Wishing you a spooooky Halloween!

We hope you all have a very happy (and safe) Halloween weekend! Playing a gig? Channeling Jimi Hendrix with your mad pumpkin carving skills? We'd love it if you shared some pics of your festivities with us here.

Looking for a soundtrack for the weekend? Why not check out some of these Bandzoogle members:

A Primitive Evolution
Last Human Alive
Static Cycle

Posted by Stacey on 10/29/2010 | 7 comments

10 SEO Tips for Musicians

How do you find information online? In reputable blogs, or your friend’s Facebook wall? Through Google and other search engines? Well, you’re not alone. Millions of people look for information via search everyday.

In a world saturated with entertainment options, improving your website so that it receives more traffic from search engines, also known as search engine optimization (SEO), is more important than ever. So let’s talk about some ways to get your band website ranking near the top of those results!

  1. Choose your keywords
  2. The first step is to create your “top 5” list of keywords -- words or phrases that you think people might use to find your website. This could be your band name, musical style, or location. For example, if you’re an 80s cover band in Idaho, your keywords might be “80s, live, cover band, wedding, Boise Idaho.”

  3. Content is Key
  4. Once you have your keyword list, sprinkle them sparingly throughout your website (in your bio, in page headers, in buttons, etc.). A good rule of thumb is to write for humans first, and search engines second. Google knows when you are going overboard on trying to insert keywords into your page, and can penalize you. An extreme case would be removing you from their search database all together (which is more common than you would think!)

  5. Choose a great domain name
  6. When choosing a domain name, try to choose one that contains some of your keywords. Google puts websites with keywords in their domain name in bold, so they stand out in search results.

  7. Set your META tags
  8. META tags are another place that you can add keywords to your site. Think of them as a way to insert hidden keywords into your pages without actually adding them to that page.

    The most important one is the Title META tag. It is what appears as the main link to your page in search results. By default, we set the Title tag to be your artist name, followed by the page (for example Bob Smith – Music). You can change this to add even more keywords manually, like “Bob Smith – Country music in Fairfield, Connecticut”.

    There are two other META tags that are relevant to search engines, called “Keywords” and “Description.” They aren’t used quite as much anymore, but they are still worth adding some keywords to anyway.

  9. Build links
  10. Google ranks sites that are trustworthy, not spammy. One way it measures this is by counting the number of websites that link back to yours. The more external sites linking back to yours, the better. To see who is linking to you now, you can do a Google search for link:www.yoursite.com

    The easiest and best thing you can do to get links, is to produce quality content that people will want to link to. Don’t forget to add links on your website to other musicians you have played with, respect, or know (why not network in the Bandzoogle community?) – and ask them to return the favour!

  11. Use your networks
  12. Google loves frequently updated content on social networks like Twitter, Facebook, etc. Post quality content, and make sure to link back to your website (and yes, Google can read short urls like at http://j.mp or http://bit.ly )

  13. Don’t forget YouTube
  14. One often neglected opportunity to improve your search ranking is to post YouTube videos that contain keywords in the title. YouTube is a Google company, and videos will appear in search results, right alongside websites. Make sure to link to your website in the video description field, and tag the video with your keywords.

  15. The power of plain text
  16. Search engines strip away images, and can’t read Flash or video, so make sure your keywords appear in good old plain text.

  17. Make it easy for Google to browse
  18. Publishing a “site map” file gives Google access to all of your pages (Bandzoogle automatically does this for you. You can also submit sitemaps manually if you like through your Site Promotion section in Bandzoogle). On top of that, a good practice is to add text links with keywords that link to internal pages in the main content of your home page.

  19. Measure and adjust
  20. You can check out how well your keywords and phrases are doing in your site traffic report. See which keywords people use to get to your site, and add the popular ones more often. You can also type your chosen keywords into Google.com and see where your page comes up in the listings. Based on these results, you may want to change/tweak your keywords.

    Remember, Google may only update every few weeks, so changes to your site will not immediately be reflected in their search results.

Search Engine Optimization is important to your band’s website success – it can provide publicity, exposure, help build your fan base, get gigs, and hopefully increase revenue as well. So why not try some of these tips on your site today? Good luck, and share any SEO tips and comments below! I’d love to continue an open discussion with you.

Posted by Melanie on 10/28/2010 | 31 comments

Introducing new Zoogler Melanie !

Two great news this morning ! First, our Facebook and Twitter friends got the scoop, but, over the week-end, we (actually... YOU) passed the $3,000,000 mark in members sales.  Those are commission-free music and merch sales, and revenue going straight to independent artists and entrepreneurs...  One of the many reasons why Bandzoogle team members go to sleep (almost) each night with a smile on their face.

Speaking of team members, I have the immense pleasure of introducing our newest Zoogler: Melanie. Melanie joins Allison, Mike and Stacey on our elite support squad, so many of you will have the chance to sample her deep skills and knowledge.  She is a classically trained singer, her significant other and her brother are both professional musicians, so Melanie is very in touch with the challenges and opportunities that working musicians face. She is also a graduate in Interactive Multimedia and an excellent blogger, so expect to read her words here.

Welcome to the team ! Welcome to the community !

Posted by David Dufresne on 10/26/2010 | 18 comments

CONTEST ALERT - Favorite Bandzoogle Feature

CONTEST ALERT!! "My favorite Bandzoogle feature is ________ because ________." Reply to our FACEBOOK page with your answer and we will choose one lucky Bandzoogle winner to receive ONE MONTH FREE!! Be creative... http://facebook.com/bandzoogle
Posted by Allison on 10/21/2010 | 1 comment

The Music Industry: where is it going ? (and what does it mean for YOU, the musician).

Recently, in another forum, I got involved in a discussion about where people believe the music industry is going.  As a very passionate music fan and entrepreneur, it's a topic that I have been thinking about on a daily basis.  Now that I've joined Bandzoogle as CEO, where we work closely with thousands of independent musicians that are serious about their art and career, it has become an almost-obsession.  In that forum, I summarized my thoughts on "how-to-make-money-from-music" as follows:

I think there are 3 ways that a creator can earn from the music he or she creates:

1) Monetize ownership of the music
2) Monetize access to the music
3) Monetize 
enjoyment of the music

I wasn't there, but I believe the bulk of the wealth in the music industry was built on #1, in the last 20 years, through the CD-Release complex and whatever was going on before (Thanks Kyle: 

Now everyone realizes that, technology helping, #1 is slowly fading away and they try their best to get into the #2 game, pulling on their fractions of cents and .0001 percentage points before others do it faster and better (note: I meant through Youtube, Mog, Spotify, Rdio, Pandora, Rhaposody, Jango, Thumbplay, etc.).

What only a few people have realized is that where the money is, now and tomorrow, is #3. Sure, you can still earn from #1 and #2, but it won't happen if #3 doesn't happen first. Problem is that #3 is hard to define (my clumsy stab at it: 
http://bit.ly/d2G4cy), and it's still not clear how you build strong business models around it.  Biggest problem is that there are many, many people that are motivated to keep #3 from happening if #1 and/or #2 do not happen first. That's the bottleneck.

Now, I would be happy to hear what our members think about this.  Are you getting revenue from the music you create and perform ? The counter here is getting dangerously close to $3,000,000. That's amazing. But is it important for you ? Do you think your "revenue mix" will change in the future ? Are you selling your music ?  Or are you selling experiences, where people enjoy your music ? Or both ?

As for the "industry", earlier tonight I read the first part of a series of blog posts that Jeff Price, CEO at (digital distribution company) Tunecore, is writing. I strongly urge you to go read the whole thing. Here's an excerpt:

"The reality is:

  • More musicians are making money off their music now then at any point in history.
  • The cost of buying music has gotten lower but the amount of money going into the artist's pocket has increased.
  • There are more people listening, sharing, buying, monetizing, stealing and engaging with music than at any other point in history.
  • There are more ways for an artist to get heard, become famous and make a living off their music now than at any point in the history of this planet.
  • Technology has made it possible for any artist to get distribution, to get discovered, to pursue his/her dreams with no company or person out there making the editorial decision that they are not allowed “in”.
  • The majority of music now being created and distributed is happening outside of the “traditional” system.

And to reiterate, sales are up… "

This is definitely an optimistic list of statements, and refreshing when compared to most news we hear or read about that quote the RIAA or any of the major labels or retailers. But again, I wonder what it means and what it will mean for talented independent artists.

Hopefully it will enable a bright future for those that deserve it.  And hopefully we at Bandzoogle can do our part and help !

Posted by David Dufresne on 10/15/2010 | 14 comments

Where Do You Fit In? The 12 Different Artist Types...

We are borrowing this (with permission) from the fine folks at Digital Music News. Digital Music News is a great resource for music industry professionals, a group that now includes a whole new class of artist and plenty of tech startups. Editor Paul Resnikoff created a simple (and slightly cynical) typology of artists based on how they relate to providers of direct-to-fan technology ("DTF", of which Bandzoogle is the most shining example, isn't it ?), and how they can generate revenue. We found it interesting enough to tweet it and post it to our Facebook page. Do you recognize yourself in one (or many) of these types ? We probably have Bandzooglers in every category, except maybe #7 and, hopefully, #12. Let us know what you think !

(1) The Unsigned, DIY 
Do-it-yourself (DIY), and totally direct-to-fan (DTF). Not affiliated, this soloist or band is handling mostly everything themselves. Typically very early stage, with very low levels of income but ample inspiration.

(2) The DTF With a Team
Still direct-to-fan, but with a team of supporters - compensated or otherwise - working the strings in a hopefully coordinated manner. The beginning of a more serious marketing approach, and at a more advanced level, a great model for creating and controlling different distribution, marketing, DTF, and even label partnerships (like Arcade Fire).

(3) The Professional, Gigging Musician
A dolled-up boy band can skip the musical talent. A tenor saxophonist playing jazz clubs in Chicago can't. The professional has the chops to play gigs and make money, and can use DTF platforms to create better fan relationships and even expand income. But these are working folks, so f**k the fame.

(4) The Hobbyist 
Maybe a serious musician in the past, now it's just a recreational thing. This sounds like a good market to tap - after all, proceeds are typically coming from a day job, and everything is sort of a toy - whether a new tuba, TuneCore account, or Disc Makers-pressed CD.

(5) The Hobbyist-In-Denial
Essentially, an artist with little chance of generating a serious audience or sales, but carrying lofty aspirations nonetheless. Foolishly looking to quit the day job, if they haven't already. 

(6) The Signed Artist
Actually, DTF relationships matter for every tier of artist, but the signed artist has potentially serious resources to draw upon. Depending on the relationship, that means money, creative connections, and access to a (hopefully) knowledgeable team. This type of deal has traditionally been signed with a label, but can involve any company (gaming company, publisher, Live Nation, even an advertiser.) 

(7) The Superstar Signed Artist
These are the ultra-elites actually selling out gigs, shifting hundreds-of-thousands of albums, and getting terrestrial radio play. Still less money than before and a tricky terrain, but a lucky spot for any artist these days. 

(8) The Songwriter
Sometimes a performer, oftentimes not, this breed of musician is putting songs and lyrics together and hopefully scoring some hits. And, in the process, minting some serious publishing revenues.

(9) The Post-Label, DTF Artist
"Off label" can be a great category, depending on how successful the label was at building the artist in the past. And, some have the luxury of leaving quite successful partnerships - a prime example being Radiohead. Still, far smaller artists have ex-label equity to bank upon. 

(10) The Producer
Typically behind the scenes, but oftentimes grabbing the spotlight - especially in hip-hop. Either way, this is a different type of animal, based on lots of connections to a range of different artists. That changes the contractual discussions dramatically, and also introduces a far broader range of revenue possibilities.

(11) The Legacy Artist
The glory days are over, but hopefully the revenues are not. Or, if they are, reunion tours and remastered releases are always tricks to consider. And, reawakening and recreating DTF relationships also makes sense. We're getting the band back together...

(12) The Celebrity-Turned-Artist
A category we could live without. Is the musical world better because of Paris Hilton, Tila Tequila, or Shaq? Exactly.

Posted by David Dufresne on 10/07/2010 | 27 comments

Bandzoogle sponsors Music Success in Nine Weeks Blogging Challenge

We at Bandzoogle are all very excited to announce a partnership with Ariel Hyatt and her PR firm.

After reading Ariel's book and hearing good things about the Blogging Challenge from some of our beloved members, we quickly were convinced that 1) the book truly has excellent advice and can really help musicians get serious about setting and reaching their goals, and 2) the absolute best toolbox for getting through the program also happens to be "the most effective platform for musicians to build their website and manage their direct-to-fan marketing and sales". (Guess who I am referring to ?)

So, here is Ariel's message to the Bandzoogle community:

Dear Bandzooglers,

I am really excited that my friends at Bandzoogle have agreed to come on board as sponsors for my Music Success in Nine Weeks Blogging Challenge!

For those of you who don’t know me I’m Ariel and I run Ariel Publicity - A PR and social media marketing firm for artists and musicians. Our Cyber PR campaigns help artists get on blogs and podcasts and teach them how to manage their social media. My experience of working with artists in the last few years in this ever-changing online music business led me to understand this:
Figuring out what to do with the countless online tools can be really overwhelming.

So I wrote a book to help called Music Success in Nine Weeks. And people started to buy it! But the artists were admitting to me that they were only two or three chapters into my book but then got too overwhelmed or too sidetracked to finish it! So – I created the Music Success in Nine Weeks blogging challenge and started offering a PRIZE of a full PR campaign for reading and blogging about the book. The goal for the nine weeks of the contest is to get artists out of their "musician heads" and into their "marketing & business heads" for long enough to feel a visceral change.

So far I over 120 musicians have taken the challenge! And the team at Bandzoogle liked what I was doing so I asked them to contribute a prize too. And THEY DID! So now you can not only win a 3 month Cyber PR campaign but the winner will also get 2 years of the PRO plan on Bandzoogle, for free.

AND I created a coupon for Bandzoogle so you also save $8.99 off my book ($5 of the list price and FREE SHIPPING). Just enter “Bandzoogle” as your coupon code and save!

And when you enter this blogging challenge all you need to do is:

1. Buy the book

2. Add a blog to your Bandzoogle site if you don't have one already.

3. Read the book and blog about it! And you will qualify to win.

My team and the Bandzoogle crew will be watching AND cheering you along the whole way! So come save $8.99 and CHANGE YOUR ONLINE MARKETING AND PR FOREVER! http://musicsuccessinnineweeks.com/

Ariel Hyatt

Posted by David Dufresne on 10/01/2010 | 34 comments