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:
http://www.leralynn.com/about
http://www.seconddan.com/aboutus
http://www.sierranoble.com/aboutsierra
http://www.jennifergrassman.com/about
http://milestodayton.net/bio  


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
Allison

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
Dave Cool

Band Website Love: Casino

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

Who: Casino
What: Loud Alternative Band
Where: Laval, QC, Canada
Why their website rocks: When you go to Casino’s website, it’s clear what they want to do: create awareness about their new EP "Homeland". Their intro page has one large video of the 1st single from the EP, with a clear “Enter” link underneath to access the full website, making it a simple and effective intro page. Once inside their site, a nice header image advertises the EP release date, and all of their latest news is about media they’re doing leading up to the EP launch. Their sidebar also has a nice banner advertising the EP launch, and if you scroll down to the bottom of the page after reading all of the band's latest news, there’s another banner with calls-to-action to watch their video and buy tickets to the EP launch. All of this is done on a nicely branded website with lots of great custom images.

Check it out at: www.casinomusic.ca



Posted by Dave Cool on 11/16/2012 | 3 comments
Dave Cool

The Silver Comet: DIY Lessons from the 2012 Vans Warped Tour (video)

This is a guest post from Michael Brandvold, a music industry marketing consultant, speaker, and co-host of the Music Biz Weekly and Rock Star Branding podcasts. Below are some great video interviews that Michael conducted with the manager of Bandzoogle members The Silver Comet about lessons and experiences they learned preparing for the Vans Warp Tour. We thought you guys would enjoy seeing them:

This is a series of video interviews, nearly two hours, with Erinn Knight the manager of The Silver Comet who just returned from the 2012 Vans Warped Tour. The series of interviews will be all about the lessons and experiences they learned preparing for the tour and while on the road. I know there will be some great information for young bands about DIY survival. This is going to be really interesting. This is not a band with a TON of money, a BIG record deal… this is a band of talented kids who got a huge break and had to figure out how to survive and support themselves on the road in order to pursue their dream. This band could be any young band out there.

The Silver Comet website.
Contact Erinn:
Email: knight.erinn@gmail.com or Twitter

Erinn Knight discusses showcasing and being selected for the Vans Warped Tour.



Erinn Knight discusses funding for Vans Warped Tour.



Erinn Discusses Merchandising & Marketing on Vans Warped Tour.



Erinn Knight discusses post tour fan engagement from the Vans Warped Tour.


Posted by Dave Cool on 11/14/2012 | 0 comments
Stacey

Studio website love: Collapseable Studios

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

Who: Collapseable Studios
What:
Recording studio
Where: Asheville, North Carolina
When: Open since 1999
Why their website rocks: This is a great exampe of a studio website because it is well organize, and has all the information you need to make the right decision. The homepage clearly states who they are, where they are located and what they do, with a sample of their work right on the landing page. Each menu item describes the different services offered in detail, and the pages are media rich with lots of sounds and photos to keep distracted visitors interested. Great example of a music business website!
Check it out at: http://www.collapseablestudios.com/

Posted by Stacey on 11/09/2012 | 0 comments
Justin

You Only Get One Voice - Take Care of it! (Simple Tips for Preserving Your Voice Between Gigs)

Being a singer generally means your voice is your main instrument of choice. There are some awesome advantages to this (for example, not having to haul around a stand-up bass everywhere you go). There are, however, some disadvantages as well. I think every singer I know has experienced the terror of waking up the morning of a gig with a sore throat, felt paranoia set in along with the first cold breeze of fall, and desperately chugged a glass of water when they weren’t feeling 100 percent before jumping on stage.

As a singer, your instrument is part of your body, and unlike a guitar or a drum set, it can get sick. It can become fatigued, and, in some of the worst cases, injured. Despite all this, vocal chords are actually fairly resilient, and if you take proper care of them, you can prevent fatigue and injury, and even sing through some minor colds. Today I want to cover a few basic tips for taking care of your voice between gigs so you can give your best performance when the time comes.

  • Drink lots of water

    This is a pretty easy one. The more lubricated your vocal chords are, the better for your vocal health and the sound you produce. Drink water when you get up in the morning, drink it with every meal, and drink it before and during your show. Just make sure you know where the bathrooms are!

  • Don’t drink lots of alcohol

    Alcohol doesn’t hurt your voice persay, but it is dehydrating. It can also act as a numbing agent, so you may not realize you’re damaging your voice if you’re singing after you’ve been drinking. In general, save the alcohol drinking for your off days and after the show. If you drink alcohol the night before a show, make sure you drink lots of water before you go to bed and when you got up in the morning to get rehydrated.

  • Don’t shout over top of loud music

    This goes hand in hand with David’s recent blog post about preserving your hearing. As a musician, you work and play in many extremely loud environments. Just as that level of noise can be damaging to your hearing, trying to speak over top of it can be just as damaging to your voice. If your environment is too loud to speak at a regular volume, save the deep conversations for outside, or sit beside the person you are speaking to.

  • Get a good sleep

    It is amazing what a good sleep can do for you. If your voice is feeling fatigued, try to turn it in early. If you can sleep in the next day, even better! Sleeping is going to give your voice a chance to recover a bit, and sometimes that’s all you need to feel ready for your next gig.

  • Listen to what your voice is telling you

    Your voice is smart. If it doesn’t like the way you’re treating it, it’s going to let you know by hurting, sounding funny, or just not working. As a general rule, if something you are doing to your voice hurts, don’t do it!

Keeping your voice healthy is super important as a singer, and it’s not that tough as long you take care of it. I hope these tips help out! If you have any tips of your own, or want to share your own experiences as a singer, chime in in the comments below!

Posted by Justin on 11/07/2012 | 27 comments
Dave Cool

5 Tips To Increase Your Band's Reach On Facebook Despite Recent EdgeRank Changes

This blog post originally appeared on the music/technology blog Hypebot (@Hypebot) and is written by Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (Twitter/App.net), who blogs about music crowdfunding at Crowdfunding For Musicians (@CrowdfundingM).

Once again, Facebook has changed the rules of the game, which is why #5 on this list is so important
:



Recently posts on Facebook Pages have seen a marked reduction in reach with fewer people than ever viewing and interacting with Page content. Though it's tempting to consider throwing one's hands up and walking away from Facebook, its power as a tool for fan interaction is still too great to be discarded. In addition to increasing the appeal of one's content to entice fan interaction and the approval of Facebook's EdgeRank algorithm, there are a number of ways to respond.

Facebook Page admins are noticing a reduced reach this month due to EdgeRank adjustments that already deliver only a small percentage of posts to one's following. So what's to be done?

5 Tips to Increase Your Reach on Facebook

1) Improve Your EdgeRank

EdgeRank is a combination of factors that determine which of your posts get the most visibility in your fans' newsfeeds. Positive effects on EdgeRank occur when multimedia content is posted or when fans interact with your content. The key is creating engaging content that interests your fans.

For more on EdgeRank and how to improve the visibility of your content in newsfeeds:
2) Stop Using Third Party Tools

Though third party tools for scheduling posts and posting to social media accounts can make one's day go a lot easier, a variety of sources maintain that such tools negatively affect one's EdgeRank and Facebook reach. Most recently I encountered this mini-investigation of the effect of such tools on Facebook posts.

Depending on your schedule and your need to succeed on Facebook, this may be an area where you have to accept some trade-offs between short-term efficiency and long-term goals.

3) Get Your Likes Up

A smaller more engaged audience is preferable to a lot of superficial Page Likes but Likes do establish a fundamental connection in the world of Facebook. In addition, some Facebook features such as Promoted Posts require a minimum number of Likes before Page admins are given access.

One way to increase Page Likes is through Like-gating in which Likes are given in exchange for access to content such as a free download. A variety of companies offer solutions for Like-gating such as Dotted Music that recently released Music Fan Gate 2.0.

4) Buy Some Ads

Yes, I know. Buying ads to address reduced reach is capitulating to Facebook's attempt to make us buy ads by reducing our reach. That said, if you have something really special to promote and want to reach people on multiple channels, buying some ads can be a smart move.

Facebook has numerous ad options but typically speaking it's the newer options and those with an organic feel like Promoted Posts that will draw the best response and are often priced at an initial discount. Mobile ads are also currently performing well.

5) Keep Building Your Own Website & Email List

Facebook will continue to alter its world based on Facebook's needs. Always be building your own site and email list as core properties that you control and that allow you direct contact with your fans without an unhealthy dependence on third parties.

Posted by Dave Cool on 11/05/2012 | 5 comments