Well, it's that time of year again--when you get to put down your axe and dust off your trusty ukelele to lead the neighborhood youngsters in a peaceful chorus of "Silent Night"... or a death-metal rendition of "We Three Kings" (it's all about the "myrrh" verse), whichever strikes your fancy.
Yes, a time of love, togetherness, and the joys of full-out consumerism. For those of you who still haven't started your gift shopping, I know how you feel, believe me. Don't bother frantically searching the mall on the 24th like you did last year--give the gift that keeps on giving: Bandzoogle gift certificates! Your mom always did want to start a rock band!
We here at Bandzoogle, like those proverbial shepherds of old, will still be keeping watch over the site and answering your support requests over the holidays. Our responses might be a bit slower than usual (we have a strict policy of not answering support tickets within two hours of drinking rum and eggnog), but, as always, if you have any Bandzoogle problems or questions...
Let us know... Let us know... Let us know!
(I'm really sorry about that... I couldn't help myself.)
May your turkey be juicy, your latkes crisp, and your Kwanzaa Gumbo... gumbolicious!
One disturbing thing I have noticed recently is band web sites funneling visitors to their MySpace or Pure Volume page.
I think this is a *big* mistake, for a few reasons:
You don't own your myspace address. They own that address so it is not permanent. Your .COM address is owned by you, and can be moved to any server you like. I know of many musicians who relied on their MP3.com address as their primary sites, only to lose it and start over.
You are building their community, not yours! Directing your site traffic to MySpace, bands are growing the myspace community (and increasing the value of MySpace). Though it may be smaller, the community you build on your website has *much* greater value because it is also building your brand.
Your Myspace profile is not "sticky". The appeal of myspace is there is always something to click on (a hot "friend", a contest, an ad). People will rarely stay on your myspace profile for very long. With your site you have the chance to create a place where fans can stay and discover more about your band.
Myspace "friends" do not translate to CD or ticket sales!. Don't consider the number of "friends" to be equivalent to "fans". Its very easy to click to become a "friend" with no commitment on their part. Very few if any will purchase anything from your band... most are more interesting in increasing their number of "friends", and will move on. Read more about what a feature on myspace did for this band's sales.
This being said, I don't think MySpace is all bad. I believe that having a myspace profile can help you network with other bands to hook up for gigs. If you can direct people from your MySpace profile to your site, that would be great too.
In the end, my advice is to use MySpace as the major label artists do, an extension of your site rather than a replacement.
For my next blog post I figured I stick with the theme I had in my last two posts. I want to talk about songwriting competitions and my experience having participated in a national songwriting competition a few years back when I was still in a band with Chris.
Normally most bands don't think about entering songwriting competitions. They mostly enter battle of the bands and the like. Especially at first when the idea of songwriting isn?t really set in their minds. I suppose it's because not every songwriter is in a band and not every songwriter can perform their own songs. Some of the most successful songwriters are practically unheard of, yet, chances are, they are making more money that the artist who performs their work.
Which brings me back to my story. Since at the time the band had agreed to evenly share the credit of the songs we wrote (this will be another topic of conversation in the future), we entered the songwriting competition as a band. Believe it or not, even the organizers of the competition didn't know what to make of our submission. All other submissions were made either by an individual or a songwriting team of no more than two people.
The competition was held regionally and then later escalated to a national level. So as it were, we were chosen by our local radio station to represent our city and province. Included in the package was a trip to a music festival where we would sit before a panel to have our songs reviewed along with the other songwriters from each major city across Canada.
We were relatively new to all of this so none of us really knew what to expect. When we sat before the panel we were confronted by all sorts of people. Most of them were older and took themselves way more seriously then we did. We were just a bunch of 20 year old punks that wanted to play in a band. We knew nothing about song structure, composition, publishing, or anything like that. In fact, I was surprised that we even made it to the panel since it was so early in the morning and all we did the night before was drink.
I'm not going to mention names, but let's say the panelists are Jeff and Jane. Both Jeff and Jane were experienced veterans of the trade with countless awards and successes to their names. Mind you, none of us knew who they were, but they seemed to know what they were talking about.
Copies of all the finalist's lyrics were handed out and we proceeded to listen to each one's demo submission. At the end of each listening, the panelists gave their opinions and held an open discussion with the rest of us. This is where it started to get a little interesting. None of the demos were of any decent quality. They were actually pretty bad.
But that's the difference between one of these things and a battle of the bands. BOTB are based partly on your performance. With a songwriting competition the judges have to see beyond the quality of the demo and focus on the actual song and the potential it will have given the right artist to perform it and the producer to make it all come together.
It was only our song that got anyone bopping their heads and it was our song that generated the most positive comments because we managed to capture something in the recording of it. The performance was there. In the end the song didn't even place top three when we all thought, given the response, that we had nailed it in the bag.
It was, in fact, the song that sounded the worse, from a guy that looked nothing like a musician that finally won first prize and a $10,000 check.
Even though the band Chris and I were in eventually broke up, I wonder whatever became of the guy who won it all. Winning a songwriting competition is a very honoring accomplishment. Whether you're in a band or a solo artist, a large part of you wants to be known for your songwriting skills. You only have a certain time frame to be a touring rock star, but you can be a songwriter for a much longer amount of time.
Look at the lead singer from 4 Non Blondes. She kind of had a one hit wonder with "What's Going On" over a decade ago, but more recently she has written hit songs for Pink and Madonna.
And although it's sad to say, Nikki Sixx of Motely Crue fame has even written songs for the Backstreet Boys. Oh, the agony...
Because the guestbook on your site is more or less open to the public, it is also a potential target for spammers and abusive comments. This is why the guestbook feature has an option to be password protected. In other words, if you enable the members option, anyone who wants to post a message in your guestbook must register first.
While you cannot pre-approve who can register to sign your guesbook, the members option will deter people from posting spam.
Remember, any post can be deleted from your control panel.
To enable the member option for your guestbook,
1. From your control panel, under EDIT PAGES, select the page that you have added the guesbook feature to
2. Under PAGE FEATURES click guestbook Check "Only allow members to post on the guestbook" option
3. Click the update configuration button
As we've added more and more templates and fonts to Bandzoogle, it's gotten somewhat cumbersome to browse through all of them. Until now!
We've just souped-up the font and template choosers, allowing you to browse more easily and with faster download times for those with slower Internet connections.
Now that the fonts are better organized, we're at liberty to add even more fonts for you to choose from. If you have any suggestions of freely-available fonts that you'd like to see, feel free to list them here.
Just posted the update to the community. Some of the changes:
- the bandzoogle blog (where you get news) is now integrated in the forum. This way we will have one central place to discuss stuff.
- we added basic profiles in the community. They don't look like much yet, but once everyone updates their profile, we will add a member search and more neat features.
One other thing: if you tried updating your country in the profile yesterday, it may not have saved correctly. Please re-update your profile.
As always, let us know what you think!
We've moved the number crunching for the site traffic to a new dedicated server. Unfortunately, it seems to be having trouble generating the first report. Don't worry, all your traffic is being recorded, it is just the report that is not displaying. We are working to fix this now. The report generation process takes around 24 hours, so we will have the report up on Monday or Tuesday morning at the latest. Thanks for your patience.
Everyone is familiar with buskers; musicians playing on the street with their guitar case open for donations. You can make a decent living if you know where, when and what to play. I know of one musician in Montreal who plays the spoons (!) and makes around $400/day during peak tourist season!
Some bands are extending this "tip jar" to the web. Steadman, a band previously signed to Elektra records decided to offer all of their music on the web for free, soliciting donations to stay afloat. Its an interesting move, especially for a "known" act with a big catalog. You can read more about their decision here -- its a good read. (link via Boing Boing)
MP3s and file sharing is changing the music industry faster than the majors can keep up with. As a creative indie musicians you need to take advantage of revenue streams like these to stay ahead.
Along these lines, we've added a simple new feature, a "donate" button. You can experiment with it, and see if it works for you.