Video website review: CraigBancoff.com

This time, I'm reviewing CraigBancoff.com, one of my favorite recent finds on Bandzoogle. An artist with amazing folk/Americana hooks, but who also needs to get more involved in the content of his site to connect with fans. I share a bunch of ideas on how he can accomplish this in this video.

Posted by Chris on 04/30/2011 | 12 comments

ASCAP EXPO11: The City of Angels... The City of Zooglers

FREE WEBSITE REVIEWS !

Oh yes, we're headed back to L.A. this week for the ASCAP "I Create Music" Expo, and everyone is invited to our Exhibitor table where Allison, myself, and our excellent friend Kevin will be on hand to chat about Bandzoogle with attendees, but also to give free and quick website reviews to anyone that asks (Bandzoogle member or not). The exhibition space is free to visit even for non-registered folks, so if you're anywhere close to Hollywood, feel free to come chat, steal our candy and get some good no-non-sense advice about your website, and about the good old scary Internet.

ASCAP Expo

Bonus! one Panel and two Demo Sessions

On Friday, at 9:45AM (ain't that a bit early ? for a musicians' conference ? oh well...), I will have the immense pleasure of playing the part of savvy and knowledgeable panelist for Online Tools for You to Take Hold of Your Career (Presented by Songtrust). The uber-smart and uber-lovely Emily White (from Whitesmith Entertainment) will be moderating and we'll be joined by Carl Jacobson (Nimbit), Justin Kalifowitz (Songtrust), and longtime Bandzoogler Benji Rogers (from Pledge Music). That's in Grand Ballroom, at 9:45AM on Friday

What shall we discuss, you ask ?
"Don’t get overwhelmed by all of the online resources available to music creators today. This panel will focus on the many online tools at your disposal, from mailing lists, websites and social networks to rights management platforms and marketing services. Find out what works best and why, and how to manage them properly to reach your goals."

Allison and I will also lead 2 demo sessions during the Expo. In those sessions we'll do a quick demo of the site builder for the benefit of those poor souls who have never seen it. We will also talk about best practices for the design, layout and content of your website, and answer questions about Bandzoogle and websites in general. Should be informative like those infomercials on TV (with less bad acting, more really useful stuff and lots more fun).

The first demo session will be Friday at 3:55PM in the Doheny room. The second one will be Saturday at 3:40PM in the Laurel room. Bring a friend and come heckle.

Looking forward to spending more time in sunny Los Angeles. This will be my first time at the Expo and I've heard great things. We also recently partnered up with ASCAP for their member benefits program, so the timing is perfect for us to spend time with all those friendly composers, authors, and publishers. See you there !



Posted by David Dufresne on 04/25/2011 | 0 comments

The little things count: Add a Favicon to your website

What is a favicon and why should I use one?

Most Internet users probably don't give much thought to favicons, but it's a great way to add a touch of individuality to your website and take your own branding just one little step further. So what is a favicon anyways? Also called a favorites icon, a favicon is the little image that shows up in 3 places in your web browser.

Next to your domain name:

Bandzoogle favicon

In the tab, if you use tabbed browsing (and lots of us do nowadays!)

Bandzoogle favicon

And, in the bookmark menu when someone bookmarks your page.

Bandzoogle favicon

If your favicon is unique and visually appealing, it'll stand out, making it easy to find when someone has lots of tabs open, or lots of pages saved in a bookmarks menu.

How to make a great favicon

- Keep it simple

Favicons are 16px wide by 16px tall. That's pretty tiny, so don't worry about including text or lots of detail. A logo or simple image is probably best. When you're creating yours, just make sure it's using square dimensions (same size wide as it is tall).

- Make it meaningful

If you don't have a logo, try creating an image that relates to you in some way. Maybe a tiny version of your latest CD, or your initials. If you want to use an interesting shape, create your favicon with a transparent background and save it as a .png file.

Now put it to use on your Bandzoogle website!

Once your image is ready, click on your Design and Options tab, then Favorites icon. You'll see a browse button to click and locate the file on your computer. You can upload your image file directly, and we'll convert it to a .ico file (the file type for all favicons) and scale it down to the right size. And that’s all there is to it! Try adding one to your website today.

Posted by Melanie on 04/22/2011 | 10 comments

Video website review: KevinBarberMusic.com

My second video site review, this time for Jazz/Blues/Rockabilly guitar hero Kevin Barber. Kevin is doing a lot of things right on his site, in my review I help him tweak the layout and content to make it even more effective. Enjoy!

Posted by Chris on 04/20/2011 | 10 comments

5 Ways to Impress Venue Bookers and Get More Gigs

Dave Cool

This is a guest blog post by Dave Cool. Dave is perhaps best known for having directed and produced the documentary film "What is INDIE? A look into the World of Independent Musicians". He is also an author, and former program director of the Centre St-Ambroise in Montreal. And yes, that's his real name.

5 Ways to Impress Venue Bookers and Get More Gigs

I spent three years as program director for two venues here in my home city of Montreal, overseeing 500 shows during that time. Here are 5 ways that you can impress venue bookers and give yourself the best chance to get more gigs:

1. Think 3-4 months in advance

Many venues are booked at least 3 months in advance, and the more popular a venue, the further in advance you should contact them. This is especially true if you're looking to play on a Friday or Saturday night. So be sure to contact the booker at least 3-4 months in advance.

2. Be patient

Bookers are very busy people, so be patient. If you didn’t get a response right away, it doesn’t mean that they’re not interested in booking you. Chances are, they just haven't had time to evaluate your music yet. Follow-up politely to see if your e-mail/message has been received, but whatever you do, don’t try to rush them or sound annoyed that they haven’t gotten back to you. Be persistent, but always be polite.

3. Be honest

Whatever you do, don’t lie about your draw. You’re better off being honest with a booker about what your draw really is rather than stretching the truth and disappointing them. If you tell a booker that you can pack the place and only your mom shows up, chances are you won’t be booked at that venue again. But if you were honest about what your draw realistically is and you match or surpass it, then the booker will no doubt want to book you again.

4. Be respectful

No matter what venue you’re playing at, whether it’s a high-end club or a seedy bar, treat the staff like they’re your best friends. Some of the best ways to show respect to the staff:

  • Show up on time: If soundcheck is at 6:00, try to show up early, and never show up late.
  • Leave on time: Don’t make the staff stay longer than they normally would because you want to take your time having one last drink. Finish it up and get out of there on time.
  • Start on time: Even if there is nobody in the crowd, start playing on time like the room is packed.
  • Tip bar staff: Even on free drinks, and especially if it’s a slow night, be sure to tip the bar staff. The gesture will not go unnoticed.
  • Thank staff: Every chance you get, thank the staff and especially while on stage, which is always appreciated.
  • Be extra nice to the sound tech: They can be your hero or your worst enemy that night, depending if you treat them with respect or not.

5. Be thankful

Sending a nice thank you note to the booker the day after the show is always a nice gesture. There is so much competition out there, be sure to let the booker know that you're thankful for the opportunity to play their venue. This will go a long way to building a long-term relationship with them that will help get you many more gigs in the future.

Posted by Melanie on 04/15/2011 | 27 comments

5 Essentials of Music Career Success

Peter Spellman

This blog post by Peter Spellman originally appeared on his blog "Music Career Juice". Peter is the Director of Career Development at Berklee College of Music, and the author of several books about the music industry including "The Self-Promoting Musician" and "Indie Business Power".

5 Essentials of Music Career Success

Music is too big a world for a one-size-fits-all model of music career success. Musicians’ career paths are as unique as their individual fingerprints. Nevertheless, there are a few guidelines that I believe apply to anyone trying to make a living career out of their love of music. Here are five:

1. Hone your talent and realize there is a place for you.

Not everyone is a Quincy Jones, a Beatles, or a Bruce Springsteen, but if an artist like Tom Waits is a vocalist, then there is definitely room for you too. Do the work necessary to excel in your niche, whether it’s writing a chart, engineering a session, providing backup vocals, or teaching kids the basics of music.
Your goal, to use marketing lingo, is to "position" yourself in your market as the go-to person for that particular skill or talent. Don't worry too much about industry rejection. Every record label in Britain initially passed on the Beatles and The Rolling Stones. The key is believing in yourself and persevering beyond others' opinions (even those of "the industry").

2. Connect with as many people as you can because relationships drive music careers more than anything else, even talent.

Music is a "who-you-know/who-knows-you" kind of business. The quality and quantity of your relationships will be the primary engines of your progress. Try developing creative projects with fellow-musicians. Perhaps you can combine your live show with two other acts and present the package to a local promoter. There is strength in numbers. Finding the right combinations takes experimentation.

 If you’re interested in working in the business side of music, then interning at a music company is the best way to both learn how the biz works and connect with those who can help move your career forward.

3. Accept the new powers in your corner and take responsibility for creating your own success.

The last twenty years has given you the means to both produce and distribute your own music on a global scale. New models of business are emerging in the world of music. A "record deal" is not necessarily the goal any longer. The Internet has clearly become your "open mic" to the world, and desktop technologies provide you with ways to have the look, reach and efficiency of larger companies. Dare to be different. Remember, new power also means new responsibilities. Global reach means a potentially far-flung audience. You need to be ready for the incoming messages and questions from this new market. Have you created the best business structures to hold and express your work? Are you setting up effective systems to communicate with your audience? It’s up to you to create your own success and not merely rely on a record company or agent to do the work of making you visible in the marketplace.

4. Understand that every business is becoming a “music business” and so musical opportunities are multiplying.

It took a coffee company and a computer manufacturer to teach the music industry how to sell music in the digital age. Non-music businesses everywhere are seeking creative ways to add music-related services to their mix. This means that you needn’t be dependent on the traditional “music industrial complex” for music career success.
 Think of companies you already resonate with and try brainstorming ways you can link up. Start on a local scale. It might be a gift shop, bookstore or arts organization. It may even evolve into a full-fledged sponsorship for a tour or recording project. Find ways to add value to what these businesses are doing with what you have to offer. Forging creative alliances is key to building a multi-dimensional music career.

5. Prepare to be versatile and to wear several hats initially, until your "brand" is established.

Most musicians I know have had to cobble together several revenue streams in the early stages of their careers in order to make enough money to support themselves. Many have also had to take on a non-music "lifeline careers" just to make ends meet, pay down debt, or supplement what they earn from music. I tell musicians to not so much look for "a job," but to seek out the work that needs to be done. It might be arranging a song, playing a wedding gig, helping organize a concert series, doing a jingle session, offering private music instruction, or writing a review of your favorite band’s new CD. Eventually, all the different experiences merge together into the roaring river that will be your music career. At that point you’ll be visible, in demand and able to name your price. And that's career success.

Posted by David Dufresne on 04/13/2011 | 0 comments

Bandzoogle members have 4,000,000+ reasons to celebrate...

At the moment of writing this, that’s how much Bandzoogle members have sold, using Bandzoogle-powered store features on their sites. (There’s a running counter here, by the way!). That figure’s growth has been accelerating quickly in recent times (yay!)... but despite that, the commission rate that Bandzoogle is keeping on those sales has remained flat, at exactly 0.00%.

Well, this is completely awesome, since it means that many Bandzoogle members are earning nice revenue, selling their digital music, CDs and merch directly to their fans, with no “middle man” involved in the transaction. That’s a small and growing part of the music industry we are all extremely proud to be involved with ! Well done Bandzooglers.

Posted by David Dufresne on 04/12/2011 | 8 comments

Video: Backstage at ASCAP NYC with Bandzoogle member Adam Taylor

Just finished a great panel at the ASCAP NYC sessions. Was my first time moderating, but things went smoothly! Bandzoogle member Adam Taylor was on the panel with me, and shared his experience using the fan funding tool Kickstarter to support his new album, "No Poet". I shot a quick video backstage to summarize what and how he did it.

Also, if you're in the NYC area, make sure to check out Adam playing tonight at the Living Room at 7PM.

Posted by Chris on 03/31/2011 | 0 comments