Today, we were lucky enough to sit down with Dave Cool, Director of Artist & Industry Outreach at Bandzoogle. If you don’t know Bandzoogle, where have you been? It’s a platform that enables musicians to quickly and easily build a website, as well as a store to sell their tracks.
Most musicians are good at one thing, music (two, if you include partying). Coding a website, setting up an online store and a social media presence aren’t usually skills that musicians possess.
That’s where Bandzoogle comes in. Bandzoogle makes it easy to design a great looking website, set up a shop, host it, and link it to all major social media platforms. 30,000 musicians currently trust Bandzoogle for their home on the web.
Bandzoogle has its roots in the early days of the internet. In 1999, Bandzoogle’s Founder, Chris Vinson, built a website for his alt-rock band, Rubberman. It helped Rubberman land a record deal. Between tours, Chris designed numerous websites for other bands, but to save time, he built a platform to make it easy for the bands to alter their sites themselves. By 2003, this had evolved into a fully-functioning website design platform for musicians. Bandzoogle was born.
If you’re a musician, you know you need a website. It’s hard to build an audience without one. But, how do you get one?
Bandzoogle offers more than 100 designs for your site, all fully-customisable so you can really put your own style on it. You can add photos, logos, bios, tour calendars, mailing list forms and much more. You can connect your Bandzoogle site to all your social media profiles, as well as Bandcamp, Soundcloud and YouTube. Finally, you can set up a store so your fans can actually buy your tracks. All this for a reasonable monthly price.
It’s so easy, even a drummer could do it. Find out more at bandzoogle.com.
Dave Cool (yes, that’s his real name!) has been at Bandzoogle since 2011, when he started as Blogger-in-residence. He’s now in charge of Bandzoogle’s relationships with the music industry, as well as looking after Bandzoogle’s content marketing and events.
Let’s find out more about Dave, Bandzoogle and his thoughts on the music marketing industry.
1 – Hi Dave. So, how can artists benefit from a well-designed website?
So there are a lot of benefits to having your own website. First and foremost, it’s your own slice of the internet. Social media platforms come and go, and you’re essentially leasing that space from those platforms. With your own website, it’s permanent. As long as you renew your domain name, fans will always be able to find you there.
It also shows that you take your career seriously. Your website is often where industry, bookers, and media will go first to find out more about you. A well-designed website can help you get more gigs and more press. You can show your true personality and put the information and music upfront however you want, without limits.
Another consideration is SEO (search engine optimization). Google wants to know what domain to show people when they search for your music, and it’s better for your organic search results to have your own .com.
One last benefit I’ll mention which is also important: with your own website, you can sell music and merch commission-free, and collect email addresses and valuable data from your fans. Knowing who your fans are, where they live, and how they found you will be incredibly useful for promoting and selling your music for years to come.
2 – What mistakes do artists make when putting their website together?
Maybe the biggest mistake is artists not using professional photos for their website. The reality is that visitors will get their first impression of you from the imagery on your site. And if that imagery is poor quality, they’ll likely get a negative impression of you and your music. So it’s well worth the time and investment in getting professional photos done.
Another common mistake is trying to put too much content on a page. Simple is better when it comes to web design. If there’s too much content, it can be overwhelming for visitors to find what they’re looking for, and they’ll likely click away from your site. So it’s important to keep the navigation simple, and make sure each page has a main focus.
3 – A lot of our readers are into electronic music. Are we really a different breed? How are electronic artists different regarding what they want from a website?
When it comes to a website, most artists have similar goals and needs for their site. They want to showcase their music, get gigs, promote their shows, sell tickets, and get press.
The priority of those goals might differ for sure. An electronic artist might be less focused on selling music and merch, and more focused on promoting their upcoming shows and getting booked for more gigs. But those are easily accomplished with different calls-to-action and the content you highlight on your site. At the end of the day, most artists want a well-designed site that showcases their music and their brand.
4 – What advice do you have for a new artist trying to build an audience?
Ha, that’s a big question. My advice to artists starting out is to always focus on their music and their live performance first. If you’re doing something truly great and unique, fans will talk about you, and help promote you.
Speaking of fans, the other thing to focus on is your fans. Whether you have 10 fans, or 10,000 fans. Engage with them. Show appreciation. Answer their questions, thank them, acknowledge them. I really see it as being part of the job of a musician. Every day you should be engaging your fans in some way, whether through social media, your mailing list, or your blog.
Here’s a blog post that outlines some of the best ways to find new fans: 15 Ways to Get More Music Fans
5 – Do artists find it difficult to find time to all their marketing as well as actually making and playing music? Do you have any tips on how to get the best from social media?
Oh for sure. And I think artists often get caught up trying to be perfect with their marketing and social media, which is understandable. But you should be spending most of your time on your music and live performance, everything else is secondary.
When it comes to social media, I would say that if you do have limited time, focus on the social media platform that you enjoy most, and where your fans are most engaged. I know artists that have large followings on Instagram, but pretty much ignore Twitter and Facebook. I also know artists that do the opposite and only focus on Facebook.
I think that’s totally fine, as long as you’re consistent on a platform and engage with your fans on a daily basis, you’ll create a strong connection with them.
6 – How has music marketing changed since you started at Bandzoogle 6 years ago? Has streaming really changed everything?
It has in some ways for sure, especially with listening habits. This has of course affected the once steady revenue stream of downloads for some artists, but it’s also created ways to be discovered through playlisting that wasn’t possible before.
There are countless success stories of independent artists finding a global audience through streaming. So I usually tell artists to (more or less) ignore streaming as a revenue stream, and focus on the music discovery aspect of it. Once you find your audience, you can monetize it in other ways. And hey, we have a free eBook on finding other revenue streams: 23 Ways Musicians Can Make Money
7 – What next for Bandzoogle? Where do you think Bandzoogle will be in 5 years?
We’re always releasing new features, templates, and design options. In terms of what’s next, we’ll be adding even more functionality to our music and store features, so artists will be able to integrate more complex taxation and shipping options for their store items. We also have some new custom design options and one-page themes on the way in the new year.
As for 5 years from now, good question. We’ve been around for 14 years, and we’ve seen a lot of changes in web design trends and online marketing tools. But we always listen to our members to understand what their needs are, and add new features and functionality accordingly. So if in 5 years we’re still on top of the latest trends and meeting the needs of our members, we’ll be in good shape.
8 – Finally, most of the guys at Bandzoogle seem to be musicians too. Do you make music? If so, what kind of stuff do you play?
Ha, yup. At Bandzoogle we’re all either musicians ourselves, or married to one. We have a few DJs and producers on the team, singer-songwriters, drummers, bass players, guitarists, and even a couple of opera singers.
In a past life I was a punk rock drummer, but I blew out my ears by not wearing earplugs, and decided to give it up to salvage the hearing that I have left (so yeah, wear earplugs!).