David Dufresne

Happy Holidays ! (And sneak peek of our upcoming new band website platform)

Some very fluffy snow fell on Montreal all afternoon today... the perfect weather to put anyone in the mood for the holidays... So, before I get my shovel out and get to work, I wanted to write a quick post here to wish all Bandzooglers a merry Christmas and joyful Holiday season.

As a little holiday treat, Chris put together a video to give you a glimpse of the new Bandzoogle platform. This has been by far the biggest project we have ever worked on, but now that it is close to launching, it is clear that it was worth all the effort. We're super excited to send out invites in the new year.

2012 is shaping up to be an exciting year at Bandzoogle. On behalf of the team, here's hoping that yours will be one of health, happiness and lots of music!

Posted by David Dufresne on 12/23/2011 | 74 comments
Dave Cool

Marketing Your Music: Interview with Rick Goetz Part 2: Social Media, Content Marketing & Streaming

Marketing Your Music: Interview with Rick Goetz Part 2: Social Media, Content Marketing & Streaming

Throughout his music career, Rick Goetz has been a major label A&R representative, a music supervisor, an artist manager, a reality show producer, a bass player and the head of a digital record label. Rick has lots of helpful content on his blog Musician Coaching, and is one of my favorite industry people around, because as you’ll see, he’s a straight-talker who doesn’t pull any punches. In Part 1 of our interview with Rick, he discussed why bands still want to get signed, how to send emails to industry professionals, and music licensing. In Part 2, Rick talks digital marketing strategy, why bands should focus on making great music, and has some choice words for “social media experts”. Enjoy!

Q: One of the services you offer is to write marketing plans for musicians. When you’re working with artists, what else besides social media do you have them put into their plans? It seems like most advice out there these days is hyper-focused on social media. What else do artists need to be thinking about when marketing their music?

Social Media is that handful of ice cubes protruding from the water connected to a mountainous glacier below the surface that is the rest of digital marketing. I’m not saying social media isn’t important – it absolutely is! The problem is that “social media experts” are about as ubiquitous today as the word “Alternative” was in music magazines in the mid 1990s. Shut the f**k up – we know we should be on Twitter already!

People should pay attention to search, message boards and ways of bundling their content with other acts that are likely to have similar fan bases but that really only scratches the surface.

It used to be (prior to the digital age) that you created a product and then promoted said product and it was all very linear. Now it’s all about creating an ongoing stream of promotional content to build your overall brand and thereby sell the standard products (shows, merch, recorded music etc.) Your ongoing multimedia dialogue with fans and potential fans is key regardless of whether or not that ends up on social networks or blogs or wherever. That’s the real key in my opinion. What are you doing or saying that gets people to visit your online properties more regularly. How do you get people to become comfortable enough with you to give you that all-important “fair listen” rather than everyone’s initial listen to dismiss that occurs because we have all been bombarded by too much music. This promotional content can be anything, blogging ,vlogging, still images, live video from shows, recorded interview footage. If musicians are looking to “make it” in that fame and fortune kind of way they should consider that they have to be in the entertainment business as much as in the music business because it seems like music as a commodity is more and more diminished every day.

Q: What do you think the best strategy is for an artist's online presence? Is having your own website still important for artists in an era of free social media networks?

I still think websites are essential even though most interactions can be done on social media platforms. I think a good website says something about how reliable and committed an artist is and believe me anything that conveys being reliable as an artist is HUGE. It’s just too easy to put up a Facebook fan page. Besides, something has to bind all of your online properties together and act as a command center of some kind. When I want to see the official word from an artist I tend to still look at the website and explore their social media from there. Discovery usually comes from elsewhere (for me) but I like having a definitive and official page for the artists I work with...

What is the best strategy? It’s really not a one size fits all kind of thing. Artists who are primarily touring acts will have a vastly different tact than those who get attention by doing covers on YouTube vs. those that get their music in TV etc. I get these questions a great deal from artists and it’s a frustration for me. It’s like someone pulled every musician aside and said there is one way of doing this marketing and PR thing but it’s just not the case. People who attempt to put PR and marketing services into a template above and beyond some very basic digital marketing basics are selling snake oil and the snake oil business seems to be booming right now.

Q: Most indie artists have to work side jobs or contracts to help them get by, so their free time is usually limited. Given that, how much time do you think artists/bands should be spending on marketing/promotion vs. rehearsals/creation when starting out?

Great question. It should be 100% rehearsals and creation when you start out. Far too many people rush off to market with a product...No, you know what- calling what many people first bring to market as a “product” is way too kind. Many people rush the first bulls**t they record out into the world because it is cheap an easy to do so. Not surprisingly the revolution in the music over the last decade has been the marketing of music and not the music itself. People should stop rushing and give music some room to breathe. Without a great product you’re not going anywhere anyway.

Q: With social media, is there any danger of over-saturating your fans with updates & content? And on the flip-side, do you think it’s possible to not provide enough content on social media?

This all depends on the quality of the content. If your content is uninteresting you can absolutely have people tune out on you by updating too much. You have to pay really close attention to your analytics and Facebook insight numbers to see what’s going on. On the other hand if you aren’t updating your website and social media pages at all it won’t be that hard for people to forget you.

Q: In your view, what’s more important for an artist to obtain: a Facebook “Like”, Twitter follower, or a fan’s email address?

An e-mail address– hands down. To my surprise I read studies that indicate that email still has the best conversion rate for turning a fan into a customer.

Q: There seems to be a lot of debate about Spotify these days, do you think emerging bands should have their music available on streaming services like Spotify?

Once again it’s a question of context. Are you a band like Phish that lives off their live show? If so – sure, your recorded music is more of a business card than a product for you anyway. If you are an artist shooting for radio and a more traditional recorded music sales focus... I guess it depends. I’m all in favour of getting as much exposure for an unknown artist to start so in general I’d say you should be on there but I don’t think the service has been around long enough to really gauge the impact in the long term.


Big thanks to Rick Goetz for doing this interview. You can check out Rick’s work over at MusicianCoaching.com and follow him on Twitter: @Musiccoaching

Posted by Dave Cool on 12/22/2011 | 5 comments
Allison

Do's and Don'ts of a website store page

Do's and Don'ts of a website store page

Having fans visit your website is great, but let’s be honest…. there’s nothing like getting an email that says “You’ve made a sale!” Having someone buy from your website is no accident and it takes a bit of skill to not only get them to your website, but to encourage the sale. The number one rule of sales is to make it easy to buy from you. Here are a few do’s and don’ts to help.

Don’t...

1) Don’t clutter your store page

This can be easy to do when you have many CD’s and merch to present. Always assume your visitor has only a few minutes to browse your site. If you put too many pictures, words, and options on your store page they may get overwhelmed and decide to come back later when they have time. If they leave without buying, the chances of them coming back are slim. Make your Store page organized and inviting. Provide a short description of the item, an image, and the price. Then all that’s left for them to do is click ‘buy now.’

2) Don’t add a lot of widgets to your page

Widgets look nice but there are two major downfalls to adding store widgets to your website. The first is that most are flash based and won’t show up on iPad’s/iPhone’s. When a visitor views your store page from any of those devices it will just be blank. Second, widgets can take quite awhile to load which can be irritating to a visitor who is ready to view and buy your items right away.

3) Don’t make your visitor leave your site

Imagine walking into a store and the salesperson telling you, “Yes we sell that here, but a more popular ‘brand name’ store sells it also. We want you to know we are so cool that our items are there too, so you can go there to buy your item if you want.” That would be ridiculous right? That is the same thing that happens when you have your fans go to iTunes or other ‘popular’ music sites to purchase your music when it is easily available from your website. Now there is nothing wrong with linking to any other store sites, but once a fan makes it to your Store page encourage them to buy right from that page. The best part is that the Bandzoogle store doesn’t take a cut of any of your sales, so that’s a bonus as well.

4) Don’t make a visitor log-in to buy

Of all the other don’ts on this list, this one is by far the most important in my opinion. When you are an indie artist you work so hard to get people to even view your website, so when they get there don’t make them jump through hoops to buy something. Many people are leery of ‘registering’ for a website they are not familiar with so I don’t recommend making your Store page ‘members only’. Once you have a solid fan list you can setup a ‘members only’ page and add freebies and contests for your most loyal fans.

5) Don’t inundate your fans

This tip isn’t really about your store page, but the methods you use to get them there. This topic deserves a blog post all its own, but for now just remember that screaming ‘BUY MY MUSIC!!!’ every hour all over the internet is not going to get fans to buy from you. In fact it will most likely result in those fans un-friend’ing you.

Do’s

1) Do ask!

The most important ‘DO’ is to ask for the sale! If you don’t ask the answer is always no. This goes for online sales, as well as sales at gigs and events. Don’t be afraid to put a call-to-action right on your home page directing people to your Store page. This lets fans know you have a current album that they should get, now! At gigs, don’t just end your final set with a “thank you and good night.” Let your fans know what you have to sell and where they can buy it.

2) Do promote creatively

Remember that music is everywhere and many artists are giving it away for free. To make sales you have to create the perception of value for your items. Think outside of the normal ‘CD’s and Downloads box’ by offering other goods and services as well. Many artists have made good money by offering things like autographed items, personalized songs, backstage passes, and phone calls.

3) Do continually add new products

Being a professional musician means going to work every day to create something new for your fans. To keep your fans interested, add new products and content often. When you add new blog posts, images, videos, and events, it brings visitors back to your website to check it out. When they get to your site, try to have something new for them to download or buy. You don’t have to offer a new 10-song CD, as new individual songs and EP’s are just as popular with fans. Even before your CD is ready you can offer it as a pre-sale item. Offer a short description and then add at least one track to the page to give them a little taste. Then blog about the progress to keep people in anticipation of the new release.

4) Do give some freebies

Consider giving away one free track in exchange for the fan’s email address. If they like your music, they will most likely purchase other tracks or the full album. You can also do this with referrals, which are another great way to increase your fan base. When someone refers friends you should reward them with something free like another free track, or free admission to your next gig. Running a contest on your Store page each month is another way to use freebies to encourage fans to re-visit your site often, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. People love gift cards, free music, free gig admission, or even a video chat with you, their favorite band or artist!

5) Do thank your fans

When your fans purchase a download they will receive an email with the thank you message you set in the Mailing list tab (member options tab). In that thank you message you may want to consider using the “freebie” idea and adding a link to a free ‘hidden’ track. You can go one step further and set up a group in your mailing list for those who have purchased anything from you. Then every few months send them a thank you for being a loyal fan and give something away to them for free. And whenever you send physical merch, include a little something extra like stickers or guitar picks. This will make them feel special and will want to buy again for the perks. Just remember that fans have many options to buy new music so when they buy from you, let them know you appreciate it.


What are some of your favorite ways to get people to your Store page? What are some of the ways that you thank your fans for their purchases?


Examples of a few nice stores of Bandzoogle members:

Music website store page example

Music website store page example

Music website store page example

Music website store page example

Posted by Allison on 12/20/2011 | 5 comments
Stacey

Musician Website Love: Jennifer Grassman

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

Who: Jennifer Grassman
What: Talented singer, songwriter and writer for the Washington Times Communities (check out her column The Business of Being a Diva
Where: Texas
Why her website rocks: One word: content.  Jennifer adds tons of great content on a regular basis, from blog posts, to photos, to YouTube videos.  She even hosts live jam sessions on her "cafe" page.  To make it all easy to find, Jennifer has use drop down menus, and links to internal pages to great effect.  Nice work!
Check it out at http://jennifergrassman.com/



Posted by Stacey on 12/16/2011 | 6 comments
Dave Cool

Marketing Your Music: Interview with Rick Goetz Part 1: Getting Signed, Email Etiquette & Licensing

Marketing Your Music: Interview with Rick Goetz Part 1: Getting Signed, Email Etiquette & Licensing

Throughout his music career, Rick Goetz has been a major label A&R representative, a music supervisor, an artist manager, a reality show producer, a bass player and the head of a digital record label. Rick has lots of helpful content on his blog Musician Coaching, and is one of my favorite industry people around, because as you’ll see, he’s a straight-talker who doesn’t pull any punches. In Part 1 of this interview, we discuss why bands still want to get signed, how to send emails to industry professionals, and Rick also offers some insight into getting your music licensed.

Q: Earlier this year ReverbNation released the results of a survey that showed that 75% of indie artists still want to get signed to a record label. As someone who has a background in the label world, I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Did the results surprise you? In an era with social media, easy digital distribution, and an abundance of direct-to-fan tools, why do you think so many artists still want to get signed?

Surprised? I think when I initially got back in to working with artists in 2009 I was surprised that this was the pervasive feeling among musicians in the digital age. By the time that survey came out I had become all too familiar with what most artists were looking for. MusicianCoaching.com started in August of 2009 and right around that time when researching what music business related keywords were most often searched in Google I was shocked to learn that keywords relying on outside help far out numbered keywords that suggested self-reliance. This hasn’t changed. For example, today (December 13th, 2011) “How do I get a record deal” gets searched for 110,000 times per month while “How do I market my music” gets searched for 480 times per month. “Where can I find a music manager” gets searched for 165,000 times per month where as “How to promote your music” gets 6,600 searches per month. You could argue that these are only 4 different terms but by all means go on Google Adwords Keyword Tool and look for yourself. It indicated to me that people were more interested in outside help than self-reliance. To be fair- there was this unspoken promise of the digital era that said every musician would have a chance to be self sustaining through direct to fan that (of course) never really came to be. Fame and success are what they are in music because they are (and always will be) rare commodities.

The underlying message I took away from the keyword research though is that most people think the idea of being a rock star is great but they don’t really understand what goes in to it. Notice I said “people” rather than “musicians” – there are too many people who are really just people who plunk around on a guitar rather than “real” guitarists or people who scribble poetry in a journal and sing in the shower who consider themselves “real” singers. However you define what a real musician is I think the take away here is that our overnight success culture is one that has sold us on the idea that anyone can be a musician and anyone can make it but it has left out the years and years of study and persistence that usually goes into becoming a success. I guess the overnight success mythology is just a much better story for journalists than the slow grind. No one remembers that Hendrix played sideman gigs for years before going solo or that Peter Frampton was on the road for three years straight before recording “Frampton comes Alive”. People look at the end result and just forget those things.

It’s weird, right? Shows like American Idol perpetuate this mythology too. If you think about it they show the public less than an hour’s worth of performance footage before handing someone a record deal and they don’t really elaborate on the journey of honing their craft that got them there. Worse still- they deify people in the music business as judges who hold artists’ fate in their hands. In the real world there are very few people left who can allocate millions of dollars towards the marketing and promotion of a pop star and waiting for someone like that to appear in your life (rather than doing your best to market and promote yourself) is akin to handing an investor a business plan that says simply “Buy lotto tickets with initial investment and win.”

Why do so many people want to get signed? I think it stems from a global cultural problem that alters our perception of reality that is fed to us and reinforced by mass media. I think people gravitate to the idea that there is some kind of quick fix. It’s in the way we (all of us) think to look for the path of least resistance. What most people don’t realize is just how difficult things remain even after getting signed.

Q: Speaking of email, many artists do email record labels, managers, etc. asking for help. What’s your advice for artists who write emails to people in the industry?

I have a ton of advice on this – people often screw this up and they don’t have to if they put a bit more time and thought into their approach.

For one – I’d avoid the form letter. I’m not saying that some of what you send people isn’t going to be the same (or even a straight cut and paste) but you’d better have language in your letter that is custom tailored to the person you are sending a cold email to. A specific reason that you are contacting someone is a good start. What do you want, why specifically are you contacting this industry person and why should they care? You need to answer those questions in a concise manner because a form letter about your thoughts on your own level of talent is going to fall on deaf ears.

Remember that playing music is a potent drug and nearly everyone who plays is under the influence. We might not always be the best judge of our own music and as such people who are gate keepers (or what I like to call people who sit behind a desk where dreams go to die) are used to hearing how great people think they are day in and day out. If you want to impress someone – do so with tangible accomplishments. Mention who you’ve played with, how many tour markets you do well in, social network numbers, testimonials for more established musicians or synch placements you have gotten. If you don’t have much to talk about it might be too early to contact the person or company you are targeting. The industry wants to know that other people think you are great and are putting their money where their mouth is. Your own word doesn’t tend to hold up.

Another common mistake musicians make is throwing themselves at the industry. If you take a tact that you want to know someone and see what their company is about- it’s a much stronger position than making the assumption that whatever company you are writing to is the best possible fit because they work with large artists (or whatever the case may be). It’s really off-putting to people getting these emails to consider that the person contacting knows absolutely nothing about them personally or professionally but is out of the blue proposing an ongoing business relationship. It’s creepy. This would be like seeing an attractive stranger across the room and then tearing off your clothes and charging at them. Be aware of healthy boundaries in your business life too.

You have to remember that at some point we all (myself included) are going to have to reach out to someone we don’t know to advance our careers so it’s important that you develop this skill as soon as possible.

Q: You have an extensive background in television, and you’ve also featured some great interviews on your blog about music licensing. What is your advice for artists looking to get their music licensed on TV and in film? Do they need to have an agent? Work with a placement company? Do the abundance of free/open-to-all/non-exclusive music licensing sites work for indie artists?

“Extensive” is being a bit kind but I’ve done some work in music supervision for commercials and dabbled in reality TV. I think people should selectively try out a few of the non-exclusive placement companies. It’s rare that they turn up a placement relative to how many submissions they get but it can’t hurt since most of these companies don’t have much of a barrier with regard to the time it takes to register or submission fees. I know musicians who do quite well without an agency and those who have started monetizing their music by building relationships as junior producers at large music / jingle houses. It’s almost 100% a relationship business getting your music placed. The most important thing is that you meet music supervisors and even editors and approach them without any hint desperation. You might laugh but someone coming at you like their life depends on you using their music is a bit... well, it’s a bit scary.


In Part 2 of our interview with Rick Goetz, he discusses digital marketing strategies, music streaming services, and has some choice words for social media experts, so stay tuned for that.

In the meantime, you can check out Rick’s work over at MusicianCoaching.com and follow him on Twitter: @Musiccoaching

Posted by Dave Cool on 12/14/2011 | 8 comments
Melanie

Make a great music website background part 3: Creating different backgrounds

In this post, I'd like to dive into something a bit more advanced. I will show you how to add a different background image to each page of your Bandzoogle website pages using CSS. It sounds trickier than it is, and I will walk you through each step!

If you want to add different backgrounds to your pages, the first step is to assemble them. I'd recommend making sure they are similar and not too splashy (we want the background of your page to complement your entire website, and not take away from your content too much). I'm going to use a different colored gradient as my background on each page, and here they are (scaled down):

Bandzoogle page background

Now that you have your backgrounds ready, we will add them one at a time. First, upload each image that you want to use into your File Manager by clicking Design and Options - File Manager and choosing the Browse button.


When you click on a file uploaded here, a link will pop up that you will use in your code. For easy access, I'll copy all my background file links to a Notepad document.


Your Home page will take on the background you have already set in the custom style editor. To add this, click your Design and Options tab, and then Custom Styles. In the Page section click Change and upload your first background.  Here's another article if you need more help with the background section of the Custom Style Editor.

Now let’s change the background of your other pages! This part will be done in your Edit Pages tab, so click Edit Pages, and choose on your second page from the left hand list. Then click Add Feature, and choose HTML. Click in the HTML feature and add the following code:

Bandzoogle background code image

This will tell the page you are on where you’d like to load the background for that specific page, so replace http://mydomain.com/files/example.jpg in the example with your own background's url (which you just uploaded to your File Manager). Make sure these file names don't have any spaces, or they may not work in all web browsers.

Now back in your Edit Pages tab, repeat this - choose Add Feature, HTML, then paste in the same code and replace the link with another different file link. Preview your pages to see what you have created!

Different backgrounds per page

If you are trying to change your background but you are using a template, not a custom style, you'll replace the image file by going to the bottom of your Design and Options tab and clicking on the CSS section. Highlight the link after background-image: url like below:



To replace it with your own background, paste in your background image's url like this:

replace background Bandzoogle

Then click Update Stylesheet, and your template will take on the new background (this works better for some templates than others).



Good luck with your custom backgrounds - I'd love to see some examples at work!

Posted by Melanie on 12/05/2011 | 11 comments