Data is Your Friend

You’re tracking your website’s traffic…right?

If you aren’t tracking your website’s traffic, you have no way of knowing whether your site is helping you with your fan engagement goals.

A service like Google Analytics tells you how many people are visiting your site and so much more. You can get an idea about where they are coming from and exactly how they arrived at your site. How many are new vs. returning visitors. How long they stay on your site and what pages they are viewing.

Over time as the historical information builds up, you can analyze the data to make adjustments to your site. Move menu items around? Beef up your ‘About’ page, which may be one of the most visited secondary pages of your site, by putting a strong email-for-media call-to-action on that page.

If you don’t have Google Analytics installed or activated tracking your website stats yet, see below for some pointers…

WordPress
If you have a WordPress site, you can easily add Google Analytics tracking to your site. First you need to sign up for a free Google Analytics account. Then you need to install the tracking code on your website. I highly recommend using the Google Analytics by Yoast plugin (the free version is all you need).

Bandzoogle
Bandzoogle’s Reports tab is powered by Google Analytics. Just connect your Google Analytics account to your Bandzoogle account from within your Bandzoogle Dashboard.

Here are some screenshots of what the Google Analytics-powered Bandzoogle Reports look like:

Section 101
Section 101 also integrates with Google Analytics from within your Section 101 Dashboard.

Google Analytics Travels With You from Provider to Provider
Some website service providers have their own stats packages. The trouble is, if you switch to a new provider you will lose your historical data. That’s why I always insist on using a website provider that uses Google Analytics (or, at the very least, Piwik).

If You Want to Own Your Data
For those on the more technical savvy side or with tech teams at the ready, the one knock on Google Analytics is that Google controls your data. If Google Analytics were to suddenly shutdown, you would lose easy access to your website stats history.

Piwik is an open-source alternative to Google Analytics. While Piwik is free, you have to host it yourself — or opt in to their Pro cloud hosting service (starts at $65/mos.)

Need Help? You can HIRE ME to help you sort through your questions.

Experiences – SF Music Tech XVI Panel – November 2014

This great panel was a part of SF Music Tech XVI. This edition of SF Music Tech was the last, at least in SF for a while. This panel was in one of the closing slots and included a great slate of panelists.

Experiences

Sync Your Tour Dates Across the Web

Sync Your Tour Dates Across the Web

Bandsintown

“About 40% of concert tickets go unsold because fans don’t know their favorite artist is in town. Our mission is to change that.”
— Julien Mitelberg, Bandsintown President & COO

For the tight Facebook integration alone, Bandsintown is a must-use service for any artist. This service is free to use and will enable you to display tour dates on your Facebook Page via their Facebook app, your website with their Tour Dates Widget, and even includes an iOS / Android app for managing your account. Labels and managers can easily manage more than one artist. If you use WordPress, yep, there’s a Bandsintown WordPress plugin.

Bandsintown will also enable you to annotate your YouTube videos with links to promote your upcoming shows. Bandsintown can also help you get your tour dates displayed when someone searches for your band via Google.

Songkick Tourbox

Ever wonder how tour dates end up on NoiseTrade? Spotify? YouTube? SoundCloud? Bandcamp? Deezer? Songkick Tourbox syncs your tour dates across the web. No matter whether you choose to use Bandsintown or not, you must (also) utilize Songkick so that you can manage what shows up across all those services. Songkick scrapes a lot of your tour dates automatically, but not all. Smaller artists playing smaller venues may find the need to manually add your dates into Songkick’s system. You do that via Songkick Tourbox which is another free tour dates syncing service.

This is Awesome!

There is some overlap with features from Bandsintown including the ability to sync your tour dates directly into your website. Songkick Tourbox makes it really easy for you to customize the widget and then gives you the embed code to put on your website:

Widget - Songkick Tourbox

One thing that artists outside the U.S. will like is that Songkick isn’t U.S.-based like Bandsintown. Why is that important? What if your band is playing Victoria. You know which Victoria, but what if you have some superfans from the U.S. who have no idea which Victoria it would likely be? Bandsintown displays it as Victoria, CANADA. WhileSongkick will display it as Victoria, BC, Canada. That way your fans don’t have to guess that you could mean Victoria, NL or Victoria, ON. Even if you would never play those other Victorias, at least your fans won’t have to stop and think when looking at the tour dates on your site.

Bandsintown Has a Little Problem with Anything Outside the U.S.
Where's the province?

Songkick is a True Global Company and Gets That There Are Things Like Provinces
Yes, Victoria...there is a province!


These Services are Really Free? How Do They Do It?!?
Both services are taking advantage of the fact that most ticketing services will pay a commission for people/companies that direct users to buy tickets. So, both Bandsintown and Songkick are getting a cut from the ticketing services which allows them to offer their tour date sync services free to artists — and, best of all, fans.


Cheers!
Chandler Coyle
Digital Geek at Music Geek Services
Publisher, The Coyle Report
Click here for a free subscription to The Coyle Report a free music marketing newsletter that provides tips, tricks, and solutions on fan engagement and get a FREE eBook on The Best Practices for Merch.

Selling Music and Merch from Your Website

selling-music-and-merch

There are many ways you can do this, but I thought I would outline three that I feel work well and are easy to set up.

Keeping it Really Simple: Gumroad

Gumroad
When you are just getting started with selling music or merch online the work ahead of you can be overwhelming. Especially if you are handling it all by yourself. What if you wanted to sell one item ASAP? What if you wanted to be able to have it right on your website and not create a really sparsely stocked separate store with only one item? In these situations I steer artists to check out Gumroad.

What are Gumroad’s fees?
“It’s just 5% + 25¢ per transaction. There are no hosting fees, no monthly fees, no bandwidth fees, no refund fees.”

To dive in deeper, I recommend downloading this eBook written by independent musician Ben Johnson:
Gumroad for Musicians eBook – A free eBook with my best advice about selling music with Gumroad.

A More Robust Option: Bandcamp

This is Bandcamp

While Gumroad is easy, inexpensive, and really well-built…it still lacks some of the more advanced features that a band would want in an online store. Once you have more than a few items to sell, it may be time to graduate to something like Bandcamp.

You can sell both physical and digital items side-by-side. Bandcamp’s fees are pretty reasonable. One cool thing is that Bandcamp doesn’t make money until you make money.

Bandcamp provides you with a standalone store that you can customize to match your band’s visual branding aesthetic. Bandcamp also provides widgets that you can embed on pretty much any website. Bandcamp even integrates directly with Bandzoogle!

Don’t know where to start with Bandcamp? Start here:
Bandcamp Basics

For Bandzoogle Users

This is Bandzoogle

You can sell music and merch from your site using their built-in store functionality. Bandzoogle does not take a commission like most direct-to-fan platforms do. Prefer to use Bandcamp or Topspin (or Shopify, CD Baby)? Bandzoogle integrates with all those services and iTunes too.

Bandzoogle Store

NOTE: Even if you have a website and don’t want to switch to Bandzoogle, in some cases it might make sense to create a Bandzoogle account for your store alone. It could be on a domain like store.myband.com. For less than $15/mos. you get to use a powerful, commission-free store on an easy-to-use platform.

Need Help? You can HIRE ME to help you sort through your questions.


Cheers!
Chandler Coyle
Digital Geek at Music Geek Services
Publisher, The Coyle Report
Click here for a free subscription to The Coyle Report a free music marketing newsletter that provides tips, tricks, and solutions on fan engagement and get a FREE eBook on The Best Practices for Merch.

Your Website is Backed Up…Right?

When was the last time you backed up your website?

If you are on a service like Bandzoogle, Squarespace, or Section101, you can’t actually back up the whole site. However you can make sure that you have a copy of all the information and assets on your site. Don’t just rely on the fact that most website services make their own backups. Some provide you the ability to export your data. You want to make sure that YOU own and control all your data, information, and assets.

I recommend asking your chosen website service provider how they handle backups. Make sure they are doing them on their end and find out what part of your data they enable you to export and store on your own.

If you have a WordPress site I recommend using a service like VaultPress or a plugin like BackupBuddy.

Your Mailing List is Backed Up Too…Right?

When was the last time you exported your list from your email service provider and saved a backup somewhere? MailChimp has an export feature. Topspin has an export feature. Export the (usually) CSV file and save it somewhere safe. Repeat that process every month. A good reminder would be after you send out your monthly newsletter.

Your Backup is Backed Up Too…Right?

I recommend making sure your backups are stored both locally (for easy access by you)and also in the cloud (so you can access it at any time, even after your local hard drive fails). Save it on your computer, but also put a copy on a service like Google Drive, Dropbox, or Amazon S3.

One final note…
What is the one thing that is true about backups? You don’t need backups until you reallyneed them. When you really need them, you’ll be glad you have them.


Cheers!
Chandler Coyle
Digital Geek at Music Geek Services
Publisher, The Coyle Report
Click here for a free subscription to The Coyle Report a free music marketing newsletter that provides tips, tricks, and solutions on fan engagement and get a FREE eBook on The Best Practices for Merch.

Asking Your Fans What They Want to See On Your Website

A better title would have been “Give the People What They Want“…right? Well, sure, but before you can give your fans what they want, you need to ASK them what they want.

Yesterday I noticed the tweet below from Hypebot go out with a quote from SF Music Tech by loyal reader and passionate practitioner of direct-to-fan: PledgeMusic founderBenji Rogers. I had been mentioned later in the conversation and had to check out what Benji was up to this week. Turns out it was yet another day, yet another music conference where Benji was educating artists on the art of fan engagement.

You need to see this tweet!

Many people think that just applies to just what merch to sell at the merch table or on your website, what cities or specific venues to play, or what live show you should put out on bootleg vinyl. But, I operate under the belief that this should apply to EVERYTHING you do as an artist — even down to what you should be sharing/posting on your band website.

Do you get overwhelmed with what to post on your website to keep it fresh and to lure your fans back to visit it again and again? Wait, you mean you don’t have a ton of content ideas for your site, social networks, PledgeMusic campaign, and email newsletters all lined up? Didn’t realize that an artist needed to be a content creator (or worse content marketer — UGH) in addition to being a songwriter and/or touring musician?

Struggling to think of what to post on your site’s blog or news section? Well, take a cue from the Kinks (above) or The O’Jays: “Give the People What They Want“!

Ever wonder who visits your website? Ever wonder who are the loyal returning visitors who return month after month — or even day after day? Those are your superfans. They keep checking your site to see what’s new. Maybe you announced some new music, new tour dates, but most of all, maybe you posted something really cool?

What does a superfan think is really cool? Ask them. I’m serious. ASK!

You either built or are building your website for the primary purpose of sharing content with your fanbase. Have you ever asked them what they want to see on your site? What would keep them coming back? What would drive them to help spread the word about your music or shows?

Companies talk to their intended website audience all the time. You should too.

On the topic of asking fans for help, Amanda Palmer’s book came out this week. I just started reading it and I’m hooked.


Cheers!
Chandler Coyle
Digital Geek at Music Geek Services
Publisher, The Coyle Report
Click here for a free subscription to The Coyle Report a free music marketing newsletter that provides tips, tricks, and solutions on fan engagement and get a FREE eBook on The Best Practices for Merch.

5 Image Tips for Your Band’s Website

[1] Use Crisp/Clear, Professional Looking Images
In most cases images on your site will be photos of your band. When photos are an integral part of your site’s aesthetic, please make sure they are crisp, clear and professional. For every struggling, but talented, artist out there, there is a struggling, but talented, photographer looking for a band to let them take photos. Track one down and strike a deal. Publicity/posed photos and live shots. You can never have too many high quality photos.

[2] Get Permission / Give Credit Where Credit is Due
Not only should you make sure you have permission to post any photos or imagery that you use, make sure you include proper credit.

[3] Don’t Ever Use Stock Imagery on a Band Website
Companies can get away with stock photos. But artists really cannot. I know it is tempting, but just don’t. You want your site to be an authentic reflection of your band.

[4] Optimize the Images for the Web
Be smart about the size of the images, the format, and the resolution. The file size of an image adds ‘weight’ to your page/site. The greater the ‘weight’ of a page, the longer it takes to download. That really high resolution and colorful background image on your site of you performing at a festival stage? Make sure it isn’t 3MB.

No image should be greater than 200KB, ideally less than 100KB or much smaller if it displays small. The image should be no larger than it needs to be — meaning do not resize it via your editor. If the photo displays as 200 px by 200 px, make the image 200×200 before you upload it to your site. If you have some images on your site that you feel are weighing your site down, you can optimize them via a tool like the ones listed in this article and you may find you can reduce their file size without impacting their quality.

[5] Keep it Fresh
Don’t let your site get stale. Bands are dynamic and their sites should be too. You can freshen your site up with new images every month that draw upon new performance photos or publicity photos.


Cheers!
Chandler Coyle
Digital Geek at Music Geek Services
Publisher, The Coyle Report
Click here for a free subscription to The Coyle Report a free music marketing newsletter that provides tips, tricks, and solutions on fan engagement and get a FREE eBook on The Best Practices for Merch.

Bit Torrent Bundle Embeds

From Berklee Online:

From The Coyle Report:


Cheers!
Chandler Coyle
Digital Geek at Music Geek Services
Publisher, The Coyle Report
Click here for a free subscription to The Coyle Report a free music marketing newsletter that provides tips, tricks, and solutions on fan engagement and get a FREE eBook on The Best Practices for Merch.

3 Widgets to Collect Emails via Your Website

It almost goes without saying, but collecting emails is the most important activity you do on your site after engaging with your fans and selling your music and merch.

Collecting emails via your website is something that should be easier than most services (or artists) make it out to be. In all cases, you should provide an incentive (free download of an album or EP) in exchange for the fan giving up their email address. But, you all know that. The hard part is picking a widget to use.

No matter what content management system or website service powers your website, these 3 email widgets are a snap to set up and embed into your site.

[1] NoiseTrade
The email-for-media widget from NoiseTrade is my favorite. It’s free, it streams the music you are giving away, and they keep updating it every year to exceed my expectations of what they can get it to do. To learn more about it, check out my NoiseTrade Widget Deep Dive.

[2] Bandcamp
Yes, the direct-to-fan ecommerce platform Bandcamp. Their download widget can be used as an email-for-media widget to give away tracks and collect emails. Each artist that uses their service gets up to 200 download credits per month. That’s likely more than enough for any smaller artist just getting started with collecting emails via a widget on their website. Those downloads also include sales. But, if you aren’t selling anything yet — then you won’t pay anything yet as long as you stay under 200 downloads. If you go over 200 downloads or are selling stuff as well, Bandcamp needs to start charging you.

Since Bandcamp works off of an all-in-one method when it comes to widgets, their widget allows you to stream your music as well as offer downloads for emails. Their widget also has various sizes, including a few that are responsive (in their case, they set the width to 100% and it resizes to fit the size of the container you put it in). Here’s one of their widgets, click through to see it embedded on a web page:

or

or

[3] Topspin
For the longest time this widget would have been in slot #1. But ever since they were sold to Beats Music and then sold again to Band Merch, I’ve found myself leaning more on the aforementioned alternatives. However, as we head into 2015 Topspin is still around and even though their new owners have been oddly silent on the future of the Topspin Platform, the widgets are still damn useful.

You do need to have a Topspin account to use the widget which starts at $9.99/mos. My favorite thing about the Topspin widget is that it has an API which allows you to configure it with a completely custom front-end to make it look however you want it to look:

This is an example of a Topspin email-for-media widget customized to blend in to an artist’s landing page for a new album:

This Image is Awesome

Yes! There are many other widgets out there, even some in the music space that you are scratching your head trying to figure out why I left them out. Well, the 3 above are my recommended ones based on my years of experience with them and are the ones I use all the time.

Are you having trouble with choosing a widget or getting it embedded on your site? I’m available to help. I’m a total widget nerd…fer realz.


Cheers!
Chandler Coyle
Digital Geek at Music Geek Services
Publisher, The Coyle Report
Click here for a free subscription to The Coyle Report a free music marketing newsletter that provides tips, tricks, and solutions on fan engagement and get a FREE eBook on The Best Practices for Merch.