The Bandzoogle Blog

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

How To Build a Great Band Website Bio Page

How To Build a Great Band Website Bio Page

After showing you how to build the perfect Homepage, next up is your Bio page. Having a great bio page is essential to making a memorable first impression.

This is a page that many newcomers to your website will visit to learn about you and your music. Keep it up to date and interesting, with a clean, organized feel to show your listeners what you’re like.

The two key things to think about when creating a killer band bio page are content, and design. They go hand in hand to produce a bio page that describes your band well, and looks great!

Write some killer content

Writing about yourself can be one of the hardest parts of building your band website. Your bio should be like a resume - an introduction to your band, and a description of your achievements.

Your bio should also reflect your voice - try to express yourself in words that are in the same tone as your music.

Imagine you are describing your band to a total stranger to give context to your music. Identifying your style and genre is important, but no need to talk about out every single open mic you’ve played. Hit the highlights, and keep it professional.

[The 3 Audiences Your Band Website Needs to Impress]

Lera Lynn bio page

Some things to pull together in writing your band bio include:

  • Who you are, and where you are from
  • Your style of music (include what you sound like, and your influences)
  • Accomplishments (think festivals, collaborations, accolades)
  • Your story (what sets you apart from other musicians?)

Mention your band name in plain text on this page. Avoid saying “I” or “we” when describing yourself. Also be sure to add specific words to describe your music, from the genre to your album name. This will help with your website rank for these words in Google.

[SEO for Musicians: 3 Tips to Optimize your Content]

Make it relevant

Update this page with new information as your music career progresses. Have you completed a successful tour recently, sold out a number of shows, or gotten positive press? Include these new details in your bio as they come up.

Also, add a little bit about what you are currently doing, whether it’s songwriting, recording, touring your latest album, and so on.

Ray Banman about page

Use images effectively

Select a few great full band images, or individual member portraits to pair with text about each band member. You want your band Bio page to look great, and a few professional photos can go a long way to present your full image.

You’ll always want your photos to represent your music, so choose a few that match your style, and work well with your website’s design, too.

Keep it simple

Name your bio page something that is obvious by a glance at your website menu. You could call it “Bio” or “About” or even “Meet the Band” so that the page is clear, and easy to click.

The page itself should be fairly simple. If you have a great music video, you can add it, but otherwise stick to a few paragraphs of text and a few images.

Turbo Street FUnk bio page

Think about layout

Mix it up with text and images to keep the page interesting visually. You could add a quote from a third party source about your band, or your music, at the top of your page. Then place your biographical information next, and images on the side.

Signy Website Bio page

To make the layout look polished, use feature titles to break up the text. You can also try out different columns layouts, putting text in a wider column on the left, and images on the right. This is especially important if you’re adding separate bios for each band member.

The Ragged Few website bio page

There’s nothing like an up-to-date and interesting bio page to engage new fans, and give backstory to returning listeners. Make yours stand out with some relevant text, images, and a solid layout.

Build your own website with a great band bio page to engage your fans. Sign up free with Bandzoogle now.

9 ways to build your mailing list (and sell more music online)

9 ways to build your mailing list (and sell more music online)

This guest post was written by Jon Ostrow. Jon is the Director of Sales at Bandsintown, Founder of MicControl, lover of all things music, a raging Phish head, and a coffee addict.

Question: which is more important: Facebook or email?

Believe it or not, your email is not only more important than Facebook, but also any other social network. Email marketing has been shown to be as much as 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined.

So it is the most important marketing tool you have to keep in touch with your fans, and to make more money for your music career.

Why email is so important

"You will now, and forever, own your mailing list."

Beyond the critical fact that 80% of people between the age of 18 and 44 years-old check email before even brushing their teeth in the morning, there is really only one reason that matters.

You will now, and forever, own your mailing list.

This means that no matter which social media platforms stay relevant (or don’t), you can always directly reach your fans.

So as you develop an online marketing strategy for your music and further advance your career, you’ll want to have that mailing list handy.

[Why Email Newsletters Are Still a Vital Marketing Tool for Musicians]

9 ways to build your mailing list

There are plenty of ways to build a mailing list that you should be taking advantage of. Some require very little upfront effort such as a signup form on your website or social accounts.

But as those may help to slowly build a mailing list, you’ll want to use some strategies that help to really jumpstart the process of building your list. Here are a few ways to make that happen:

1. Email for a download / stream

This is the go-to suggestion for building a mailing list. Offer an exclusive download in exchange for an email address. That email will be worth much more to you in the long run than the $0.99. You can even automate an email-for-download through Bandzoogle’s mailing list tool.

Another great platform to look into for assisting with this process is NoiseTrade. They’ve built an entire platform around the concept of building a mailing list out of album downloads.

But people are moving away from downloading and towards streaming. So NoiseTrade recently introduced a new ‘premiers’ platform where artists can offer an advanced stream of a yet-to-be released album in exchange for the email address.

2. Sweepstakes Opt-in

Never underestimate the power of a sweepstakes. It creates urgency, and can create an easy high-value proposition for a fan to give you their email address in exchange for the opportunity to win something great.

But keep in mind, the sweeps needs to do just that, offer something great. A signed album likely won’t work. Think VIP, exclusive, and unique experiences when creating this offer.

3. Fan-Content Based Contesting

On the other hand, you can also offer opportunities for fans to gain your spotlight. Ideally something exclusive like backstage passes, or dinner before a show, etc. This type of contest requires the fan to create their own content and submit for review with their email address.

A remixing contest can be a great opportunity here. But other contests to think about could be more simple such as album artwork, tour posters, tattoo ideas, etc.

4. Access to exclusive content from the past

Your computer hard drive or cloud based data storage account can be a treasure trove of content that your fans would love to gain access to.

Demo recordings, lyrics for songs that never came to be, alternative artwork for albums, etc. Curating this content is a great way to make a unique experience your fans will certainly trade an email address to gain access to.

5. Future access to pre-sales before anyone else

This is a no brainer. Let your fans that sign up to your mailing list gain access to future album pre-orders, or tour pre-sale opportunities before anyone else.

6. Direct to Fan Purchasers

Let’s not forget those who are already purchasing from you. Anytime someone purchases from you through a direct-to-fan platform like Bandzoogle, Bandcamp, or PledgeMusic, it’s an easy opportunity to add to your mailing list.

7. Incentivize existing subscribers to help drive new subscribers

Why not offer a pledge drive? Create a timed offer that incentivizes your fans to help spread the word and drive new sign ups.

If a fan drives X sign ups in 1 month they will get [enter your prize here]. Make sure that prize is killer – you don’t want to make it feel like you are begging fans to help, nor should the experience feel like work for the fan. It should be something they want to do as the reward outweighs the effort.

8. Make it the primary channel to debut new material / videos

Similar to the idea that fans will get early access to pre-orders or pre-sales, why not take the next step and make your email the primary channel for all new debuts as well.

Any time a new song is released, your mailing list subscribers will find out about it first. New video? Your mailing list subscribers will see it first. Doing this ups the ante and continues to develop a higher-level relationship with your fans that shows you appreciate their interest in you and your music.

9. Create multiple lists for different reasons (i.e. segment your fans based on their needs)

And finally we get to an often overlooked concept – not all of your fans are the same. Some will be interested in you. Some will be interested in your recordings. And some will simply only care when you come to town because your live show is so unique it’s not to be missed.

These segments should be considered and you should start to develop separate mailing lists (and unique reasons to sign up to such a mailing list) for each type of fan.

Making the most (money) from your mailing list

Now the time comes to leverage your list to sell more music online and make more money for your band.

Here are a few ways to ensure your efforts are optimized for sales:

1. Only use one call to action

You may have an album out for sale, tickets for upcoming shows, and your online merch store fully stocked. But it’s important to avoid the instinct to offer all three at once.

Use a clear and simple call to action to drive attention to one thing that matters most. A study by WhichTestWon shows that sales conversions increased a whopping 1,617% by using one CTA (call to action) instead of multiple.

Also - your CTA must be a direct request for the email recipient to take an immediate action, such as ‘Buy the album Now’, ‘Take the survey Today’, ‘Share Your Feedback Here’.

2. Use your mailing list segments

Having trouble deciding which offer to focus on with your call to action? Lean on #9 above, and further develop these segments, or groups of fans, based on specific interests to make your offers more precise.

Know a group of your fans are only interested in new music? Send a newsletter to these fans with a call to action to buy your music online.

3. Create timed offers

Another great way to increase your sales is to develop a sense of urgency by offering something exciting or exclusive, with a very small window of time for people to purchase.

Try things like offering a unique bundle package. Maybe an album, tickets, and/or merch at a steep discount for one day only, or for the first 20 who purchase.

[Use Sale Pricing for Your Music & Merch Store]

4. Pay attention to analytics from past efforts to inform future efforts

Finally, remember to pay attention to your analytics. Try out different calls to action in different monthly newsletters. You can even try a/b testing a single call to action by splitting your list into two and seeing which performs best.

You can also test different times of the day and/or times of the week to send offers to your mailing list. The more you can study the data in relation to driving online sales, the more you’ll be able to optimize for future sales.

Bandzoogle websites have a built-in mailing list tool, and you keep 100% of your sales when you sell music, merch, & tickets online. Sign up free with Bandzoogle now.

How to Build a Wedding DJ Website

How To Build a Wedding DJ website

The best wedding DJ websites include a few key things that add up to a professional look. This includes great images, testimonials from happy couples, and an organized price list to convey your services. Let’s take a closer look!

DJ website design

As a professional, you want your website to appear sleek and simple. The focus should be on content - what you can offer in the way of music to make an event memorable.

Surround is a popular DJ website template here at Bandzoogle, as it showcases a large image, plus plenty of room for content on the inner pages.

Choose a clean, sans serif font in your content area to make it easy to read. Then use an elegant, script-like font for your feature titles to separate content blocks and columns.

In terms of color, aim for 3 colors. A black and white palette works nicely for wedding DJ websites, with an accent color like green or blue. If you want more color, choose a primary and secondary color, then an accent that is picked up by your images.

Key Elements for a Wedding DJ website

Homepage

A great wedding DJ homepage will offer a look into everything you do! Add a short bit of text explaining who you are, where you are located, and the services you provide. Place a link to your Services page (where you’ll go into more detail).

Adding a few images, or your Instagram feed will give this page a bit of visual interest. You can also put a single testimonial on your Homepage to make a great first impression!

Wedding DJ website

Photos

If you have some professionally taken photos of yourself at the DJ booth, here is where to put them! Impress your future clients by using images of weddings you’ve spun for in the past.

Make sure to include a few of yourself and your setup. Try to create a fun vibe to show how you can get the party started for any wedding. Using the tiled layout will give your photo gallery a modern look.

DJ Wedding Website photos

Services

A services page should be well-organized and easy to scan. List the different kinds of packages you provide, and let interested clients know if you can tailor to their wishes.

Do you provide music for the party only, or are you open to playing songs during the cocktail hour as well? Add a few price options here if you can do different packages.

You can also include a custom quote form here, and a link to your contact page.

Also in a wedding band? Check out “How to Build a Website for Your Wedding Band.

Songlist

Add a list of songs that you can play, and an example set list or two. This will help potential customers know exactly what they’re in for.

If you can do something custom for them, such as getting them to pick out the era of songs, or take requests live off the floor from the guests, put that information here as well.

Reviews / Testimonials

Word of mouth is still the best recommendation - so be sure to include plenty of nice words from previous clients, both the wedding couple and their guests! You could use the Quote feature to to post reviews.

When adding your reviews, make sure to get feedback on how professional you were, and how important the DJ service was to make the big day just right.

Wedding DJ website

Booking

Create a form here that includes all of the options you’ll need to produce a quote. Include the date of the event, the number of guests, and the size of the room. Leave a text area for any additional details.

You can add an image, and your social media links. This page should focus on contacting you, so no need to add to much else!

Wedding DJ website template

Client area

Make use of a password protected page to accept client payment. You can give out the direct page url with a password.

On this page, you can use a Store feature to take deposit payments in advance, or the full price. Having a quick and secure way to take payment in advance will help keep things clear on the day of the event.

Don’t forget: Make it searchable online

One thing all wedding DJ websites should have is a good online search ranking. Then, if people check Google to look for wedding DJs in their area, your website will show up!

[Learn how a Bandzoogle member booked over 50 wedding gigs using his website and Google Adwords]

Customizing your page title and description on every page will help it rank in Google, and will also allow you to tailor the text that appears under your website when it pops up in results. That’s an important part of what gets people clicking on your website.

[SEO for Musicians: 3 Tips to Optimize Your Website Content]

We hope this post will help you set up a professional and organized wedding DJ website! It’s a great way to get exposure for your business online to gain more bookings. Good luck!

Build a professional, mobile-ready wedding DJ website that is easy to update in minutes. Try Bandzoogle free now!

The 3 Audiences Your Band Website Needs to Impress

The 3 audiences your band website needs to impress

As a band or musician, your website is one of the most important tools you have. It sets you apart from all the rest and gives you your own little slice of the internet to show off your music.

[Musicians: 10 Reasons Why You Need a Website]

When putting your website together, it’s a good idea to ask yourself who your audience is, and how you can set it up the right way from the beginning.  

The three primary audiences you’ll want to keep in mind are:

  1. Your current fans

  2. Potential new fans

  3. Industry & media

Let’s break down each of these:

Current Fans

You’ve worked hard getting fans, now you’ll want to do everything you can to keep those fans coming back for more. The key here is consistency. It doesn’t matter how small or large, if you aren’t posting updates fairly often fans might forget about you.

This slow trickle of updates nudges your fans to check out what’s new with you. When you get them to your website, you need to grab and hold their attention. Here are a few things you’ll want to have on your site to keep current fans engaged:

What’s new?

If you don’t keep your Homepage updated, when a current fans visits your website they might leave because they think nothing new is going on.

Make sure your Homepage lists everything you’re doing with your music. Even small updates like “working on lyrics for a new song (include image of notepad)” or “just booked a tour van (image of van)” are valuable.

Make sure to sprinkle in mentions of any new tracks, albums, or merch you’re selling. You can even do this with a built-in Twitter feed to let fans know you’re active.

Fan Loyalty

Nothing makes a fan more loyal than when you do something special to let them know they matter. Fans appreciate the little things, so why not give them access to limited edition products or package deals.

With our sale pricing feature, you can easily set this up on a password protected page that only current fans get access to through your newsletter.

Get those emails

In addition to fan perks you’ll want to get them on your mailing list so you can stay in touch. According to a study conducted by McKinsey & Company, email is 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined.

Getting your fans on your list allows you to send frequent newsletters to keep them thinking about you and your music. With our built in mailing list tool and download code feature, it’s also a great way to send your loyal fans free music.

[Why Email Newsletters Are Still a Vital Marketing Tool for Musicians]

Blog Updates

In addition to smaller updates on your Homepage, it’s also a good idea to maintain a blog. There you can add frequent updates and include images, videos (vlogs) and even a podcast.

[13 Topics That Musicians Can Easily Blog About]

The 3 audiences your band website needs to impress

Photos

You’ll also want to keep a photo gallery of promo pictures and live performance shots. Make sure to rotate out old photos to keep things fresh. You can even add our Instagram Gallery feature to keep a regular feed of fresh photos on your site.

Potential Fans

When a potential fan finds their way to your website from a friend or social media post, you’ll want to grab their attention right away. This is their first visit to your website, so help them get acquainted to you with these tips:

Who are you?

On your Homepage you’ll want to add a short welcome message with a two or three line bio. This gives your new visitors a quick idea about your music genre and where you’re from.

Ask to be friends

Once you get someone new to your website you want to make sure you have a way to stay in touch. Make sure you have a mailing list signup at the top of your Homepage.

This is a perfect opportunity to give them a free track or album in exchange for their email address. You can choose this setting right in our mailing list sign up form feature.

Front and Center

Since you want to make a great first impression, you’ll want to put your best songs and videos upfront. Once new visitors hear and see what you’re about, they’ll want to explore more of your pages.

You can then have a dedicated Music page for all your tracks and a Video page for music videos and recorded gigs.

The 3 audiences your band website needs to impress

Industry and Media

This last category of visitors is probably the hardest to impress, so you’ll want to take a bit more time to think this one through. If you think of it from the perspective of an industry professional it’s all about time, and the WOW factor.

Music bloggers, reporters, bookers, producers, and music executives get inundated with bands and artists vying for their attention. If you’re lucky enough to have them visit your site you only get one (quick) shot to make a big impression. Here’s what you need to stand out:

Time Savers

Industry professionals generally won’t spend the time digging through your site for great content or music. Make it easy on them by dedicating a full page to an electronic press kit (EPK).

This gives an at-a-glance view of who you are and what you’re doing. This page should be a sampling of your best stuff and should include the following:

  • Band or Artist Bio / story written in third person

  • High-quality images (promotional and live events)

  • Music (set a few of your best tracks to free download)

  • Video

  • Press quotes

  • Career highlights

  • Contact info

[The 8 things that should be in every band’s digital press kit]

The 3 audiences your band website needs to impress

Stay Current

Keeping a blog on your website is a great way to share updates and news on your site. The most important thing with blogging is to stay consistent.

It’s better to not start a blog at all than to start one and not keep it updated. If an industry pro comes to your site and the last entry was a year ago, they may think you are no longer pursuing a music career.

[Musicians: 5 Tips for Developing your Personal Blogging Voice]

Standing Ovation

As you can see, all three audiences share common traits, the most important of which is to have a great Homepage. By taking the time to organize your Homepage you’re setting yourself up for success with any visitor that happens upon your website.

[How to Build the Perfect Homepage for your Band Website]

Keeping your site up-to-date is also vital. It let’s your visitors know you’re still pluggin along doing cool things with your music. Making these few changes can have a big affect on your fan base and the attention you get from industry pros.

Make an impression on both your fans and industry professionals with a stylish, mobile-ready Bandzoogle website. Create your own in just minutes. Try Bandzoogle free now!

How to Get Hired as a Session Musician

How to Get Hired as a Session Musician

This is a guest post by Alejandro Sanchez, which originally appeared on the Sonicbids Blog.

Dedicated and talented session musicians can make up to $100,000 a year – and sometimes even more, if they’re really in demand. But how do you get hired for that first gig that leads to all the other opportunities? How much should you charge? Would it benefit you to join a musicians’ union? Here’s everything you need to know about breaking into the session musician business:

How do you get hired as a session musician?

1. Advertise yourself

Start with family and friends (especially musician friends). One of the easiest ways to get your name out there is by communicating with the people you already know. Get some business cards and start handing them out to let people know that you’re available for session work. Let your band members, co-writers, manager, etc. know that you’re looking for extra work – you never know when you might get a call!

Reach out to local recording studios. Whenever you head into a studio to record your own music, let others in the session know that you’re available for hire. Show that you’re easy to work with while in the session, and that way they will surely call you or at least hook you up with someone else who needs a session player.

If you don’t record your own music, try contacting the studios in your area, especially the very busy ones. Most of the time they will be on the look out for good musicians since they have so many clients.

Offer your services online. Put yourself up on Craigslist and start offering your services. What instrument(s) do you play? Why should someone hire you? How much do you charge hourly? Note that your rate should be reflective of the amount of experience you have, and can also depend on the type of recording and geographical location. An average rate for a beginner session musician would be $40-$60 an hour or $75-$100 per song. If you’re a member of a union like the American Federation of Musicians or SAG-AFTRA, check with your local union to find out specifics on the minimum payment you should receive (more on unions below).

Also, research websites that have songwriters as their lead target. People are always searching for musicians to collaborate with, and if you’re lucky you might get a gig or two. Try kompoz.com,soundbetter.com or findmysong.com.

Look up record labels in your area. Search their website, call or even knock on their door and let them know you’re available to hire. Normally for beginners, though, it’s best to reach out to smaller labels since the bigger ones tend to already have their own database of session players that they trust and work with.

2. Have a portfolio

Build an online portfolio where people can check out the work you’ve done. Set up a memorable website with contact information, and supplement it with SoundCloud, Bandcamp, YouTube and Facebook pages to show the work you’ve done. Be sure to not upload anything you don’t have the rights to, or you could end up in big trouble!

3. Know where the industry is

Nashville, LA, NYC and London have a big session community. Look to where you have the majority of contacts, and that’s where you’ll probably have the biggest chance of getting some session work.

4. Get your skills up to par

This was covered in depth in part one, but the main takeaway is this: Be flexible with your sound and style, but consider having a strong genre as well. You might be the perfect person to record hard rock or maybe country, so advertise yourself as such.

5. Be easy to work with

You need to walk into every session knowing that you’re a great player, but it’s so important to remain humble and easy to work with if you want to get a call back the next time. Don’t come off as though you think you’re the best player in the studio. You can help other people out if they ask for it, but look up to more experienced players as well for guidance.

Should you join a musicians' union?

1. It gives you certain rights as a musician

Have you ever been to a gig where your employer promised to pay you a certain amount, but you ended up with a smaller check in your hands (or even worse, no check at all)? Unfortunately this happens all the time, but by being affiliated with a union you can have confidence that you’ll get paid what you deserve.

One of the ways unions do this is by making sure you sign a contract before you even start the gig. They can provide you with contracts for many different types of scenarios and help you choose the correct template for your gig. For example, here is the American Federation of Musicians’ sound recording labor agreement.

Not only does being a union member assure that your employer will pay you correctly, but union gigs normally have better pay altogether (here’s a glance at the sound recording rates that AFTRA sets).

If an employer is not treating their employees well enough, the union is able to step in and either block the employer/company or enforce better treatment. Here is an example of AFTRA’s do not work notices.

2. It provides you with benefits

Musicians’ unions provide health care, discounts (especially for instrument insurance), and give a fair share for your pension. They can also provide you with a lawyer, which allows you to dedicate your time to playing rather than reading contracts (but of course, make sure your situation actually needs a lawyer before asking for one).

3. It doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get session work

Just because you’ve joined a union doesn’t mean you’re automatically going to get gigs. You’ll still need to work just as hard as any other musician to get session work. Note that you’ll be able to be referred for union gigs, but the union could potentially fine you if you take a non-union gig.

4. You have to pay annual membership fees

Joining a union is not free. Each union has a different yearly fee and takes from 1% to 3% of what you earn from each union gig.

If you feel that you have sufficient work as a freelancer, you may not need a union. Many musicians feel they won’t get session work unless they join a union, but that’s not necessarily true. In the event that you encounter a union-only gig, you can usually just pay a small “non-member” fee, which is much cheaper than the annual dues. Nevertheless, you will need to provide your own lawyer and discuss the contracts with your employer. If you’re still having a hard time deciding whether or not you should join a union, this article on musicianwages.com provides more information to help you weigh both sides.

Alejandro Sanchez is a singer/songwriter, guitarist, producer and founder/CEO of Skyward Productions. With a creative team of musicians, producers and engineers, Skyward works with upcoming artists and bands by recording and producing their albums or EPs. Alejandro has been a session musician and music producer for the past five years, with experience ranging from acoustic sessions to full bands, ensembles and orchestras.

Bandzoogle lets you create a professional website in minutes with all the music promotional features you need including a blog, mailing list, and social media integrations. Try Bandzoogle free now!

Meet Bandzoogle's New Theme Designer

Meet Bandzoogle's New Theme Designer

Some exciting news: we've completely revamped the theme designer, making it a lot more powerful and customizable.  

New point and click editor

The Design tab has a new interface, which is easier and faster to use than before.

It displays all the controls for your current theme in a column on the left. When you make a design change, it updates instantly in the preview window on the right.  

More control over your design

We've also added dozens of new design options to our 15 most popular music website templates. From background colors, to the height of the header area, you'll be able to tweak your theme to make it fit your style more than ever before.

Check out this video to see the new design options working some magic on the Primer theme:

 

 

Save works in progress

Another change is that you can now save your work in progress to publish later. You can play around with design options, or even create new templates, without worrying about it affecting visitors.

After you press "save" you'll see the new option to "Save to My Themes." You can access all your saved changes and apply them to your live website at any time in the future.

More modern themes to come

This new designer will also allow us to build out much more modern and flexible themes for you to use in the future. Stay tuned for more on that front in the coming weeks.  

And have fun getting creative with the new design options!

Start designing a professional, mobile-ready website in minutes. Try Bandzoogle free now!

10 Essential Online Music Marketing Tools

10 Essential Online Music Marketing Tools

Guest post by Joy Ike

I don’t doubt that you’ve probably heard of every single item on this list. But it’s easy to forget just how many (often free) resources are at your disposal and the ways in which they can help you market your music. So consider this a reminder. In this post, I’ll share why each online tool is helpful and some ways to use them well.

1. Mailing list

For the average artist, the mailing list is that thing you put in the back of the room on your semi-professional-looking merch table. You don’t encourage people to sign up and your average fan doesn’t even know you have one. What’s worse is that you rarely use it and you probably send out one newsletter update every four months #majorfail

BUT your mailing list is the single most important marketing tool you have at your disposal. Social media (we’ll talk more about that later), is great and all, but no one can keep track of everything in their feeds. And platforms (like Facebook) are making it increasingly harder to get your information across if you’re not paying for advertising.

Your newsletter is free advertising and allows you to target meaningful information to a group of people who are already die-hard fans!  Use it...and please send out at least 1 newsletter per month. Never underestimate the fact that you can reach your biggest fans with a click of a Send button.

[Why Email Newsletters Are Still a Vital Marketing Tool for Musicians]

2. Website

Facebook is not a website. Bandcamp is not a website. In fact, your ugly, unmanageable, hard to navigate website is not a website. There, I said it! Artists underestimate the power of websites just as much as they do their newsletters. Fans want a one-stop-shop where they can listen to your music, watch videos, learn about upcoming shows, and find out more about you. The easier it is to find you, the easier it is to follow you.

Furthermore, venues are more biased towards artists who represent themselves well by having a professional looking online presence. Do yourself a favor and create something with Bandzoogle. Their designs are simple, clean, and easy to use.

Bandzoogle websites have built-in mailing lists and the tools you need to step it up. Sign up free now!​

3. Indie on the Move

Indie on the Move is an absolute must-have for the traveling artists. Cutting through Indianapolis on tour and need to find a coffeehouse within 30 miles that hosts live music on weeknights? IOTM will be your best-friend.

They have the most extensive database of venues all across the United States. They allow you to search by city or within a mile radius of a zip code. Venue listings also include comments and reviews by musicians who have already played that venue. They’ll tell you how management was, if the payout was decent, and if the room fit their style, among other things. IOTM is invaluable.

4. Facebook

Every artist should use Facebook. And most do...sort of. The thing is, Facebook will work for you if you let it. But it’s not as effective as the average artist wants it to be. The thing is, half-spirited posts, status updates at the wrong time of day, lengthy posts that no one will get through, over-posting, and inviting people in Pennsylvania to your show in LA are only just a handful of the ridiculous mistakes that musicians make every single day. Do yourself a favor and read up on some Facebook best practices.

[The Tools of Music Fan Engagement: Facebook Basics]

5. Twitter

With the advent of Instagram, artists don’t always see the value in Twitter. After all, Instagram is kind of like Twitter with the added bonus of pictures. But Twitter appeals to an older generation and you can still find more business using it over Instagram.

The key to taking advantage of Twitter is tagging...and again, it will only work as much as you let it. Make sure you not only tag fellow musicians and venues when you’re talking about a show, but use hashtag keywords that specifically apply to your event and the city you’re in.

[The Tools of Music Fan Engagement: Twitter Basics]

6. Instagram

Instagram will be your best friend...especially if your music appeals to a younger audience. In fact, you might start using it more than any other social media platform. People love photos, plain and simple. But they don’t like ads.

Take it slow with posting show posters, and things that look too polished. Find ways to be creative with your show promo while still capturing the essence of the organic nature of Instagram. Here are two great examples of how to remind your fans about a show on Instagram without saying "hey, come to my show" for the one-hundreth time: Example 1Example 2.

Also remember, the beauty of Instagram is that you have the opportunity of sharing everyday things with your fans - what you ate, clips from new songs you’re working on, and the bite your dog took out of your lyric notebook.

7. YouTube

YouTube is in fact a marketing tool. Think of it as your audio/visual business card. It gives people a 3-dimensional idea of who you are. Upload videos often and share them even more often. Check out this post for another great way to use your YouTube account. 8 Effective Strategies to Sell Your Music Online

[How to make money from your music on YouTube]

8. Bandcamp

Besides being a use-friendly platform for musicians to share music, sell music, offer free download codes, and create audio widgets for your website; Bandcamp is ever-evolving and finding ways to help artists maintain more control over how they share their content. They also do a great job curating and promoting music on the platform to encourage customers to discover new music.

[VIDEO] How to Sell Bandcamp Music on Your Bandzoogle Website

9. SoundCloud

SoundCloud is the Industry standard. It’s where fans and fan-makers alike go to find and listen to new music. SoundCloud offers a different experience than any other resource by letting fans comment on songs and share thoughts such as a favorite verse, other songs that they think of when they hear yours, or opinions about specific instruments on the track...etc. With the exchange of ideas and opinions, SoundCloud could be considered one of the very first music crowdsourcing platforms.

10. NoiseTrade

NoiseTrade is all about exposure and offers a pretty simple strategy. 1. Upload your song. 2. Offer it as a free download in exchange for downloader’s email address. 3. Build your fanbase. Musicians love it because, just like SoundCloud, it allows you to control the spreading of your music while also helping you build your newsletter.

Now that you know which tools you're going to use, be sure to create a music marketing plan to put them into action: 5 Steps to Creating an Effective Music Marketing Plan

Joy Ike is a full-time singer/songwriter based out of Philadelphia, PA. She is also the founder and primary writer for Grassrootsy, one of the most-read music business blogs on the internet. She believes the greatest tragedy in the world is having a talent and keeping it to yourself.

Bandzoogle lets you create a professional website in minutes with all the music promotional features you need including a blog, mailing list, and social media integrations. Try Bandzoogle free now!

Singers: Here's Everything You Need to Know About Taking Care of Your Voice

Singers: Here's Everything You Need to Know About Taking Care of Your Voice

This is a guest post by Jonathan Hack, which originally appeared on the Sonicbids Blog.

Take care of your instrument, people. I can’t stress that enough. You already know the importance of cultivating the vocal instrument through breathing and proper technique. Today we’re going to talk maintenance.

If you think of breathing and vocal technique as the cornerstones of the voice factory, vocal maintenance is the practice that keeps operations running smoothly. This is especially important, because unlike other instruments, your voice is in use around the clock, minus time for sleeping – which I imagine are some pretty odd hours if you're out there chasing the dream. There’s no fancy, velvet-lined case in which to send it off to bed between gigs. You can’t easily change out the strings, reed, or mouthpiece. So, how do you take care of your voice?

1. Work out every day

The voice is a muscle that needs maintenance, just as your abs need maintenance for the upcoming beach season. Set aside time each day (at least a half hour) to run through some warm-ups and songs. If you’re pressed for time, the shower works great. There’s no room in the house with better acoustics, so let it rip.

Call me old school, but my favorite book of warm ups is the Vaccai. Disclaimer: it’s in Italian, but you can master the phonetics in about five minutes, and once you do, you’ll be well on your way to tackling every vowel sound you could possibly encounter.

[Top 5 Exercises to Warm Up Your Voice Before a Show]

2. Get steamy

Like any muscle in your body, the voice needs to recover after being worked out – especially if you’ve just melted some faces in a venue with an extremely loud band. Every singer’s best friend should be the Vick’s Personal Steam Inhaler. No, I don’t get anything if you purchase one, it's just saved my ass on more than one occasion, and you can bet it’ll save yours too.

If you’re a little more DIY, boil a pot of water on the stove, then remove from heat and drape a towel over your head and breath in that glorious steam. You will sweat it out like an old fat man in the Elk’s Lodge sauna, but your voice will reward you with quick recovery.

3. Lozenges

Okay, the jury is still out on these. Some teachers push Ricola like it’s going out of style. Others treat them like you’re swallowing razor blades – okay, that’s a bit dramatic. Here’s my take: I’m all for lozenges to soothe your throat. If you’re feeling especially tired or sore, there’s nothing better to breathe some coolness than a nice, herb-packed Ricola. The trick is to avoid having one right before singing – especially if it contains menthol, like Halls. They all help to soothe, but some may actually dry you out. Not fun to sing with cotton mouth.

4. Avoid milk

It's a common misconception that milk increases the production of mucus. It may feel like it, but it’s just not true. However, drinking milk before a show is still akin to voice suicide, and I’ll tell you why. Besides being moo juice from an entirely other species – I’ll get off my hippie rant – milk can work to thicken saliva or existing mucus, and that junk will take a front-row seam on your cords. So unless you plan on yodeling throughout your performance, pass on the milk mustache and grab some water instead.

5. Drink tea

Tea is liquid magic for soothing the voice. It is not, however, magic for hydrating the voice, especially if it contains caffeine. Caffeine is a diuretic, which can lead to dehydration. Stick to decaf tea after your performance, and your voice will be singing your praises. (See what I did there?)

6. Just a bag full of apples

Many fruits, such as citrus, have high acidic content, which is a no-no for your chords before a performance. Apples are different. They have low acidic content, but just enough to be helpful to your voice! In fact, it’s an old opera trick to keep a bag of cubed Granny Smiths backstage. If you feel mucus creeping in, just pop a couple cubes. The slight acidic content works to burn the excess mucus off your cords.

Pro tip: I wouldn’t make regular practice of it, as it’s highly acidic, but a swig or two of Coke before a show will clear your throat in a cinch.

7. Vocal rest

This term has become so cliché lately that I almost hate mentioning it. Everyone gets tired. Singers are often overworked. The voice isn’t delicate, especially as you continue to work out the muscles involved in vocal production, but it needs to be nurtured. If you’re feeling especially tired, take a break. Don’t sing, don’t talk, just be. If the problem persists, don’t mess around or try to sing through it. Get checked out by an ENT.

With daily maintenance and a little TLC, you’ll keep your voice flowing strong for decades to come. Do you have any pre-show vocal rituals, or home remedies? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Jonathan Hack is a Brooklyn resident, musician, writer, and ping pong aficionado. His career in the theatre has spanned acting, music direction, production, carpentry, and more. As a marketer, he has worked with major brands in music and fashion. He is a proud member of AEA and NATS. Follow him on Twitter @writerninja and on Instagram @jonnyhack.

Bandzoogle lets you create a professional website in minutes with all the music promotional features you need including a blog, mailing list, and social media integrations.Try Bandzoogle free now!

How to Build the Perfect Homepage for Your Band Website

Build a Perfect Homepage for your Band Website

Your Homepage is the most visited page on your website. It's your best chance to make a great first impression. You'll want to grab your visitors attention, and keep it! So what's the best way to create an engaging homepage?

Think of it as a snapshot of the rest of your website. You’ll want to give people a quick intro to yourself, your music, and your brand. To do that, pull snippets of content from those other pages, then make it look visually appealing. It's easier than it sounds. Let's dive in!

Header image on brand

In band website design, a great header image is your first chance to make a lasting impression. It may even be a more important way to catch someone’s interest than your songs. Be sure to choose a header image that visually represents your band, and your style of music.

This might mean booking a professional photo session or using a stock image that captures who you are. Get some images of yourself, or your full band. Try some photos that are farther away, and landscape-style (longer than they are wide). Then you'll have lots to choose from.

Band Website Header Image on Brand

If you have lots of great images that work together to tell your story, make use of a slideshow header to add up to 5 images. This will give your website a bit of motion and show different sides of you.

Sam Sweeney uses different images on his folk music website, giving his visitors a glance at his serious side, as well as some high energy live shots. With these fantastic images, you can't help but want to learn more about him.

Sam Sweeney website

Highlight your music

This is key for any musician - make your music easy to listen to! Most people arriving to your website will already know that you make music. So add a sample of your music right to your Homepage.

You can do this by placing a compact music player on your page, or a site wide music player at the bottom of your page. Another option is to add a video of a recent song to stream on your Homepage.

The easier it is to spot and click play on your music, the more people will listen to it. So show your best track or two here, then save your other songs for your Music page.

About You

As soon as someone gets to your website, it should be clear to them who you are and what you do. Add just a sentence or two that describes you in relatable terms.

Briefly mention your genre of music, and what it sounds like. Imagine a blogger or venue owner is coming to your website to grab a short paragraph of text about you. Write out something short and to the point, with personality.

If you’re having a hard time coming up with something, use a recent quote about your album or a live show.

Call to action

You might feel tempted to toss all kinds of information about you onto your Homepage. For a better website design, use a call to action as something to direct your visitors' attention.

Some examples of things to highlight with a call to action include: your latest album, your mailing list, an upcoming event, or a noteworthy news item. You can change this up at any time.

Ron Block music website

Your mailing list

Grow your mailing list by adding mailing list signup form right to your Homepage. Give away a free track in exchange for an email address, and be sure to put your signup form somewhere easy to spot!

Many of your website visitors will already know who you are, and a free track will be the nudge they need to sign up.

[Why Email Newsletters Are Still a Vital Marketing Tool for Musicians]

Something new

Changing things often on your Homepage is good for a few reasons. It engages your fans, and reminds them to come back for new content. Plus, it helps your website rank better in Google search.

To keep things updated, add a blog feature with recent news items. Not sure if you'll be able to post blog entries regularly? Add a Twitter widget, or an Instagram widget instead.

These will populate with content automatically whenever you post on your social media sites. It will make your Homepage appear fresh and up to date!

Social media icons

With so many social media sites out there, it's hard to choose which ones you'll want to add to your Homepage. Choose the sites that most people are familiar with, and that you are most active on.

Placing 3 to 5 social media sites in your content area is just about right. It's good to show fans that you are active on social media, but you want people to stay and check out your content. Your website is your home on the web, after all.

Kate Mills music website

Keep it Organized

Remember that most website visitors will spend only a few seconds glancing over your Homepage before deciding where to click next. You'll want to be sure that they get a organized impression of you. A cluttered up Homepage will make you seem unprofessional. So pick only the best things to add to your page.

Swamp donkeys home page

To present your content in an organized manner, make use of columns, and mix up a balance of text and images on the page.

I hope these examples help you shape your Homepage into a welcoming impression of you as an artist. Keep it organized and up to date, and your visitors will find it much easier to learn about you, and listen to your music!

Build your perfect homepage on a website that showcases your band in a professional way. Try Bandzoogle free now!

5 Steps to Creating an Effective Music Marketing Plan

5 Steps to Creating an Effective Music Marketing Plan

This guest post was written by Jon Ostrow. Jon is the Director of Sales at Bandsintown, Founder of MicControl, lover of all things music, a raging Phish head, and a coffee addict.

Whether you’re a brand new musician establishing yourself online for the first time, or an already established band with a dedicated fan base, there is one thing that love it or hate it, all musicians will have to do. That, my friends, is marketing your music.

So what is marketing?

Marketing is a way of generating fans and awareness for your music. This can be done through a variety of different tactics such as content creation / curation, offering unique experiences, developing a sense of community, and yes even paying to reach fans (new and old).

But marketing needs to have a purpose. Marketing your music is not simply just posting music online, liking statuses on Facebook, and retweeting people on Twitter.

[How to successfully promote your music]

The first step in effective marketing is creating a marketing plan for your music. This is a comprehensive understanding of your audience, the marketplace, and a plan to accomplish whatever goals you’ve set for yourself.

So before we move any further, ask yourself:

Why do you need to create a marketing plan? And what exactly do you want to accomplish?

  • Are you just getting started with an online presence and need to reach new fans?

  • Are you ready to head out on tour and need to sell tickets?

  • Are you already on tour and looking to sell more merch?

  • Do you want to double the size of your mailing list?

  • Are you putting out a new album and need to re-engage fans to generate awareness about your new project?

All of these, and many more, are valid reasons to get started with your marketing efforts. So let’s dive into the 5 steps to creating an effective music marketing plan:

STEP 1: Define the audience for your music

Music Marketing Plan STEP 1: Define the audience for your music

"Knowing your fans is the key to success."

Read this next statement carefully, and read it twice.

Knowing your fans is the key to success.

With this understanding, you’ll be able to identify where your fans exist and engage online (note: everyone is on Facebook, but not everyone uses Facebook to engage as a fan). You’ll also know how to effectively communicate with your fans, and most importantly, you’ll know how to offer value to your fans to keep them happy and coming back for more.

You should ask yourself some questions to develop a clear picture of your ‘ideal fan’. The fan who is engaging, who can become a word-of-mouth-spreading super fan, who will buy your albums, merch, and tickets. There are two steps to take with the following questions:

  1. Go through and answer the questions using your existing (gut) instinct.

  2. Go out and do some research, and validate or change the responses below until you know for sure who your fans are.

  • How old is your fan?

  • What gender is your fan?

  • Where is your fan located?

  • What kind of personality does your fan have?

  • Is your fan an intellectual?

  • Is your fan a partier?

  • What excites your fan besides music?

  • What is your fan willing to pay for?

  • Who is your fan’s favorite band (besides you of course)?

  • What is your fan’s favorite social network?

  • What is your fan passionate about?

There are far more questions you can be asking yourself here to get to know your ideal fan. Don’t get to a point of analysis paralysis, just think through all the different aspects of what can make your fan unique until you feel you have a strong grasp on the bigger picture.

STEP 2: Analyze the market

Music Marketing Plan STEP 2: Analyze the market

Once you understand who your fans are, you also need to understand the market. You need to understand what’s happening in your local community as well as within your genre globally. Having this understanding will help you to establish where you fit in and what unique value you can offer to your fans.

Again, you’ll want to go out and so some research and get an idea of the following:

  • Which musicians are seeing the most success locally / globally within your genre?

  • What are these successful musicians doing that is working most effectively to build and engage a fan base?

  • What are those who are failing doing wrong?

  • How likely is the market to buy your album?

  • Is any unique offering being successfully bundled with albums to drive stronger sales?

  • What sort of content seems to be resonating most effectively… Photos? Videos? Blogs? Remixes? Covers?

  • Are artists within your genre touring successfully locally / globally?

Again, there are certainly other questions you can be asking yourself here, but this should set you on the right path to understanding your market.

STEP 3: Establish goals

Music Marketing Plan STEP 3: Establish goals

As I stated earlier in the article, marketing has to have a purpose. At this point you should have established why you need to be marketing your music, but now it’s time to set goals around that purpose.

For example, let’s say you’re marketing a new album. Ok, great. But what’s the goal here?

Is it to sell more albums? Sure, but how many more albums? And how long do you want to give yourself to achieve this goal?

Every goal should be actionable, measurable and timed. This way you’re not just aimlessly ‘marketing’ without a true understanding of how successful you are.

Setting these goals is certainly easier if you’ve done this before. In the example above, let’s say you released an album two years ago, you can use this as a baseline of how many albums sold last time around and how long it took, so you can set reasonable goals for this new effort.

If you’ve never done this before, that’s ok too. Everyone starts at zero. Simply refer to your market research and base your goals off of what’s been done by others similar to your experience level.

STEP 4: Develop an action plan

Music Marketing Plan STEP 4: Develop an action plan

With your actionable, measureable, timed goals in place, it’s now time to create a plan to achieve these goals. There are several components to include in your action plan, including:

  • PR

  • Advertising

  • Content creation / curation

  • Touring

  • Social Media / Community Management

  • Networking

  • Etc. (whatever you need to achieve your goals)

Map out how you’re going to approach each of these on a monthly basis. But word to the wise, only map out a calendar one quarter at a time so you don’t spend time on a plan for 6 months from now when things can change very quickly.

[10 Essential Online Music Marketing Tools]

Easiest way to do this is to set up a spreadsheet with the overall components listed down the left hand side (i.e. PR, Advertising, Networking, etc.) and the monthly breakdown of the quarter across the top (i.e. January, February, March).

This will help you to see a full picture of say, all of your planned PR efforts, or how you plan to create and release content across the next few months. This clarity can help to remove some of the stress and make each aspect of this roadmap easier to conquer.

And remember, everything you do here should have some sort of a performance indicator (often called KPIs) so that the effectiveness, or lack thereof, can be measured properly.

Here are some KPIs to consider, again using the ‘album sales’ goal as the example:

  • How many album sales were generated through clicks from your mailing list this week? How does that compare to the week previous?

  • How many mailing list sign ups did your social content generate this week? How does that compare to the week previous?

  • Which sources to your website are leading to the most store clicks on your?

Again, the list can go on and on. Always consider what your goal is and focus your KPI on an action that directly reflects your goal.

At the end of each quarter (and really each week), you should review your efforts against your goals, and make changes as necessary – stop or change how you’re doing things that are not moving the needle, and do more of the things you’re doing that are.

STEP 5: Create a budget

Music Marketing Plan STEP 5: Create a budget

Taking a career seriously in music is no different than trying to set up a new business in any other industry. It takes time and money to see growth.

At this point, you should have an action plan created for the next few months. But before you set this in stone, you should go through each action item, and determine the cost both in terms of time and money.

Make sure that the action plan is realistic, otherwise you’ll quickly find yourself off the rails and unable to achieve your goals.

To help with creating your marketing budget, check out:
How to Create a Music Marketing Budget in 4 Simple Steps

Time to dive in!

It may seem like a lot of work, but the efforts you put up front to creating a realistic, actionable and measurable marketing plan for your music will save you huge amounts of time, money, and stress later on.

Bandzoogle lets you create a professional website in minutes with all the music marketing features you need including a blog, mailing list, and social media integrations. Try Bandzoogle free now!