PledgeMusic and Bandzoogle: Your fans can fund your next project.

Benji is back ! Back in May, Allison had asked a good number of questions to Benji Rogers, Founder and CEO of PledgeMusic, and proud Bandzoogle member. The interview was an intro to PledgeMusic's fan-funding platform, and Benji shared his own experience, using it to fund recording of his last E.P. This time we asked him for a more detailed play-by-play of how a PledgeMusic campaign works. Adding a PledgeMusic widget to a Bandzoogle site is easy (Control Panel / Edit Pages / Add Feature / HTML code) . You can see the widget in action on Benji's own Bandzoogle site:  If you use it don't forget to add the e-mails you collect to your mailing list members list (and we might work with PledgeMusic to make it seamless in the near future). Let us know in the comments if you have experience with it and if you think it could help your next project.

Scenario 1.

The band is tight. The new songs are bumpin’. More people you DON’T know are showing up at your gigs. But your bank account is too empty to record the music to put in peoples’ players.

Scenario 2.

The record is done. The songs are amazing. You’re in rotation on WROK in Kalamazoo, but can’t afford to take a week off of your day job to get out there and rock face.

Sound familiar? We’ve been there. It’s the rub. It’s why we created PledgeMusic.

What is constant in those scenarios (and the million other we could conjure) is the emotional connection your fans have with you and your music. Your ability to succeed can be greatly enhanced by identifying that connection, listening to your fans wants, communicating directly with your fans, and offering your fans an engaging experience, strengthening the emotional bond.

So how on PledgeMusic do you do this?

1. Sign up for an artist profile on PledgeMusic. It’s simple and it’s FREE.

2. Initiate a data capture strategy. We have developed a widget which allows you to collect fans’ email address, their Facebook information via “likes” and “shares”, and/or their Twitter information via “tweets” and “follows”, in exchange for the download of one of your tracks. The widget aggregates the data in your artist profile and is easily exported. The widget is our gift to all artists…FREE.

3. Fill out a project sign-up. Our 8 Step process is thorough, but don’t be intimidated. It is designed to give us a clear understanding of what you are offering your fans, how well you have collected their contact data, what type of budget you are shooting for, how creative you are in reaching those fans, and whether or not you are contemplating raising awareness for a particular charity in conjunction with your project.

Your creativity should shine when creating the incentives you’ll be offering your fans. They tend to love items that you’ve personalized and signed.. a handwritten lyric sheet is one of the most popular. Special engagements, in the form of VIP Soundcheck Passes and House Party Gigs are popular too. What about that collection of motel soaps you have from the last tour? The bottle of Fiji water you jacked from Michael Bolton’s dressing room? A postcard from the road? As long as what you are offering is legal and honest, do it!  We encourage artists to give back to their community by donating a portion of the proceeds from their campaign to charity. This is certainly optional, and works best when the artist selects a cause they have researched thoroughly.

4. Ask us questions through our internal messaging system, or if you are ready, send to us to begin the review process. We’ll either approve or ask you for some edits. Once you’re approved, you control the launch! It’s always advised that you tease your fans into your campaign. Start a countdown of Facebook and Twitter. Blast out an email saying you have a special announcement upcoming! Once your campaign goes live, you have either 30 or 60 days to raise your target amount. With simultaneous emails, social network posts, and general word-of-mouth, you campaign will be accepting pledges straight off, and the fun begins!

Since this is meant to be a unique and engaging experience, we have designed it so that only the fans who have pledged to your campaign have access to a private updates section. Grab a Flip cam, use your PDA camera, write a studio blog, upload acoustic demos … go crazy! The more updates, the better. The more revealing they are, spectacular. Be goofy, have fun, show your fans the process as it unfolds. The good, the bad, and the ugly. And since you’ve linked your Facebook and Twitter accounts to your project, the update headers are automatically updating to those accounts. People see a bunch of activity with creative titles like “Studio Video #1: Scratch tracks and the biggest rat I have ever seen!” and can’t help but click on it. If they haven’t pledged, they can’t see the video, but they are prompted to sign up and pledge! Internet marketing 101 says it takes an average of 6.6 visits for someone to make a purchase. Though we have that beat, the point is, the more updates the better! And the more relevant and engaging that the updates are, the better!

5. You reach your goal!! Congrats!! The funding period clock is shut off, but you’re not! You can continue to raise $$ for your project right up until you release it on our site. Oftentimes, you won’t be able to start recording until you receive your first payment from PledgeMusic, so continue with the updates… all the way ‘til release!  This is also a time to start fulfilling some of the pledges that came in. Maybe you’ll be sending out some back catalogues collections, or performing some house concerts. Our fulfillment system allows you to check these items off individually, even if a single pledger has multiple items. We’ve even designed it so you can print off individual shipping labels!

6. Your second payment comes when you upload and release the project on our site, and the final payment is disbursed when you have marked all items as shipped and we confirm their delivery.

In the end, what you have is so much more than an album and some money left over. You have created an experience with your fans, which would otherwise never have happened. You have shared with them via the updates. They have commented, liked, shared and posted… perpetuating the momentum of your project. You have a knowledge of what they like and want, and how far they are willing to go to get more of you and your music. You have earned their trust by delivering beyond what they ever expected. You’ve given each other a part of yourselves. And if you’ve chosen a charity, you’ve made music for a change.
Posted by David Dufresne on 09/21/2010 | 3 comments

Tips from RootMusic on how bands can optimize their Facebook presence

This is Matt Conn's first guest post on the Bandzoogle blog - Matt is the head of business development at RootMusic, a cool tech startup based out of San Francisco. Matt works with labels and artists like The Grateful Dead, Pitbull and Bad Religion to enhance their visibility on Facebook. Matt writes about how to use Facebook to harness the power of social networking - he also proudly holds Foursquare mayorships on 3 MUNI lines in San Francisco. Using RootMusic's app can be a complement to your Bandzoogle site and help generate traffic and action on both destinations. Let us know in the comments if you have experience with it, and if you have other tips and tricks on how musicians can optimize their Facebook presence.

In an age when the music industry is rapidly changing, connecting with fans on the Internet has become essential to an artist’s success. Facebook is the largest social network in the world, and having a presence on Facebook is one of the most helpful things an artist can do to bolster their career. Everyone has a Facebook profile, and by setting up a fan page and adding apps like BandPage, both big name artists and local musicians can share their music with new fans from around the world with the click of a button. On Facebook, fans make your music a social experience. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of Facebook:

1. Make a fan page - not a personal profile!

A common mistake that musicians make is setting up a personal profile rather than a fan page. Facebook prohibits users from having multiple personal profiles, so it’s better to have a personal profile for yourself and set up a fan page for interacting with your fans. Rumor has it Facebook is going to disable adding apps to personal profiles - so you won’t be able to add music players to a personal profile. It’s much easier for fans to “like” a page than to “add a friend,” and musician pages are catered towards adding information about your band, such as members, hometown and genre. Pages are easy to use and can be administrated by several people, instead of just accessible by one person.

2. Add the BandPage by RootMusic app

BandPage is an app for promoting your music on Facebook. It’s a well designed app that draws in fans with a sleek design and the ability to customize colors, backgrounds and upload banners. You can have everything in one place: music, tour dates, Twitter feed, blog posts, your wall, bio, contact info, videos and pictures. Fans can share music, videos and shows with friends, allowing new people to hear your music for the first time. This app has proven to increase the number of likes you receive as high as three to five times. You can make your tracks go viral through via optional Autoshare, which posts to your wall every time you update your photos, shows or music.

3. Extra apps

There are also a ton of apps out there that can make an artist’s page look better, increase fan engagement and provide a better all around experience. The trick is to find the best apps for your page - having too many apps can make your page seem cluttered and can confuse fans. Facebook also offers feedback on how many daily likes you get, post views and post responses so you can watch as your fan base grows. A great app is the “Ustream” app. With, artists can stream live video feed, whether it’s a live show or just the band jamming in the your living room. Fans can connect through a live IM chat to the artist on the app. It’s a great way to interact with your fans and give them a personal touch. The “Polls” app is also a great way to directly gauge what your fans want. You can ask them what they thought of your latest album, where they want you to play, or what merchandise they want to buy from you.

4. Add tons of content

On Facebook musician fan pages, bands can write a blurb about themselves, connect to their website, and list all the basic information about their band, including band members and influences. It’s a great way to let your fans know who you are and what your music is about. For example, with BandPage, you can upload music, videos, pictures, bio, contacts, shows, blog posts and Twitter feed. Generally, the more information you have, the better!

5. Promote, engage and share

Through your personal profile, you can suggest your page to all your friends, who in turn can suggest the page to all of their friends. Don’t forget to keep on updating your page - let your fans know when your upcoming shows are and be sure to tell them what you’re up to! You can share all your content directly from your BandPage and other apps by posting new songs, pictures, videos and shows to your wall and friends’ walls. You can invite fans to events, post links and let everyone know about the status of the album you’re recording. Fans can respond to your comments and like what you’re doing. Just be sure not to get too post-happy and start spamming your fans’ walls - then they might hide you from their feed.

The great thing about BandPage is that it can link to your Twitter, Artist Data and blog, so you only have to update once and everyone who’s connected to Facebook will know about it. And whenever you’re sending out e-vites and emails, you can link to your BandPage page.  And with Facebook Analytics, you can see exactly what is and isn’t working on your page. Just click the “Insights” box on the left hand side of the page. You can see the break down of who your fans are by age, gender and location, as well as what people are clicking and commenting on.  It’s becoming more and more important for musicians to directly reach out to their fans, and Facebook is the perfect tool for doing just that. Facebook has become an important destination for musicians on the Internet. The best part? All your fans are already there, waiting for you to join them.
Posted by David Dufresne on 09/16/2010 | 6 comments

Play better gigs: Does your live show need a producer ?

In recent years, as the economic value of recorded music (CDs, mp3s) has gone down, performing live has become more important than ever for indie artists, both for fan acquisition and for generating revenue. We asked one of our Bandzoogle members, Kevin Pauls, if he would guest write a post about how artists can create a better live show, get more fans, and more money.  Kevin is a certified Live Music Producer with Tom Jackson Productions. As an independent artist himself, he understands first hand the importance of making an emotional connection with the audience in order to leave them wanting “more.”  Kevin is passionate about the stage. He wants artists to thrive onstage, and his goal is to help them captivate their audiences by developing a truly great show.  He has worked with a variety of artists and genres, from folk to punk, but applies the same methods in order to create an impressionable live performance – Live Music Methods that have been tested and perfected by Tom Jackson over the last couple decades.

Kevin is based out of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada where he lives with his wife Wendy and their 3 children. He is best known for his incessant “play-by-play” on Twitter and Facebook, and for his warm personality that takes people from stranger to “buddy” in a matter of minutes.

Hereʼs a stat that may surprise you: typically 95% of your revenue as a band/musician comes from your live show.  If youʼve been looking at your gigs as a promotional tool for your music - youʼve got it backwards. Most artists understand the correlation between a great producer and a great recording, but they fail to recognize the need for the  same type of investment (time, energy, money) into their live show.  We see it over and over again....months of songwriting, thousands of dollars and dozens (hundreds?) of hours  poured into the studio and then, 5 minutes before the show, band members are still hammering out what songs to  play that night. Sound familiar? Then it might be time to shift your focus.  Producing your live show is an investment that will pay off in many ways. Merch sales will go up, youʼll get more gigs, and itʼs free marketing dollars because word of mouth about the band will create a bigger buzz than youʼve ever had!

What is “Live Music Producing”? (the Tom Jackson Live Music Method)

When you are ready to make a recording, you look for a producer. Someone that will put your music together in such a way that radio, and fans will enjoy. A typical form is 3-and-a-half minutes in length and looks something like this: intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus-outro. There is a “form” to recorded music and thereʼs a reason that it is produced like this. It is what radio is looking for and itʼs a great form for the average fan listening in their car or on their iPod. But strangely, the songs that are arranged and orchestrated for radio and itunes type play, donʼt always have the same impact live...WHY?

Musicians tend to focus on the charts, the vocals, the timing and everything musical. The 3-and-a-half minute song is played note-for-note. And while theyʼve done a good job “regurgitating” the CD, they missed the fact that the audience wasnʼt engaged. The potential “moments” in the song swept by too quickly for the audience to truly make a connection. They might have made music, but they failed to make FANS.

Here are some reasons why:
1. People hear with their eyes. The physical part of any performance (movement, positions, body language etc) needs to match and enhance the musicality of the song. Often they do not!
2. Music is presented as “goulash” - Itʼs important to separate the great parts and “tell” the audience what to pay attention to.
3. The audience is often ignorant to musical things - Simplify, slow down, take your time in order to connect emotionally with your audience. If they do not connect emotionally they will not become your fan - Don't be in a hurry!

Audiences come to a show for 3 reasons:
1. The want to experience moments
2. They want to be captured and engaged
3. They want to have their lives changed

Live music producers are trained in the craft of creating a connection between the artist and the audience. We work with artists on a range of things relating to performance - from timing and cutoffs to the psychology of the show - in order to make an impact. We help you to be you....only better.

A couple quick tips you can apply right away

1. Take a look at your intros. On radio or CD the intro is 2 - 4 bars long. Your LIVE intro is a great time to really introduce the song. Build audience anticipation for what is about to come. Consider changing the order of the song and starting with a chorus...or maybe play it “out of time” and build the interest for the tune. (consider it musical foreplay!)
2. Take your time in the song. When youʼre performing live, there are not the same time restraints as in radio. Create space between verse and chorus, double great musical solos, take instruments out of the arrangement if there is a long verse - make it more interesting. Some things are not meant to be rushed.

Finally, when evaluating your live show, put yourself in the position of the audience. Anytime you would be tempted to look at your watch is a good spot to make the song/show more interesting.

(If any Bandzoogle member would like a $250 discount for a one-on-one rehearsal with a certified producer from Onstage Success, get in touch with Kevin: kevin (at) kevinpauls (dot) com)

Posted by David Dufresne on 09/14/2010 | 9 comments

Fresh new style added

Based on your feedback, here is a new set of site styles brought to you by our resident designer Nick. Keep posting your requests to our suggestion box, we love to hear from you!
Posted by Stacey on 09/13/2010 | 9 comments

Band PR 101: Part 2 - Get Inside the Blogger’s Head

This is a follow-up to Ty White’s first guest post on Bandzoogle, where he detailed how to compose an e-mail in order to reach bloggers.  Ty runs Sum The Greater, a music blog and direct-to-fan marketing company out of San Francisco. He spent two years managing Artist Services at Topspin and has since dedicated himself to helping small bands build actionable fan bases. This time, Ty writes about how music bloggers think, and how to use your mind control skills to further your career (OK, maybe not. But well worth the read).

In the product world of tech companies, as with most marketing departments and agencies, we spend a lot of time creating personas (fictional characters that embody the characteristics prevalent in a given group) for our target audiences. We take time to interview the people we want to use our product and shadow them as they do the tasks that our product might help them do better. The more people we talk to, the more we get a sense of their personalities, their tasks, and their views towards our product and our competitors.

In other words, we do everything we can to put ourselves in the client’s shoes. The same should go for any form of marketing. As Jonathan Franzen writes in Freedom, “There are few things harder to imagine than other people’s conversations about you.” The only way to get closer to imagining what other people will say about you is to understand them better. The best marketers are those who best understand not just the demographics of their target audience, but their personalities, their routines, and their perceptions.

When you’re asking a blogger to post your content, you are marketing to them. As such, it will behoove you to understand more about them. It would be a bit insane to try to create a universal persona for music bloggers, especially in a blog post like this, but there are several commonalities I’ve come across that may be beneficial.

1. Bloggers’ inboxes are usually their worst enemies, and sometimes their best friend

Ask any blogger how many emails they get. Their response will almost certainly be “too many” (perhaps accompanied by a pained groaning noise, or an outburst of hysterical laughter). Sadly, as a result, everyone doing outreach is being punished for the actions of those folks who blast to large lists — very often, bloggers feel like they could delete every email in their inbox and still be very happy with the music they discover and post.

That said, excellent things CAN come from email. I discovered Beloved Rogue, whom I love, after they sent me a very nice and simple note and a link to download their EP. When I wrote back to say I liked “Capital Sense” they asked for my address so they could send a 7’. Three of the last 55 tracks I’ve posted have come from email. It’s not an impossible way to reach bloggers, but if your content isn’t relevant, you’re only making it worse for everyone.

2. Bloggers read other blogs and are friends with other bloggers

Want your music to spread? It will once you’re in with one or two bloggers. Many bloggers won’t admit (or won’t realize) just how often they discover music from each other, but it’s incredibly common.

If you think about bloggers and their tribes, those tribes very often include other bloggers — most bloggers will even post a “blog roll” along the side of their site of other blogs they like and read. This does not mean you should click all the links to those blogs, find contact info, and spam them all. It means you should use the opportunity to research the posts on each of the related sites, find the one or two that are most likely to post your material, and concentrate your outreach there.

3. Bloggers are people and like people

In Almost Famous, legendary music journalist Lester Bangs insists to young William Miller that the worst thing a writer can do is become friends with the band. William, of course, is too excited about the opportunity to hang out with rock stars to heed the advice. In that sense, the majority of bloggers are very much like William — they are fans first, critics second. They would be thrilled to be friends (at least in the Facebook sense) with people whose music they like.

So how do you make friends? By sending impersonal email blasts to them every once in a while and hoping they do something about it? Nope. Friends are established in a variety of ways, but it almost always begins with some commonality — a mutual friend, shared interest, same hometown, take the same bus every day, etc. An introduction from a mutual friend will always be your best route. If you are trying to make a friend solely because you want something from them, you’ve got an uphill battle.

If you can’t get a direct introduction, it’s best to start engaging with them on a casual basis. If they’re blog has comments, comment. If you see a post you like, email them to say so, without pitching your music. Show them that you respect them and have a genuine interest in their brand, then you can make a better pitch.
If you want to go back to the funnel concept (yes, it applies to all parts of marketing and building a brand), you can’t expect a blogger to make the jump from the top of your funnel to the bottom in one fell swoop.

A friend in PR told me recently he wished he could take every blogger out for a beer, but geography doesn’t permit. Your job is to get as close to a direct personal connection as possible without the benefit of geography. It’s hard, no doubt, but it also goes to show once again that trying to reach thousands of blogs at once is horribly inefficient and ineffective (for 99% of bands, at least — of course there are the edge cases, who would get posted all over the internet even if they didn’t do a press release). Creating relationships is more work, but it will lead you to more success as well.

4. The music matters, a lot

At the end of the day, it’s all about the music. You can take into account all of the above and still completely miss if you’re not honest with yourself about whether or not a blogger will like your music (which you’ll hopefully have a better sense for after engaging with their blog for a little while). Creating those personal connections may help get a blogger to listen to your music, but it’s not going to change whether or not they will like it. Quality is hyperefficient, especially when coupled with highly relevant targeting — the better you know your audience, the better you’ll be able to match your audience persona to your target blogger persona.

I’ll continue to post bits and pieces of the blogger persona, but I encourage you to go out and talk to any blogger who will take the time — not to pitch them anything, but to understand how they discover music, what their reactions are to mail in their inboxes, and what makes them tick. Start to build a persona for the people you want to reach, then build a plan for reaching them.

Posted by David Dufresne on 09/10/2010 | 4 comments

Let the music play on iPhone and iPad

Great news!! Brad recently made some changes to our Site Wide Music player and Audio player so now visitors can listen to your music from their iPhones and iPads.
Posted by Allison on 09/08/2010 | 24 comments