Melanie

New MySites Icons

A great way to connect with your fans is through social media.  Sometimes it seems like there is a new social media site or online music service popping up every other day. Based on your suggestions, we decided to include more icons to the Bandzoogle MySites Feature.

So here they are:

Bandzoogle social media icons

The new icons include: Soundcloud, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Vimeo, Google +, Bandcamp, Spotify, Ourstage, Official.fm, Indaba, and Beatport, and just like our original social networking icons, we have them in color as well as in black and white. You can add as few or as many as you like to your My Sites features.  One tip is to focus on putting links to the sites where you actively add content and engage with your fans regularly.

For a twist on the traditional social media icons, do a search in Google for "social media icons" and download any free set or image that catches your eye. I like these peeling sticker icons:

Social media icons

To use these, download the images to your computer, then add a text feature and upload the social icon images by clicking the Image button. You can add your profile link to each icon by clicking on it, and then choosing the Link button. You can also add less common sites that we haven't included this way if you like.

Whether you go this route or stick to the sleek ones that we've created, it's a nice way to add some visual interest to your website - and hopefully build up your fan base. After all, your website should work as the central hub for your online strategy.

Which social networking sites do you use the most to promote your music, network with fans, or just catch up with friends? Do you add these icons to each page of your website, or just your contact page? Leave your web address in the comments - I'd love to see these shiny new icons in action!

Posted by Melanie on 07/29/2011 | 13 comments
Dave Cool

5 Common Characteristics of Full-Time Musicians

Paul Cargnello & The Frontline (photo: Alex Steau)

I’ve now been involved in the Montreal music scene in some way for 17 years, and have seen many artists and bands come and go during that time. Now that I’m in my 30’s, I’m starting to truly understand what it takes to “make it” as a musician/band. What do I mean by “make it”? I’m not talking about becoming a "star", but simply playing music for a living, which is a place where most of my artist friends want to get to. While reflecting on this, I realized that the artists that were finally able to make a living playing music had some common traits:

     

5 Common Characteristics of Full-Time Musicians

   

1. They work (very) hard

The artists and bands that I know that are making a full-time living are some of the hardest working people I know. They hustle every day and work long hours, evenings, weekends, whatever it takes to get the job done and bring in the income they need to survive. Most bands dream of quitting their day job to do music full-time, but some don’t realize that it is a job to be a full-time musician, and you might end up working harder and longer than any day job out there, but the reward will be to do what you love for a living.

2. They love what they’re doing

To make it as a full-time musician, you have to eat, breath and sleep music each and every day. In order to do this, you have to truly love what you are doing and be extremely passionate about it. It’s not always going to be glamorous, and most often it’s going to be a lot of hard work. When you’re on tour for weeks at a time, driving long hours cramped in a van, sleeping on floors and barely making enough money to eat, you really need to love what you’re doing to get through those tough experiences and breakthrough to the other side when the money does start to come in.

3. It’s not about the money

Speaking of money, I don’t know a single full-time artist that is playing music simply for the money. They have a passion for writing/performing/recording music, and they take their art and their craft seriously. It’s all they know and it’s all they want to do. Money is secondary, and when it comes, it’s simply a by-product of the work they are putting in.

Don’t get me wrong, although it’s not about the money for these artists, they do have a business sense, which is extremely important. They know how to manage their finances and put a value to the work they are doing.

4. They have support

Being a DIY artist doesn’t mean you have to or should do it all on your own. Derek Sivers, the Founder of CD Baby, wrote a great blog post talking about this subject: http://sivers.org/diy

Essentially, Derek says that DIY shouldn’t mean Do-It-ALL-Yourself, but instead should mean Decide-It-Yourself. This is so true, and all the artists I know who are making a full-time living have some kind of support team in place, either a manager, agent, small label or assistant to help them with their career.

They didn’t necessarily start out with these people in place, but over time they developed a team to help them manage their careers. In some cases they are life partners, sometimes close friends, but more often it's a professional manager and/or agent who got on board once they reached a certain level in their career development.

5. They don’t give up

And last but not least, they simply don’t give up. I can’t tell you how many artists and bands I’ve known that after 1 or 2 albums they simply pack it in because they didn’t “make it”. This especially seems to happen after a few tours. Being on the road can be a difficult experience for most people, which goes back to having to really love what you’re doing to get through those moments.

The artists I know that are now making a living full-time from their music just stuck to it, through thick and thin. A gig falls through? They find another one. A band member quits? They replace them. They just keep going no matter what obstacles they have in front of them. This is all they know, and they don’t make any back-up plans.


One final thing I’ll say on this subject is that it often took these artists years to get to the point of making a full-time living from music, usually 7-10 years. Most “overnight successes” are years in the making, and nowhere is this truer than in the music industry.

Remember, The Beatles spent years performing 8-hour sets, 7 days a week in Germany before breaking into the American market.

Author Malcolm Gladwell talks about this story and the “10,000 Hour Rule” in his book "The Outliers". Here’s a video describing the 10,000 Hour Rule:

Another example of the 10,000 Hour Rule in the music industry, this time about Fleetwood Mac:

Posted by Dave Cool on 07/28/2011 | 19 comments
Dave Cool

Bandzoogle Member Spotlight: Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars

Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars Website

Bandzoogle Member Spotlight: Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars

Bandzoogle Member since: 2011

Website: www.sierraleonesrefugeeallstars.com

Genre: Reggae, Afro-beat

From: Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars Website

As they languished in a refugee camp in Guinea, the members of Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars could not have imagined what the future would hold for them. In just five whirlwind years, the group has been the subject of an acclaimed documentary film, toured the world to support a critically revered album, appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, had their music featured in a major Leonardo DiCaprio film, and shared the stage and studio with Aerosmith, Keith Richards and other international stars. The band is a tangible example of the redeeming power of music and the ability of the human spirit to persevere through unimaginable hardship and emerge with optimism intact.

We’re thrilled to have them as part of the Bandzoogle community. Black Nature, the youngest member of the band, took a few minutes out of his busy tour schedule to talk to us about the band and their new album:

Q: You’ve traveled the world, been on the Oprah show, you’ve shared the stage and studio with Aerosmith, Keith Richards and others. How do you remain grounded as a band? Is there any temptation to try and live that kind of life full-time?

We’re still grounded in where we came from. We try not to get away from our origins, we try to represent who we are and our country, our continent and our culture. We’re still refugees, even though we’re not living in refugee camps anymore, there are still issues that we talk about. We’re not going to start talking about money or cars or other things like that. We feel we still have thousands of miles to run. I just feel like we’re here for a purpose, and still haven’t fulfilled all of our goals, so we still have to keep going.

Q: The band now has a record deal, publishing deal, booking agent, you travel the world, etc. Does the band still feel like a family like it did in the early days?

Absolutely, we still have a sense of family. For me personally I feel like all of the members are my father figures or uncle figures, we all have mutual respect for each other. Coming from the same country, everyone considers everyone as family. We still have that, we still maintain that.

Q: How hard was it to go back to Sierra Leone the first time?

On a personal level, I was totally hopeless, I didn’t know where I was going to start from. I didn’t know where my family was, what exactly am I going to go do? But at the same time, I kept the faith, this is my country, let me just go and see what is going to happen. It was very, very challenging. Everything changed, it was like another country. The people I used to know in a particular neighborhood were gone, everything was in a different order. But I kept doing my thing and I got used to it.

Q: You have a new album out called “Rise & Shine”. The album was tracked in New Orleans with veteran producer Steve Berlin of Los Lobos. What was that experience like? Did you find any parallels between a post-Katrina New Orleans and post-war Sierra Leone?

When I was there, it absolutely reminded me of Sierra Leone. And with the music, the culture, the food, I was like wow, I feel we had a strong connection. It was like wow, you know, we fit in perfectly!

Q: What was it like making the album in New Orleans and being able to draw from such an incredible pool of musicians in that city and collaborate with them?

Ya! That’s the thing, I was like wow, this is incredible! We got to feature “Trombone Shorty” and Bonerama that played the horns on the record, and Washboard Chaz who played instruments that I never saw before. It was really incredible.

Video preview of “Rise & Shine”:

Q: What motivates the band today to continue this positive revolution that started in those refugee camps almost 20 years ago?

Well, I think it’s the ongoing things that are still happening in the world, like Libya or somewhere else, we feel for those people, we were once like those people, you know, the innocent people that don’t know exactly what’s going on and they just get killed or displaced. And also other societies, like in America, it’s one of the most incredible places on earth, but there are really bad things happening like drug wars and gang wars, all of those things, you know. I wish I could talk about nice sunglasses, or about nice clothes, but I feel, no I can’t, because there are still things that are going wrong. That’s the motivation that’s just kept us going.

Q: Where do you think the wind will take you in the future? What’s next for Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars?

We’ve been all around, I’m hoping the wind keeps bringing us around and that people will get to learn and people will get to listen. And hopefully they take this message from these songs and say ‘let me practice this, let me pass it on to my generation, to my kids, my family, and see how we can change this world into a better world for the next generation’. That’s what I’m hoping.


Filmmakers Zach Niles and Banker White along with musician Chris Velan, encountered the band in the Sembakounya Camp, and were so inspired by their story they ended up following them for three years as they moved from camp to camp, bringing much needed joy to fellow refugees with their heartfelt performances.

The resulting film that documented this moving saga, Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars, was a critical success, and introduced the world to the personalities and dramatic stories behind the band.

The film’s trailer:

Filmmaker Zach Niles, who now manages the band, took a few minutes to answer a couple of questions about the band’s website, as well as what the Montreal connection to the band is. Since Bandzoogle was founded in Montreal, and founder Chris Vinson, CEO David Dufresne and blogger-in-residence Dave Cool all live there, we were obviously very curious.

Q: What is your favorite Bandzoogle feature?

Since I am a manager that often acts as a tour manager and PR and merch guy the best thing about Bandzoogle is that I can update easily and on the fly. Almost anything I need to do is easily done within the framework. Makes life so much easier and as a non-techy person it makes it so much less daunting to be managing a website that's visited (hopefully) by thousands people. I also love the integrated email feature, we just made a template and I type in and boom it's off! I use to procrastinate for weeks on email blasts just because I didn't want to deal with it.

Q: The design is beautifully done, did you work with a designer for it?

I worked with a great designer named Alana Salcer. I gave her some creative pieces that we use in our marketing and she adapted them to the platform. I love the look of it.

Q: How has your website helped to amplify the band’s message of positive change in the world?

Even with Facebook and Twitter people still use websites to create a deeper connection with artists. I've tried to nurture that relationship with as many candid pictures and tour videos, news updates, live tracks, etc. It provides a platform where the story of a band can really be highlighted - and Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars have one of the most compelling stories out there!

Q: There’s a Montreal connection to the band, how did that come about?

Well - our really great friend Chris Velan is a Montrealer. Chris discovered the band with myself and Banker White back in 2002 in a refugee camp in Guinea West Africa. He produced their first album and just collaborated with the band on a song "Inez" (inez.chrisvelan.com). We're hoping to write and record more with him in the future. Check him out at www.chrisvelan.com

Posted by Dave Cool on 07/26/2011 | 0 comments
David Dufresne

A Few Questions about the International Songwriting Competition

We recently agreed to sponsor some prizes to the winners of the International Songwriting Competition. Before doing so, we asked a few questions to Candace Avery, a former drummer, publicist and events producer. She founded the ISC and she acts as its director. Here are her answers. Let us know in the comments if you've ever had good (or not so good) experiences with songwriting competitions and how you think they can help your career. To find out more about the ISC, and to enter some songs in the contest, click here.

1) What is the International Songwriting Competition ? When was it established ?


Established in 2002, the International Songwriting Competition (ISC) is one of the world's most prestigious and respected international songwriting competitions. Receiving entries from all over the world, ISC accepts entries from both amateur and professional musicians, providing the opportunity for songwriters and musicians to have their songs heard in a professional arena. ISC is designed to nurture the musical talent of songwriters on all levels and promote excellence in the art of songwriting. Renowned for its high-profile judges, ISC offers the opportunity to have your songs heard by the most influential decision-makers in the music industry. Winners receive over $150,00 in cash and prizes, as well as recognition, kudos, and exposure.

2) Other than winning prizes, how can ISC help artists ?

Over the past seven years, most of the ISC Grand Prize winners have gone on to sign recording contracts with major labels. Additionally, many other winners have signed publishing deals, licensing deals, and more. ISC gives a winning artist a leg up and a push forward. It is yet another accomplishment that can help to propel an artist's career forward.

3) Your list of judges is impressive. How do you get them involved ?

The judging committee is by invitation from ISC. The first year ISC was created, we got lucky in that I knew a lot of industry people, so I was able to get some very prestigious judges from the onset. Each year as ISC became better established, it got easier, and more artists wanted to participate. The quality of the judges is what ISC is known for and sets ISC apart from other songwriting competitions.

4) Any specific tips an artist should follow to get a better chance of winning ?

Just write and enter great songs (which isn't as easy as it seems, right?). The goal of ISC is to finds great songs, so that's how you have the best chance of winning.

5) Many industry observers often warn songwriters and musicians that some competitions can be scammy. How can an artist differentiate the legit contests and the frauds?

This is a great question. As a potential entrant, you should definitely do your research. I suggest choosing competitions that have a high level of transparency. For example, do they have a phone number on their website? Do they have a physical address? Do they tell you specifically who their judges are, how many entries they receive, and what their prizes are? If the answer is "no" to any of these questions, then you should look elsewhere. ISC takes pride in being fully transparent and, as a result, has a great reputation for being legitimate.

Thanks Candace. As an interesting side-note, our primary contact at ISC was the lovely Christina Reckard, who definitely has one of the most colourful Bandzoogle websites I've ever seen. Lovely !


Posted by David Dufresne on 07/22/2011 | 6 comments
David Dufresne

Shy Self-Promoters

Peter SpellmanThis 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". Self-promotion is a common struggle with artists, and we loved this article that Peter wrote addressing the issue. Enjoy!

Shy Self-Promoters

"Self promotion" isn't something we were encouraged to pursue. Even today we tell children, "Don't talk about yourself; people won't like you." Or maybe you've heard: "Don't put yourself out front; you'll show up your little brother;" and, "People don't like show-offs." Subtle but powerful messages.

And then there's "networking". Do you get that hollow feeling in your gut whenever you're told that networking is the key to building your music career? Does it all sound to you a bit slimy and manipulative? It probably makes you feel like you're putting on an act - not really being yourself, right?

Those of a more shy and introverted nature have the most trouble with these career imperatives. In general, introverts are quiet, reflective and reserved. They re-charge alone and prefer one on one conversation to the crowd. Combine this natural disposition with those early messages about not promoting yourself, and a distaste for "working the room," and you have a guaranteed recipe for failure in a world that rewards big mouths and the hyper-connected.

As a result, introverts feel inadequate, underconnected - even guilty. They end up thinking it's necessary to choose between remaining obscure or sounding obnoxious, forgetting that maybe, just maybe, there is a creative middle ground.

Here are a few ideas to help with finding that middle ground for yourself:

. First, shed the useless negative self-talk ("You have nothing to offer," "You'll make a fool of yourself," "You can't, you can't, you can't."). Hey, if you want to really evolve, then accept the fact adulthood is mainly about de-programming/re-programming yourself. Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right. As Wayne Dyer is wont to say, "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change". Truer words have never been spoken. Start saying, "I think I can."

. Every day remind yourself of four things: your name, your title, your responsibilities, and the positive things you are accomplishing right now for others and, if relevant, for your company. You have a lot to offer and a lot of value to bring. Figure out what that is and remind yourself about it everyday. Affirmations help.

. Create a game plan with snack-sized goals. Approach networking functions somewhat strategically, creating a meaningful connection with 1-2 people, going off to recharge, then jumping in the fray once again.

. The brave new world of social networking affords a fear-free door. Working your blog or even email messages allow a tempo and pace even introverts thrive in. Find ways to connect using your passion and creativity. For example, on LinkedIn within groups you can post a question or start a discussion or identify something you feel is newsworthy.

. Try partnering with someone (an extrovert) that complements your strengths and see what kind of project or even business idea may emerge.

. Be inspired by great company: Bach, Debussy, Einstein, Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. were all shy and introverted, as are Michael Jordan, Bob Dylan and Meryl Streep. It need not hold you back.

Accept your natural disposition and lead with your strengths.



Posted by David Dufresne on 07/19/2011 | 11 comments
Dave Cool

5 Key Elements to a Solid Band Bio

Band Bio

One of the first things bands have to do when they create their website is to add a bio. It can be challenging, and many get stuck on what exactly they should write. Here are some key elements that you should have in your bio to help get you started:

5 Key Elements to a Solid Band Bio

    

1. Who you are

Some questions you should answer right away in your bio:

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

    Remember that your bio will be the first impression that most people have of your band, so this first paragraph is really important. Make it interesting, engaging and as unique as possible.

    2. What’s going on with your career right now?

    Have you just released a new album? Are you in studio? Are you currently on a songwriting retreat in Nashville? Make sure to include some information about what you’re currently up to in your bio.

    3. Background info

    Feel free to include some pertinent background info, but within reason. Nothing will make a media or industry person’s eyes gloss over more quickly than reading something like “Dave started taking pianos lessons when he was 5 years old. At age 6 he...”, etc. Find an interesting way to explain your musical history without necessarily spelling out each step from childhood until now.

    4. Career highlights

    Take the time to write down all of the successes you’ve had in your career, big and small. Did you collaborate with a well-known musician? Did your band win any awards/contests? Have you charted on radio? Once you’ve done that, choose the most unique/eye catching stories and include at least one of them in your bio.

    5. Media quotes

    If you have any quotes from media or industry people, definitely include one or two in your bio. Maybe have one in the opening paragraph to help describe your sound, and maybe a quote to end your bio talking about your potential as a band. And although tempting, please don’t include quotes from your Mom. If you don’t have any industry or media quotes, that’s fine, better not to have any than to make something up.


    Bonus tips:

    Here are a few extra tips to keep in mind for your band’s bio:

  • Have several versions ready
  •  

    It’s a good idea to have several versions of your bio ready: Long (1 page), Medium (2 or 3 paragraphs), short (1 paragraph) and an ‘elevator pitch’. An elevator pitch is a way to quickly describe your music in 30 seconds, so it should only be a few sentences.

    For some great tips on how to create your pitch, check out Ariel Hyatt’s guest blog right here on Bandzoogle: Creating a Perfect Pitch - Laser Focus Your Message

    Music conferences, festivals and media outlets have different needs and criteria, so having different versions ready beforehand will save you time and potential panic in having to edit your bio in situations where you need to submit it right away.

  • Be honest (no making stuff up)
  •  

    It might be tempting to say that you showcased at SXSW, or to add a quote from a major news outlet talking about your music, but if it isn’t legit, don’t write it. People will eventually find out, and it’s not worth the backlash or the risk of being blacklisted by media.

  • No typos
  •  

    Seriously, no typos.

  • Keep it current
  •  

    And last but not least, always keep your bio current. The moment something significant happens in your career, you should update your bio with this new information. If you’ve gone from being in the studio to releasing your album, update your bio. If you’ve release the album and are now going on a National tour, add that to your bio, etc. Your bio should be continually updated as your career moves forward.

    Posted by Dave Cool on 07/14/2011 | 0 comments
    David Dufresne

    Five Myths About Music Publishing

    Songtrust Logo

    This is a guest post by Justin Kalifowitz, co-founder of Songtrust, that sheds light on some of the common myths about music publishing:

    Five Myths About Music Publishing

    1. Music Publishing is only for established songwriters and artists

    While it's true that most music publishers focus on a small swath of songwriters who have already achieved traditional success, music publishing is a part of the industry that songwriters at all levels can focus on. From registering and protecting your copyrights to collecting royalties and licensing your music for sync, there's no minimum amount of money you need to be earning to start taking this part of your career seriously.

    2. I'm affiliated with a PRO (ASCAP, BMI or SESAC), I don't need to do anything else to manage my music publishing rights

    Sure, that's one option. But that's not how most professional songwriters thinks. Performing Rights Organizations in the United States only license and collect royalties for the public performance of your music. For many music publishers and songwriters, performance income, while an important revenue stream, only represents a portion of their catalog's income. PROs do not license or collect mechanical royalties or interactive streaming royalties, they do not handle sync licensing and they do not register your songs with the US Copyright Office.

    3. I just signed up with SoundExchange, I don't need to do anything else to manage my music publishing rights

    It's great that you've signed up with SoundExchange, except they don't have anything to do with music publishing. SoundExchange is a performing rights organization that collects licensing fees on behalf of sound recording copyright owners (record labels, generally) and recording artists-not songwriters.

    4. Every music publishing deal will screw you, they are like bad bank loans

    Back in the day, there were lots of stories of songwriters and artists who got really screwed by a number of unsavory characters. However, it's not true that every music publishing deal will screw you. Today, music publishing deals come in all shapes and sizes and the partner you choose can help you navigate this part of the industry. Apart from trying to manage music publishing yourself or with the help of a manager or lawyer, there are basically three options out there:

    • You can sign a long-term contract and sell a percentage of your rights (Co-Publishing)
    • You can sign a short-term contract without selling your rights but pay a percentage of your royalties as an administration fee (Administration)
    • You can opt for Songtrust and sign a month-to-month music publishing administration service agreement. You'll keep 100% of your rights and get paid 100% of your royalties with membership fees starting at just $10 per month.

    5. I mailed a CD with my songs on it to myself. This proves that I have the copyright.

    It's true that as soon as you "fix" your song to a physical form (write it down on paper, record it) your copyright exists. However, registering your song with the US Copyright Office gives you even more rights. For example, registering your song is a requirement before you can file a lawsuit against someone for infringing on your work. It also declares, publicly, that you are the owner of the work and affords you the ability to recover statutory damages and to potentially recover your legal fees as well.


    Songtrust is a company that makes it easy to register your songs, track your music, and collect your music publishing royalties. If you would like to give their service a try, comment on this post and we'll send you a discount code that provides 20% off the first year of a Songtrust membership.

    Posted by David Dufresne on 07/12/2011 | 25 comments
    Dave Cool

    Bandzoogle Member Spotlight: Leah Flanagan

    Leah Flanagan Website

    Bandzoogle Member Spotlight: Leah Flanagan

    Bandzoogle Member since: 2010

    Website: www.leahflanagan.com.au

    Genre: Acoustic / Folk / Soul

    From: Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia

    Leah Flanagan

    A storyteller at heart with the voice of an angel, Leah Flanagan can also wield a mean ukelele. Since the release of her 2010 acclaimed album NIRVANA NIGHTS, a tribute to a small, defiantly seedy bar in Darwin, Leah has been winning the hearts of audiences at festivals and selling out venues across Australia with her honesty, charm and musical prowess.

    Leah’s versatile musicality lead her to collaborating with Internationally famed and acclaimed heavyweights such as Sinead O’Connor, Meshell Ndegeocello, Ricki Lee Jones and John Cale. Most recently her uke-fused tropical stylings caught the attention of Jimmy Buffett, who invited Leah to support him on his Australian Tour in January this year.

    Perhaps it’s her intrinsic blend of Indigenous Australian, Irish and Italian descent that sets her apart from many other singer/songwriters, but one thing is a definite, it is her beautiful voice and distinctive take on folk, soul and country has made her a favourite on the major festival circuit.

    What’s your favourite Bandzoogle feature and why?

    I like the site traffic section which lets me know how many hits I getting from various locations. It really helps when planning tours.

    How did you find the experience of working with a designer?

    The best thing I have done. I can focus more on my music and let Stu handle the tech stuff which I find incredibly difficult to get my head around.

    What do you think is the most effective promotional tool for your career?

    Touring has done well for me. Especially as the type of music I play doesn’t get a great deal of mainstream support in Australia. When I tour I can meet my audience and make a first hand connection with them. It is something I appreciate as a music punter too so maybe thats why I make sure I try to perform as much as possible.

    What area of your music career generates the most income for you? Music sales? Live shows? Licensing? Other?

    Live shows, music sales and royalties are probably all on par at the moment. It’s kind of hard to keep up with it all sometimes.

    What’s one of your favorite career highlights so far?

    The Seven Songs To Leave Behind show I did with Sinead O’Connor, Ricki Lee Jones, John Cale, Meshell Ndegeocello, The Black Arm Band and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. It was HUGE and I got to perform alongside some of my heros. A very very life changing experience.

    You’re nicknamed the “Darling of the Tropical North”, tell us more about Northern Australia, it sounds lovely!

    Darwin, where I live in Australia is considered remote area as it takes you at least 3 days to drive to the next major city! We are closer to Asia than the rest of the country and I have lived here almost my whole life. It is a very tropical city - you rarely need a jumper and I own only one pair of jeans! It is probably the most multi-cultural part of Australia too.

    In your bio, your voice is described as a “voice of an angel”, and after listening to a few songs, it’s hard to argue with that. When and how did you learn to sing?

    Why thank you. I have been singing ever since I was a small child. I have followed my love of music my whole life (I even have a classical degree!) and have just been developing my skills and career year after year. It has led me to where I am and I hope it takes me on many other amazing journeys.

    You also play the ukelele, how did you start playing that instrument and what attracted you to it?

    The ukulele has just gone gangbusters over here in Australia! I have been playing the instrument for years, actually I picked it up whilst being bored in the studio and after I wrote the “September Song” on the Uke, it has been my trademark instrument!

    You toured Australia with Jimmy Buffett in January, how did that come about and what was that experience like?

    We got personally invited to open for Jimmy’s Australian shows at the Sydney Opera House and Hordern Pavillion. It was such a fun experience - Jimmy Buffett is a lifestyle not just a rockstar. His whole crew were very lovely and generous to us.

    And finally, any plans to leave Australia and tour elsewhere in the world so the rest of us can see your live show?

    We are currently working on it. We will be in North America touring in 2012 but for now it is some much needed chill time to inspire some more songs for the next album. Keep a look out for us though - you never know where we might pop up!

    Recommended Listening: “First Class Lovers”, “September Song” (both streaming on Leah Flanagan’s website)


    Artist Marketing

    Although Bandzoogle offers the tools to easily build a website without the help of an outside designer, some artists do work with a designer either to simply delegate the design task, or to further customize the branding for their site. Leah Flanagan’s website is a good example of this, so we decided to ask her designer Stuart Eadie of ArtistMarketing.com.au a few questions:

    How important do you think it is for an artist to have their own website?

    Paramount. Any one can have a ReverbNation page / Facebook / MySpace and so on. Not everyone has a well maintained well functioning website. The fact that someone can type in the artists name and end up in the artists online home from which they can interact and buy music direct is the whole point: The relationship between fan and artist.

    As a professional designer, how do you find the experience working with Bandzoogle’s website building technology?

    Mostly I love Bandzoogle as it has obviously been designed from a musicians point of view (I'm one as well). All the necessary features are there and are simple enough to work in most designs. There are a few things I'd like to have more flexibility over via the control panel. I can usually find a work around though to be able to access the style sheet when using the custom editor would be nice. You know like the firebug or web developer plugin for firefox.

    What’s your favorite Bandzoogle feature?

    From the point of view of the artists: the store and album download. From design P.O.V. the custom builder and the 'html' feature. Great to be able to get in there an add you own stuff.

    How was it working with Leah Flanagan?

    Leah is one of my favourite artists. I love her music, it's honest, direct and beautiful just like her. She doesn't mess around and seems to trust me. Pays her bills on time. Couldn't ask for a better client.

    What’s your favorite section of Leah’s website?

    The header. It has her face and the sitewide music player has her voice. I look into her eyes and listen to her voice. Creepy huh? Really I love the fact that Leah can send out emails direct to her fans and I know that every one in the mailing list wants to be there, also again the shop.... speaking design wise... too close.

    What’s your favorite Leah Flanagan song?

    That's hard as I really love her entire last album. I'll go with September Song as it features the uke and makes you smile. 'First Class Lovers' is a close second... aghhh too hard to choose. I love that she makes albums.

    Posted by Dave Cool on 07/11/2011 | 1 comment
    Chris

    Welcome Matt Jaynes to the Zoogle family!

    A new Zoogler joins the team this week: Matt Jaynes from Austin Texas.

    Matt joins Colin, Dave, Eli and Brad to round out the dev team. He has a ton of experience in making web applications, and has also built some hugely popular mobile apps.

    Matt is already hard at work on our upcoming relaunch of Bandzoogle (which is looking pretty sweet!). He'll be making some big contributions to Bandzoogle over the coming months.

    Welcome aboard Matt!

    Posted by Chris on 07/07/2011 | 6 comments
    Dave Cool

    Stop Wasting Your Time with Facebook Events

    Facebook Events

    Stop Wasting Your Time with Facebook Events (Sending Messages through Facebook Event Invites is Now Essentially Useless)

    I have a confession to make: I stopped checking Facebook Event Invites late last year. It started feeling eerily like MySpace at its worst (and look where MySpace is now). I have an average of 80+ invites at any one time, and what made it even worse was the constant messages that were sent to everyone invited to the event, whether they had confirmed or not. So not only did I stop checking event invites, my Facebook inbox became such a mess that I stopped checking that too.

    That is until Facebook changed the way their messaging system worked. Your Facebook inbox is now an integration of SMS, chat, email or messages. But one of the biggest changes for bands is that now any messages sent through Event Invites no longer wind up in someone’s regular inbox, they now end up in the “Other” inbox. That’s right, the “Other” inbox where message updates from Facebook Fan Pages go.

    Facebook Inbox

    The “Other” Inbox

    How many people actually know that this secondary “Other” inbox exists? How many people know it exists and proactively check it to get those updates? I’m willing to bet, not very many. I actually knew it existed, but had totally forgotten about it, and now have 20 pages worth of unread messages from Facebook Pages. It’s like a junk mail folder that I never open. And now all of those messages from events I’m not attending are going to that inbox too, which is great news for me (and I might actually start using my Facebook inbox again), but it’s not very good news for people organizing events, specifically bands.

    What’s the solution?

    So what’s the solution? What should bands do now? Keep sending messages through event invites even though they are going to the “Other” inbox? While you can keep doing this if you want, here are a few other things you can spend time on that might give you better results and more attendance at your shows:

    1. Stop blindly inviting everyone to shows

    I live in Montreal, but I can’t tell you how often I get invites for events that are happening in Toronto, New York, Boston, etc. Is there a chance I will be in that city for the show? Yes, in theory, but it’s really not worth the risk of being blacklisted. Blacklisted? Yes, you can actually ignore all invites from certain people if you want to. I do it all the time, and being invited to shows that are not happening in my home city is often the reason (especially getting invites to shows in each city of a band’s national tour).

    Facebook Ignore Invites

    And if I do happen to be in that city for the show, I’ll find out when the person updates their fan page, sends out a message through their mailing list or tweets about it. But blindly inviting everyone in your Friend’s list is just not the way to go.

    2. Be active on your Fan Page

    Be sure to post regular updates about your show on your Fan Page. Event details, updates about the line-up, links to blog posts & video blogs on your website previewing the show, pics from band rehearsals, etc. And why not use Facebook Questions to build your set list? Each day ask fans to choose their favorite songs and build your set list from those songs.

    And if there are opening bands, talk about them too! You can post info about the bands, their music, pics, videos, etc. If you regularly post creative updates leading up to the show, it will no doubt help create buzz/excitement about the event.

    3. Send personal messages to people that you invite to events

    So the messages you send through the Event Invite itself are now going to the mysterious “Other” inbox? Well, why not take the time to send each person who you’ve invited a personal message inviting them? And I don’t mean copying and pasting the same message to each person. Yes, you can and should use some of the same elements, but take an extra few minutes and personalize the message to the individual. You can reference a recent conversation with them, tell them what’s going to be special/unique/fun about that night, basically, tell them why they should come out that night.

    Don’t be discouraged

    This post is certainly not meant to be discouraging, but more of a reality check for promoting shows on Facebook. I sat in many empty rooms during my 3 years as a venue booker in Montreal, and often the band’s idea of promoting the show was creating a Facebook Invite and sending out 1 message to everyone who they invited. It’s just not enough anymore, and this goes for any event where the audience is not built-in. The message here is that we all have to go the extra mile to get people to our events, and the more creative, the better.

    In what creative ways has your band promoted your live shows on Facebook?

    Posted by Dave Cool on 07/07/2011 | 14 comments