The Bandzoogle Blog

10 years of advice, inspiration and resources for musicians navigating the new music industry.

SXSW Band Website Extreme Makeover: Before & After Results!

At this year’s SXSW, we hosted the world premiere of a 2-part panel called “Band Website Extreme Makeover”. It was a huge success and we wanted to share the results with you guys.

Our panel included Ari Herstand (Musician, Blogger at Ari's Take/Digital Music News), Brian Felsen (President, AdRev), our Director of Artist Relations Dave Cool, Chandler Coyle (Co-Founder, Music Geek Services), and Bandzoogle CEO David Dufresne.

Part 1 was the “Website Demolition Derby”, which featured live critiques of band websites. Musicians in the audience submitted their websites and our panel reviewed each site's design, organization, content and functionality.

We reviewed about a half dozen sites in the 1-hour session, then chose one winner who would have their website redesigned and used for Part 2 on how to build an effective band website. And that lucky musician was D. Edward!

Choosing D. Edward’s website (www.dedwardmusic.com) made our job somewhat easy, because he had a lot of great content and nice images (and he has fantastic music!). But his website badly needed a nicer presentation, some design love, and better organization/decluttering.

D. Edward Website: Before & After

DESIGN

We met with D. Edward the day after the panel to discuss themes, images, and fonts. After that initial meeting, we went ahead and built him a brand new website: http://dedward.bandzoogle.com (note: D. Edward will be able to easily point his current domain to the new site on Bandzoogle)

It took all of *3 hours* time, and only a couple of coffees (and Chandler’s giant iced tea). No coding, no fancy design work.

We chose the Manhattan theme which matched really well with the images he had. We used his original header image for the Homepage image, then a different photo for the interior pages.

We also uploaded his logo (which is his signature) to the header area. For social icons, we added them site-wide, running along the top of each page, and they now match the website’s look perfectly.

And maybe best of all? Since all of Bandzoogle’s themes are responsive on mobile, his site now looks and works great on mobile devices, which wasn’t the case before.

CONTENT

D. Edward already had a lot of good content, so we worked with his current images and logo, imported his music through our SoundCloud integration, and made use of our Instagram and Twitter integrations to add some fresh content to his site.

For the rest, we simply made use of the content already found on his site, and here’s what we did:

HOMEPAGE

On D. Edward’s old site (www.dedwardmusic.com), his Homepage was 1 wide column and had a mishmash of logos, several videos, poorly formatted social icons, share buttons and a donate button scattered below the fold.

For his new site (http://dedward.bandzoogle.com/home), we reorganized things, and added some content to show his latest activity.

First, we made the page a 2-column layout with a right sidebar. We then added a short bio at the top of the page along with a great press quote. We also added a site-wide music player so that visitors could listen continually to his music while browsing other parts of his site (no auto-start!).

For his mailing list signup, we placed it right at the top of the page, and added a call-to-action that lets fans know they’ll get a free download of his first album when signing up (which is automated using our mailing list feature).  

To add some fresh content to the page, we added his Twitter feed to the page and a list of upcoming shows.

MUSIC

On his old site, D. Edward had a “Listen” page, which we changed to “Music”. Rather than just embedding a SoundCloud player, we imported his music from SoundCloud into our music players so he could not only stream his music, but also sell downloads directly to his fans and keep 100% of the revenue.

Another change we made was removing the “Lyrics” page from his site. Instead, we added the lyrics to each song within the music player, which can be found by clicking on “Info”.

So now D. Edward is setup to sell music directly to his fans, the songs and albums are all easily shareable on social media, and include the lyrics all in one place!

PHOTOS

On his old Photos page, D. Edward simply had a gallery of random photos. We kept that photo gallery on his new Photos page, then added high-resolutions promo photos to the top of the page. This allowed us to eliminate his “Publicity” page from the navigation, which only had his promo photos and an old press release.
 
To help keep content fresh on the Photos page, we also added D. Edward’s Instagram feed using our Instagram integration.

SHOWS

For the his Shows page, D. Edwards had been simply adding text to the page each time he had a gig. We copied the info for his upcoming shows into our Events feature where we were able to:

  • Include a custom image for each event

  • Add address info that links directly to Google Maps

  • Add links to buy tickets

  • Add age restrictions

Plus, each event is now easily shareable through social media, so fans can help D. Edward spread the word about his upcoming shows.

How did D. Edward react?

Maybe the most fun part of all of this was being able to present the new website to D. Edward live in front of an audience for Part 2 of the Band Website Extreme Makeover!

After a quick review of D. Edward’s old site and why we chose it, we put his new website up on the screen for everyone to see, including D. Edward for the first time. Needless to say, he was blown away and loved the site we built for him!

So a big thanks to D. Edward for playing along, to our panelists for being part of it, to everyone who attended the two panels, and of course a huge thanks to SXSW for letting us premiere Band Website Extreme Makeover this year.

Considering how much of a success this was, we have a feeling there will be more Website Makeover panels at future conferences. Oh, and if anyone wants to turn the concept into a reality TV series, we’re listening!


If you’re building a new site for your music and need some help, be sure to download our free eBook: Building Your Website: A Step-By-Step Guide for Bands and Musicians

Copyright Essentials: 5 things every musician should know

This is a guest post by music attorney Beau Stapleton


1) So where should we start?

There are two distinct copyrightable elements to every recorded piece of music i) the musical work - the written arrangements of notes and lyrics and ii) the sound recording - the physical recording of a performance of that song.  

So if you record a cover version of a Prince song, you are the creator and owner of the sound recording. Prince is the owner of the underlying musical work. It is a simple enough distinction but something that is essential for understanding the ins and outs of music copyright and the music business in general.

For example, performing rights organizations (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC) and the Harry Fox Agency will collect and distribute royalties for your musical works. In contrast, the non-profit organization SoundExchange will collect and distribute digital performance royalties for your sound recordings (think plays of your track on Pandora and satellite radio). When you register your works with the Copyright Office, your musical works will be listed on a PA copyright form. Your sound recordings will be registered with a SR copyright form. You will use a © symbol to announce to the world your ownership in a musical work. Your sound recording copyrights get their own symbol: ℗

2) Do I need to do anything to have a copyright in my sound recording or musical work?

No.

In legal speak an original work is ‘copyrighted’ when it is ‘fixed in a tangible medium of expression.’

What does this mean in real speak? Your original material is copyrighted the moment you write it down, record it into your iPhone, transcribe it, etc. You don’t have to register your work with the copyright office, put a © next to the song title on your lyric sheet, or mail yourself a copy of your record to have a valid copyright.  

3) Should I even register my songs with the Copyright Office?

Yes!  

Filing your musical work or sound recording with the US Copyright Office will still provide you, the copyright owner, with significant benefits.

Here are some incentives - if you file a completed copyright form within three months from the release of your work or prior to an infringement, you can recover attorneys’ fees and up to $150,000 in statutory damages per violation.  Filing will also provide a clear record that you are the true owner.

Think of registration as an insurance policy against possible future unauthorized uses of your work. Timely registration can make or break the financial feasibility of an infringement lawsuit. Registration is relatively cheap ($55), and can be done online.  In many instances one registration form can cover numerous works.

4) Is there anything I should think about when writing music with someone else?

Copyright law has some special rules for co-writers. When two people sit down with the intention of writing a song they are usually both owners of the resulting musical work. Copyright law refers to this as a joint work.  

As joint owners, both writers can exploit the musical work in certain ways (for example place the song in a film or advertisement) provided they pay their co-writer a share of the fees.  Get that. Each writer can individually license the song without obtaining the permission of the other!  ou should also know that in a situation where one writer contributes a definable section – for example the lyrics – the lyricist remains a joint owner of the musical work even if his/her lyrics are later removed.  

Although these are some of Copyright’s default rules for joint works, it is always a good idea for co-writers to enter into written collaboration agreement.  This is especially true if you want different fee splits or rights to apply.  

5) Anything to consider when recording and releasing a cover song?

Once an artist releases their musical work, anyone can create and distribute their own sound recording of the work (i.e. release a ‘cover’) as long they secure a mechanical license and pay the owner of the musical work a ‘mechanical royalty’ (currently 9.1 ¢ per copy of the song).  

Although this might sound complicated, it’s a fairly painless process that can be done online via Harry Fox Agency or others. As long as you secure that license you do not need the permission of the songwriter or publisher.  

And don’t forget, when you cover a song, you are the owner of the sound recording. You can register with the Copyright office. You can stop unauthorized duplications.  You can collect the SoundExchange royalties we discussed in question 1.  

But that mechanical license does not cover synchronizing the musical work to video.... Meaning? If you want to make a music video or if someone wants to license your sound recording for a film or commercial you are going to need permission and a sync license from the songwriter or publisher.  

Music copyright law can be an intimidating world, even for the well versed.

If you would like to dig deeper, I recommend starting with some of the resources at the US Copyright Office.


Beau Stapleton is a music attorney in Los Angeles California representing a diverse collection of clients including producers, managers, artists, publishers, composers, writers, supervisors, music libraries, and digital content creators.  Prior to becoming an attorney Beau was a major label recording artist and the owner of a music publishing company. Beau@rosenlawgrp.com

Band Website Inspiration: Solid logo + branding

Who: GAGE

What: Country Rock

Where: Nashville, TN

Why their website rocks: Right off the bat their header logo commands attention with the nice bold letters of the band name. The font style and design works nicely for this band since their music is both country and rock. They keep it consistent by adding the same text logo to other images and pages, and the black and white colors keep it simple and easy on the eyes.

Even though GAGE isn't using the traditional band image in the header, they still have their professional band photo near the top for visual interest. They've also set up the perfect at-a-glance homepage to keep their fans interested and engaged. They offer a way for fans to link up to their social media pages, sign up to their mailing list, display their current shows, give 'em a taste of their music with one track and a video, and keep them up-to-date with their latest tweets. This is a smart move because busy fans may only have time to peruse one page and this homepage does the job

Check out their website at: www.gageofficial.com

Musicians: How to Thrive in a Post-Download Era with Superfans

This is a guest post by Berklee Online music business instructor Chandler Coyle. Chandler is one-half of the fan experience agency Music Geek Services and is also the publisher of the The Coyle Report, a free weekly music marketing newsletter.

Using eye-opening data from PledgeMusic (see details of our PledgeMusic integration here!), Chandler urges musicians to think differently about their next release, and to tap into the desire for their superfans to support them.


"Superfans. These are some of the most interesting men and women in the music industry right now and they’re particularly important to artists."
– Benji Rogers, Founder and President of PledgeMusic

You are a recording artist. You are planning your next album project. For your previous album in 2012 you pre-sold it solely via iTunes. It did pretty well. You pre-sold 1,594 albums via iTunes. In gross revenue terms that’s $9.99 x 1,594 = $15,924.06. Not bad for selling a 1’s and 0’s digital representation of your album. (Yes, iTunes takes a ~30% cut of that, but let’s talk gross revenue in this article to keep things really simple.)

Have you read the news recently? Download sales are declining. Think about it, when was the last time you bought a download from iTunes? You have a feeling that you may not sell as many pre-orders for this upcoming album as a portion of your fanbase would just prefer to stream your new album via Spotify or their favorite streaming service.

But, you knew that, so in the time since your last release in 2012, you have been working really hard at fan engagement. You feel that you have developed a solid relationship with your core fans, your superfans. You are forecasting that 1,500 fans would support you in the next album’s pre-order.

If you went the iTunes route again: $9.99 x 1,500 = $14,985.00. Again, not bad for a bunch of digital copies. Wait! Wouldn’t your superfans be willing to support you above and beyond $9.99/album? Yes. Yes they would.

PledgeMusic frequently touts that artists who run pre-order campaigns through their platform see an average per pledge amount of $61.00/pledge. Some fans will opt for the $10 download just like iTunes, but when given the opportunity to support the artist in a bigger way some fans will opt for the $150 VIP Meet n’ Greet which includes the download and Vinyl LP.

Let’s re-do our forecast using PledgeMusic’s $61/pledge:
$61.00 x 1,500 = $91,500

Holy crap! That’s nearly $100,000.00! That’s over 6x greater than a digital only pre-order via iTunes. Why did this happen? Well, you tapped into the desire for your superfans to support you. Your core fans have always wanted to support you in a big way, but you had not been letting them.

Remember that Nielsen study that came out in 2013 about there being billions of dollars left on the table by the music industry? Your direct-to-fan album pre-orders are included in that. It is up to you to decide whether you want to leave the money on the table or if you want to serve your superfans with the experience they desire.

Yes, you can finally earn the money you deserve from developing such a strong bond with your superfans.

What? Could you repeat your question? “What if I only have 150 superfans that would pledge during a PledgeMusic pre-order?”. Ah, yes, you wonder if this scales up and down. My experience is that it does. I worked with an artist who had ~150 orders during a PledgeMusic campaign. They actually saw a average per pledge amount of > $100.00. So, in their case, it was $100.00 x 150 = $15,000. Even at the system average — $61 x 150 = $9,150.00 — you are still doing much better than an iTunes pre-order.

Using the stated PledgeMusic system average of $61/pledge, here’s a chart that shows how a digital-only iTunes pre-order would compare with a PledgeMusic pre-order campaign:

Music Biz Networking: Four Easy Ways to Strengthen Your People Connections

This is an excerpt from Bob Baker's new book, The Five-Minute Music Marketer: 151 Easy Music Promotion Activities That Take 5 Minutes or Less.

There’s one thing I know for sure: As much as I embrace the DIY (do it yourself) lifestyle, I also know the power of relationships. You can’t build a music career, or anything else, without support and help from lots of other people.

Therefore, take time every week to nurture your people skills and relationships. A great place to start would be this handy list of five-minute action steps.

1) Touch base with someone

This is really quick and potentially powerful. Send a short “how are you doing?” or “thinking of you” email or text to someone you haven’t connected with in a while. Don’t ask them for anything. Just touch base, ask how they or a family member are doing, or share some useful information. Who could you send such a message to?
 
If you have a few extra minutes, make a short phone call to that person instead. You’d be surprised how well this works!

2) Make a networking hit list

If you don’t have time to reach out to someone right now, at least do this: Take a few minutes to brainstorm a list of people you could do a cross-promotion with. Who would be the ideal people to connect with for a future project? Perhaps a producer, engineer, songwriter, talent buyer, blogger, or retail store manager? Take five minutes to compile that list. Then make time to act on it later.

3) Come up with a collaboration plan

Other musicians are not your competition. They are potential partners in your mutual growth. Now would be a great time to create a list of other artists you could collaborate with, along with a list of ways you could help each other. Who could you collaborate with on a benefit show, compilation album, multi-band concert, or other cross-promotion?

4) Go old school with your gratitude

If you really want to stand out, here’s one quick and easy way to do it. Write a handwritten note on a post card or thank-you card. Yes, I’m talking about good old-fashion snail mail. In a world of email and text overload, I guarantee you will get noticed when you take a few minutes to send a physical message by mail.
 
How much would you and your music career benefit from taking these simple steps? What would happen if you connected with at least one new person, or reconnected with someone you haven't seen in a while, every day?
 
That would be five connections a week, 20 a month, and 120 in six months. What if you touched base with two or three people per day instead of just one? That would equate to hundreds of touch points throughout the year.
 
I guarantee, if you made this a regular part of your career development plan, you'd soon see massive results.
 
To learn more about the The Five-Minute Music Marketer, visit http://bob-baker.com/buzz/five-minute-music-marketer/

Bob Baker is the author of three books in the “Guerrilla Music Marketing” series, along with many other books and promotion resources for DIY artists, managers and music biz pros.

You’ll find Bob’s free blog, podcast, video clips and articles at www.TheBuzzFactor.com

Musician Website Inspiration: Learn from JUNO Nominees!

After featuring Grammy nominated Bandzoogle members on our blog (see that post here), it’s only fair that we also highlight JUNO nominated members as well. For our friends outside of Canada, the JUNOs are the Canadian version of the Grammys.

The JUNO Awards are happening this weekend, and we’re excited that a couple of Bandzoogle members have been nominated! So we wanted to congratulate them, and also highlight their sites so you guys can be inspired by the websites of a few of the very best Canadian artists.


Who: James Hill   
What: Folk/Roots Singer-songwriter
Where: Brookfield, Nova Scotia, Canada
Why his website rocks: James Hill is nominated for Folk/Roots Recording of the Year, and there is so much that we love about his website!

He’s using our Dusted theme, and takes advantage of the full background area with amazing professional photos. We especially like that he added his award nominations to the background image on his Homepage, putting his best foot forward as soon as you land on his site.   

We also love his Press Kit page, which highlights perfectly the 8 things that should be in every band’s digital press kit! And on his Contact page, he makes it easy to get in touch with the right people by including contact info for his booking agent, label, and a mail form for fans to send him a message directly. Really nicely done James and good luck this weekend!

Check out James Hill’s awesome website at: www.jameshillmusic.com  

Who: Steve Strongman
What: Blues/Acoustic/Rock Singer-songwriter
Where: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Why his website rocks: Longtime Bandzoogle member Steve Strongman is up for Blues Album of the Year at the JUNOs this year. Much like James Hill, Steve does a great job at using professional photos and putting his best foot forward.

Every header image on his site features a great photo, and on his Homepage he added his award nominations (and wins!). This immediately adds context to his music when you land on his site, as you know right away that the industry has deemed him to be one of the best blues artists in the country. Well done Steve and good luck this weekend!

Check out Steve Strongman’s site at: www.stevestrongman.com

Band Website Quick Tip: With Social Media Links, Less is More

With our My Sites feature, you can add nicely formatted icons with links to 38 (and counting!) social media and ecommerce sites. But just because you have profiles on every social media site ever created, doesn’t mean you should link to all of them on your website.

Each icon is essentially an exit door from your site, and the goal isn’t to send people away to 10 different places other than your website. Your goal should be to keep visitors busy on your own site (and gently nudge them towards the store!). So focus on the links that are strategic for your goals (build a Twitter following, get more Facebook fans, etc.).

How many social media links?

Try to limit it to just the platforms that you are most active on, and where your fans are the most active as well (so you can go ahead and remove that MySpace link!). So three to five icons should be enough to cover the most important social media sites. Having more will just make it harder for people to find the one they’re looking for, and create a visual mess on your site.


Here are a few nice examples from Bandzoogle members. Ray Banman just displays his Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram icons on his Homepage:

Aramide is using our theme Primer, which has a site-wide My Sites feature, so it displays social media icons on each page of her site. She chose to display her Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Instagram links:

Social sharing + permalinks for events

New addition to the Events feature - now with two clicks, you can share events to Facebook, Twitter, or get an event link to post on other websites.

No matter how you share your event, we use a permanent link (permalink) to the event details page. This link will never change. So your event link will continue to work even if you rename your pages in the future.  

When you share an event to Facebook, your fans will see the event details, the event image you uploaded, and the event description:

Here’s how it works:


  • In your control panel, click on an Event feature

  • Click on the Share button next to any Event

  • Then, select from the following options:

    • Post to Facebook

    • Post to Twitter

    • Share link


For Facebook and Twitter, you'll have to make a one-time connection. After that, you’ll be able to instantly share your events on those social networks.

With the direct link, you can use it in a blog post, send it out through your newsletter (reminder: all Bandzoogle plans include a mailing list!), and post it to any website forums where promoting events is encouraged.

This is the first in a series of updates that will make the control panel more integrated with your social networks. Stay tuned for more!

Band Website Extreme Makeover: World Premiere at SXSW!

We’re headed down to Austin, TX next week for the biggest music conference and festival in the world: SXSW. But it won’t be all parties and great BBQ, although there will of course be plenty of that. We’re really excited to be hosting not 1, but *2* sessions at the conference this year.

They say everything is bigger in Texas. So one panel wasn’t enough!

Both sessions will be moderated by Bandzoogle CEO David Dufresne, and he will be joined by our Director of Artist Relations Dave Cool, as well as Brian Felsen (President, AdRev), Chandler Coyle (Co Founder, Music Geek Services), and Ari Herstand (Musician, Blogger at Ari's Take/Digital Music News).

Here are the panel details, including how you can participate:

Band Website Extreme Makeover Part 1: Demolition Derby

Wednesday, March 18
2:00PM - 3:00PM
Artist Central in Ballroom E (Austin Convention Center)

Live critiques of band websites! In this interactive session, bands submit their websites for review, then each site's design, organization, content and functionality will be assessed. How does the website fit with the band's overall online strategy? How successfully does it achieve their goals? Reviews will be ruthless and diplomacy left aside, but everyone in attendance will learn how to improve their websites. Plus, one winner will be chosen to have their website redesigned and used for part 2 of this session on how to build an effective band website!

If you’d like to have your site reviewed by the panel, we're welcoming early website submissions through dcool[at]bandzoogle.com, subject line: Band Website Extreme Makeover.

Band Website Extreme Makeover Part 2: How to Build a Stunning Website Yourself

Saturday, March 21
12:30PM - 1:30PM
Artist Central in Ballroom E (Austin Convention Center)

Using a website chosen during part 1 of this session, our experts will explain how they gave it a fresh redesign and rebuilt it according to best practices. This panel will show musicians how to create an effective website that will impress new visitors, keep fans engaged, get people signed up to their mailing list, and shopping from their online store. The panel will discuss how a band’s website should be organized, what content needs to be included, how it should be designed, and what mistakes to avoid.

Are you a Bandzoogle member attending SXSW?

While in Austin, we’ll be looking to meet Bandzoogle members. If you’ll be performing at SXSW or any side-events, or simply attending the conference, please let us know! Leave a comment below, Tweet to us, or post the details to our Facebook page. Or you can email Dave Cool directly at dcool[at]bandzoogle.com

Also be sure to follow us on Instagram to see what we’re up to while in Austin! (ok it will be lots of music & BBQ)

Band Website Inspiration: Great Store Layout for Music & Merch

Who: New Orleans Swamp Donkeys

What: New-Orleans based traditional jazz band

Where: New Orleans

Why their website rocks: There are few reasons to love this engaging website. The crisp, colorful header image immediately gives you a sense of the soulful, foot-tapping, New Orleans-style sound of this band.

Their pages also offer a great mix of text content, images, and videos. Plus, they are using the grid-style option in the Store feature to keep their merch and CDs well organized. Video Birthday greeting, anyone?

Check out their website at: www.swampdonkeyjass.com