Dave Cool

Register for the Berkleemusic Website Demolition Derby!

Next week Bandzoogle is headed to the Boston, where our CEO David Dufresne and Director of Artist Relations Dave Cool will be on hand to review musician websites as part of our signature “Website Demolition Derby” workshops. The first is a free online workshop through Berkleemusic.

Here are the details:

Berkleemusic Open House Series Presents:
Website Demolition Derby
Tuesday, December 04 @ 4:00pm ET

Instructor Mike King welcomes Bandzoogle's David Dufresne and Dave Cool to Berkleemusic's studio for a one-of-a-kind music business clinic. Watch these two web experts totally destroy musician websites--live--to make them indestructible!

Here's the plan:

Inspect: Design, organization, content, and functionality of a website will be assessed.
Deconstruct: Reviews will be ruthless and diplomacy will be left aside.
Upgrade: Learn about website best practices and how to avoid bad design, flash widgets, and unreadable fonts.

We'll be looking for website submissions from the audience, so bring your URL and your own site could be demolished live!

This is a FREE online event, open to all.

REGISTER HERE=> https://www.berkleemusic.com/openhouse-signup/?pid=4797

Already a Berklee student?

We’re doing another Website Demolition Derby at the Berklee College of Music, but this one is only open to current students (it’s for the Berklee College of Music school, not Berkleemusic online). Here are the details:

Website Demolition Derby (Presented by the Career Development Center)
Monday, December 3 @ 5:30pm - 7:00pm ET
@ The Loft
(enter through 921 Boylston to the 3rd floor)

To be considered for the live critique, please email your websites (open to all student performers, composers, businesses, engineers, etc) to: cdc@berklee.edu

Posted by Dave Cool on 11/29/2012 | 0 comments
Dave Cool

Musician Website Quick Fix #11: Give it a Great ABOUT Page!

If reality television, blogging, and social networking has taught us anything, it’s that fans want to know more about the real you. An About page can be a huge source of traffic for your website.

Think about the people who are visiting your website. Maybe your band opened for another band and their fans want to see what you're about. Maybe a journalist or blogger needs material in order to review your show, or your new album.

They're interested in finding out more - it's up to you to give them a great first impression! A good About page gives context to your music, and that enables the listener to better appreciate it.

So what should you include on your About page?

Back to Basics: The 5 W's. Who, what, when, where, why and how. Keep these in mind as you write out a bio for yourself. Tell a story that you’d be interested in reading. Imagine you’re describing yourself to a stranger. You might give them some kind of reference to relate to such as a familiar genre, band, or style of music that they can identify with. But you wouldn't go into every itty bitty detail of your history. Same thing here. Keep it short, sweet, and relevant.

Make sure to mention your name. Consider writing your About page in the third person, just like you'd introduce yourself at a live show. It might seem a bit impersonal not to use "I" when talking about yourself, but using your name will give your bio text a professional edge. It will also help your website rank for keyword searches in Google done on your name (or your band name). It also allows journalists, bloggers, show promoters, etc. to indulge in a bit of copying and pasting when they want to talk about you.

Your accomplishments. This is the time to brag about yourself! Write out all of the interesting things you have done. Use a great quote from the press, list places you have played, or bands you've played with. This could be in paragraph form or even as a list. Once you have written everything out, trim it down to the most relevant and most attention-grabbing information.

The story. What sets you apart from everyone else? What makes you different and special? In other words, what is your story? Give your fans a reason to go to your next show, buy your CD, or join your mailing list.

Make it Personal. Include a photo of yourself or your band on your About Page. Putting a face to your words will give your page a personal touch as well as making it more visually appealing.

Keep it current. Revisit your About page every few months and update it accordingly with your latest and greatest musical activities.

And...Action! Now that they know all about you, make it easy for your visitors to contact you and buy your music, by including some kind of action. You can include a contact form, a link to your store or album feature, or even just your email address.

Last but not least. Read your About page out loud to make sure it flows nicely. Double-check your spelling and grammar, and then have someone else check it as well.

Check out some of these great About Pages as examples:

Previous Website Quick Fix posts:
Musician Website Quick Fix #10: Embed Video
Musician Website Quick Fix #9: Add a Digital Press Kit
Musician Website Quick Fix #8: Use a Contact Form
Musician Website Quick Fix #7: Add Social Links
Musician Website Quick Fix #6: Host Your Own Blog
Musician Website Quick Fix #5: Add a Mailing List Sign-Up
Musician Website Quick Fix #4: Make it easy to listen to your music
Musician Website Quick Fix #3: Focus on one Call-to-Action
Musician Website Quick Fix #2: Lose the Intro Page
Musician Website Quick Fix #1: Turn off auto-start music

Posted by Dave Cool on 11/27/2012 | 4 comments
Dave Cool

Band Website Love: 4R Jazz

Who: 4R Jazz
What: Jazz Quartet
Where: Pittsburgh, PA
Why their website rocks: 4R Jazz’s website is a great example of a simple website that jazz bands, string quartets, or any kind of cover band can use to help them get booked. Their Homepage features a nice description of the band, a list of the types of events they play, and also has a call-to-action to book the band. They have an Audio section with song samples as well as a list of jazz standards in their repertoire, and a Videos section so potential clients can see the band in action. The only thing we don’t love is that their keyboard player’s full-time job is to build robots. We’ve picked up a copy of this book, just in case.

Check out their site at: www.4rjazz.com

Posted by Dave Cool on 11/23/2012 | 4 comments
Dave Cool

Musicians: Are You leaving Money on the Table?

Bandzoogle recently attended the TAXI Road Rally, an annual conference exclusively for TAXI members (and free with membership). I was invited to speak on a panel called “Are You Leaving Money on the Table?” along with Tony vanVeen (CEO of AVL, parent company of Disc Makers/CD Baby), Lauren Danzy (Marketing Manager, SoundExchange) and Gooding (Indie Artist/Songwriter).

Moderated by the Founder of TAXI, Michael Laskow, the panel took place in the Grand Ballroom of the hotel in front of over 500 musicians. And although it was only an hour long, a lot of helpful information was shared. Here are some of the highlights:

SoundExchange Has Money for You

SoundExchange is a non-profit performance rights organization that collects statutory royalties from satellite radio (such as SIRIUS XM), Internet radio (like Pandora), cable TV music channels and similar platforms for streaming sound recordings.

So if you’ve released music digitally (which is probably all of you), chances are, SoundExchange has money for you. Please register with them now: http://www.soundexchange.com/performer-owner/performer-srco-home/

I know this sounds like, “Free Money!”, but this is one of those very rare cases where it’s actually true. The artist on the panel, Gooding, told a story of being approached at a conference by an employee of SoundExchange who was sure they had money waiting for him. So he signed up, and lo and behold, he had a payment of several thousand dollars waiting for him. Not too shabby. Sign up now.

Get Those Email Addresses

Moderator Michael Laskow asked me, “What is the most important thing you want to see on the Homepage of an artist’s website?” My answer: A mailing list sign-up.

I must have sounded like a broken record at the TAXI Road Rally. Besides speaking on this panel, I also gave 3 workshops at the conference, and each time I made sure to talk about the importance of collecting emails. Why? Email is still the best way to keep in touch with your fans over the long term. People rarely change email addresses, and are much more likely to see your email than a Facebook update or a Tweet. Email newsletters are also still the best way to convert fans to paying customers. As noted artist manager Emily White has said, an email list “is an artist’s retirement plan”.

So if you don’t have a mailing list sign-up on your website, please read our blog post Musician Website Quick Fix #5: Add a Mailing List Sign-Up.

Offer Lots Of Merch Options

The artist on the panel, Gooding, was described as a “one-man marketing machine”, and I found out why. He is easily one of the most impressive artists I’ve come across. I once wrote a blog post called “5 Common Characteristics of Full-Time Musicians”, and he’s a shining example of what I was talking about.

One point that Gooding made during the panel was to be sure to offer different merch options for your fans. Some fans may only want pins, some will want a CD, others a shirt, and super fans will want everything you have available, including a plush toy. Plush toy? Yes, Gooding has those. Check out his merch options here.

CDs Are Not Dead

If you pay attention to tech-geeks and music industry futurists, you might think that CDs died several years ago. The reality on the ground for musicians in many genres is very different.

I told the story of a band I was working with here in Montreal called Irreverend James and the Critical Mass Choir. They had the opportunity to play 4 showcases at the Montreal International Jazz Festival this past summer, one of the largest festivals in the world. Each band playing the festival is able to leave items to sell at the festival’s merch tent. Irreverend James had released an EP on vinyl and digital download card (but not on CD), so we left stacks of each to be sold at the festival.

Their showcases at the festival went incredibly well and generated a lot of buzz, so we expected to have sold a fair amount of merch as a result. At the end of the festival when I went to settle up and pick up any remaining merch, the salesperson told me, “We had lots of people asking about your band everyday, but they wanted to buy a CD, not a vinyl, and definitely not a download card. You would’ve sold hundreds of CDs if you had some.” Lesson learned.

CDs can be the perfect $10 item that people can take away as a souvenir from a show, and can also be easily signed by the artist. You don’t have to press 1000 CDs and have boxes piled up in your closet, but short runs of 100-200 units are a good idea, especially if you’re touring.

Never Leave Your Fans Hanging

Gooding brought up a great point about fan interaction, which is to never leave your fans hanging. If they email you, email back. If they leave a comment on Facebook, respond, or at least “Like” it. If they reply or ask a question on Twitter, respond back.

And never hide backstage after a show. The days of being a reclusive rock star are over. You need to be at the merch table after the show talking to every fan there. It will strengthen your relationship with them, and at the end of the day, it will lead to more sales.

That crazy picture of a cat hanging from a rope is actually from a slide in a presentation I gave called “Hub & Spokes: The Key to Gaining More Fans & Making More Money Online”, in which I talked about this very concept. As an artist, part of your job is to interact with your fans and create a stronger connection with them. Fans now have access to an unlimited amount of music, so if you leave them hanging, chances are, they can easily find an artist that won’t.

Last But Not Least: You Need Great Music

Tony vanVeen brought up this point to start the panel, and everyone agreed: to generate income for your career, you need great music. Without great music, all the marketing tips/tricks/secrets in the world won’t help build a sustainable career, but a consistent output of great music will at least give you a chance.

Whenever I give a presentation to musicians, I inevitably end with this quote, which is how I’ll end this blog post:

"Focus on the music and the show, the rest is secondary." - Bob Lefsetz

Did you guys know about SoundExchange? Do you have any success stories? Are CDs still relevant as merch items for you? Let us know in the comments.

Posted by Dave Cool on 11/22/2012 | 4 comments

Branch Out with your Music

Making a living in music has always been a challenge, but with digital music being so readily available it's important for you as a musician, artist, or band to branch out with your music. It's not enough to just press up some CD's and throw some tracks on your website and expect to make a decent living. Working as a musician means just that, working! It means getting up every day and hustling to find new ways to make money with your music. Several books have been written on the topic of 'Multiple streams of income' but for this illustration let's use a tree. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept I'll explain it here.

Picture a big tree. The tree has many branches, but since it's been sitting so long without care, it needs to be pruned. Every time you prune a branch, that allows it to flourish with leaves creating a full beautiful tree. Now think of this in terms of your music career. Each branch represents a way to make money through music. It's your job to climb the tree and remove any dead branches, sap, ants, bugs, etc. (obstacles) to allow the leaves (money) to grow on the Tree of Goodness. It's not easy but the benefits are worth it!

The roots of the tree are things like setting up your brand, your image, the foundation of who you are as a musician or band. The trunk is the gathering of fans and music contacts which is what supports all the branches. This is where networking and nurturing your fans is very important. The obvious money making branches are CD and download sales, merch sales and gigs. If you aren't already doing those things - start there first.  From there you can have as many branches as your tree can hold, and believe me the sky's the limit. The Future of Music Coalition even did a research study on this topic and found 42 different streams (or branches) to boost your income in music . Here's a breakdown of the list: 42 Ways to Make Money as an Artist

 Although their list is more extensive, here is a shorter list of a few popular money making ideas for musicians:
  • Consider licensing your music for tv and movies.
    • Taxi and musicxray are great services for those trying to break into this arena. Their membership allows you to submit your music for various opportunities you may have otherwise not been afforded.
  • Go Local
    • Watch your local tv station for commercials and shows. Write intro music for shows that air weekly and jingles for commercials showcasing local businesses.
    • Even local businesses without commercials may want a jingle for radio spots or their website.
  • Compilation albums and gigs
    • Partner up with other local bands in your genre and combine your efforts for a compilation album. If you don't already know the other players in your area you can use a website like ReverbNation to look up the popularity charts for your city.
    • Similarly, put together local concerts with other bands for a showcase of 'Rock' or 'R&B' or 'Country', or whatever your genre. Fans get to enjoy an afternoon or evening of their favorite music while you get new fans from the other bands performing.
  • Music, music, everywhere music!
    • Thousands of videos are being added to the internet every day....many of them need music.
    • Photographers need music for their websites (especially uplifting music.)
    • Videographers need music for their client videos.
  • Songwriters
    • Solo artists who don't write are always looking for new music.
    • Couples may be looking for unique ways to enhance their engagement, wedding or anniversary. Offer custom love songs on your website.
    • Same thing for new parents. Having a custom 'birth'day song for their newborn would be a keepsake to remember.
  • Seminars/Workshops/Lessons
    • If you are skilled at setting up studio equipment, mixing, engineering, or mastering hold a seminar or workshop for others interested in learning.
    • If you are a natural at singing or an instrument, consider teaching others as well.
  • Auditions
    • Try auditioning to be a background singer
    • Break into show business by auditioning for plays and television musicals
There are so many ways to use your talents to make money, it's up to you to discover what works best for you or your band!

What are some ways that have worked for you or others you know?

Posted by Allison on 11/20/2012 | 7 comments