The Bandzoogle Blog

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

Musician Website Inspiration: Mailing List Call-to-Action

Mylets Music Website

Who: Henry Kohen aka Mylets

What: Loop rock

Where: Los Angeles

Why his website rocks: We love Mylets website for a few reasons: it features a fantastically streamlined design that is not only simple and sleek, but also gives you a sense of who he is through his excellent header images.

With such an effective design, Mylets is able to really focus his website visitors attention on the main feature (or call-to-action) of his landing page: the mailing list signup form. There’s nothing like growing a solid mailing list to reach your fans to inform them of your upcoming shows, good news, or most importantly, once your new album is ready!

Check it out at http://myletsmusic.com

Bandzoogle Hosting Website Demolition Derby at Chicago Lake FX Summit + Expo

This week our Director of Artist Relations Dave Cool is heading to Chicago for the Lake FX Summit + Expo.  

Presented by Google, it’s a free conference for artists, creative professionals, and entrepreneurs. The inaugural four-day event, running April 16-19, will feature keynotes by industry leaders, professional development panels and workshops, networking opportunities, music and film showcases, an Expo resource fair, and a marketplace featuring local artisans.

We’re thrilled to have been invited to host our signature “Website Demolition Derby” panel at the summit. Dave Cool will be moderating and will be joined by some amazing panelists. It’s open to artists of all disciplines, so they’ll be reviewing websites for not only musicians, but filmmakers, as well as visual artists and performers as well!

Here are the details:

Website Demolition Derby

Friday, April 17 @ 12pm
Chicago Cultural Center, Claudia Cassidy Theater, 2nd Floor North

Live critiques of artists' websites! In this interactive session, artists in all disciplines submit their websites or social media pages for review, then each site's design, organization, content, and functionality will be assessed.

Speakers: Dave Cool, Bandzoogle (moderator); Chandler Coyle, Berklee Online / Music Geek Services; Matt Dennewitz, Pitchfork; Tom Giles, StageBloc.

Artists/creative entrepreneurs can email their websites in advance to Dave Cool at dcool[at]bandzoogle.com

SEO for Musicians: 3 Tips to Optimize Your Website Content

Music website SEO tips: website content

Making your website rank well in search engines can seem like a daunting task. Now more than ever, people look to Google to find out information, and it’s important for your music website to work in search engines.

Not sure where to begin? Even starting with a few small things can help with the search engine optimization (also called SEO) for your website. Let’s look at a few quick ways to update the text on your website to help it rank better in search results!

Content update 1: Page title

Writing a descriptive page title tells Google what your website’s pages are about, and improves the chances of matching a search query.

Let's look at Bandzoogle members Gladstone Ave, a new band just starting out. They have a generic band name and no custom Page title yet.

Changing their page title from the default "Gladstone Ave - Home" to "Gladstone Ave - Acoustic-folk duo in Toronto" gives a bit more information about them right off the bat. It makes the page more likely to return in search results that include "acoustic-folk" and "Toronto," and a user is more likely to click on it because they know what they are clicking on (that IS the band website I was looking for!)

Band website in Google

To do this with your Bandzoogle music website, click the Pages tab and choose Edit Title and Settings. Look down the page to the 'Meta tags for this page' area, and click Custom.

This will open up a Page Title field and that’s where you’ll write out your text. Try to keep it under 55 characters so that it will show up in Google without being cut off.

Content update 2: Page Description

Similarly in the Edit Title and Settings area, you'll see a spot to add a custom meta description. This tells the search engine what that specific page is about in more detail, and helps match the page to search results.

You can set a page description in your Pages tab, again by clicking Edit Title and Settings, then looking for Meta tags for this page: custom: Page Description.

By default this is set to 'Automatically generated from your page content' which can work well. But it's nice to have a bit more control, especially for your pages that don't have much text, or if the text that you do have is not very descriptive or keyword friendly.

For your Home page, describe your band in detail. For your Music page, you'll talk more about your sound or your latest CD. With your Events page's description, you might mention that you play at a certain venue regularly, or an important upcoming show. Write these details in paragraph form, using around 155 characters.

SEO music website page description

Another reason to add a great page description? Social sharing sites like Facebook tend to use a page's description when that page is shared.

Content update 3: Homepage text

Remember, Google is a machine, not a human, and can only match what people type into the search engine to your website if you provide the words. So adding a short paragraph to your Homepage that includes words that describe yourself and your music (called keywords) will help your website come up more easily in search.

To do this, write your bio and make sure to include your band name, your genre, your location - things that you think people would type into Google to find you - and put it right on your Homepage (need help writing this? Here are a few tips on creating a perfect pitch).

Search engines are also very smart, using complex algorithms to determine what is relevant on your pages, and can penalize you for stuffing many keywords that make no sense in context onto your page. So keep it simple, relevant, and human-readable.

Updates complete? Submit to Google!

Once you've done these updates, you can re-submit your website for Google to crawl here: Submit Url to Google

I hope that these tips give you a bit of insight into how to make your website more search engine friendly! Have fun adding or updating your page title, page description, and homepage text.

Music sales now reported to SoundScan

Great news: music sales through Bandzoogle websites are now reported to Nielsen SoundScan, the company that powers the Billboard charts. That means website sales will give you a chance at charting, which can generate buzz for your career and get media and industry attention.  

Having SoundScan data for your sales can also help your career in other ways, like in negotiating with record labels, agents, managers, and for sponsorships. Armed with your social media numbers, mailing list numbers, and sales data, you can put yourself in a position to get a better deal.

For our Canadian members, SoundScan data can also help you with applications for grants like FACTOR and Radio Starmaker.

And of course, when you sell music using our Music & Store features, you get to keep 100% of your sales! ($16 million and counting).

SoundScan reporting is another feature for our Pro members. The Pro plan includes other great stuff like inventory tracking, album pre-orders, selling PDFs and videos, sale pricing, and creating unlimited download codes.

How to make your music eligible for SoundScan reporting

To start reporting your sales to SoundScan, you must include the UPC code for each album, and ISRC code for each track within the Music feature (more info about ISRC codes here). You'll find these fields in the "edit" form for tracks and albums.

Bandzoogle doesn’t supply UPC and ISRC codes, but there are several easy ways to get them. In fact, there’s a very good chance that you already have them. For example, if your music is being distributed digitally by an aggregator like TuneCore, you’ve already been given UPC codes for your albums and ISRC codes for your songs.

If you do not have your music distributed through an aggregator, but would like to submit your sales to SoundScan, you’ll need to purchase UPC and ISRC codes. It’s an easy process, and you pay per album for UPC codes, and per track for ISRC codes, plus a small registration fee: www.isrcmusiccodes.com/order-form.php

To have physical CD sales reported to SoundScan, you have to associate the CD in the Store feature with a digital album, then the CD sales will be reported.

To qualify for SoundScan reporting, albums must be sold for a minimum of $3.49 USD, and digital tracks for a minimum of $0.39.  

We submit US and Canadian sales reports to SoundScan weekly.

If you have any questions about SoundScan reporting or need some help, just click on the Help tab through your Control Panel to chat with our Support team!

Musician Website Inspiration: Using custom images for events

Who: Rakeem-Andre

What: Gospel Recording Artist

Where: Boston, MA

Why his website rocks: We've said it before, but having a professional header image really makes a website stand out and Rakeem-Andre's site is no exception. With his large colorful header image it's hard not to want to explore more of his website. Then right up front he adds a nice genre/location one-liner letting you know what to expect.

Scroll down just a little and you'll see that Rakeem-Andre is in high demand! He displays several upcoming dates using our built-in Events feature. He highlights each date with a custom event image, which makes each gig stand out from the next. We love how he not only shows concerts, but other exciting activities like photoshoots, basketball tournaments, and radio interviews. This gives his fans a peek into the life of a gospel recording artist. Well done Rakeem-Andre!

Check out his site at: www.rakeemandre.com

New: Easily integrate your Bandsintown tour dates into your website

For musicians and music fans alike, Bandsintown is a must-have app. Downloaded more than 16 million times, it’s the largest concert discovery app in the world, and through personalized notifications and a full Facebook integration, they connect artists to fans. Which is why we’re so excited to announce that we’ve partnered with them to build a new feature to make your gigging lives easier!

Now in just a couple of clicks, you can pull your tour dates from Bandsintown and display them on any page of your Bandzoogle website. No need to re-enter dates, or embed widgets or plug-ins. The Bandsintown feature displays your events, styled to automatically match your website’s theme, and is responsive on mobile devices.

How it works

To add your Bandsintown events to any page on your site:

  • Click Add feature

  • Under External, Click Bandsintown

  • Enter your Bandsintown account name

  • Click Save

And you’re done! Your events will automatically appear in the feature. Now anytime you enter dates into Bandsintown, they will display on your website.

Display Options

Like with our Events feature, the Bandsintown feature can display your events as a List, Calendar, or Table. You can change the display anytime without affecting your event listings. All displays are responsive, they adapt to your layouts, and to mobile devices.


Check out the integration at work on these Bandzoogle-powered websites:

Sonic Boom Six

Jubilee Riots

14 Ways to Make Money From One Song

This is a guest post by Bobby Borg, which originally appeared on the Sonicbids Blog.

As with any business, your products and services (whether they be your recordingstoursmerch, or anything else) are the stars of the show. They generate revenue and keep your music career afloat. This is why it's so important to push the boundaries of innovation and creativity and find a variety of ways to satisfy your audience and make sales.

Take a song, for instance. It can be recorded and simply released as a single, but that's not all.

Here's how to turn a single song into 14 different money-making revenue streams:

  1. If you remix it and take the lyrics away, it’s now an instrumental version that can be licensed to film and TV.
  2. If you re-record it live, you can release that version as a live single.
  3. If you re-record it acoustically, it can now be sold as the unplugged version.
  4. If you sing it in another language, it is now a translation suitable for new markets.
  5. If you remix it with a guest DJ, it can now be the electronic dance version.
  6. If you compile it with six or 10 other songs, it can become part of an album or compilation.
  7. If you offer the recorded stems to your individual track, it can be an "interactive product" where fans can create new mixes and share them with each other.
  8. If you allow the song to be experienced (heard, critiqued) in real-time during the writing and production phase, it can be an exclusive content perk to paying fan club members.
  9. If you take the words from the song's chorus and place them on T-shirts and hats, it becomes a cool piece of merch.
  10. If you create a video of the song being performed and/or acted out, it can be part of a DVD collection of video singles with other songs and/or used as a tool to generate advertising revenue on video sites.
  11. If you film yourself while writing and recording the song, it can be part of your "making of" video.
  12. If you transcribe the music into printed form, it can be a piece of sheet music.
  13. If you keep the broken drumsticks, skins, picks, and other tools that were used during the recording of the song, they can be sold as collectors’ items.
  14. If you pile a number of the items discussed above into a classy box, it can be a cool limited box set that your fans might find as a great value and must-have item.

The same concept can be applied to your music lesson business (offered at home, on DVD, in an instructional book, in a master class clinic, streaming live online, etc.) or to any other product or service. The point is that with a little creativity, one product can be turned into a variety of extensions. This doesn't necessarily mean that the more products you offer, the better – in fact, that could actually create confusion for your fans. Rather, if you can keep the juices of creativity and innovation always flowing by being open-minded and observing what’s around you at all times, you can better satisfy the needs of your fans and serve others you may not be reaching currently with quality offerings. That's how you can generate even more income for your music career.

Just remember that if you take your music career seriously, it's a business – and the purpose of a business is to make a healthy profit. If it's not profitable, it's not a business – it's just a hobby.


Bobby Borg is the author of Music Marketing For The DIY Musician: Creating and Executing a Plan of Attack On A Limited Budget (September 2014). Find the book on Hal Leonard's website under "Trade Books" or on Amazon. Signed copies with a special offer are also available at bobbyborg.com.

How to Reach Music Industry Influencers the Right Way

Guest post by Cortney Harding, Director of Media Relations for Muzooka.com

We’ve all seen the old cliche -- a plucky, struggling artist takes the stage at a small club, while a record exec who just happens to be there skulks in the back. By the end of the set, the exec is so blown away that he or she races after the artist, promising them fame and fortune. Six months later, they share a laugh while hoisting a gold record.

If only it were so easy. In today’s ultra-crowded and competitive marketplace, artists should use every tool they have to reach out to the influencers who can help their careers. Unfortunately, many go about it in the wrong way, coming across as naive and tone-deaf. Here are a few pointers on how to get your music in front of the right people -- without getting ripped off.

  1. Be smart about what you pay for. There are plenty of sites promising big things for just a little money -- and yet those big things rarely materialize. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t pay for someone’s time if it provides value, but that you should do your homework  before entering your credit card number. If a site promises that someone will listen to your demo, make sure check the play count -- at least one company that made this promise got busted for taking cash without delivering spins. And be aware of high-priced events and conferences promising big names; the famous folks will generally show up for their panel, say a few boilerplate things, and bail. I’ve moderated several of these, and in one case had to play the bodyguard to a pregnant exec who was racing out and almost got trampled. Which leads me to...

  2. Don’t be a creep. Any industry person with a tiny bit of experience can smell desperation. Don’t shove your demos at people. Don’t hit people up on Twitter. If you’re going to hit people up to Twitter to write about you for a magazine, look at the masthead and make sure those people are still there. Don’t spam. Don’t send random files and huge attachments. DO use official platforms, like (shameless plug) the Muzooka Partner Platform to submit content.

  3. Start at the bottom of the totem pole. Jimmy Iovine isn’t going to come to your show. But spend some time surfing LinkedIn and search for interns at labels you’re interested in, then email them (get the free Rapportive plug-in for Gmail and Chrome to help figure out email addresses) and put them on the guest list. Most college kids aren’t going to say no to a night of free music and free drinks, and they’ll talk you up to the bosses.


Slogging through gigs in empty rooms can be tough, and it can feel like things will never get better. But as long as you keep your wits and basic manners about you, connecting with the people who can make you a star can be remarkably easy.

Musicians: The Truth about 'Releasing a Single'

This is a guest post by Award-winning singer-songwriter and Bandzoogle member Shantell Ogden.


We see it everywhere in the music biz: [Insert Artist Name here] has a new single! But, what does that really mean?

Well, to break it down, there are SINGLES, Singles and singles...

The SINGLE- Major Label Release or the Times Square Billboard

When a major label artist releases a single, it's a big deal. It's a big deal because it means the label is investing tens of thousands of dollars (yes, that much) in advertising and promotion to get that single out there in the market. They literally have teams of people calling up individual program directors on a daily basis to get them to play the single on their radio station. This involves both relationships and favors.

For example, a label radio promoter might 'sweeten the deal' with a program director by offering free tickets to a big name artist show in exchange for spinning a lesser known artist's single. It happens all the time. Major labels pretty much own the content that gets played on major radio stations, which is why you hear the same playlists over and over.

And, just so you know, a #1 song in the country market will make a million dollars. So, if all the promotion works, it pays off big for the label, the artist, the publishers and the songwriters.

The Single- Legit Indie Release or the Highway Sign

When a legit indie label or indie artist releases a single, they can hire radio promoters to work their single at radio for a fee or they can run a professional DIY campaign.

Now depending on the charts they are targeting, fees vary widely from a few thousand for the 'life' of the single - or however long it is still moving up the charts - or a few thousand a month.

In country radio, for example, major label artists typically release and promote to Billboard charts and up-and-coming artists generally release to secondary charts (Music Row, Billboard Indicator). Even promoting to these secondary charts can come at a pretty hefty price tag; artists I know have spent $20,000-$30,000 on promoting one single.

Because of royalty rates, don't expect to earn a bunch of money back either. A few years ago, I was a writer on a song that reached the top 60 on the Music Row charts and it paid a whopping $30.

For myself as an indie artist, I've found a great option in radio promotion in the UK and Ireland. I partner with KEMC Global; they are reasonably priced, and they get results that turn into actual revenue because the royalty rates are so different there.

If you do hire someone to help you promote your music, make sure they have a track record of working with artists in your genre. And, as always, ask around to see what other successful indies are doing.

The single- I'm Saying it's a Single or the Yard Sign

This brings us to the last type of single. This is basically when you say you have a single, but what it really means is that you put a song on iTunes and maybe your hometown radio station is playing it. It sounds cool, yeah, but it's just not the same as the two types of singles described above. At the very least, if you're serious about your career, consider trying a DIY campaign around a new single or album, or clarifying your release as an iTunes Single release.

A Closing Thought

So, there you have it. There are SINGLES, Singles and singles. While we can't all be major label artists, the good news is that you do have options to run legitimate single promotions with an investment of time and money. And, remember if you want to be legit, then you have to work on getting your music on real music industry charts, and no, ReverbNation doesn't count.

Have any questions about radio promotions? Hit me- I'll answer whatever I can!

About the Author: Shantell Ogden is an award-winning Americana artist based in Nashville. She has worked at a prominent radio promotions company in Nashville, had songs she’s written released as singles to country radio and taken her own journey up the charts as an indie artist. Follow her on Facebook or twitter at @shansmusic for more information.

Your Home Recording Studio: How to set effective goals for sessions

Your Home Recording Studio: How to set effective goals for sessions

In my previous post ‘How to set up your recording studio environment for creativity’, I went over some really simple techniques to getting great sounds from your home recordings. While the technical side is always the most exciting, it can also be the most frustrating if you haven’t established really clear goals for what you’re looking to achieve in the studio.  

So in this post, I’ll outline a few really basic things to consider that can help keep your home recording sessions on track.

Clearly define your session goals

Every session is different - it’s not always about putting down tracks. It’s about making the sounds work together, and serving the song you’re recording.  

Whatever they are, don’t keep these goals to yourself - write them down, email them to the musicians you’re working with, and be sure that these goals are clear to everyone involved. Setting realistic goals for your session can go a long way to providing a sense of achievement, and keeping things positive.

A good exercise to start is to create a playlist of albums or tracks from other artists as ‘reference’ tracks. A reference track is a recorded song from another artist that you would use to compare style and mix against what you’re recording. They’re a great way to ‘pre-visualize’ ideas on how your tracks and record will sound, and get you thinking about how to achieve a similar sound before you press record.

 

Use song charts

Use song charts

A song chart is basically a graph with your ‘songs’ along the top, and all the elements in the song that need to be completed down the side (like vocals, drums etc.).  

You can have a lot of fun with these! They’re something everyone can participate in as a quick restful distraction. Plus, they provide a sense of accomplishment, and set clear objectives for the band or artist.

Just get a piece of bristol board, large markers and tape (hello dollar store!). For every recording, draw your graph and hang it right where you do most of your work.  

You can use stickers to mark each completed item for songs, or use humorous printouts of each band member from Facebook, internet memes, or even craft beer labels - keep it light and creative, and you can save it for nostalgia when it’s completed, or even offer them as rewards for fans if you’re crowdfunding your album.

Scheduling

Plan for everything in advance as much as possible. Put everything you’d like to achieve for each session in iCalendar, Google Calendar, or a good old fashioned day planner. A lot of digital calendars can sync to devices and be shared, so it’s a good way to keep everyone on the same page (and eliminate excuses the lead singer may have for being late!).

Be realistic about time - lots of little things often come up that can’t be anticipated, so always plan in some extra time, even an hour, just in case.  It’s often hard to project an exact time for everything in your session - so planning more time is always better than coming up short.

If you’re not a good judge of time, a solid formula to try is: take the time you think it’s going to take to complete a session, double it, then add 10%. So if you think it’ll take 3 hours, schedule for about 6 hours and 15 minutes.

The ultimate time saver: practice

At the risk of sounding like a stale smelling band teacher in high school, the number one time saving secret for any recording, either at a home or professional recording studio is: PRACTICE.

Session time is not practice time. In fact the two should never, ever meet. A recording - no matter where you track it - is putting your best foot forward to your fans or clients, and it doesn’t just ‘magically’ record itself from a wellspring of creativity bursting out from your inner unicorn (if only it were so easy).  

The more you make a habit out of good practice, the more pro you’ll sound, and the better equipped you’ll be to get a session completed efficiently. And if available, don’t forget to make quick recordings on your phone, laptop or portable pocket recorder so you can listen back, and help plan for sessions later.

If you’re just the home studio owner, go to a few practices with the artist or group you’re working with and get the lay of the band - it will help you to define where they’re strongest (maybe with songwriting), where they’ll need some work (like in performance), and ultimately, if they should practice more. Be honest with them, its their time as well as yours.

Time saving tools

If you have it, keep an ipad or laptop on hand to make album and track notes. No funds for the digital joy? Just go analog and get a $2 notebook and some pens, highlighters, etc. so you can jot down notes, amp settings, mics and guitars used, changes to lyrics, arrangements etc.  

Every recording and track should have it’s own little scrapbook or folder on your device with note files. You never know if you may need to go back to it some day. Being reasonably organized with notes will save you piles of time looking for things later on.

Keep a pocket metronome and tuner on hand (hint, there are also free Apps out there for your smart phones that do this too) so you can get the tempo right and make sure everything is in tune before you track. Think of these as your swiss army kit for your sessions.

If you’ve got the bass tone ‘just right’, and want to remember what you did to get it that way for later, use your smartphone or a digital camera to photograph amp settings, synth patches, or even positioning in the room. It doesn’t need to be a photographic masterpiece, you just need to be able to see the settings for easy recall later.  

When in session, painters tape and sharpies to write on tape strips are good for marking position in a room, settings on a mix board, or notes on different settings for amps, keys, etc. Green painters tape doesn’t have a lot of ‘stick’, so it won’t leave a nasty glue gum on your gear.

Breaks and session length

Exhaustion is the enemy of a good session, so arrange pre-agreed times on when to take a couple 15-30 minute breaks. With a break, don’t lounge by the water cooler, go outside! Stretch your legs, go for a walk, get some fresh air in a reasonably calm and quiet place.  

For session length, try to keep these under 10 hours - 12 at the most. We’ve heard the war stories about marathon 3 day recording sessions, but most of the time, these yield really poor results. Sessions, even home recording sessions, can be hard (albeit fun) work, so keep reasonable working hours.

Don’t forget to eat at regular times, and stay hydrated often with water - get everyone their own water bottle (with lids to avoid accidental spills on pricey gear!), and put your names on it so the engineer won’t steal it ;)

Try to avoid alcohol - it will change your perspective when recording, and contribute to exhaustion later on, so save the imbibing for after studio in a local bar to talk recording progress with your group, or the celebratory bash when the album you’re making is complete.

Ear Fatigue

This does actually happen, and when it does, you can quickly lose perspective on your tracking and mixing. Many musicians have left the studio at night joyous about their new creation only to come back in the morning, listen to playback...  and hate everything.  This is almost always because of:

  1. Loss of perspective because of ear fatigue the night before.

  2. Listening back to tracks with rested ears, minds, and bodies the next day.

A good way to check if your ears are getting tired is to use your ‘reference’ tracks that I mentioned before.  If you think you’re getting fatigue, throw on one of the reference tracks and listen - if it sounds totally different than how you remember, then you may need to step away from the desk for 10-15 minutes.

 

When to tell the drummer he's fired

When to tell the drummer he's fired

A guy walks into a shop and says, "Hi there; I'd like to know how much studio time is per hour, what kind of backline gear you offer, and what other bands have recorded here."

The shopkeeper says, "Hey! you must be a drummer!"

The guy says, "Yes! Yes I am! How did you know?"

The shopkeeper says, "Because this is a butcher shop."

My friend (and professional session drummer) Tim van de Ven told me that one. Jokes aside, sometimes there’s no getting around the fact that one person in session just isn’t cutting it. This can be a tricky and sensitive thing to deal with in a session, so ideally this should be dealt with before recording.

Remember that usually someone not cutting it in a session isn’t for want of them trying - they could very likely sit and play for days and still not get the recording right. While the intentions are good, it’s still a time waster, and to keep with your schedule, sometimes the line needs to be changed.  

When this happens, it doesn’t always mean totally firing the band member, it could simply mean bringing a different player in, or letting another band member put down their version of a take for just that part of the recording.  

If it ever comes to this it should be a consensus with everyone involved - including the player having trouble.  Keep the conversation to the point (no pointing fingers), acknowledge all the effort of the player, be 100% honest about why the change needs to happen, and stay professional.  

Recording is collaborative, and ultimately all about the songs, so everyone should be committed to that, even if one member won’t be contributing in the end. No one ever wants to be in that position, but the sooner the right people for the song are recording, the smoother the session will go in the long run.

If you have any tips and tricks on how you keep your home studio sessions running smoothly, we’d love to hear them, so feel free to comment below!