Custom websites for musicians! Easier than you think…(nerdblog)

My friend, producer and studio owner Mack Damon (Hollywood Studios), once said something to me that blew my mind. I’m going to paraphrase because the conversation took place a long time ago. But, it went something like this: There’s three things you want anything to be: fast, inexpensive and awesome. Pick two. ūüôā

Think about it. You can make something awesome and inexpensive but, chances are it’s going to take you a while. You can have something fast and inexpensive but, I’m pretty sure it won’t be that awesome. And you can have something fast and awesome but it’s gonna cost you. I’ve found this to be true where almost anything is concerned. So, when it came to building my website, I knew I had to give this some thought. 

There’s no doubt that I wanted an awesome website. That’s one. Resources that I could allocate for it’s construction were limited so, it had to be inexpensive. That’s two. So, I was prepared for the fact that it was going to take a while. I either had to wait until I raised more money to hire someone or get to work researching and slowly constructing the website of my dreams. 

Lucky for me, this is where label owner Joe O’Brien (RatPakRecords.com) came in. He said, “Why don’t you try Bandzoogle?” 

Here’s a phrase I rarely use: O M G!

Inexpensive? Why, yes. I compared to other website building platforms for musicians and it’s all that and the bag of gluten-free chips. We’re talking features that include email, stats, fan clubs…plenty of space for music, you can run your own store. It has just about everything. Features: http://bandzoogle.com/features.cfm

Fast? Um…the easiest tools ever mean you can put up a website in no time. Try it. For FREE! Put something basic up and you can expand it later. 

Awesome? See what you think of my site. I did this in less than a week’s time. They have some beautiful templates but I wanted a custom design. So, with a set of professional pictures by my friend and photographer Kimberly Scott and a photo editor for cutting pics to fit my design and creating graphics (I use Photoshop), here she is:  www.lauramariemusic.com

Website

Did I have any complaints?

Well, the Reverbnation site builder is powered by Bandzoogle and I made the mistake of thinking both services would be identical.  They aren’t. If you’re in love with their store feature, you have to sign up directly through Bandzoogle to get it. The site builder through Reverbnation only allows you to use RN’s store widget as your store. On the plus side, if the RN widgets will do for you, going through them will be a snap. 

A complaint I heard from another user was that they wished they could set metatags for individual pages to better optimize the site for search engines. I have to agree with that one. That would be pretty slick. 

So, here you go. They give you 30 days to try it out which, trust me, is plenty of time to see how easy it is. Click the button and 
you get 60 days instead of 30 by using the referral code: 
m6bb6f  

Bandzoogle: band websites that work

And, yes, now that I’m a customer, I also get a discount for referring you. But, spend some time using it and you’ll see why I am referring every indie musician who wants a website upgrade to this site. 

If you can’t afford your own web designer, Bandszoogle looks like the best bet to me.


Here are my favorite things about using it:

1) Easy to integrate with my social networking sites and blogs

2) I LOVE the built in store feature. 

3) I can go totally custom or I can use their templates and choose from a number of fonts. 

4) Customer service is fantastic! They are on it!


Some custom things I added:

1) A share button: http://www.addtoany.com

2) HTML code to feature both my blog feeds with the help of https://feedburner.google.com/

3) An ArtistData calendar 

4) An additional ReverbNation music player for the music page

5) Graphics and spacers (for my custom look) 

All other features were provided by Bandzoogle. Woo-hoo!

 

If you need help adding any of the custom features I added, let me know. I’ll be happy to post a tutorial.

Let me know what you think?  – LM

 

 

 

 

 

For the Indie Do-It-Yourself-er

The following are helpful tools I presented to Elite members of the GoGirls in one of our “secret” meetings at Folk Alliance in Memphis this year. This is a list. It is only a list. If you need further help or have questions about any of these, please post in the comments below. I’ll share my experience as best I can.

These are just some great places to start if you don’t have a team around you and are working on a limited budget. And, yes, you should have your own “.com”. A Facebook fan page will not suffice. And, if you are a band and have a Facebook profile and are using it as a fan page…stop it. Now. Please. 

 

Helpful Tools for Indie Artist

 

Easy and affordable DIY websites: Hostbaby.com and Bandzoogle.com

Both sites now have customizable templates that are affordable and allow you to update your pages and sell your music with very little hassle.

 

Most affordable iPhone app (and Droid to come…): getsoundaround.com

Now owned and also available through Reverbnation.com. Price cannot be beat!

 

Update all your social networks at once: Hootsuite and Ping 

Both of these services allow you to update your social networking sites and FACEBOOK FAN PAGES from your computer and both have iPhone apps for your convenience.

 

Landing pages for your Facebook fan page: Rootmusic.com and FanBridge.com 

Social Networks 4 Musicians has a sweet deal for custom pages but, if you have some DIY skills check out Rootmusic. And, if you are already using FanBridge, they’ve made it easy for you. 

 

DIY CD Sales: Bandcamp.com, Tunecore.com and CDBaby.com 

There are benefits to each. If you haven’t checked them out, do it now.

 

Credit Card sales at your shows: CdBaby.com and Square iPhone app 

Securely swipe credit cards on your iPhone and get direct deposits or get the affordable swiper through your CDBaby.com account.

 

Get your music on the radio: Airplaydirect.com

Get professional and beautiful download cards: Dropcards.com

Get royalties: Soundexchange.com (lengthy application but, do it. If your music is streaming anywhere online, you could have money waiting for you)

Get songs licensed: Pumpaudio.com (They are pretty selective about the music they choose so, be prepared with professional quality recordings of songs as well as instrumental versions. Some people hate the terms so be sure to read them over carefully. All I know is that I’ve received some pretty nice checks without having to shop my songs on my own.)

 J

 

  -Laura Marie

 

Up Next:

Bands: Social Networking No-No’s #2