Dave Cool

Musician Website Love: Jon Hart

Jon Hart

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

Who: Jon Hart
What: Guitarist, Vocalist & Beatboxer
Where: London, UK
Why his website rocks: Jon’s site has several great elements, but we especially love his Homepage. The header image is really well-designed, and tells you exactly what Jon does. In his welcome message/bio, he links to internal pages which helps guide visitors to what they’re looking for. Right there on his homepage is a video to immediately showcase his music and fingerstyle guitar playing. He also has a nice call-to-action, latest news, and links to his social media profiles, all well-placed and well-organized. Jon really incorporates the “6 Essential Elements of a Website Homepage” perfectly!

Check it out at www.jonhartmusic.com

Jon Hart

Posted by Dave Cool on 03/30/2012 | 0 comments
Stacey

5 Reasons Musicians Will Love Audacity 2.0

Looking for some great, free audio editing software? Source Forge has launched Audacity 2.0 for Windows, Mac, GNU/Linux and other operating systems. You can download it here

Audacity 2.0 boasts major improvements over v1.2.6 with a plethora of new features to suit your creative needs. Here are 5 reasons that you’ll love Audacity 2.0:

1. On Demand Importing: Just insert your CD and start editing - they have a new quick "on demand" import for WAV and AIFF files that read directly from the source.

2. New Device Toolbar: The new device toolbar will help you manage inputs and outputs, and you can even set the record timer to cut off your over zealous lead guitarist discretely.

3. Improved Equalization & Normalize: Audacity also drastically improved equalization, which is used to adjust different frequencies (low, mid or high), as well as the normalize feature, used to set all tracks imported to reach a peak amplitude/level that is consistent.

4. Import Audio from Video: Want to use audio from a live show or band practice? Check out the import audio from video function, and apply the new noise removal feature to cut out crowd noises or shuffling feet.

5. Auto-save: Audacity 2.0 has added auto save, so in the event that your computer crashes while you are creating a medley of cover tracks from the entire Beatles collection, Automatic Crash Recovery will save your work in progress.

If you also install Lame (an application, which is actually pretty cool), Audacity will let you export your files in MP3 format (check the Help section under Audacity for a quick how-to guide) which is useful for streaming audio online. Without Lame, you can also import/export in AC3/M4A/WMA format.

And remember, you can do all of this for the low low price of $0 - happy editing!

What do you think of Audacity 2.0? What software do you use for sound editing? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted by Stacey on 03/29/2012 | 16 comments
David Dufresne

6 Essential Elements for Your Band’s Website Homepage

6 Essential Elements for Your Band’s Website Homepage

Your homepage is usually the first page visitors to your website will see, so it’s important to make sure that you have the right elements in place to grab their attention, make a strong first impression, and keep them on your site. A well-designed homepage can get you more sign-ups for your newsletter, more sales from your online store, and convert first-time visitors to becoming active and engaged fans. Here are 6 essential elements to have on your homepage that will help you do just that:

1. Great Header Image

Your header image is arguably the most important element of your homepage. It’s likely to be the first thing that people see on your website, so think about what image can best represent your music and who you are as an artist. Having a great photo of your band along with your band name is a classic example of an effective header image. Here’s a nice one from singer-songwriter Tyler Kealey:

From the picture and description, you know Tyler’s name, what he does, and you can probably already get a sense of his music just based on that image.

Your header image can also be artwork rather than a photo, but same rules apply: it should represent your music and who you are as an artist.

2. Short Bio

You should never take for granted that people visiting your site already know who you are or what you do. Yes, your current fans will be visiting your site, but so will lots of potential new fans, and journalists, bloggers, promoters, bookers, etc. Folks you want to impress. Having a short bio, or an “elevator pitch” right there on the homepage will let a potential new fan immediately know who you are and what your music is all about. Here’s a screenshot from the homepage of Ben Cooper:

For this bio, keep it short. A longer version can be saved for your “About Us” or “Bio” page. You can probably stick to the “Who You Are” elements of your bio, like:

  • What’s your band name?
  • Where are you from?
  • What do you sound like?
  • What are your influences?

Make it the blurb that you want bloggers and lazy writers to copy-paste in their articles about you. For more tips on creating your pitch, check out this blog post by Music PR superstar Ariel Hyatt: “Creating a Perfect Pitch - Laser Focus Your Message

3. Music / Video

First time visitors should be able to sample your music in one, easy, obvious click. So the next element you should have on your homepage is a song that people can listen to right away. This can also be an embedded video they can watch. Adding visuals to the experience means that you can grab their attention through both their ears and their eyes. Less chance that they’ll get distracted by their e-mails, Facebook or anything else, and you might get their full attention for the whole song. But for both audio and video, be sure that it is your best, freshest track, or a song that you think best represents your band.

In the bio example above, Ben Cooper had a live video showcasing his performance at a festival, but it could be having a site-wide music player available, or you can even call people’s attention to listen to your music, like Tyler Kealey did here:

4. Call-to-Action

Speaking of calling people’s attention to something, the next element to have on your homepage is a call-to-action. A call-to-action is designed to direct people’s attention to something specific that you want them to do while on your website. It could be to join your mailing list, buy your latest album, listen to your latest track, or donate to your fan-funding campaign.

But it’s best to limit yourself to one, maximum two calls-to-action. What your call-to-action is depends on what your goals are for your career, at this point in time. For an emerging band, collecting email addresses to build up your mailing list would be a good goal to have. For a more established artist with a solid fan base, directing people to purchase new music & merch through your online store might be the way to go. If you’re raising money to fund your next album, you can direct people to your fan-funding campaign.

Here’s a good example of a call-to-action from Laura Marie:

5. Latest News/Blog

With this next feature, it can come down to personal preference. Some artists have a full blog on their homepage, others have a news feed with all of their news from the past few months. Just remember that your website should have a blog, but it shouldn’t be a blog. Most people don’t scroll down on a web page (one study showed it was as high as 80% of people), and will only read what they can immediately see on their screens.

So put the top news items on your homepage (maybe 3-5 items), and direct people to your full blog from there to see more. Info about your new album, a new show announcement, or a press article/interview are all things to feature proudly on your homepage.

6. Social Media Links

People might only have a short time to check out your website, so it’s a good idea to give them a quick link to connect with you on social media sites. That way, if they only have a minute, they can go to your Facebook page and “Like” it, or follow you on Twitter, right from your homepage.

Don’t overdo it, you can simply list the social media networks that you are most active on. The goal isn’t to send people away to 10 different places other than your website, but to make it easy for them to keep up with your latest activity.Then you can draw them back to your website with the content you put out through those social media profiles that you are active on.

Here’s an example from Static Cycle’s homepage, where the social media icons are right below the header image:


Keep it Clean

One last thing to keep in mind is that an overly-cluttered homepage is not a good thing either. You’ll want to stick to these 6 elements for the most part, and use them to direct people to other sections of your site effectively. Otherwise, if people have too many options/links/images to look at, they might simply ignore it all and leave your site.

The most important elements, including your call-to-action need to be above the fold. The fold is the line after which visitors have to scroll to see the content. Keep in mind that the fold is different for different monitors and screen resolution.

If you do decide to make some of these changes to your homepage, you can use your Analytics to measure whether it worked. If you look at your current bounce rate before and after the changes, the bounce rate should decrease after these changes. You should also hopefully get more email sign-ups and sales from your online store too.

Your Website is Home for Your Music

Social media sites come and go (i.e. MySpace, Friendster, soon Google+?), or can completely change, like we’ve seen with the recent “Timeline” changes to Facebook Pages. Although social media sites are a great place to interact with and find new fans, you can’t rely on social media sites as a homebase for your music, and as a hub for your online strategy. You should focus on driving fans to your own website where they can always find your music, sign-up to your mailing list, or shop for music and merchandise directly from your own online store.

Posted by David Dufresne on 03/26/2012 | 4 comments
Justin

Musician Website Love: Casey Jamerson

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

Who: Casey Jamerson
What: Country music singer/songwriter
Where: Nashville
Why her website rocks: Another great example of incorporating promo shots into your design. The colour palette for her site is pulled from the background image, (black and cream) without an overwhelming use of formatting in the content area. Simple and easy to read. She maintains the elegant style with her header font choice, which also has a country vibe. Full versions of the tracks stream in her site wide player, available for visitors as soon as they enter her site.
Check it out at http://http://caseyjamerson.com


Posted by Justin on 03/23/2012 | 5 comments
Dave Cool

Bandzoogle at SXSW: Websites Demolished, Happy Members and Great Music

Bandzoogle at SXSW: Websites Demolished, Happy Members and Great Music

Chris and I are back from Austin where we both attended SXSW for the first time, and what an amazing experience it was. We were expecting there to be a lot of music and a lot of people, but even living in a great festival city like Montreal didn’t prepare us for the enormity of SXSW.

The insane number of bands playing throughout the city all at once, combined with hardly being able to walk down East 6th street, even though it is blocked off during the festival, made for a slightly overwhelming experience at times.

But crazy scheduling aside, we managed to carve out our own little Bandzoogle-themed SXSW experience, here are some highlights:

Website Demolition Derby: Successful Demolition

Chris moderated the panel “Website Demolition Derby” where he, along with panelists Bob Moczydlowsky (Topspin) and Ethan Kaplan (Live Nation) reviewed websites submitted by the audience in attendance. It was nice to attend a panel and see some real, tangible/actionable advice being given out.

Here are some of the quotes that we highlighted:

“You have to think about all of the target audiences for your website” - Chris Vinson

This relates to creating a website that your current fans, your potential fans, journalists, and bookers can all use your site in the way they need.

“The hub is your website, the spokes are Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, etc.” - Bob Moczydlowsky

Chris often talks about the “Hub & Spokes” method for your website, and Bob from Topspin brought it up during the panel. Your website should be your hub, and you should use your spokes (social media profiles) to drive people back to your hub.

“If you don’t maintain your site, it looks like tumbleweeds” - Ethan Kaplan

That one is pretty self-explanatory. If you don’t keep your website updated, it just doesn't look good.

“Let me hear it, please” - Bob Moczydlowsky

Bob stated that you should be able to hear music right away once you land on an artist’s website, and we agree 100%.

“Flash does not belong on an artist website” - Ethan Kaplan

One artist that submitted their website for review had a lot of flash elements on their homepage, and Bob immediately told the artist to get down and do 100 push-ups! Ethan then summed it up with his statement that flash does not belong on your website. It doesn’t show up on iPads, iPhones, iWhatevers, and does nothing for search engine optimization.

So Many Awesome Bandzoogle Members

I was wearing a Bandzoogle shirt every day of the festival, and it was amazing how often I was stopped in the middle of the street by a happy Bandzoogle member! Thank you to everyone who came up to me to chat, it was great meeting you.

One event where I met a lot of members was the GoGirls Music showcase night at Trophy’s Bar. Pictured left is Bandzoogle member Tara Craig performing, and you can see GoGirls Founder Madalyn Sklar on her laptop overseeing the livestream of the event.

I also met members Laura Marie, Tish Meeks, and Aly Tadros (The Sweetness) that night, it was a lot of fun!

And besides seeing several Bandzoogle members showcase at the GoGirls night, I also got to see member Todd Snider put on a great performance at the (packed) beautiful St David's Historic Sanctuary in Austin:

NOTE: I’m using “I” a lot (Dave Cool) because I was the lucky one who got to go out and see showcases and network. After his panel, Chris stayed back at our guest house the rest of the conference working on the Bandzoogle 2.0 update. It’s getting so close, we can almost taste it!

And the Funniest Thing We Saw at SXSW:

They’re trying sooo hard.

Canadian Music Week is Next

We definitely hope to be back at SXSW again next year, but for now, we’re moving onto Canadian Music Week in Toronto. I’ll be speaking on the panel "GOING VIRAL VIA SOCIAL: CAN “FREE” HELP SELL MUSIC AND MARKET AN ARTIST?" on Thursday, and will be at the conference Wednesday-Friday.

So if you’re a Bandzoogle member and are going to be in Toronto for the conference, please get in touch: dcool[at]bandzoogle[dot]com or tweet us: @Bandzoogle
Posted by Dave Cool on 03/21/2012 | 4 comments
Melanie

More new social network icons

Another day, another social media site to create a profile for and update.  While having your own band website is important for any artist as a home base on the web, using social media to amp up your presence can be helpful as well.  We've added a few more social networking icons to the MySites feature, based on your suggestions.  The new icons include: Pinterest, CBC Radio 3, Jango, Google Play, Onesheet, Pandora, and Datpiff. You can use them in full color, or in black and white.

Do you use any of these sites to promote your music, or as a means to drive people to your website?  Any tips for someone getting started?  Share your insights in the comments below - I'd love to hear it!


Posted by Melanie on 03/20/2012 | 5 comments
Stacey

Musician Website Love: Rebecca Ireland

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

Who: Rebecca Ireland
What: Soulful singer songwriter
Where: New South Wales
Why her website rocks:  This is a really smart way to use your album art to promote your latest album, and make more use of the professional graphics already available to you for your website. The album artwork was added as a page background in our custom style editor, and she even used part of her cover logo as a favicon. The content background consistently displays her album title as visitors browse, "New album out now." Genius. And what better site to feature on the eve of St Patrick's day than Rebecca Ireland.

 
Check it out at http://rebeccairelandmusic.com/


Posted by Stacey on 03/16/2012 | 6 comments
Dave Cool

5 Effective Methods To Writing Songs With A Band

Songtrust

This is a guest post by Songtrust. Songtrust gives music makers an easy way to register songs and collect royalties. In this post they go over some effective methods for songwriting within a band dynamic, which isn’t always a straight-forward process. Enjoy!

5 Effective Methods To Writing Songs With A Band

The term ‘songwriter’ often gets misconstrued as someone who:

  • Is a solo singer/ songwriter
  • Writes songs to be performed by others
  • Writes songs for the sole purpose of licensing

Now, don’t get us wrong, a songwriter is very much all of those things, or at least they can be. But the fact is, many songwriters are also band members!

All bands have a songwriting process (or else they would have no original songs), so the question becomes: How do you write songs when in a ‘band’ scenario?

Many bands have a principle songwriter, but others explore more group efforts in their writing efforts. Just as each songwriter has their own process, each band has their own process for putting together songs as well.

The following are 5 common ways that bands approach the songwriting process:

1) Songwriter & critique group

One of the most common ways to write as a band is to have a single songwriter that writes the music and presents it to the rest of the band, acting as a critique group which gives feedback and suggestions to make the song better.

2) Co-writers

Many bands throughout music history have worked with co-writers, and as we discussed last week, many of the best songs ever written were done so by co-writers. This would work similarly to the songwriter & critique group above, with the only difference being that the co-writers present the music to the rest of the band.

3) Multiple songwriters

Simliar to co-writers, this idea would have two or more songwriters in one group. The big difference here is that instead of the songwriters working together, they would work separately and each present their own works to the band. For example: John Lennon and Paul McCartney functioned as co-writers early on, the later era of the Beatles showed the two working very much on their own and each bringing their own songs to the table.

4) Group effort

In this scenario, the entire band would work together throughout the writing process as one collective songwriting group. While the group may lack the direction and vision of a single songwriter, the benefit here is that songwriting process would play to each band member’s strengths, be it melodies, harmonies, rhythm (bass and/ or drums), horn arrangements, etc.

5) Jam session

The most experimental, yet group-involved band-centric songwriting process is to write through a process of jam sessions. The idea here is to simply start playing, maybe using of a pre-determined chord progression, or maybe using nothing pre-determined at all and let the creativity flow. The best way to ensure you capture all of the song possibilities from a jam session is to record each session and then have a listening session afterwards.


How does your band write songs?

Just as solo songwriters each have their own songwriting process, each band has their own process as well. Let us know how your band approaches the songwriting process in the form of a comment below.

Posted by Dave Cool on 03/12/2012 | 8 comments
Melanie

Musician Website Love: Allan Chapman

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

Who: Allan Chapman
What: Soul-infused rock & groove
Where: New York City
Why his website rocks: Using a great new design that mixes a grungy vintage background with clean pop art in shades of black and white, Allan's website is visually appealing right away. He follows this up with fresh content in a news feature to keep fans updated. There is also a prominent call to action on his landing page – to focus fans on signing up for the mailing list (and getting a free song for doing so!)
Check it out at http://musicbyallanchapman.com


Posted by Melanie on 03/09/2012 | 13 comments
Dave Cool

Submit Your Website for the SXSW Website Demolition Derby!

Submit Your Website for the SXSW Website Demolition Derby!

Bandzoogle is heading south to Austin, Texas for SXSW from March 14 to 18. We’ll be attending parties, checking out showcases, eating some BBQ, and probably have a drink or two.

More importantly, Bandzoogle founder Chris Vinson will moderate the panel "Website Demolition Derby", where he, along with panelists Bob Moczydlowsky (Topspin) and Ethan Kaplan (Live Nation), will review websites live for the audience.

Chris will use his 15+ years of web design experience in critiquing each site's design, organization, content and functionality. Diplomacy will be put aside as reviews will be brutally honest. The panel will also discuss how websites fit with an artist's overall online strategy, and how a website can help achieve certain goals in an artist's career.

Details:

Thursday, March 15
5:15PM-6:15PM
Austin Convention Center
Room 10C

For more info: http://schedule.sxsw.com/2012/events/event_MP10158

Submit Your Website For Review!

Will you be attending SXSW? Send us your website link and Chris just might review your website live during the panel (if you show up, of course).

To submit your website, simply email dcool[at]bandzoogle[dot]com with your url.

Are You Bandzoogle Member Attending SXSW?

Community Manager Dave Cool will also be on hand to tweet and blog from SXSW, so if you’ll be attending and would like to meet up, please let us know in the comments, or email Dave directly: dcool[at]bandzoogle[dot]com

If you’re not attending, you can still follow Bandzoogle’s experience at SXSW on Twitter: @Bandzoogle
Posted by Dave Cool on 03/05/2012 | 2 comments