, or put into a band fund, or towards your next album, etc. Also, unless someone has signed up to be a sponsor for the band, always pay them back if they fronted the group. 

12. Speak up

When things that matter are bothering you, it's important to voice your concerns as soon as possible. Certain things will blow over, but if you have any nagging thoughts that continue to bring you down, that means it's time to talk about it – no matter how small of an issue it seems. Nothing is too small to talk about if it feels important to you. For big issues, like who owns royalties, and what to do if a member quits, it's a good idea to create a band agreement to straighten out any kinks that might need clarification early on. Don’t be afraid to be the one to suggest that these conversations be had.

13. Reflect

Be willing to learn from mistakes. After a rehearsal or performance, talk about what worked and what didn’t. Be open to feedback and chime in with your thoughts. Music (and life for that matter) is an endless learning process.

14. Have fun!

You probably chose music because you love it. Don’t lose sight of that passion, and be glad that you have bandmates to share it with. It's an honorable role to be an entertainer, so spread the love and have fun with it!

Posted by Dave Cool on 08/11/2014 | 4 comments