Dave Cool

Comedians: How to Properly Use a Landing Page on Your Website

This week the Just for Laughs comedy festival takes over our hometown of Montreal. We’ll be attending the COMEDYPRO conference Thursday through Saturday, as well as lots of comedy shows. So we’re featuring some posts on the blog this week for our comedian members and friends.

Also be sure to check out the 5 Reasons Why Bandzoogle Works for Comedian Websites!


Bandzoogle makes it easy to add an intro or “splash” page to your website. When used properly as a landing page for your visitors, they can be an effective marketing tool.

However, intro pages can easily be misused, which can hurt your site traffic, fan engagement, and your sales.

4 Common Mistakes To Avoid with Intro Pages

Here are four common mistakes that we see with intro pages that you should avoid:

1. Permanent intro page: Intro pages should only be used for short periods of time and for specific calls-to-action. It becomes annoying for repeat visitors to keep having to click through to your main site.

Also, Google picks up text content on your page, and if the first page of your website is an Intro page, there isn’t much to tell Google how your site is relevant to search queries, which can hurt your rank.

2. Too much content: Don’t clutter your intro page with too many videos and social feeds. Make it very clean and focused.

3. No clear purpose: There should be a clear purpose for the intro page. Let fans know about your new comedy album, your podcast, a crowdfunding campaign, a new video, new live dates, etc. Don’t just have your photo with an “Enter Site” link. This wastes the visitor’s time with an extra click to get to your content.

4. Hidden “Enter Site” link: Make it very easy to find where to enter the full website from your intro page. If someone can’t quickly find out how to access your full site, they might just give up and go back to checking their Facebook, and not come back.

Use Your Intro Page as a Landing Page for a Specific Call-To-Action

So what should you use an Intro page for? Ideally, to focus on a specific call-to-action. A call-to-action is designed to direct people’s attention to something specific that you want them to do. This can be to:

  • Buy your new comedy album, which you can sell commission-free through Bandzoogle’s Store feature. (*Example to the left is from Kris Tinkle's website).
     

  • Subscribe to your podcast

  • Subscribe to your mailing list (a mailing list tool is included in all Bandzoogle plans)

  • Contribute to your crowdfunding campaign

  • Watch your new video

  • Buy tickets for your upcoming shows
     

Again, the intro page should be temporary, and focused on a time-sensitive call-to-action. But if you want to be sure that your fans know about your new album/podcast/video etc., landing pages can be an effective way to convey the message.

[Landing Page image from Shutterstock]

Posted by Dave Cool on 07/23/2014 | 0 comments
Dave Cool

How Comedians Can Get a Wikipedia Page

This week the Just for Laughs comedy festival takes over our hometown of Montreal. We’ll be attending the COMEDYPRO conference Thursday through Saturday, and going to lots of comedy shows. So we’ll be featuring some posts on the blog this week for our comedian members and friends. Enjoy it!


Getting a page on Wikipedia isn't a straightforward process, far from it. There's also no guarantee of being able to get one. But if you follow Wikipedia’s guidelines, you'll give yourself a very good chance.

Here are the most important things comedians should keep in mind when trying to setup a page on Wikipedia:

The page must be neutral

Wikipedia stresses that the article or page must be from a neutral point of view. So although writing the page entry yourself might be the quickest way to get onto Wikipedia, chances are that it will get deleted very quickly for not being neutral.  

A Wikipedia article is not meant to be a promotional page, but an unbiased documentation of your career. So it would be best to find someone who already contributes to Wikipedia to write the entry instead. This could be a fan or friend, but make sure it’s not an obvious conflict of interest, which Wikipedia also frowns upon (they frown upon a lot of things, as you’ll see).

Information must be verifiable

Information about your comedy career must come from a verifiable source. So even if the information is factually true, Wikipedia insists that it must be verifiable before you can add it to the page.

If a friend is writing the entry for you, be sure to collect all links to reviews, articles, mentions and information online about your comedy career. That way the person writing the entry can cite outside sources for information about your career so that it can be considered verifiable.

Information must come from reliable sources

The next thing to keep in mind is that for any articles or sources that are cited on your Wikipedia page, they must come from reliable, independent, 3rd party sources. So it’s better if the author cites an article in the media, rather than your own website, or something a friend said about you on their Tumblr blog.  

Your comedy/career must be "notable"

This might be the most important point: your comedy/career must be notable in some way. Meeting Wikipedia's notability requirements might be the difference in your page getting deleted or not.

Being "notable" is subjective, but here are some criteria that Wikipedia specifically mentions would help a comedian to be considered notable:

  • You’ve had significant roles in multiple notable films, television shows, stage performances, or other productions.

  • You have a large fan base or a significant "cult" following.

  • You’ve made unique, prolific or innovative contributions to a field of entertainment.


Other things that may help you to be considered notable:

  • You’ve gone on an international comedy tour, or a national concert tour in at least one country reported in reliable sources.

  • You’ve won a major award

  • You’ve won or placed in a major comedy or talent competition.

  • You’ve performed in a featured slot in a major comedy show or festival.

  • You’ve been the subject of a half hour or longer broadcast on a national radio or television network.


The more information with reliable sources that you can provide, the better.
 

So as you can see, getting an entry in Wikipedia takes some effort and preparation, but it can be done. Here are a few Bandzoogle comedian members who have a page on Wikipedia:

Gina Yashere

Website: www.ginayashere.com

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gina_Yashere

Janine Brito

Website: www.janinebrito.com

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janine_Brito

Posted by Dave Cool on 07/21/2014 | 0 comments
Dave Cool

Composer Website Love: Mahmoud Altaf

Who: Mahmoud Altaf
What: Composer, Sound Designer
Where: Cairo, Egypt
Why his website rocks: We love that Mahmoud Altaf is using our latest theme Cross & Fade. It’s perfect for his site, as the theme lends itself well to crowd shots and abstract imagery.

Since he’s a composer and doesn’t perform live, there aren’t any promotional photos on his site like for a band website. Yet for each page of his site, Mahmoud has a different image as the background. He uses great stock photos, including some of the roughly 200 stock images that Bandzoogle provides for its members.

He also uploaded his logo to his header image, which looks great on mobile too. All around the visuals on his site really make it shine, nicely done Mahmoud!

Check out his site at: www.mahmoudaltaf.com

Posted by Dave Cool on 07/18/2014 | 1 comment
Dave Cool

New Website Theme: Cross & Fade

Our design team has been busy! We’ve added another new website theme to our theme chooser: Cross & Fade

Cross & Fade features a full-screen background on all pages, which can work well with abstract album art, landscape imagery, or even crowd shots from your last gig. This can be a good way to incorporate cohesive branding from your latest album into your website design.

Cross & Fade also features a vertical overlay to display your project name, which switches to full-width on mobile. Another cool element to this theme is that a subtle overlay appears above the page that’s active on the menu!

As with all of our new website themes, Cross & Fade features a site-wide My Sites option for social icons and is fully responsive, so it will adapt to look amazing on mobile phones and tablets!

Just go to the Design tab to give it a try. With Bandzoogle changing your design is easy. You can switch to a new theme and your website content won't be affected, so you can go back to your previous design anytime.

If you decide to use Cross & Fade for your band's website, post the link in the comments!

Posted by Dave Cool on 07/17/2014 | 4 comments
Dave Cool

Why Email Newsletters Are Still a Vital Marketing Tool for Musicians

“Email newsletters, an old-school artifact of the web that was supposed to die along with dial-up connections, are not only still around, but very much on the march.”

That quote is from a recent New York Times article For Email Newsletters, a Death Greatly Exaggerated. We thought it was a good time to reiterate why we think email newsletters are still one of the most effective promotional tools for musicians today, which is also why we continue to offer a mailing list tool with all of our plans:

5 Solid Reasons to Use Email Newsletters

1) You own the list

For bands that have been around since MySpace was still a thing, remember all those fans you had? Well, MySpace owned their data, not you. If you didn’t get them signed-up to your mailing list, chances are you lost contact with many of them when you had to start over on Facebook.

As for Facebook? Same deal. They own the data, and they can also disappear. Or, as it seems to be happening, it gets too crowded and noisy. Statistics show that only a small percentage of people actually see updates from Facebook Pages, and it’s getting worse.

Social media sites are great tools for interacting with current fans and finding new ones, but with social media, you don’t own that fan list. As Benji Rogers (Founder of PledgeMusic) said in a must-read blog post:

“If email is not the biggest part of your social strategy, then you are giving the power of communication with your fans to companies who will gladly take them and whose advertisers will thank you to no end for providing them with eyeballs.”

2) Use the data to book shows

The data you can collect from email newsletters is incredibly useful. You not only see who opens the emails and clicks on links to measure how effective your content is, but you can also see where your fans are from. Using this data, you can tangibly reach out to fans in a certain area if you play a show in their town. This is one of the biggest reasons we added a functionality to our own mailing list tool to automatically geo-locate your fans.  

So if you have a list with hundreds of people from the city you’re trying to book a show in, you can use this data to help convince bookers and clubs to book you.

3- It’s the ultimate permission marketing

An email list is the ultimate in permission marketing. Once a fan gives you their email address, they’re telling you that they want to hear about your career, about your latest album, your next show, your new merchandise, etc.

Note: Don’t EVER add people to your mailing list without their permission. Spamming people can do irreparable harm to your career, as you will likely lose those people as potential fans forever. Also, it’s illegal.

4- Most effective way to sell music & merch

When it comes to selling music and merch, email newsletters are still the best way to convert fans to paying customers. In fact, inside and outside of the music industry, mailing lists see some of the highest conversion rates for sales.

This makes sense, given point #3 with permission marketing. If you send fans a message announcing your new album with a clear link to buy, they’re getting it in a controlled environment (their inbox) and they want to hear from you, so chances are much higher that they’ll make a purchase.

5- Best way to stay in touch with fans long-term

Social media sites come and go, but people rarely change email addresses. So a mailing list is the best way to stay in touch with your fans over the long-term, regardless of which social media site is popular at the time.

As noted artist manager Emily White has said, an email list “is an artist’s retirement plan”.

Further Resources

Here are some other posts about email newsletters that you might find helpful:

The Tools of Music Fan Engagement [Part 2]: Newsletters (Bandzoogle Blog)

Email, Email, Email: If You Make Music You Have to Be Able to Tell People About It (Benji Rogers, PledgeMusic)

How to Write Engaging Newsletters (Ariel Hyatt, Cyber PR)


Do you have a mailing list? If not, why not? If you do, has it been an effective way to stay in touch with your fans? Let us know in the comments!

[Newsletter image from Shutterstock]

Posted by Dave Cool on 07/16/2014 | 5 comments
Allison

Musician Website Love: Ozara Odé

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

Who: Ozara Odé
What: Soulful Jazz Singer-Songwriter
Where: Milwaukee, WI
Why her website rocks: It exudes a warm vibe that sets the tone for her sultry music. The color palette is consistent throughout with red and gold hues for text and titles. Ozara’s background image is very inviting with her bright smile. She looks like she’s having so much fun, it makes you want to find out what her music's about. The background image also offers a nice balance of negative space; perfect for highlighting her name, which is important for an artist, poet, playwright and actress.

Ozara places her new single front and center on the Home page making it easy for her fans to listen and buy. Her new corresponding video, a little more music, Twitter feed and mailing list sign up form rounds out the Home page without being too overcrowded.

The remaining pages give you a taste of who Ozara is with great videos, nice professional photos and a couple ways for fans to interact through blog and guestbook features.  All-in-all a very nice, bright site from a fantastic expressive artist!  

Check out her site at: www.ozaraode.com

 

Posted by Allison on 07/11/2014 | 1 comment
Dave Cool

How Bands Can Learn From Tech Startups

This post by Andrew Hall (@_And_Hall) originally appeared on the Sonicbids blog (photo via Business Insider).

Startups are hot right now. Every day there seems to be another app or social media site coming out as the next big thing. But wait a minute – why are all these tech companies getting all the buzz? Can’t there be different kinds of startups?

Let’s take a step back for a second and define what a "startup" actually is:

"The early stage in the life cycle of an enterprise, where the entrepreneur moves from the idea stage to securing financing, laying down the basic structure of the business, and initiating operations or trading." – The Business Dictionary

That’s interesting. It sounds like something we all know. Let’s just change a couple of the words around and see if we’re on to something here:

"The early stage in the life cycle of an enterprise a career in music where the entrepreneur musician(s) move from the idea stage (aka “the garage”) to securing financing, laying down the basic structure of the business band, and initiating operations, independently or trading with a label."

Hey, that’s pretty good!

Well, if your band actually is a startup, then why not try and mimic the way these successful tech companies have gotten off the ground? Let's walk through some basics on how to set your band up for success and make you the Zuckerberg of rock 'n' roll.

1. Define your purpose and who you are

One of the main challenges when starting a company is defining why you are doing what you do. This is also known as the "Are you solving a problem?" phase.

Bands are no different. A majority of you will be solving some sort of entertainment need in the market, but being able to differentiate yourself will be the key.

Some of you might say, "We're using this to fulfill our own creative outlet and don't care who hears it." That's fine if music is a hobby for you, but if you ever want people to hear your art and get paid, you're going to have to make sure that you are considering the community when defining yourself. If you find where you can fit in the market, you can reach the appropriate people, interact with them and be able to profit off of your art.

Start with identifying your influences to build your short, concise message to connect with people and explain why they should choose to listen to or buy a ticket to see you.

2. Define your goals and build your team

Having everyone on the same page and driving towards your key goals is everything. Whether that's playing local shows, going on tour, being signed to a major label or operating independently, defining your goals will help you focus your efforts. Knowing what direction you’re going in will help define what the appropriate opportunities are to go after and connect with the right people.

Once you have an understanding of your purpose and goals, you can start building your team. Your team includes your bandmates and, when you're ready, management and booking agents.

First things first: You need to identify people who are on the same page as you business wise and creatively. If you're someone who’s looking to play arenas and another person wants to play one show a year, then you’re obviously not going to be on the same page with the time and commitment you need to put in to get to that level. It’s not to say that you all have to be the same person, but you have to know that you can trust the other people on your team are all committed to your goals and willing to chip in to make you all a success.

3. Define your audience

Knowing who you are and why you’ve started your “bandup” are two key components, but knowing who is going to listen is huge in helping you get your message out there.

The first thing you should do in marketing is define your potential audience. This helps with everything when establishing your band's brand, from knowing which venues to try and play to knowing the kind of press and PR to go after. If your audience consists of young teenage metal fans, then there’s no reason you should be trying to play shows or opportunities at country saloons or submit your EP to be reviewed on the "Honkey Tonk country music blog," right? So understand where your audience is hanging out and get your message out to them.

4. Hit the streets and connect

Ultimately, without that hustle, drive and killer product (the music!), it’s all for nothing. Make sure you’re keeping up on what’s going on around you. Understand the market and realize that other bands can be your competitors, even though you may not think of them that way. Figure out how you can differentiate yourself from them, while being true to yourself and your fans.

And please don’t forget about the fans. Early on they're worth their weight in gold – especially since gaining new fans down the line will be six to seven times more expensive than retaining current ones.

Finally, just treat people right. It’s a small world in this industry, so be nice and it will come back to you.

To wrap up, these aren’t all day one conversations to have. This is something that will develop as you develop your product of great music and build chemistry with the right people. It can take off like a rocketship though – so if this is the direction you want to go in, the sooner you lay the foundation for establishing your band as a business, the better your "bandup" will be.

"Move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough." -The Zuck Man

“Especially if you play metal.” -Me

Posted by Dave Cool on 07/10/2014 | 2 comments
Dave Cool

16-Point Band Website Assessment Checklist

When reviewing websites for musicians, we generally break down the reviews into 3 categories:

  • Design
  • Organization & Navigation
  • Content


For each category, there are certain key things that we look out for. We’ve decided to share our checklist so bands can assess their own websites!

So here’s our 16-point band website assessment checklist to measure how your website is doing (download the checklist here):

16-Point Band Website Assessment Checklist

Section 1: Design

1. Does the imagery represent the band’s style?

Do your photos, font colors, and website theme match up well with the sound of your music? This can be quite subjective, but if you play children’s music, a dark theme with drab colors probably won’t be a good direction to take for the design of your website.

2. Design doesn’t get in the way of the content?

Does your site feature lots of crazy Flash animations? Do visitors have to scroll past too many design elements to find content? When it comes to designing a site for your band, simple is often better.

3. Are photos professionally shot, and properly formatted for the site?

We often tell bands that they should spend more money on getting professionally shot photos than on designing their websites. Having professional photos is one of the most important elements to a great looking site.

Once you do have some great photos, make sure they’re formatted and sized correctly for your site. We come across many sites where photos are oddly cropped, blurry, or the aspect ratios are off.

4. Does the typography represent the band's style, and is it easy to read?

Another element that can make or break a website’s design is the typography. Again, simple is best. Don’t use too many different fonts on your site. Each has its own style, and it can be difficult to match them properly.

For body text, keep the size of the fonts between 12px and 16px. Any smaller than 10px is too hard to read, and larger than 18px creates too much scrolling to read through.  Also stay away from colored fonts, too much bold, and never use ALL CAPS.

5. Does the website look good on a smartphone or tablet?

How does your website look on a mobile device? Does it format properly? Is the content still easily accessible? Do all the features work?

With more and more people accessing the web from mobile devices, it’s extremely important that your website gives fans a good experience on any screen size.

Section 2: Organization & Navigation

6. Is there a clear and focused call-to-action on the Homepage? (1 or 2 max)

A call-to-action is designed to direct people’s attention to something specific that you want them to do while on your website. It could be to join your mailing list, buy your latest album, listen to your latest track, or donate to your fan-funding campaign. But it’s best to limit yourself to one, maximum two calls-to-action.

7. Are there a reasonable amount of menu options? Is the menu easy to understand?

For band websites, we suggest having a maximum of 8 main menu options. You can push that to 9, or even 10, but after that, it starts to get messy.

If you only have 5 or 6, that’s fine. Any less than that, you’re likely leaving out some key information and content from your site.

8. Is the menu easy to understand?

When naming your main menu buttons, keep it simple. People have very short attention spans, and not a lot of time. If they have to think about what content *might* be in a certain section of your site because the name is fancy/cute/artsy, chances are, they’re going to skip it.

Stick to names like “Home”, “About”, “Music”, “Shows”, “Store”, and avoid vague names like “Experience”, “Discover”, “My World”, etc.

9. Does each page have a clear purpose?

A good rule of thumb is to have one clear purpose per section of your website. On your Bio page, don’t add a Fan Forum or a Guest Book. On your Calendar page, don’t add a blog.

If you have certain features/elements to your site that are important, they should have their own section.

10. Is each page a reasonable length?

Finally, each page should be a reasonable length. Don’t force visitors to scroll down the page forever to see all of your content. Either edit the content down, or organize it in a way that each page is focused, clear, and easily scannable.

For more about creating the navigation for your site, check out our post: The Magic 8: Essential Menu Options for Your Band Website

Section 3: Content

11. Does the site look up to date?

Your website shouldn’t be a static flyer. If your last update is for your Christmas album from 2009, people will likely think you’re no longer active. Be sure to update your site on a regular basis to let people know what’s happening in your career.

12. Does the Homepage give a good 1st impression of the artist and their music?

Your homepage is often the first page visitors to your website will see, so it’s important to make a strong first impression. Having a great header and/or background image, a short bio, your latest news, as well as a music player for people to sample your music in one, easy, obvious click can help make that great first impression.

A well-designed homepage combined with a great call-to-action can also get you more sign-ups for your newsletter, more sales from your online store, and convert first-time visitors to becoming active and engaged fans.

13. Is the band making a personal connection to the fan?

Are all of your updates and content written in the 3rd person? More than ever, fans want to feel a direct connection with artists. Make sure you’re including content on your site that is coming straight from you, and doesn’t sound like it’s been written or posted by a label or manager.

Find out why it’s so important to make a personal connection with your fans: Do Musicians Need to Interact with their Fans?

14. Is there a reason for a fan to come back to this site?

Are you giving your fans a reason to keep coming back to your site? Posting regular blogs, new photos, and adding other new content on a regular basis can help keep fans coming back to your site.

Need ideas for blog posts? Check out these 13 Topics That Musicians Can Easily Blog About

15. Is there content relevant for industry and media?

Remember that it won’t just be fans or potential fans visiting your website. Industry people like bookers, agents, festivals, as well as journalists/bloggers will be going to your site as well.

Make sure to have all the information they need, like your official bio, promo photos, reviews, etc.

Build a digital press kit on your website: 7 Essential Elements for your Band’s Digital Press Kit

16. The site doesn’t have any useless or annoying content?

One example of useless and annoying content we see on band websites are ads. Focus your website on your music, don’t try to send people away with ad links. Chances are, they won’t generate much money anyway, and they look kind of cheesy.

Another example would be if you’ve embedded tons of widgets onto your website. If you’ve embedded every calendar, social media, and ecommerce platform’s widget onto your site, chances are, the design will look cluttered, and will make for an annoying experience for your visitors.  

Download the 16-point Band Website Assessment Checklist

You can download this checklist and use it to evaluate your own website, just click the button below!

Building Your Website: A Step-By-Step Guide for Bands and Musicians

Need more help with your website? Be sure to also download our free eBook:

Building Your Website: A Step-By-Step Guide for Bands and Musicians


So how does your website measure up? Let us know in the comments!

Posted by Dave Cool on 07/08/2014 | 8 comments
Dave Cool

Musician Website Love: Jen Olive

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

Who: Jen Olive
What: Singer-songwriter
Where: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Why her website rocks: Jen Olive uses an awesome photo from the cover of her latest album to capture your attention visually when landing on her website, which shows off our newest theme, Manhattan.

Then fans can use the ‘scroll to content’ tab to quickly access the content on Jen’s Homepage, where they’ll see a great call-to-action to sign up to her mailing list, her latest news, and a featured video. Great job Jen!

Check out her site at: www.jenolive.com

Posted by Dave Cool on 07/04/2014 | 2 comments
Dave Cool

New Website Theme: Manhattan

We’ve added yet another new website theme! This one is called Manhattan:

This new theme might be our most elaborate yet! On Manhattan, the homepage features a ‘scroll to content’ tab which will scroll the page down to the content area if you click it.

It also has a sticky menu which always sticks to the top, as you scroll down the menu fades from semi-transparent to solid black. The menu also makes way for the title text depending on length, and arranges itself nicely vertically alongside:

For the header area, Manhattan features a subtle perforated texture overlay. Like another one of our new themes, Surround, it also has variable sized headers. The homepage has a full screen header to display a nice large photo of your band. It features a more narrow area for header images in the interior pages, putting the focus on your content:

As with all of our new themes, Manhattan includes a site wide My Sites option for social icons, and is fully responsive, so it adapts to look great on tablets or mobile phones!

Give it a try through the Design tab. Remember, with Bandzoogle changing designs is easy. You can try a new theme for your website and your content won't be affected, so you can always go back to your previous design.


Let us know what you think! And be sure to post a link in the comments if you’re using this new theme for your band’s website!

Posted by Dave Cool on 07/03/2014 | 12 comments