We chat online strategies with Bandzoogle CEO Stacey Bedford.
Once upon a time, the internet was met with an upturned lip by musicians. For many, the notion of having to compromise on perfecting your live show or studio chops in favour of setting up a website and cultivating a mailing list simply seemed obscene.
Of course, this all changed with the turn of the century, and now, it’s questionable as to whether you even exist as an artist if you’re not active on just about every app under the sun. Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, Twitch, Discord, Twitter – whatever it may be, these tools are just as vital to one’s success as an artist today as any amount of knowledge of music theory, microphone placement or networking once was.
With the sheer amount of social media platforms made freely available to the masses nowadays, one must ask the question: do musicians still need a website in 2021?
Contrary to what you might think, the answer is yes. It’s arguable that having a band website is more important now than it’s ever been before, and when done right, a website might just prove to be even more powerful than any other social media platform at your disposal.
Since 2003, Bandzoogle have provided a wide array of services to musicians to help them perfect the art of website building. From landing pages and mailing lists through to merchandise, ticket and album sales, their platform offers just about everything you need to cut through the noise and carve out an online niche for yourself as an artist – all without breaking the bank.
To find out more, we spoke with the company’s CEO Stacey Bedford to discover just how Bandzoogle works, what’s on offer for musicians and why it’s more important than ever to have a band website in 2021.
Never miss an update – sign up to our newsletter for all the latest news, reviews, features and giveaways.
Introduce us to Bandzoogle – what do you do as a company, and how long have you been doing for?
Bandzoogle is an all-in-one website platform for musicians that has been around for over 17 years. We provide tools for musicians to build a professional website and sell their music and merch commission-free directly to their fans for a set monthly fee.
We’re a small but dedicated team of musicians, with award winning customer service. We’ve been around for over 17 years, and we are constantly building out new tools to help artists thrive in today’s music climate.
These tools include powerful design options, commission-free music, merch, and ticket sales, built-in crowdfunding and fan subscriptions features, mailing list management, social media and live streaming integrations, detailed analytics, and more.
What changes have you noticed within the intersection of musical acts and the online domain in that time?
Changes within the music industry over the last 17 years have revolutionized everything from how artists create music, how they run their business, and even how fans access, explore and consume art. Streaming music was not even a thought 17 years ago. Back then, for many artists a record deal was the end goal. MySpace was social media for artists. We bought CDs at a brick and mortar store.
Music creation has changed even more. Technology has made it possible for artists to handle a 360 degree marketing plan. Before, you needed dozens of experts to handle what can now be executed by the artists themselves. It is much easier for independent artists to take charge, and reap the benefits of all aspects of their music business, and much of this can be achieved directly through their own websites.
As musicians, we’re told that keeping up appearances on social media is crucial to our careers, but it seems that websites are often an afterthought for many of us. Why do you think that is?
On social media you’re competing with so much other content in an endless scroll. It’s important to have a social media presence, for sure. But you want to consider it as just part of your marketing funnel. Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, those are all tools in your toolbox.
It’s important not to rely on them so much, as social media trends will come and go, their policies and organic feed rules change, and when that happens you either have to pay to reach your fan list, or even lose it completely.
Your goal should always be to talk to your new and existing fans where they spend time, and then drive them to your website where you can control their experience (and make it fantastic!) and capture their contact information. Building out a mailing list, blog or podcast, offers way more value than a social media following in the long term, and it will also allow you to monetize those fans.
One key area in music promotion where a website can come in handy is for music preorders, as well as merchandise and ticket sales. What web tools do Bandzoogle offer to assist artists with this? Do you take out any commission?
Bandzoogle has a huge feature set and we are proud to always be adding to it. You can sell digital downloads (mp3, FLAC, WAV), as full albums or singles, song sheets, videos, or any other file type. Our store feature includes physical sales that you can ship, or even most recently a print on demand service integration so you can create custom merch and not worry about inventory, or shipping and handling.
Artists can also set up album pre-orders, a crowdfunding campaign, and even set up multi-level recurring subscription sales. Bandzoogle doesn’t take any commission from sales through the platform. All sales go directly from fans to the artists themselves.
You can also sell virtual tickets or live event tickets that are emailed to your fans, and set up a live stream to accept tips right from your Bandzoogle website. We integrate with YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook Live, Crowdcast, and Twitch.
We pride ourselves on a fixed monthly subscription fee that starts at $8.29/m for our lite plan, or $16.63/m to access all of these features and unlimited pages. So even if you sell passively for a few hundred dollars per month, or you set up a pre order that results in $30,000 in revenue for your website, you’ll still only pay for your chosen plan.
View this post on Instagram
What kind of benefits can emerging musicians see from having a website as opposed to operating social media accounts? How can Bandzoogle assist bands and artists with this?
Emerging artists are in a pretty unique position to grow their fanbase from the ground up and use new data to make decisions about how to run an effective music business. This can help you make decisions like, what songs are getting more plays than skips, what content is more interesting to visitors, what cities are they located in?
Bandzoogle has built in reporting that helps you make data driven decisions about your music and where you should put more effort into your offerings, whether that’s content, newsletters, or merch and music for sale. We set up our members for success, starting out with best practices: keeping a beautiful, strong web presence and maintaining it as you go.
When Bandzoogle was created, the goal was to make it as easy as possible to create websites and update them without any design skills or coding knowledge. Our original tagline was “so easy your drummer can do it” and we’ve maintained that ease of use while constantly adding on new, modern design conventions.
The result is that even if you’re starting out, you’ll be putting your best foot forward for whatever it is you set out to do as an artist. Whether that’s collaborating, selling music, getting signed, or when we’re able to return to regular life, booking shows.
Musicians frequently adopt a unique aesthetic which are crucial to their own artistic persona, both online and offline. What design tools does Bandzoogle provide so that users can make sure their website matches their own artistic identity?
When it comes to design, the world is your oyster at Bandzoogle. We provide hundreds of beautiful templates with presets that you can customize to match your brand or album art.
We also provide completely blank themes where you can start from scratch using our robust design editor. We add new themes all year round, based on current design trends. You can completely change your website design in one click without having to rebuild your whole website. This lets you try out different options and customize to fit your artistic persona best.
You can upload your logo, add video headers, and even customize the CSS if you want, but our preset options are flexible, unique, and plentiful.
View this post on Instagram
Search Engine Optimisation is utilised by businesses to increase their chances of online visibility, but it seems that some artists haven’t quite cottoned on to how useful SEO can be yet. Can you explain why an SEO-friendly site could benefit an artist, and how Bandzoogle can assist with this?
Getting found in search engines is really important for growing your fan base, but most artists aren’t experts in search engine optimization. We know that, and so we put in a lot of work to do the heavy lifting on the tech side for our members, and a ton of resources on the content side.
This means artists can focus on making music instead of PageRank and metadata. You can just run through our 3-step sitebuilder, add your photos and music, and out of the box your Bandzoogle has been optimized for search engines.
We output websites with clean code that Google can crawl easily, we invest on the best servers on the planet (which is very important to the Google algorithm!), integrate easily with Google Analytics and webmaster tools, and provide really easy to use content tools so you can easily add your bio, build out an EPK, a blog, a list of your past and future shows, and more. Our blog and help sections are also an integral resource for artists who aren’t sure what kind of content to add or how to put together a great bio.
Finally – where does the future lay for emerging acts aiming to promote themselves online? Do you think any platform will rise to rival the influence of social media marketing? Where does the humble website lay amid all this?
I don’t have a crystal ball, but I can tell you that our member website visitors, mailing list subscribers, and even our own customer base are only growing faster than ever in our 17 years.
Furthermore, merch and music sales through our platform have increased exponentially over the last three years. The media may make it seem like streaming is the only way, but our data reflects that quite the opposite is happening. In reality, what we are seeing is that there has been a real push to support local, and buy direct from artists, as consumers just have more of an awareness about the importance of supporting artists directly.
When we started 17 years ago, what artists needed was very different than what they do today. Bandzoogle has evolved to continuously provide value, and to build out tools that are relevant and will help artists survive in today’s music climate. We are a passionate group of artists, supporting artists, and we’ll continue to listen, adapt, and provide tools that help empower independent artists into the future.
To find out more, head to Bandzoogle today.