This post originally appeared on the EmuBands blog.
With the rise of social networks, many artists may be tempted not to bother with having their own website, instead relying on Facebook, Twitter etc to ‘connect’ with their fans online. This, however, may result in them losing out – this blog will hopefully address the issues you need to consider when building your own website.
One of the first things to consider is the purpose of having your own website – what do you want the website to achieve? Two good starting points would be to learn where your fans are coming from, and to gather means of contacting them.
Dan Rosies (DR) from Music Glue, a “direct to fan online e-commerce, ticketing and marketing software solution for artists”, explains the importance of using a band’s website to capture fan data:
DR: “‘likes’ and ‘follows’ aren’t enough; what are you going to do when Facebook and Twitter tail off like Myspace? Get an email address; email isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.”
One good approach for gathering a fan’s e-mail address is to offer something in return – for example, a free download of a track in exchange for their e-mail address. At this point, it is worth a note of caution – there are copyright issues in giving away music for free, if you are not the sole owner / controller of all the rights – for example, if it is a cover version. EmuBands recently prepared a guide to Publishing, Mechanical Royalties and Releasing Cover Versions, which will help explain these issues.
We would certainly recommend, if you are planning on offering downloads or streams through your website, to use a third party to facilitate this. Music Glue can help with this, or you can link offsite to, for example, iTunes or Amazon MP3 for downloads, or embed the Spotify play button on your website to keep fans on your website. As Dan Rosies explains:
“I don’t think that you should be linking off to iTunes as your main digital service, the main issue is that linking away will take fans away from your hub.”
One major reason it would be better to use a third party service, like iTunes or Spotify to facilitate downloads and streams is because they have already dealt with the licensing issues. Also, importantly, you are using their bandwidth. A conventional web host would place limits on monthly bandwidth usage, with sometimes expensive penalties for exceeding this. So, if you were to offer a high quality file for download from your own server space, the bandwidth charges can quickly escalate.
As mentioned earlier, another major benefit of having your own website is that you can find out more about where your fans are located and how they are finding you.
Whilst social networks can provide limited analytics, and there are tools like iTunes’ trend reports that can offer the postcode of people who have purchased your music, proper analysis of your own website traffic data can be a massive help (contact your EmuBands account manager for more information on iTunes trend reports, or log in to your EmuBands account and click on ‘Daily Sales Data’).
Marcus Taylor (MT) from Venture Harbour, a web-marketing specialist, explains the benefits of ‘analytics’:
“Web analytics packages, such as Google Analytics, or artist-specific ones like Next Big Sound and Music Metric can be an artist’s best friend, or the biggest time sink. Google Analytics can provide solid answers to tough questions, such as “where do our fans come from?”, “which gigs were worth our time?”, “where should we tour?”, however it requires looking beyond the ‘vanity metrics’ and really getting to grips with the stories behind the data. I recently wrote a post on Presskit.to’s blog about how artists can use data to their benefit, which may be useful.”
Now that we’ve addressed why you should have your own website, let’s discuss the ‘how’.
Firstly, what should you use for your URL (web address)?
MT: “Keep it consistent, short, and descriptive. In almost all cases, www.yourbandname.com is the best option. Avoid using parameters, or frames-based sites, which cause URL problems.”
DR: “The same as everything else preferably… make it as easy to find you as possible. For example, if your Facebook URL is Facebook.com/YourBandName, and your Twitter is @YourBandName, then stick to this naming convention for your website’s URL.”
Secondly, what platform should you use to build your website? There are many great tools to help you build your own website – some general ones, and some music industry specific ones.
MT: “WordPress.org has my vote. It’s free, has amazing plugins, is very secure (if you keep it updated and don’t install crappy plugins), and is highly customisable. If you’re looking for design & hosting included, then services like Music Glue and BandZoogle are good options worth looking at.”
On the subject of ‘plugins’, what should you look to include in your website? Here is a checklist we’ve prepared for you:
• Direct-to-fan sales • Links to your music on digital services (i.e. iTunes, Spotify) • Links to your YouTube videos and channels • Gig listings & ticket sales • Social media feeds • Merchandise sales • Mailing list sign-up
DR: “All of these services you can do with a Music Glue profile page. For free. There are a few good places where you can start an online presence. All are different and some may require you to know a small amount of knowledge to get it off the floor. My recommendation is find something simple to use and update. If you’re a band/artist you should be focusing on the main thing – making music. Music Glue is a simple platform, within half hour you can have a customisable profile page where you can sell your merchandise, tickets and digital.”
From personal experience, I have used a Music Glue website as a concert promoter, and found the quality to be excellent.
On the subject of concerts, as an artist/band, sometimes a promoter may give you an allocation of tickets to sell directly to your fans. Selling them through your own website is another great way of capturing fan data, and it also allows you to offer ‘exclusives’ to those already signed up to your mailing list to encourage sign-ups.
One term you may have heard being used in relation to web marketing is ‘Search Engine Optimisation” (SEO). This means editing your website in a particular way so that you are at the top of the search engine rankings for a particular word or phrase. This, however, may not be of much use to a band, since, in theory, most people would search for your band name, and through a relevant URL you should already be at the top of the rankings.
DR: “It’s important from the online perspective but you need to ask yourself… is your fan base finding you from search engines? Or are they finding you from live shows or something like your YouTube videos that you have tagged up correctly. I think that sometimes artists think they need this, need that, and before they know it they have wasted money and time on features they don’t really need. Why not just abuse the free platform and functions?”
However, in some circumstances, SEO, may be useful:
MT: “In my opinion, SEO is not particularly important for the majority of bands. As long as your band’s website ranks well for your own band’s name, then you’re fine. That said there are exceptions. A good friend of mine performs in a wedding band on the weekends, and by doing a little bit of SEO on his band’s website, he ended up ranking well for a phrase like ‘London wedding band’, which shot his enquiries through the roof. I’ve also seen some smart campaigns where bands have used SEO to outrank illegal download sites in Google, and direct fans to their own website where fans can download tracks for free in return for their email address.”
In conclusion, an artist/band website is an important hub that can allow you to interact with your fans through good content, and gather contact information from them, as well as useful data to help analyse where your traffic comes from. There are many platforms available to help you build your website, and whilst a good URL is important, Search Engine Optimisation is less so.
- Basic introduction to Copyright - What money does EmuBands collect for artists? - What sources of income are there for a songwriter? - Mechanical Royalties - Mechanical Royalties in Physical Recordings - Mechanical Royalties in Digital Recordings - Mechanical Royalties in the USA, Canada & Mexico - Performance Royalties - What to do when releasing a cover version – permissions and payments - Collection Societies – who they are and what they do - What is a publisher, and what do they do? - What should you look for in a publisher?
To download the guide, visit their page here and click the download link.
Bandzoogle‘s CEO David Dufresne was recently a guest on the Upward Spiral podcast. This is an extended interview that offers more in-depth insight into David’s career before joining Bandzoogle, his obsession with music, and he also touches on the challenges of the music startup sector and why Bandzoogle recently acquired Onesheet. Enjoy!
Written by Tommy Darker of Darker Music Talks.
I see musicians every day making decisions concerning their career. They choose to do this instead of that and invest on this instead of taking no action at all.
Being an independent musician myself, I make decisions every day too. I realized, when you’re your own boss and have the vision to prosper making art, the gravity of your decisions shows the direction you’ll take in a world full of possibilities.
I see the world as a game, where every decision doesn’t kill us, but gives our lives a different twist and nuance, which we’ll have to follow until we make the next decision.
Some decisions are made driven my reason and some by emotions. Some being patient, awaiting the long-term results, and some instantly, giving us our fix. Some affect us drastically and can’t erase the results, some entail minor risks that bring easily reversible results.
How do we make decisions about our music career though? What is the rationale and how wisely do we spend our time and attention?
The answer is information. We make decisions based on the information we have about the world around us, which shape our reality and perception.
Sometimes we follow the cues and trust what others are doing, accepting that they are right. Sometimes we choose the hard way and do the research ourselves, trying to find our own truth.
Sometimes we’re so convinced we are on track, leading us to dogmatic behavior (and maybe we’re right, who knows?), sometimes we are sure we don’t know everything, making space for resilience and education.
What is the point of education in the music world? What is an uninformed and knowledge-resisting musician missing out from this ecosystem that we call ‘the music industry’?
Having these thoughts in mind, I decided last January to follow my vision and initiate the first Darker Music Talks, a meetup of music experts and independent musicians in a room, where everyone learns something new through discussion. On a rainy Monday afternoon in London, 18 musicians showed up and saw Andrew Dubber talking about Music in the Digital Age. Then a constructive discussion followed.
Including Marcus Taylor and Leena Sowambur, we’ve welcomed great speakers who shared their insights with musicians and music entrepreneurs hungry for knowledge and communication. London is the hub where everything starts, soon to expand in other cities in the UK, envisioning to create events that will have no geographical boarders, so everyone can attend and discuss.
The goal is to create the biggest e-library of discussions regarding the music ecosystem, where each musician will find the knowledge and resources they want, for free.
After all, information is what creates our perception and the way we shape what we see, and choices are driven by this reality. Being fully informed about the music world and other people’s mindset is the single best investment we can do to ourselves. A gift that will take us a long way and will fuel decisions for more interesting paths, unconditional art, genuine communication of our message to people and positive vibes.
Darker Music Talks is open for everyone to attend, find out where the next discussions take place.
Band managers don’t exactly have it easy. They’ll typically book the shows, do the accounts, negotiate deals, promote the band, manage the merch, and provide a legal foundation for the band. In short, they’re a jack of all trades, and in this post we’re going to look through a few tools that can make a few of the tedious management tasks a bit easier.
#1 A tablet / good smartphone
With so much travelling around and going between meetings, a tablet is a handy investment for any manager. Not only does it mean you don’t have to lug around a hefty laptop, but it makes your journey time a little bit more productive, as you can quickly edit contracts on the bus, or post social network updates on behalf of the band.
I’d also advise that if you’re going to do anything copy-heavy e.g. writing blog posts, editing contracts, updating the band website, that you get yourself a tablet keyboard case, as they’re great for speeding things up.
#2 A good lawyer & a set of contracts for every situation
As a manager, you’re likely going to have to negotiate a number of deals for the artist you’re working with. Many larger organisations in the music industry have exceptional in-house legal teams who can make your life very difficult if you don’t know what you’re doing. Find yourself a brilliant lawyer, and get a set of music contract templates so that you know what a standard agreement should look like, and why the deal you’re negotiating differs.
#3 Use SaaS (software as a system) tools to save you time
Nowadays, there are so many SaaS platforms to save you time in every aspect of your career. Whether you use accounting software like Freshbooks, CRM software, or even music-specific platforms like Dizzyjam to print and manage your merch, SaaS can be a great way of cutting down the time you spend on tedious jobs, so you can free it up for the important stuff.
#4 Contacts, contacts, contacts
When it comes to management, who you know is important. Invest your time networking at music industry conferences to develop your network of contacts – you never know when you might need them.
#5 A Blog
In my experience, blogging is invaluable – yet it’s impossible to predict why in foresight. I no of no blogger who hasn’t seen the value in blogging, and yet few of the bloggers I know could have predicted why it’d become invaluable to them. Because of this blog, I’ve had my content featured in the Singapore music education syllabus, I’ve met countless friends around the globe, who have also become important contacts. Blogging is an excellent way of reaching more of the people you want to meet – whether that’s for you as a manager, or for the band that you manage.
Image Credit: Emmanuel17
This is a guest post by my friend Dave Tamkin, who’s the head honcho over at Head Above Music.
From Paper to Pixels
Do you have a nostalgic devotion to your stacks of coffee-stained, curled, yellowed and smudged sheet music? Are you convinced that the scent of mildew it exudes somehow contains magic that makes you a better musician? Let me posit something that will revolutionize your world, if you let it: Becoming a paperless musician will lead to faster, more effective learning and performance of music. It is physically more convenient, and will actually give you and your students the tools to become vastly better musicians. To boot, it is a great way to be more environmentally friendly. Ok, just in case I didn’t convince you why you need to join the digital sheet-music revolution, here’s more.
What the heck is a pixel?
For my musician friends who are still dragging their consciousness (and their sheet music) out of the last century (or even the 1800s), pixels are the smallest dots on a computer screen used to make images and words. With today’s amazing display technologies, such as the “retina display” for the new iPad and MacBook Pro, these pixels are so small they make the experience of reading sheet music on a computer screen incredibly vibrant and – many might argue – better than reading on physical paper. Of course, there’s no arguing how much easier it is to read a digital screen in low light than a piece of paper music under an anemic, underpowered stand light! Cutting-edge display technologies aside, here are 10 additional reasons why using computers to read music is better than paper:
1. Eliminate bulk A single 1.2-pound, 16-gig iPad (the smallest and cheapest model available) can hold the equivalent of 60,000 pages of paper. That’s comes out to 600 pounds of physical paper! Next time you lug around your heavy binders and gig books, I promise that your aching muscles will remember that fact (I’ll give you the names of my massage therapist and chiropractor).
2. Never lose music Classical composers wrote works that ranged in length from 1-2 page miniatures to massive symphonies filling hundreds of pages. If we average each work of a classical composer to be 20 pages each, a single 16-gigabyte iPad would contain all the compositions of Vivaldi, J.S. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin, with room to spare. Imagine, all that genius in an approximately 9.5×7.5x.37-inch tablet! With that kind of storage, it becomes easy to simply carry your entire music library with you wherever you go, and never worry about misplacing your music or remembering to bring a part.
3. Find music instantly I used to have these huge wall units to house my paper sheet-music collection, with all the works catalogued in boxes alphabetized by composer. Even then, it would take a considerable investment in time and effort to find all the pieces I needed for the day’s rehearsals, lessons and performances. By the end of the school year, I’d have to search through a ridiculous mountain of music stacked on top of my piano. A friend of mine watched a phenomenal jazz set come to a screeching halt as the drummer scrambled for five minutes through a stack of sheet music the size of a New York City phone book looking for the next number. With digital music, you just type a few keystrokes and, voilà, instantly there’s any piece in your collection you need. We’ll talk more later about ways to organize your digital collection. You can pull up all your works by the name of a song, the composer name, or even the key signature, tempo, genre/style, and other descriptions practically before everyone else is done wetting their finger.
4. Make automatic set lists Ever have your set list (that list of the songs or pieces to be performed in order at a gig or concert) blow away in a strong breeze? Or spill your drink on it, making it read like recently unearthed hieroglyphics? That’s so yesterday. Now, rather than having to shuffle books or physically re-order pages in a binder, you can easily search and select your set list songs on your digital device, change their order on the fly, and have the songs appear automatically in order during the show as if they were part of a single book. All you need is a digital music-reading app.
5. Transpose music instantly One of my biggest fears as an accompanist was to have the singer I was working with come down with a cold and ask to transpose down a couple of keys right on the spot. With certain types of music (text-based lyrics and chord charts) and reading apps designed around dynamic music notation (Sibelius, Finale, etc.), changing keys on the fly is as simple as a few taps on the screen. You’ll come off a genius.
6. Mark up your music with rainbow colours Brain scientists point out that the use of bright, contrasting colors contributes to faster learning and better memory retention. Digital music makes it easy to add brightly colored “ink” and transparent highlights to your music. And it can be easily erased. Ready to throw out your collection of color sharpies, White-Out, and lead pencils with worn-out erasers?
7. Eliminate blind spots If you are reading music that requires at least one page turn, you have a “blind spot” – you can’t see what comes next until you turn the page. With certain apps, you can set up the page turns so that the screen shows the bottom half of the previous page and the top half of the next page, creating a continuous “look-ahead” view. How much better would that be for learning music, and keeping a smooth sense of flow and phrasing?
8. Enlarge your music Have the wrinkles around your eyes become as deep as desert arroyos from squinting at your sheet music under a low-wattage light? When your music is in a digital format, your view of the music is only limited by the size of your screen and the application used to display it. Some programs even give you the option to see zoomed views of your music half a page at a time (this works particularly well for screens that are horizontal, such as laptops or desktop monitors). Other apps can work with music that has been digitally cropped to show even larger views of your music – as little as one or two measures at a time. Text-based music readers give you the option to change font size and properties. Sound like a godsend, Mr. Magoo?
9. Turn everyone else’s pages With the iPad, there are several apps that enable a master iPad to control any number of slave iPads, so that the master can open the same song on every slave, and in some cases even turn pages for everyone. Talk about keeping everyone on the same page! Talk about power! Just think of how you could mess with their heads!
10. Turn pages hands free Ever wish you had a third hand? If you use both hands to play an instrument, you have – for all intents and purposes – a disability when it comes to turning pages. With digital sheet music, not only do you have a wide variety of software options for viewing and working with your music, but you can get hardware for turning your pages hands free, either with wireless digital page-turning pedals, or even other controllers such as bite and tongue switches – rather like eating the score! Now you can keep your hands on your instrument and your focus on the music.
For a great tool to discover what you can do with digital sheet music apps, visit http://airturn.com/appguide For page turning controllers and containers for turning tablets and laptops into music stands, visit http://store.airturn.com
Author Bio: Hugh Sung has been an advocate for utilizing cutting-edge technologies to enhance the artistry of the classical musician. He developed a customized database to create a paperless office for his administrative work and in 2002, shortly after the first Tablet PC’s were introduced by Microsoft to the public, he adapted an early model for use as a digital music score reader with a foot pedal-activated page turning system.
From the Venture Harbour blog:
There’s certainly no shortage of job boards, nor music specific job boards for that matter, but (IMO) that’s no reason to stop improving what already exists. My personal experiences with the existing job boards have not been the best, and having spoken to others about it, I’m certainly not the only one.
Having had first-hand experience of both sides of music recruitment (an employer and a job hunter), I think this service is much needed. Currently, many of the existing music industry job boards are outdated and aren’t making it easy for people to find job opportunities.
It amazes me on a regular basis that so many friends complain about how there are no jobs in the music industry. No. There are plenty of jobs – 145,000 people in the UK are employed directly by the music industry alone! The real problem is that there is no easy way to see all of the opportunities available in one place. I’m hoping for this to be solved by Music Job Board.
What do you think about having another job board in the music industry?
Several years ago, when the iPad was in its early days, I wrote a post on how musicians could use the iPad. Well, after years of gradual adoption from the music community, the guys at Kensington have compiled this infographic on how musicians are using the iPad and what some of the most popular apps are. Enjoy!
Ever wondered how much money a viral music hit makes – and where that revenue comes from? Here’s an infographic by FanDistro, a company who we recently reviewed here on The Musician’s Guide, that explores behind the scenes of viral music. What I find particularly interesting about this infographic is how there’s seemingly no correlation between how viral a music video went and how much it earned from digital download revenue. It’s also interesting to see the breakdown of Gangnam Style’s reported earnings from commercial deals, digital downloads, streams, and YouTube ad revenue.
Want to embed this infographic on your site?
For more information visit <a href=“http://www.fandistro.com”> Fandistro.com</a>