I am constantly telling bands and artists (as well as other people in the music industry) how important it is to have a website and not just a myspace profile or whatever social media profile or blogspot blog (the first one is obviously starting to sink in these days). Sure, you may integrate your blog on your homepage, but you need a place that is yours and yours only – a place that reflects your personality (or band image). You need a place that people come back to and also a place for people to collect the information they search for. This could be journalists looking to read your bio or download high res pictures for print media. It could also be venue bookers looking to get in touch with your agent, or simply fans wanting to listen to (and buy) your music and get the latest updates. It is therefore a good idea to have (and maintain) your own webstore. Last, but not least your website should also promote and encourage fans to sign up to a newsletter. All of your 4567 likes on Facebook is great, but sometimes you need to be able to hit them up on an even more personal level. An e-mail sign up requires more commitment than a “like” on Facebook. The results of succesfull e-mail marketing will therefore be more effective than just updating the status on your Facebook page (hell, you can do both!).
To build and send out newsletters you can use services such as MailChimp, Your mailinglist provider or (probably the best alternative) FanBridge. But unless you are in the need of a die hard professional e-mail service (you probably are if you have more than, eh – let’s say 10.000 fans – just to set an example), a website platform such as Bandzoogle handles all of your above mentioned needs (more on Bandzoogle and some other alternatives later).
Bands and artists had websites back in 1994 and they still do. That’s why you need one. You’re not going to stay on Myspace forever, and you can’t be sure how long you are going to stay on whatever next big thing. Make your own place and make it look damn professional. And don’t worry. You don’t need to be a webdesigner!
Here’s a list of website platforms that helps you create killer websites with no coding experience (let’s forget about wordpress for a moment, even though that is pretty rad too):
This is my favorite or at least it is the service I am most familiar with. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the best service around these days. I did however choose Bandzoogle when creating the present website for Stina Stjern (yes, she’s my wife).
I can definitely recommend Bandzoogle to other bands and artists. Sure, an online service can ALWAYS become better. But when I was looking for a killer web-platform to help create an artist website with a great music player (that works on tablets etc) and an easy to use webshop, I simply found Bandzoogle to be the best alternative. It also helped that Brenden Mulligan (the guy behind Artistdata) recommended Bandzoogle in this blog post. The support team were also quick in their responses and answered all my questions quite convincingly both on e-mail and on twitter (how to add value to your company using twitter? well, reply back to people asking questions!). I was also really satisfied with how Bandzoogle easily synced with blogspot (blog updates) as well as (speaking of) Artistdata (show calendar). In addition the shop function is really good and easy to set up (and use), and their mailing list service is well integrated and easy to set up. Bandzoogle has also been around for quite some time and that made me feel quite confident that I wasn’t spending money on a start up that might go bankrupt as soon as they received my payment.
Bandzoogle costs between $9.95 and $19.95 pr. month based on what type of subscription you need.
You can visit the page I created for Stina Stjern here.
Here’s a list of other services that also might help you create killer websites:
get-ctrl is an easy to use tool for you to build and update your own website with all the stuff you need. It’s got news, gigs, biography, media players, digital store and a fan base management system which includes email campaigns (source: http://www.get-ctrl.com/faq.htm).
In other words: get-ctrl does pretty much what Bandzoogle does. get-ctrl is however free, but they do commission on sales made through your webshop as well as they charge for certain add ons.
I chose Bandzoogle over get-ctrl because Bandzoogle was (and still is) more developed (speak out if you disagree). At the same time a premium subscription with Bandzoogle made it possible to customize the website a bit more (at least in November 2010, which was when I signed up). With get-ctrl I felt I was signing up for an artist profile rather than a website service (with all band pages looking too much like each other). Today it does however seem like get-ctrl is a really good alternative to Bandzoogle (or any other website platform). I am just a bit curious to see how they will make money only monetizing on add ons and shop commision.
Especially the fact that get-ctrl makes money on add ons probably means that there will be several premium features that you will need to pay for in order to use. I felt more secure signing up for everything (what you see is what you get) instead of a free limited service. I also like the fact that Bandzoogle’s not commissioning on sales. But hey, this is my reflections on why I went for one thing over another. This doesn’t necessarily mean get-ctrl is a bad idea (and it sure is starting to look damn sexy).
Read more about get-ctrl here.
[Edit March 12, 2011: The Raveonettes is a well known band using get-ctrl. Check out their site here]
Sayvee is “a simple way for artists to build a killer website”. Again, what they do is pretty much the same as the above mentioned services. The pricing is $14.99 US per month after a free 30 day free trial including hosting, 5GB space, unlimited mailing list members, and all features. You can get your own “.com” address for $10 US / year with up to 50 email addresses (source: http://sayvee.com/features).
Check out Sayvee here.
[Edit March 12, 2011: Bandzoogle announced their acquisition of Sayvee on March 11. Read more here.]
Guguchu might also be an alternative worth checking out, although it seems to be a bit different from the above mentioned website platforms. I am really not that familiar with it (kind of worth mentioning), but from looking at their website it seems a bit more like a marketing platform rather than a website platform (please correct me if I am wrong).
According to their own website Guguchu is a one-stop direct-to-fan platform that allows you to set up a fully customizable and professionally looking band page (doesn’t say if it is on your own domain). They also have ticketing solution, newsletter, media kit and venue database (kind of makes this service a bit more sonicbids-ish) etc. Sign-up is free, but Guguchu keeps a flat 15% of music and ticket sales and additional Paypal fees apply. (source: guguchu.com)
The way I see it, at least bands in Europe and Scandinavia wouldn’t need a ticketing service based in the US. If going for a free alternative when it comes to creating your own website (or band page), I would definitely go for get-ctrl instead of this one. But again, it’s all up to you and your website needs (You already know which one I use).
Like Guguchu, Nimbit market themselves as a one-stop direct-to-fan platform or as service that does “direct-to-fan marketing, sales and distribution all in one place”, as they put it on their website. This means that their focus is more on direct to fan sales rather than being an awesome website platform. However, they do have a feature making it possible to create a complete website for your band including a professional storefront, gig calendar, blog, and more (last time I checked this was a wordpress feature).
But in my opinion Nimbit is more a service for artists on the look-out for ways to sell music online as well as distribute their music to iTunes, Amazon, eMusic and Rhapsody. If your digital distribution is set up somewhere else, you might as well use another service to build your website.
Learn more about Nimbit here.