Dave Cool

Bandzoogle Member Enter the Haggis Raise Over $40,000 through their Website

Enter the Haggis

Bandzoogle Member Enter the Haggis Raise Over $40,000 through their Website

Bandzoogle Member since: 2007

Genre: Celtic Rock

From: Toronto, Canada

Website: www.enterthehaggis.com

Enter the Haggis

Toronto’s Celtic rock band Enter The Haggis has found itself at the center of a grassroots success story ever teetering on the brink of mainstream success. From playing Celtic festivals to headlining them, and from the festival circuit to selling out multiple nights in rock venues, ETH has blazed a path with heavy and almost constant touring. The band has made waves in the genre, landing high Billboard and iTunes World Music chart positions as well as major television appearances on shows like Live With Regis And Kelly, A&E Breakfast With the Arts and PBS’ popular program Out of Ireland.

They recently completed a hugely successful fan-funding campaign where they raised over $40,000 through their website to fund their new album. In our interview with the band they explain why and how they did it, and tell us about a very cool opportunity they are offering their fan base. Enjoy!

Q: You guys recently decided to break free of the more traditional industry and raise money independently for your newest album, what was the inspiration to do that?

Well, honestly - companies like Bandzoogle and ArtistData offer so many incredible tools to artists today - tools that used to be out of the reach of indie acts. Throw in the level of fan engagement possible with social networks like Facebook and Twitter and suddenly it gets harder and harder to justify the chunk of your income a label demands, especially when it's hard to think of things a label will do that a motivated indie act can't do themselves! We're not on MTV, we're not on Clear Channel stations - why should we pay a label to get our album into a store in Wyoming if nobody there has ever heard of us? It's not like we'll see any significant income from the sale even if someone DOES decide to buy it blind.

Unfortunately, the one thing that labels can do for you (although all of our albums have been self-financed) is help pay for the recording of a record. We'd seen some creative campaigns by people like Josh Freese and Imogen Heap in which they enlisted the support of their fans to bankroll their albums, and with the tools at our disposal we realized that, with a little extra work, we could probably raise enough money from a pre-sale fundraiser to make a better record than we could afford on our own. We'd spent years developing a close and personal relationship with our fanbase, and we knew that they would jump at the chance to get in on the ground floor - especially if we made it worth their while!

Q: Why did you choose to run your fan-funding campaign through your own website rather than through a fan-funding service?

After poring over the various options we found, it was obvious that Bandzoogle's store was robust and flexible enough for us to just run it ourselves. I think there's something to be said for doing it all independently, too - your fans don't have that corporate level of separation from you that comes with a branded service like Kickstarter, and they really feel like they're supporting you directly (and they know nobody's taking a cut!). The only potential downside would be the fact that reputable companies like Kickstarter inspire confidence in an e-consumer - but since our BZ store runs through PayPal (the MOST trusted e-commerce solution) that wasn't an issue at all. And we got to keep more of the money.

Q: How did you get the word out about your campaign?

We used all the channels available to us - Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. We run our mailing list through Fanbridge (because we've got a pretty big list) so we sent lots of little reminder emails out with snippets of info and lots of behind-the-scenes videos. We replaced our homepage with a Bandzoogle "Intro page", with a giant and funny photo that linked straight to the fundraiser page. Obviously we talked it up on stage and after shows as well, and mentioned the campaign in any press that came our way. Remarkably, even with all the effort we put into it, I still come across devoted fans who somehow missed the whole thing - which shows you that you can NEVER assume that just putting a few status updates on Facebook and sending out a mass email will reach everyone whose attention you're trying to get!

Q: What were the incentives you offered to people to contribute to the campaign?

God, there were a ton of things. We took a page from Kickstarter and offered a few tiers of presale packages. For $20, you'd get a signed copy of the album sent to you. A few levels up, at $200, you'd get: TWO signed copies; a digital copy; five unreleased demos; a custom T-shirt; a custom USB key full of photos and unreleased videos and a personal "thank you" video; a postcard from the road; a phone call from the band; a handwritten lyric sheet; a special souvenir from the studio (which could be anything from a pair of drumsticks to the cutting board we made sandwiches on). Obviously this was a lot of work on our end (we had to put together SIXTY of these top-tier packages), but it was all worthwhile.

On top of that, we offered private lessons at shows, sold off some pieces of gear and offered fans the chance to get a matching tattoo with me (which I have to do this month, haha). For $500, we'd learn and record ANY SONG you chose, whether it was your own original or some wacky cover (we've had to learn Baba O'Reilly by The Who and Fitzcarraldo by The Frames). For $1000 you could come to the studio up in Canada (on your own dime, of course) and actually BE on the album - we had a guy come and play trumpet on two songs and a really nice couple from Michigan sang backups and added hand-claps, and both have joined us onstage at shows since!

The other thing we did (which I learned from Josh Freese's campaign) was offer a few absolutely ridiculous fundraiser packages. For a quarter of a million dollars, we'd fly you into space. For $12,000, our guitar player Trevor would drive his car to your house anywhere on the continent, do your laundry, cook you dinner and then hand you the keys to his Volkswagen Gulf and take a bus home. The value in offering a few altogether crazy packages is that it gets people talking - your fans will go to Facebook and say "Hey everyone, look what this crazy band is doing! LOL ROLFMAO OMG". Suddenly, you haven't just reached your fans - you've reached their friends and family as well.

Q: How much money did you raise in the end for your new album?

In the end, we brought in about $43,000. It was more than enough to make the record we wanted to make. We even made the always difficult decision to get the album re-mixed after mixing the whole damned thing, just because our fans afforded us the financial flexibility to get it right. I designed the album art and packaging, and we had enough left over to do a few fun things: custom die-cut windows in the traypak, foil stamping the album title on the cover, etc. Being able to go directly to our amazing fans and raise money WITHOUT having to pay out a huge chunk to a third party enabled us to focus on making the best product we possibly could without compromising due to budget constraints.

Enter the Haggis

Q: You guys have a fun offering for your fans right now, which is a chance to tour Ireland with the band in 2012. Tell us more about that.

We'll be doing a tour of Ireland from April 11th-19th, and we're offering fans the chance to fly over with us and ride on tour buses all over Southern Ireland. They'll see all the sights, have time to wander in beautiful Irish cities like Dublin and Galway and see us play a few shows.

We've done this a few times before - a few years back we paired up with another band (The Elders, from Kansas City) and brought over 200 people with us! It was pretty intense. Five busloads of fans descending like locusts onto unsuspecting Irish coastal towns - I think we made the price of Guinness spike worldwide that month.

Best of all, instead of opening for a local act in a dingy back-alley club, we can call venues and say "Hey, we're a band from Canada, on tour for a week in Ireland and we'd like to book a headline slot at your 250 capacity club on a Friday night. Oh, and we're bringing a hundred hard-partying Americans and Canadians with us." This in turn makes it a million times easier to get press attention, and any locals who happen to come to your shows are greeted by a hundred hardcores singing along with every word, which boosts their perception of your band... It's an absolute win-win.

OK, we’re going to end this interview with a few hard-hitting questions:

Q: Have you ever in fact entered a haggis?

You can't see my face in those photos. It's entirely possible someone else has the same tattoos as me. My lawyer suggests I don't answer this question in any more detail.

Q: Irish or Scotch Whiskey?

Irish. When I first joined this band as an 18 year old, it seemed like every gig we played turned into a Scotch tasting, which eventually became a Scotch gulping. It'll be a few more years before I want to dive back into those barrels.

Q: Guinness or Murphy’s?

Hmm... once you've had Guinness at the brewery in Dublin, it's a little sentimental - but I do honestly really love Murphy's. Beamish is great, too - really it's hard to go wrong with a legitimate Irish stout. If you've never tried Guinness' Extra Stout or Foreign Extra Stout, give them a shot - they're very different but very good. And high in alcohol content.

Q: And finally, when wearing a kilt, underwear or commando style?

I don't get to wear a kilt anymore - I sold it in the fundraiser! I'm not even joking. Up here in Canada I think the climate dictates the necessity of undercarriage insulation though.. it gets a little drafty.


Zooglers, have you run a fan-funding campaign through your own website? If so, tell us about your experience in the comments!

Posted by Dave Cool on 11/30/2011 | 8 comments
Melanie

Make a great music website background part 2: The Seamless Texture

In Part 1, I discussed creating the perfect background image, and now I'll go over making a seamless texture. A repeating texture will work great if you want your background to fill all screens and look the exact same. Your web pages will also load faster this way, since it only has to load one small square image over and over, rather than an entire background at once.

There are lots of places to find great (and free) background textures and tiles. I found this texture that I liked over at CG Textures, and opened it in Photoshop. Next, I chose the marquee tool and held down my shift key so I could select a perfect square of this wooden texture.

I cropped it by choosing Image - Crop and I can see that my image is now 400px wide by 400px tall by choosing Image - Image Size. Now to make it repeat seamlessly! Chose Filter - Other- Offset from the top menu, and then set the image to be offset by Horizontal: 200 pixels right, and Vertical: 200 pixels down (half of the image’s size). Make sure Wrap around is chosen, and click OK.

You can see my little square image has some visible lines or seams in it now, and we're going to remove those using the Clone Stamp Tool. This tool can take a bit of trial and error to get used to, but it's a very handy one. The clone tool basically overwrites an area of your image by sampling other areas. You can choose the area you'd like to sample from by holding your ALT key and clicking a spot. So for my paper seam, I held ALT and then clicked my mouse above the seam, and clicked and dragged down over the seam to paint over the edge. I did this all the way across, basically smoothing out the line with samples from other areas of my canvas.

Here is my finished image!

Now to upload it to my custom style, I click edit on the style in my Design and Options tab, and then add the wood square image to the Page section. You'll want to set the option to repeat: both.

Don’t have Photoshop but still want to make your own pattern? Try opening pixlr.com and create a document that is 400px wide by 400px tall. Then choose a color to fill your background with. I chose this off white color.

Next, choose the brush tool. To get a few interesting brushes, click MORE and then choose a set. I tried out these crushed paper ones, and set my color to be slightly darker than the off white. Then click the brush a few times over the canvas, making sure not to touch or overlap the edges, and then save your image to your computer as a jpg file.

Upload your image to the custom style editor now, and choose repeat:both.

If you find this a bit daunting but still want to try to use a repeating background, you can keep your eyes out for a pattern you like that already repeats. I found this interesting vintage wallpaper texture at Lost and Taken, and cropped a square out of it. Then I uploaded the square to my Custom style, and voila!



Here are my three different backgrounds in use!

Anyone out there using a seamless, repeating background? Let me know how you made it and what it looks like!

Posted by Melanie on 11/28/2011 | 1 comment
Dave Cool

Marketing Your Music: Rynda Laurel on Social Media, Visual Marketing & Philanthropy

Marketing Your Music: Rynda Laurel on Social Media, Visual Marketing & Philanthropy

Hello Zooglers! Welcome to a new series of blog posts where we will interview experts in music marketing to offer tangible advice for artists and bands. We’re kicking things off with an interview with Rynda Laurel:

Rynda

Rynda is a partner at 1968media which is focused on working with established music artists and iconic entertainers on a variety of content and marketing initiatives. She also consults for various startup and technology companies. You will often find her speaking at international conferences including Social Media Week, DigitalLA, Girls in Tech, Canadian Music Week, MaMA Music, East Coast Music, MIDEM and SXSW.

As part of her belief and passion for giving back, she founded CauseWeRock, is on the advisory board of Sweet Relief and has participated in philanthropic events such as DigitalLA Green, Fair Fund, Twestival, Live Earth and MusiCares MAPFund.

Q: With all of the free social media networks out there, is having your own website still important for artists today?

Yes without a doubt. That's like asking if we need the sun to survive. A dedicated website with your name as the url is crucial. It is the life force of your social media and digital universe. Let the platform of planets revolve around you not you around them. We once thought the earth was the center of the universe like Facebook does now - then we discovered that we revolved around the sun. Same thing. Really all planets (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, MySpace, etc..) should revolve around the sun. Wow did I just go there? I wonder what @astroengine would say about that!

Q: Once an artist is using social media, what should they be talking about?

If artists start thinking of using these tools as another creative outlet as opposed to a chore their parents (aka mangers) asked them to do then it should come naturally.

That said- there are many ways to express who they are as a person and as an artist. Although some fans want to know the intimate details of their morning shower, what they really want to know is what makes an artist tick. Is it other artists? pop culture? world news? movies? sports? nature? food? photography? science? clowns? Talk about it.

I'd also say that expression and connection can be made without words. The Twilight Singers, for example, post beautiful photographs, art and random music videos of artists of all genres intertwined with fan photos, personal photos, interviews, show dates and live videos. It is perfect for them – it expresses their artistic and musical tastes without saying a word literally -it is authentic to who they are.

I can guarantee every artist is a fan of another artist. Someone inspired them to play music - hopefully it was Led Zeppelin. If they asked themselves what they, as fans would want to know about their favorite artist through these tools and do that - then they are on the right track.

Q: “Direct-to-fan” is a big buzz phrase these days, is it a passing fad or here to stay?

A passing fad? If you mean like the 60's-gone but influencing every generation after? Then it's still no. Direct-to-fan is really nothing new there are just no middle-multi-million dollar salaried-men in between the artist and the fan anymore. The fans won't have it. The system has broken down. It's the "Summer of Love" for artists and fans.

Q: How focused should artists be today on interacting with their fans?

Here again if the artist starts thinking of these fans as part of their family and artistic community they will want to interact with them. Fans are the artists extended family-not always chosen but loved none the less. How could they not interact with them?

Q: What is branding and should artists pay attention to it?

They shouldn't. They should just make sure everything has the same "look and feel" across all of their "creative spaces" which includes their "album" art, website, social media platforms, press materials and merch. A good logo never hurt anyone either. Think about Foo Fighters - see the double F's? The Doors in block font? Basically an artist wants to be VISUALLY MEMORABLE - that is all branding is to me.

Some technical advice: Hexadecimal (Hex) codes- figure out what they are. Pick three and use them everywhere. Use the same font everywhere. Have a square logo and photo - all social media avatars are square.

Q: You’re quite the avid photographer, what advice would you give to artists about photos? Is a good band photo important for their promotion/marketing efforts?

Yes, I started taking live photos of bands many many years ago and realized I could make time stand still for just a fraction of a second. It is magic. I've shot band press shots before too - it is about using the tools (lighting, framing, processing/filters) to bring out the "essence" of who they are as artists.

Advice for artists? It is about expressing yourself in an artistic manner that shows in one shot who you are as an artist at that point in time. Be authentic and don't let a stylist tell you how to dress.

An Artist "press" photo is important in the over all "look and feel" so it should match your "visually memorable" goal.

Q: How much time initially do you think artists should be spending on marketing/promotion vs. rehearsals/creation, etc.?

Initially: As in an artist just starting out? First, practice, practice, practice. Write good songs with melodies and lyrics that will resonate with people. Practice some more. Write more songs. Practice. LOVE what you do. Write another song. Come up with a great band name if you need one. Practice. Record a few and see how everyone works under pressure, write more songs, practice, record some demos, practice, book some gigs, play around town, (maybe start an e-mail newsletter list around this time) make sure you like your bandmates - you will have to live with them in a dark smelly van - practice - write more songs - and by then if you still want to do it, practice some more, write another song, and if you still want to do it then... take a handful of those songs and put them in a format that people can hear while you are not there (like a CD or digital download) and then......

...Tackle "the look and feel" "visually memorable" non marketing marketing by getting your "press materials" together and building your website and THEN start sharing on social media. If the drummer hasn't quit by then he/she will probably do it.

Q: Most marketing & promotional talk these days is about online strategies and social media, but what offline strategies should artists also be focusing some attention on?

All strategy should probably focus on the live performances. PERIOD.(see why I suggested they practice?) That is essentially one of the main ways artists make money. It will be slow at first but I will tell you that I've seen plenty of multi-platinum artists who now sell out stadiums play their ass off for 10 people on a Tuesday night. All strategies should be about getting people to your shows – which goes back to online strategies and platforms that help you book gigs and sleep on people’s couches. (see: @betterthanthevan)

Q: Philanthropy is very important in your career, do you think it’s important for artists to give back through work with charitable organizations?

Philanthropy is important to me personally. I have been lucky enough to be in a career where I can use my relationships to facilitate opportunities and I am prou to be on the advisory board for @SweetRelief. It is important for an artist to be authentic- so if giving back is part of who they are as people then of course they should. There are many ways to give back and of course different levels. (FYI Artists - check out @downtime)

Q: When an artist supports a cause, is there a danger of being pigeon-holed? Can you possibly support a cause too much?

If an artist is passionate about a cause then they can do as much as they want for a cause – the only “pigeon-hole” danger is when it comes to politics and/or issues that are considered “moral” issues. Again, if an artist feels strongly about it then more power to them – for example artists like Steve Earle & Tom Morello are known for their activism and it suites them.

Q: Bonus question: I read somewhere that you’ve met Elmo?! Please explain the context of that, and also, please tell us if he’s as tempting to tickle as he appears to be.

HA! Yes, I spent 8 years at Sony Wonder, the children’s division of Sony. There I worked on multiple Sesame Street projects including they 35th anniversary box set. He is quite ticklish. An even better story is when I told David Bowie – jokingly of course- that we wanted him to dress up as Big Bird and go on tour with Elmo. Luckily he got my humor and laughed along. True story.


For more about Rynda Laurel, visit her website: www.rynda.me or follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/rynda

Posted by Dave Cool on 11/25/2011 | 0 comments
David Dufresne

Happy Thanksgiving... and thanks !

Hey there Bandzooglers,

Just a quick note to wish a happy and merry Thanksgiving Holiday to all of our American members. And a happy Rest of the Week to everyone else (!) including the Canadian members of our support staff who, having celebrated Thanksgiving more than a month ago, will be on hand if you feel like using the days off to work on your site and need any help.

Still... you should expect reduced live chat hours, and slightly longer delays in replying to support e-mails, as many of us will be distracted by turkey, family and football watching.

There are so many things that we are thankful for here at Bandzoogle, and all of those are made possible by your continued trust and support. We will (finally) have many exciting things to announce very soon and a lot of work ahead. But we're happy to take a moment and realize how lucky we all are to be doing work we love, building tools that help you Bandzooglers do what you love. This makes life a lot more fun for everyone, and much better sounding, thank you.

To finish, let me share an older-than-me song I really love, from rock/funk guitarist Eugene Blacknell, aptly titled "I'm So Thankful":

Happy Thanksgiving !

David Dufresne
CEO, Bandzoogle

Posted by David Dufresne on 11/23/2011 | 3 comments
Dave Cool

How to Promote a Show: Don’t Rely on Anyone Else

Chris

This guest post is by Chris “Seth” Jackson, a bass guitarist and composer in pursuit of fulfilling his life’s dream of being a self-sufficient musician. He blogs his progress over at Howtorunaband.com to share the ups and downs of his adventure and to share techniques that all artists can use to achieve success. This is a great post about taking personal responsibility for the promotion of your live shows. Enjoy!

How to Promote a Show: Don’t Rely on Anyone Else

After having a poorly attended show, it’s easy to point the fingers at everyone else. The bottom line: the turn-out is entirely your responsibility.

When trying to promote your show, you would expect there to be a team of people to help out: the club, the booker, the other bands, and the promoter. And, yes, they sometimes do help out. However, more times than not, that level of support just isn’t there.

“How about the other bands on the bill? Can’t we get them to help flier and promote?”

Sadly, no. You can’t rely on other bands to promote the show. However, you can rely on them to make outrageous demands at the show, despite having done no promotional work whatsoever.

The bands that actually do help out, you want to work with them forever. Treat them like gold, pitch their shows, and always keep in contact with them. Those are the contacts you need in this industry.

Also, what if the other bands are from out-of-town? They can’t physically promote at all in your city. They rely on YOU. If the band is new, they may not know how to promote. Again, they need to see how you do it!

“How about the booker and the club? Aren’t they supposed to promote this?”

No. The booker has done her job by booking the show. She, now, has to book the other four months worth of shows, all the while dealing with cancellations and flakey bands.

The club itself is usually in the business of selling alcohol and trying desperately to keep its doors open. Most clubs I’ve seen at least run ads in the local papers. That’s about all you’re getting with the club dealing with shows just about every night of the year.

“Well, the promoter for this show is going to promote this, right?”

No. The promoter does drugs and steals your money from the door. So far, all the people I’ve seen that have the title “promoter” are the least capable of promoting. Not to say good promoters don’t exist; just don’t bet on it and protect your ass.

Rely on Yourself

In this biz, you are the only one you can rely on. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t build a team. As your band grows, you will need to bring in others to help you out. However, this doesn’t mean trusting them implicitly. In the software testing field, we have a saying: “Trust, but Verify.”

Just because you have an entertainment lawyer doesn’t absolve you of double checking what the lawyer has written up for you. Just because you have an accountant doesn’t mean that accountant is handling your money correctly. Having a manager doesn’t mean your career is being handled appropriately.

And with promoting a show, you need to verify that those also “helping” promote are doing their job. For this very reason, starting your show promotion as early as possible will help you identify the slackers or the scammers.

If you do rely on someone else to help out your band, make sure to have a backup plan. Just like bringing an extra guitar and drum sticks to your gig, you should have a backup plan in case someone falls through. And in the music biz, people fall through a lot. Though this post sounds a bit negative, I’m only trying to make you aware of the reality of the situation. Sometimes you have great shows where everyone promotes, and you don’t have to worry about all the other people. Then, you have shows where you can’t even rely on your own bandmates to help with anything.

That’s just how the biz goes. If you plan for the worst, you will be prepared against most surprises. Your show will still get promoted, even if it’s only you.

The alternative when relying on everyone else? No promotion occurs, and you have zero people at your show.


You can check out Chris “Seth” Jackson’s blog over at Howtorunaband.com, or follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/howtorunaband

Posted by Dave Cool on 11/18/2011 | 22 comments
Stacey

How to edit videos for your website without fancy software (for free!)

Getting live video of your band can be very helpful in improving your live show. But I don't know how many times I have been filming a live show for a friend when I accidentally turned the video sideways to get more vertical space. Instead of cutting off the light show, I now have a video that requires serious editing or software I don't have in order for the video to be usable on my website. Thankfully, YouTube just released some great new features that will allow you to edit a video right in your web browser window! This means after you upload a video to YouTube, you can edit it right in Internet Explorer (or FireFox, or Safari if you prefer.)

Some of these new editing options include stabilization, rotation, adjustments to the start and end points, or even contrast and temperature controls. So if you were trying to shoot in a dark pub and the lighting was not optimal, you can set a higher contrast for better visibility. Stabilization is great for those of us equipped with shaky hands and no tripod. There is even a creative setting that allows you to add a colour filter to your video. This may be another way to use cohesive colours to blend your website design and page features. This is a really great tool used in combination with our YouTube feature, which allows you to add your live shows, jam sessions, vlogs, or video music lessons right to your Bandzoogle website!

Starting from square one? Follow the 4 step guide below and showcase your tunes in motion today!

Step 1: Create your video
Here is an interesting post I found from eHow that has great advice on recording audio for live shows
 
Step 2: Upload your video to YouTube
Here is a how to video guide on uploading videos to YouTube
 
Step 3: Edit your video in your browser
Click here to see the promotional video on these great new editing features.
 
Step 4: Add your video to your Bandzoogle website
Click here to read the how to article on adding videos to your website.



Share any Youtube videos you have edited with us! We'd also love to hear about your creative video ideas for your Bandzoogle website.
Posted by Stacey on 11/14/2011 | 8 comments
David Dufresne

Musician Website Quick Fix #3: Focus on one Call-to-Action

One easy thing you can do to improve your website is to focus your home page design on one main call-to-action. A call-to-action is designed to direct people's attention to something specific that you want them to do when they get to your website. This is the website equivalent of the over-friendly store clerk that welcomes you and says "hey there ! did you know we have a 2 for 1 sale on men's underwear" and then gently leads you towards the boxers display.

Take a few seconds and go to www.bandzoogle.com and look at our home page. What do you think our main call-to-action is ?

That's right... "Try It Free" (as in... "Dear Musician, please sign up for a Bandzoogle account now"). We have it big, and green, and we have that call-to-action 2 more times on the homepage above the fold (meaning you don't have to scroll down to see it), and one more time at the bottom, just to make sure no one missed it. Go to our Features Pages (www.bandzoogle.com/features) and you'll see it there too, in the details for each of our features... (And, hey, wow, we do have a lot of features, don't we ? Tell your friends !

What do you really want people to do while visiting your website?

That's your decision to make, and it depends what your goals are, right now. It could be to get folks to join your mailing list, buy your latest album, listen to your latest track, or donate to your fan-funding campaign. If you assume they'll spend exactly 30 seconds on your site, where do you want them to spend those precious seconds ?

In the early stages of acquiring fans, collecting email addresses to build up your mailing list would be a good goal to have. For a more established artist with a solid and loyal fan base, directing people to purchase music and merch through your online store might be the way to go. If you're raising money to fund your new album, you can direct people to your fan-funding campaign. If you're packing your bags for a big tour, you want to make sure visitors see your calendar.

Where should you put your call-to-action?

Your main call-to-action should be clearly visible on your website. The most important place to have it is right on your homepage, preferably towards the top of the page so that visitors to your site can see it right away without having to scroll down (remember the Bandzoogle.com example). You can also place your call-to-action on other important pages on your website like your Bio, Music, or Contact sections, or simply have it as a constant on all of your website pages. You should also keep that call-to-action in mind when updating your Twitter or Facebook accounts.

Bonus tip: Building your mailing list? Offer an incentive.

If you decide that your call-to-action will be to encourage visitors to sign-up to your mailing list, try to offer some kind of incentive. A free MP3, a free live EP, a "mixtape" download, exclusive content (videos, never released tracks, etc.). People's inboxes are already flooded with emails, it doesn't hurt to offer a little extra incentive to entice people to give you their email permission. After all, it's still the most effective marketing tool for musicians. So try to do whatever you can to sweeten the deal to get those email addresses.

Examples of Calls-to-Action

Here are a few good bandzooglin' examples of calls-to-action:

Laura Marie (email address for free exclusive music + chance for appreciation video):

Laura Marie Call-to-Action

5th Projekt (email address for free exclusive song):

5th Projekt Call-to-Action

Rob Lutes (new album now available):

Rob Lutes Call-to-Action

Delaney Gibson (Pledge Music fan-funding campaign):

Delaney Gibson Call-to-Action


Previous Website Quick Fix posts:

Musician Website Quick Fix #2: Lose the Intro Page

Musician Website Quick Fix #1: Turn off auto-start music

Posted by David Dufresne on 11/11/2011 | 2 comments
Dave Cool

Advice for Touring Musicians: NYCAS On How NOT To Travel

Advice for Touring Musicians: NYCAS On How NOT To Travel

NYCAS

This is a guest post from Christina Morelli, Founder of NYC Art Scene, an artist resource and promotional site for the independent music and arts community. In this post, Christina offers musicians some tangible advice for travelling in Europe. Enjoy!

Well the first major leg of my tour has come to an end, covering 7 cities in 13 days and somehow living to talk about it! It was quite an experience, from spending time behind the scenes of an extensive European tour with Nick Howard to covering ground in Amsterdam and Paris with little guidance and contacts. Here’s a little recap of the most important lessons I learned when it comes to traveling in Europe… I like to think of it as “I made the mistakes so you don’t have to.” Read and learn...

1. There’s no such thing as a cheap flight.

Most people who have traveled throughout the EU (European Union) have heard of the notoriously discounted airline, Ryan Air. While, yes, the initial flight prices themselves are rather cheap, there are tons of hidden costs to beware of. Checked baggage will cost anywhere from $25- $40 each way! Plus once you throw in taxes and additional service fees your $40 flight is suddenly $120. Trains are a great way to travel if you book far enough in advance… they are clean, efficient, and do not charge extra for baggage (or instruments/equipment). I had a great experience on the NS HiSpeed from Amsterdam to Paris and the Eurostar from Paris back to London. ALSO. Make sure to check WHERE your flights take off and land. That great deal does not work out so “great” when you realize you are an hour from the departure airport and the destination airport, which is what happened to me on my first trip to Germany. Once you tack on time and money for additional transportation to get to and from these cities, you might as well have opted for the more expensive but completely direct flight.

2. Book in advance as much as you can.

I waited until I got here to book the majority of my transportation arrangements, and I paid for it. You can get some great deals on lines like Eurostar, EasyJet and even major airlines if you plan it out. Also, I would suggest a round trip ticket with trains or cars in between cities when possible. For example, Nick started and ended his tour in Berlin, so most of the band paid for a round trip ticket and traveled through the rest of the countries by van. Plan out your tour to come full circle… you’ll save money, time and probably get to see more of the countries you are visiting.

3. Hotels are expensive in Europe.

No kidding, you’re probably thinking. But seriously. If you are traveling with a band, definitely book rooms for groups. You can get multiple bed rooms without having to stay in a hostel, many with breakfast included. I stayed in single rooms in almost every city and the cost really added up. Other options: staying with friends and/or relatives of friends in nearby cities (although then you have to account for transportation) or trying a website like AirBnB. AirBnB is a budget website for travelers looking for rooms to stay in cities all over the world, or hosts with a room to spare. You’re able to see reviews from previous guests, message with your potential host beforehand, avoid uncomfortable hostel dorm-style rooms with strangers, and save a few bucks in comparison to most of the city hotels. Make sure you map out WHERE your potential room is though… my first weekend in London I booked a place that was a great rate but 3 tube station changes into central London. I probably made up the difference in money I saved on train tickets. **NOTE: If you are a touring artist and you have a van, you need to make sure there is private and secure parking available at your hotel. Not every hotel can accommodate large vehicles.

4. Repeat after me: You are a tourist.

I have been stopped multiple times at Customs because of the date on my return ticket. Every single Customs officer has grilled me on my work, how much money I have saved to be able to afford this, and what my purpose in London is, and as a result I have learned that I do not respond well under intense interrogation. You either need to come prepared with a bank statement showing you have the funds to travel, or say you are visiting relatives for vacation and have a realistic address to put on the info card. Or be ready to cry. Musicians, you have to be particularly weary about this. I’ll get into details in later posts, but for one you should plan to ship out any merchandise beforehand to a local address so you don’t have to deal with claiming anything.

5. Travel LIGHT.

The bag I toured with for 14 days weighed 22 kilos at check in. That’s 48.5 pounds. And that was with me leaving a small carry-on at a friend’s house in London, and NOT including my shoulder bag with my laptop and camera. Completely unacceptable. My body, the bag, and every staircase in Europe, paid for it. You do not need as much as you think. Trust me.

Looking back most of this seems like common sense, but you’d be surprise how much of that goes out the window when you are planning and juggling multiple things at once. The bottom line is if you want to be a touring musician you need to be organized, efficient, and completely prepared for multiple scenarios. Or have a seriously kick ass tour manager. Either way, it’s hard work that will pay off if done properly.


Zooglers: Do you have any travel tips from your experiences on the road? Let us know in the comments!

Posted by Dave Cool on 11/09/2011 | 4 comments
Melanie

Behind the Scenes – Make a great background for your website!

There is an art to creating the perfect background image – something that matches your website, your musical style, and that is eye-catching, but doesn’t stand out so much that it takes away from focusing your visitors on the content of your web pages.

In this post I’m going to show you how to make a background image for your website that will appear full screen on most screen sizes.

The Big Picture

The first step is finding an image that you want to use for your background.  If you decide to go with a large image, perhaps your most recent CD cover, or other artwork, the next step is to make it fit so that it looks good on all screens.

In an image editor like pixlr.com, choose "open an image from your computer", and upload the image you’d like to use for your background. I chose this guitar on a brick wall image (after I gave it a run through Pixlr-O-Matic to add some fun effects):

Keeping in mind that some people will have higher resolution monitors though, I am going to make it work for them, too.  Here are a few of the tools I’ll be referring to in this post.

First, we will open the image in the pixlr.com image editor (choose open photo editor and then open image from computer, to find your file), and set it to be 1280px wide.  To do this choose Image – Image size from the menu at the top of the page, and adjust the toggle.  This will reduce our image to a good size to appear on most screens (it’ll be just about full screen for my monitor).

Now to take care of the wider screens!  Choose Image - Canvas size from the top menu to increase the canvas – a blank area to the left, right, and bottom of your image.  I increased the overall size to 1600px wide and 1200px tall.

You should see bars of white around your image.  I decided to fill these in with a navy color.  I chose Navy in the color palette at the bottom left. Next, I picked the marquee tool and selected the white areas with the marquee tool's box.  Using the paint bucket, I filled them in with a navy color.

This doesn’t look too bad now!  You can take it one step further if you like, and make your image fade at the sides.  To do this takes a bit of trial and error, but it can be worth the effort.  First, use your marquee tool to draw a rectangle down across your image at the edges, making it about half background color and half image. Then choose the Gradient tool, and click “Gradient” near the top menu. Choose the third gradient option in, which fades from a color to being transparent. 


To match your background, click the little squares on each side of the gradient and then the color box to choose your color.  I made both sides of the gradient squares the same navy.  As soon as you click the color box, the eye dropper will appear and you can sample your navy color by clicking the eye dropper over your navy background bars.

Now in your selected box, draw your gradient across, stopping just before the edge.
 

I did this a few times, not drawing it quite all the way across, until my edges looked nicely faded.  Repeat on the other side, and the bottom, then save to your computer by clicking File - Save.

Now to see how it looks in our custom style!  In your Design and Options tab, upload it to your custom style in the Page section.

Here is how our background will look on different screens:


I hope this inspires you to make your own background!  Leave a link to your website in the comments; I'd love to see some of your creations. Next time, I'll show you how to make a background using a repeating, seamless texture.

Posted by Melanie on 11/07/2011 | 7 comments
Dave Cool

Bandzoogle Member Spotlight: Jenn Mierau

Jenn Mierau Album Cover

Bandzoogle Member Spotlight: Jenn Mierau

Bandzoogle Member since: 2010

Genre: Electro-Acoustic / Pop

From: Montreal, Canada

Website: www.songsofjenn.com

Jenn’s favourite Bandzoogle Feature: “The content manager – which is a big surprise for me. Because I’ve done some work with websites, I normally despise having to work with content managers. They usually assume you’re stupid and try to help you in ways that only make things more difficult for someone who has some knowledge of coding. But Bandzoogle’s content manager is a great middle ground of giving me control over various aspects, including some code, while making things very easy to put together.”

Jenn Mierau Headshot

It might be because of her years of classical piano solitude, or maybe because she likes to do things the hard way, but whatever the reason, Montreal’s jenn mierau chose to embark on the long and winding road of self-producing and recording.

Having learned much from working with other producers, jenn felt the need to follow her own vision and see where it led her. Now, emerging from her cocoon of self-production, the years of going it alone have paid off in a gorgeous way. With nods to Lykke Li and Imogen Heap, the result is an icy, versatile, electronic-influenced pop album “HUSH” that highlights jenn’s songwriting and production skills, as well as her sweetly sexy voice.

And jenn’s hard work has not gone unnoticed. Her song HUM was the AmazonMP3.com Free Song of the Day, and the Hollis P Monroe remix of the song was later released on the UK label, Defected Records.

Q: What artists/bands are some of your influences?

Imogen Heap, Arovane, Kid Beyond, Prefuse 73, 90’s hip hop in general, Philip Glass, Portishead, PJ Harvey, Judy Garland...

Q: How do you come up with the sounds and beats for your music?

As an example, I’ll explain my process for the song, Told You. The impetus for the song came from a warbled Dictaphone recording of me playing a different song on Wurlitzer – I happened to play it back at the wrong speed one day, liked the way it sounded and recorded it. Then, on a train trip from Montreal to Toronto, I was working on melody and lyrics for the song and recorded myself singing (very quietly) into the mic on my laptop. I never used the vocals from those recordings, but I did use the sounds from the train: the wheels, the whistle, the bottles clanging against each other in the trolley that goes by. I also recorded some other sounds from the Dictaphone: the sound of scanning through radio stations and the sound of the Dictaphone rewinding. I love using found sound samples that I record myself. They usually come from fairly random and serendipitous sources.

What I usually do when making beats is to go through my samples (which include some actual recordings of drums) as well as the Apple Loops in Logic. Sometimes there’s an Apple Loop that is close to what I want, so I’ll edit it to be timed better and adjust the pattern of it to exactly how I want it to be. I always overlay several different sounds for each element of a beat (kick drum, snare, high hat). I think the most I’ve layered was six different kicks to make one particular kick sound.

Q: How do you approach songwriting? Do you write lyrics first, or come up with beats/sounds and then add lyrics after?

I have no particular process. Sometimes a song comes from playing around on the Wurlitzer and coming up with a chord progression I like. Sometimes it comes while talking a walk and a melody comes to mind. Sometimes it comes from sitting down and writing lyrics. Sometimes it comes from a sound I’ve recorded or come across. I try to not analyze or intellectualize it too much… my best work happens when I just let ideas come and experiment with them.

Q: Your album cover is a 14,400 stitch rug-hooking self-portrait. How did you come up with the idea?

Two years ago, I decided that all my album artwork would be “analog,” to counter all my hours spent in front of a computer. So I’ve done knitting, string art, paper clip art and a kind of macaroni art. The idea for this cover came to me as an epiphany in an intimate moment while mastering the album with Ryan Morey at Ryebread Mastering. I had taken a bathroom break (TMI, I know, but I want to clarify that I was peeing!), and as I sat down, I saw, hanging on the wall across from me, an intricate rughooking of a landscape: fields, trees, clouds, a path, a barn. I was taken by the way light and shadow could be depicted using pieces of yarn as pixels... and I knew I had to rughook my album cover! Little did I know the gargantuan project I had committed myself to: several months of sitting on my couch surrounded by bits of yarn! I made the process longer because I decided to shoot a timelapse video of the rug being made, which meant stopping every 100 stitches or so to take a photo. I often felt crazy to have taken it on – especially when I was wearing wrist braces to deal with the tendinitis that was starting to flare up!!! – but in the end, I’m really glad I did it and I love how it looks!

Timelapse video for rug-hooking of HUSH album cover:

Q: What’s one of your favorite career highlights so far?

Most recently, it has been the first review that mentioned my production skills specifically. Even though I record and produce myself, I hesitate to call myself a producer. I’m fairly confident in my song-writing skills, but for producing, I feel like I don’t really know what I’m doing and am just figuring it out as I go along. So it was very gratifying to have people, aside from my parents and husband, specifically mention that they liked what I produced.

Q: What’s your biggest challenge as an artist?

DIAY...Doing it all yourself! Especially being a solo indie artist. I have no band members with whom I can share the work. There’s no one else to invite people to shows, nor to do booking. No one else to help keep all the social media profiles updated. No one else to research places to send the CD. No one else to meet other bands. No one else to keep the motivation going. And because I also record and produce myself, it adds a whole other level of DIAY work! I’m not complaining, but frankly, it can get a bit overwhelming at times.

Q: What’s next for you? Touring? More videos? Another rughooking project?

Shows, videos, collaborations and yes, more rughooking! I’m doing out of town shows in Ontario from mid to end of November (Ottawa, Kingston, St. Catherines, Hamilton) and am planning a more “formal” tour for the spring. Other videos are in production: one for Told You, Hush and Shine, and maybe one for Lovesong. There are also numerous collaborations in the works with various artists. I really love co-writing with other people, as well as giving others free rein to remix my songs. This year, I was involved in six releases with other artists and want to keep that going in 2012. And finally, I am, in fact, back to doing more rughooking, now that the wrists are healthy again. I’ve started making mini rugs that I frame and sell at shows.

Jenn Mierau mini rug-hook
Posted by Dave Cool on 11/04/2011 | 3 comments