Annual employee meetup this week!

Hello Bandzooglers,

This week our annual Bandzoogle employee retreat is taking place, and we are all packing suitcases and jumping in cars, trains and planes, on our way to beautiful Montebello, Quebec (Google it, very pretty). Since we all work from home offices across Canada, the United States, and exotic locations such as Leeds, U.K., this is an important rare time for us to meet face-to-face (some of us for the first time!), do some work, planning and of course, share some great meals and drinks.

Our focus for this year’s meetup will be to coordinate and get ready for the upcoming transition to Bandzoogle 2.0, and the roadmap of new features and products we have for 2013. The development team has planned to sit together and hack out a few new features that you guys will be excited to add to your websites. You will also find us around the bonfire, with guitars (jam session!), and s’mores.

Since we won’t be at working on our computers quite as obsessively as we usually are, there will be longer than normal wait times for support replies this week, and time off from support chat. We have a small and dedicated support team, and we wouldn’t want to have anyone else handling your support requests while we’re working in these meetings. We’ll still be getting back to your requests as soon as possible, and we’ll be back to our normal support schedule next week.

Thanks, and happy website building!

Posted by Stacey on 08/27/2012 | 2 comments

13 Dos and Don'ts of Open Mic

We found this post about open mics by Bandzoogle member Robin Yukiko in our forums, and thought that musicians that read our blog would also enjoy it. Robin is a Berklee College of Music grad, singer-songwriter, pianist, and music educator in San Francisco. She hosts the SF Singer-Songwriters’ Workshop at the Musicians Union Local 6. Learn more at www.robinyukiko.com



After going to open mics for years, I decided to compile a list of "rules" that I sadly see broken all the time. Maybe this can help some of you!

DON’T play and leave.

DO talk to EVERYONE and remember their names. You can even write their name and description and review it at the end of the night. They will be so impressed the next week.

DON’T expect to be discovered. This is a networking opportunity with other musicians. Open mics only lead to gigs if you work your contacts and follow up.

DON'T just say "Good job". Be specific and sincere like "I really liked your hook" or "Your low range sounds great!" so they know you were paying attention.

DO introduce others. Even if you aren't interested in collaborating with someone, maybe you can give someone a good lead.

DON’T heckle. No one wants you to request Free Bird.

DO be gracious. If only one person is listening, play just for that person, and yourself.

DON’T talk loudly over a ballad. Everyone chats, just be respectful about it.

DO play contrasting songs. (One slow, one fast, one in major, one in minor, etc.)

Similarly, DON’T play two songs in the same key back-to-back. Even if an audience doesn't know, their ears will start to get bored.

DON’T apologize before you play a song. People want you to be excited about your song, not hear excuses for why it's going to suck.

DO make friends with the host, bartenders, and all staff. People like to work with their friends, so be a friend to everyone you meet.

DO have fun! If it's not fun, what's the point?



What do you think? Have you experienced any of these things at an open mic? Would you add any Dos or Don'ts to the list? Let us know in the comments!

Posted by Justin on 08/22/2012 | 14 comments

Digital marketing is not a sin

This is a guest post by my good friend Virginie Berger. With more than 15 years of experience in the music industry, Virginie is the former marketing and content director of Myspace (France and French-speaking territories). She is also the founder and CEO of DBTH (www.dbth.fr/en) ; an alternative management firm, and the publishing editor of Don't Believe the Hype (virginieberger.com); a website specialized in music marketing.

We've been told over and over : music in itself is just fine, the problems concern recorded music and the record industry. Recorded music doesn't have any value anymore, this is a temporary anomaly which has lasted for nearly 60 years.

Before musical production became industrialized, there were artists. We are not saying that things were better before, but we are simply coming back to the state of music before it got to be recorded: then too music was dematerialized.

Recorded music is becoming (again) a means and not an end.

To put it simply: don't believe that recorded music is going to feed you when it is barely consumed anymore. Or differently.

Indeed, for decades, the music industry has been relying on an obvious consuming behavior:
Listen/Like/Buy

Except now things tend to be more like: Discover/Like/Support

What does this mean?

It means that, in a «digital world», where prescription is facilitated, individuals tend to become actors regarding the music they listen to and not mere followers. It is now up to the one who's got the power to decide, do what they want, influence, help, tell people to **** off, legally or illegally download, not buy records anymore, encourage artists or not; this is up to web users and nobody else.

As for artists, it all boils down to the famous equation by Mike Masnick :
CWF + RTB = $$$
(Connect With Fans + Reason To Buy = $$$)

Here are the steps which constitute this new scheme:
STEP 1 : BE DISCOVERED
STEP 2 : BE LIKED
STEP 3 : BE FOLLOWED
STEP 1 : HOW TO BE DISCOVERED?

 
In the past, the path was relatively well drawn out:
concert –> contact with a label –> studio + record –> distribution –> Celebrity –> Glory, groupies, etc…

Today: many more artists get broadcast since the access to broadcasting has become widely open (a Mac, a guitar, and a Facebook page), and since labels face more and more difficulties (too many potential artists to manage and less and less money to do it).

OK: it has never been so easy to make music and broadcast it. And above all, via any contact platform, I am in tune with my public.
YES BUT:
Last year, 90% of the revenue generated by online music sales went to 10% of the artists.

So, no matter if you are able to broadcast your music the way you like; if nobody cares and knows you, you might as well send it by mail to your friends and the result will be exactly the same. More and more online tools exist to ensure the promotion of artists. Pretty cool. But how can you master these tools?

It is of course quite normal, and even encouraged, to compose great songs, be an amazing stage performer... and show totally expressionless eyes at the sound of words like «mash up», «Twitter», «widget», «CSS», etc…, that is, not having the slightest clue about it all.

Why should you be bothered? You have a label, they'll take care of it. Or will they? Hum. A label is not a distinguishing factor anymore and it cannot anymore afford to be. Hence the necessity to find new ways to become visible.

As a matter of fact, this deeply questions the way you perceive yourself:

“I am not only an artist, I am also a product”.

SO

As a product, I must follow marketing approaches ad hoc.

This simply means that you should right away consider yourself as a product and not only as an artist, because nobody else will do it for you and if you post your video on YouTube, just to try it, you'll end up being the only person to give it a ... try and watch it.

STEP 2 : HOW TO BE LIKED?

Make good music: that's it.

Nothing new there: you can stand out in the crowd and create a buzz without any particular talent, but you will definitely not last for long. Yes, this is something to rejoice about because it wasn't necessarily the case before.

STEP 3 : HOW TO BE SUPPORTED?

Within the «digital world» then, your public does not necessarily «buy» you, rather they «support» you. Your fan - the one supporting you - will generate revenue, if you do things right.
But be careful for, the first consequence is that the (once obligatory) act of paying now depends on the fans' free will.

Your public is altogether given responsibilities AND given total freedom. And if they get a chance to «steal» your recorded music, they won't hesitate.

If your public considers your recorded music as worthless, they will not pay to listen to it.

And there's worse:

Yesterday, music was still a stock (CDs, vinyls). It is now becoming a stream (in the proper sense: streaming by Last.fm, Spotify, Deezer and others …).

It is probably only a matter of time and technologies before the smartest of these music taps becomes perfectly viable. In this world, cards are permanently reshuffled and the only way to save yourself is to strive to remain inside the stream...

Will you be able to make a living out of it? It's not that certain. The revenue for artists currently generated by Spotify is derisory compared to number of listens. But that's not the point. The point is for you to be discovered.

Bear this in mind: recorded music is about to become a means, not an end.
Hence THE fundamental point : establish strong bonds with the public / consumer.
What for?
To earn a living…
how to connect with your fans?

Position yourself on the same level as your fans, for example: dialogue, exchange, authenticity, proximity. We're not going to list all the available tools but a simple Facebook Fan Page with good ideas in it can be a very good basis (estimated cost: nothing, except time and ideas).

Share, for example. A lot. Always :

- exclusive or special advance information, teaser, remixes, backstage, demos, photos, videos…
- special concerts for fans (no official announcement, an almost secret showcase)
- contest with gifts
- free content for download
- rituals
- a nice participative iPhone app

And these are only a few examples. Ways to share with your public, you can come up with new ones every day…

Let your fans create, for example :

We call it UGC (User Generated Content) and brands now tend to worry about it (after having been totally fond of it) for, of course, it deprives them of control over their image.

Let them broadcast:

- remixes (offer your separate audio tracks and see what comes out)
- artwork
- live photos
- and even live videos (The Beastie Boys have released a DVD on this principle, N.I.N. is currently promoting on their official site a collaborative fan-made live video to be sold... for nothing, only downloadable in HD via torrent links)

For hardcore fans:

Give them visibility, recognition, VIP advantages… Recruit a core fanbase. They are the best spokespersons you'll ever find.

By the way, you can make recommendation easier, for example :

And this recommendation can take so many different forms:

- Sending of links (via FB, Twitter, Delicious, Digg…)
- Willing (or not!) creation of playlists (didn't you know? Someone listening to you and scrobbling your track on Last.fm is recommendation without knowing it, isn't it great?)
- Creation of fan pages (on a social network or independently)

Favor purchases, for example :

It is up to us to imagine new commercial experiences:

- nice collector object (Beatles box-set, NIN's “Ghosts” in an Ultra Collector version, unique ELLE by Mariah Carrey, signed object, …)
- value-added product (a concert ticket with the album…)
- a unique and uncompetitive experience (live performance within a virtual world…)
- sign of belonging and commitment
- merchandising (poster, T-shirt…)
- services : exclusive content, or delivered in special advance…

To conclude:

- Artists must integrate a marketing approach themselves in order to emerge. Either they master it or recruit the right people to do so.
- Labels and managers can support them in this «marketing 2.0» approach.

To sum up:

- An artist without a label and who is well surrounded can succeed.
- An artist supported by a label and/or a manager who know how to make their job evolve can make it big.


LISTEN / LIKE / BUY
That was comfortable and well mastered but that was before.

DISCOVER / LIKE / SUPPORT
This is not yet comfortable.
This is not yet mastered.

BUT
It represents great opportunities for independents. By starting from scratch (or nearly) we give niche music the chance it could never have had before.
Even better, the smaller ones are the most reactive, the smartest and the most innovative ones.

Posted by David Dufresne on 08/20/2012 | 6 comments

Band Website Love: Trichotomy

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

Who: Trichotomy
What: Contemporary Jazz Trio
Where: Brisbane, Australia
Why their website rocks: One of the 6 essential elements to an effective band website homepage is a short bio. The one on Trichotomy’s homepage is fun because it starts out as a dictionary definition to explain their band name, then offers a short description of the band’s sound. Plus, underneath the short bio are a list of quotes from media sources like BBC Music Magazine and The Guardian, so they establish right away that they’re a band with some buzz. And it’s all featured on a nice, clean, simple custom design. Check it out at:

www.trichotomymusic.com



Posted by Dave Cool on 08/18/2012 | 0 comments

Musician Website Review: Dustin Jake [VIDEO]

This is the 3rd of 5 website reviews as part of the Hypebot & Bandzoogle Video Website Review Contest. This time, we review the website for Dustin Jake, a singer-songwriter from Arizona who recently released a new album called “Feels Like Summer”.

Below is the video review of his website: www.dustinjake.com

Dustin’s website is a nice example of a well-designed, well-organized artist website. In our review we go over some of the ways he can improve the content on his website to make it a great online hub for his career that works for all visitors to his site, including current fans, new fans and industry people.

We hope that Dustin, and everyone who watches, finds the review helpful:

Posted by Dave Cool on 08/15/2012 | 2 comments

Help Us Choose the Next Bandzoogle T-shirt Design!

Last month we teamed up with Creative Allies on a design contest for our next t-shirt, and we ended up receiving over 100 submissions from designers.

We looked over the 100+ submissions along with the Creative Allies team and narrowed it down to a Top 10. Now here’s where you come in: we want you to help us choose the winning design!

To vote, simply go to our Facebook page and click the “Vote Now” tab to see the gallery of the Top 10 designs, and vote for your favorite one.

The winning designer will get a $500 cash prize + a two year Pro Bandzoogle account!

Voting will be open for 2 weeks, ending on August 27, 2012. 





Posted by Dave Cool on 08/13/2012 | 2 comments

Musician Website Love: Jesse Eisenbarth

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

Who: Jesse Eisenbarth
What: Singer, Songwriter
Where: San Diego, California
Why his website rocks: A big reason why we love Jesse’s site? The big call-to-action on his Homepage for his Free EP. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s a professionally designed header image that leads visitors to click on the exact section to get the free EP. A nice touch on a simple, but effective custom design. We also like that Jesse uses a couple of nice custom images to help organize his “Media” section and direct visitors to his Videos & Photos. Nicely done!

Check it out at: www.jesseeisenbarth.com


Posted by Dave Cool on 08/10/2012 | 0 comments

10 Tips to Get Real Fans (not friends) to Shows

This is a guest blog post by Madalyn Sklar. Madalyn is a music business coach & consultant, blogger, social media maven and fearless leader at GoGirlsMusic.com. She has spent over 15 years working with a wide range of independent musicians as well as music industry professionals all over the world. This blog post offers advice on how artists and bands can get more real fans to their shows. Enjoy!


How do I get real fans to come to local shows and not just my friends?

I get asked this question all the time. The answer is simply get out and hustle. Just because you’re playing a show, it doesn’t mean the venue will pack itself. There are many things you can do both online and offline to attract fans.

1. Update your website calendar. There is nothing worse than a bunch of outdated gigs listed on your site. It’s a turn off and will give the impression that you are not out playing shows. As soon as you book a show, go update your website.

2. Shoot an email blast to your mailing list. You have a mailing list, right? Use it! This is your most valuable tool in your arsenal, yet I find so many bands are under-utilizing it. You can easily manage your list and send out messages through ReverbNation or Fanbridge (or Bandzoogle too!). Be sure to collect email addresses at your shows and from all your websites.

3. Set up a Facebook Event. Invite your local fans and friends. Don’t waste your time inviting people from all over the world. They aren’t coming! Make a friends list – log into Facebook >> click FRIENDS (left side column) >> + Create list >> it's that easy! Go through your friends and add the local peeps to a list and call it Local Fans. Every time you make a new friend/fan in your local area, add them to this list and watch it grow! You’ll set this up once, add people to it as you become friends, then every time you create a FB Event you’ll invite people from this list.

4. Tweet your show information. Be sure to post a link for more details. Put in Please RT! at the beginning of the tweet. This will encourage people to share it.

5. Use ReverbNation. They offer great tools such as the popular Facebook Band Profile application, FanReach to manage your mailing list, Event Calendar to manage your shows and so many other valuable tools. And I love how it all ties into your Facebook.

6. Get out to the venue 10-14 days ahead of time and poster it up. Talk to the door person, the bartenders, sound guy. Get to know the people who work there. Buy them a drink, hang out, give them a CD. Be likeable and they’ll tell everyone about you and your cool band.

7. Make your shows memorable. The best way to get people to your show is give them a great show. Get people talking about you. Word-of-mouth is very powerful.

8. Be realistic. Don’t place high expectations that you’ll get instant results. It can take time. But be consistent with it.

9. Make it a habit after you show to talk to your fans. Walk around with your mailing list in one hand and your CDs in the other. Talk to people and encourage them to join your list and buy a CD. You’ll be surprised at the results if you just ask.

10. Get invited back to the venue. Do this by thanking the venue and its staff on stage throughout the set. Thank them after your show. Send a Thank You card within a week of your show. That will get you noticed. It makes you memorable. You’ll stand out from most of the bands because it’s rarely done.


I hope you found these tips helpful. Getting more than just your friends out to a show takes some time, work, dedication and consistency. Follow my tips and you should see real results. Feel free to get in touch and tell me about it. I can be reached at http://www.madalynsklar.com or madalynsklar@gmail.com.



What do you guys think? Have you used these tactics to get people to your shows? Do you have other ideas on how to get more people to come out to your shows? Let us know in the comments!


Posted by Dave Cool on 08/07/2012 | 13 comments

Band Website Love: Miles To Dayton

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

Who: Miles to Dayton
What: Folk-rock-funk band with four part harmonies, improvisational violin and cello, and infectious rhythm
Where: Long Island, New York
Why their website rocks: Two pages on this website really stand out for me. First, their Bio page is nicely organized, has a great image of the band, and a detailed bio that press or bloggers could easily pull from. It also has quotes about their performance and sound (including one from Bob Lefsetz) as well as their influences. This makes it easy to get a full impression of the band right away. Second, the Store page is nicely laid out, and ranges from CDs to shirts to digital downloads. Plus, their Van Gogh-like custom header image, derived from their latest album art, ties everything together nicely.
 
Check it out at http://milestodayton.net

Musician website love
Posted by Melanie on 08/03/2012 | 4 comments

4 Simple Ways to Prevent Hearing Loss

Our ears are constantly at work. From the moment we wake up, to the moment we fall asleep, and then throughout sleep, our ears continuously absorb sound waves and send electrical signals to our brains for interpretation. While they give us the capacity for appreciating and understanding spoken language and music, they also make up one of our core survival mechanisms. While our eyes have only a narrow field of view, we hear in 360 degrees.

Unfortunately, modern living presents many risks to one's hearing, the greatest offender being portable music and headphone use. Many of us now use headphones on a regular basis, always turned up a little bit more to drown out other ambient noises. The music on portable devices is also almost always compressed. This lower quality means that our ears work harder to fill in the gaps.

We have come some distance in hearing restoration though. Charles Limb, speaking in a TED Talk to the state of the technology of cochlear implants, shows how hearing can be restored in a person who is deaf to the point where one can have a conversation. He comments, though, that while this is a huge improvement, we really desire senses that can appreciate the most beautiful things in life. In terms of enjoying music, these cochlear implants still do poorly. Pitches often sound close to an octave off for the listener, rendering the music unlistenable.

So, what can be done to protect one's hearing? What are the strategies for preserving this gift that sustains many of us for work, and all of us for much enjoyment?

1. Limit your exposure to loud noises. It is one of the best things you can do and simply means taking some extra care in certain situations. For instance, while listening to music can make a subway commute more enjoyable, there is also generally so much background noise that you have to turn the volume up much higher in order to hear the music. Take a moment in a silent situation to know at what volume you can enjoy a track and then try not to exceed it when listening to music elsewhere. In the situation of the subway ride, though, perhaps it would be even better just to catch up on some reading.

2. Consider purchasing a good set of ear plugs.
They can help in many situations and there are a range of options in terms of custom fittings and what frequencies can be dampened. Some musicians shy away from plugs for performing as they believe their performances will suffer as a result. The key, as with anything, is to find a good balance.

3. Invest in a good set of headphones. This is essential if you are going to be doing a lot of listening. Take a look at the many online reviews and if you can, try out the headphones for both comfort and sound quality. While noise cancellation may be an important feature for the traveler, a decent pair of reference level earmuff type headphones are best for work. You might also consider upgrading your digital music collection to a lossless format such as Apple Lossless or FLAC. For many, this may involve re-ripping their entire music collections and although the files will take up more space, it is a worthwhile endeavour.

4. Make sure to take a few breaks. Giving your ears the opportunity to rest from exposure to loud noise is critical to their well being. Hearing loss is generally irreversible. Taking breaks, whether it be from listening to your music on headphones or from rehearsing, will help to stave much of the long term damage.


As a musician, do you have issues with your hearing? Have you discovered a great set of earplugs? How about headphones? Let us know in the comments!
Posted by Dave English on 08/03/2012 | 12 comments