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Monday
Mar052012

Bandzoogle: “Your website should not be a blog”

Bandzoogle is one of the most effective platforms for musicians to build their website and manage their direct-to-fan marketing and sales. Their platform is one of the oldest web hosting tools available for musicians and I have created a few websites through them myself.

Bandzoogle sites are very easy to create, stylish, and they come with some great built-in features. The service is free to try, and offers affordable monthly subscriptions plans, with great customer service. Below is a brief Q/A that I recently had with Bandzoogle’s CEO David Dufresne.

I remember creating several websites on Bandzoogle back in 2006, which is a century in internet time. How has your company been able to maintain its relevancy?


Ha, so back when it looked like this then ? Bandzoogle Circa 2006
It does feel like a century! To answer your question, the first way we stayed relevant is by not only surviving, but by growing in a profitable and organic, independent way, which sadly can’t be said of so many web companies that have come and gone, relying on venture capital and flawed business models.

Otherwise, we keep listening to our users, they are our R&D department. We add requested features when we feel a good number would use them. We are also launching a full upgrade of our platform (preview here) that will make us light years ahead of any other artist website platform out there. Design wise, we keep working with some of the best designers out there to always have fresh themes that our members can use (or help them make their own themes).

With blogging platforms like Tumblr and WordPress becoming so popular how has that changed the way you do business?


It hasn’t impacted our business, really. But it motivates us to keep developing our own blogging features. Blogs and websites are different, and I always felt, that your website should have a blog, but that your website should NOT be a blog (ie. the home page that scrolls down forever…) if you see what I mean. That said, you can now build a full band website using, say, WordPress, but it’s not simple, and out of reach for at least 80% of musicians. You need to add plug-ins and widgets to get the features you need, and when you factor in the cost of web hosting, media hosting, domain name registration and adding a commission-based store the total cost of ownership of a good WordPress or Tumblr site is actually much higher than a Bandzoogle site.

With more and more consumers accessing the web via their mobile devices does Bandzoogle have plans to roll out a mobile platform for musicians in the near future?


So far we’ve focused on making our sites fully compatible with mobile browsers. I don’t really believe in artist-specific apps, except maybe for the really popular artists that already have a very large engaged and dedicated fan base. And with html5 becoming more adopted as a programming language, I prefer to focus on the browser vs. apps. However we do plan to build an app that lets our users fully update and manage their websites for their smart phone. That’s coming soon.

What is the best advice that you would give a new band trying to create a solid online presence?


Think of your online strategy as a “hub and spokes” image. Your website, in conjunction with your mailing list, is your hub. You need to be active and engage your fans on other networks (the spokes), if you think that’s where they spend time and you’re comfortable creating content there (right now, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube get a lot of mind share, so you should probably be involved there). But when you can, use those “spokes” to bring traffic back to your own website; where you own the address, you control the story you tell 100% and the content you put forward, you can get fans to give you their e-mails and you can sell your music and merch directly to them. Plus, many bookers, promoters, journalists and bloggers won’t take you seriously if your main web address or first search result is an undecipherable Tumblr or a Facebook fan page.

Where would you like to see Bandzoogle at in the next five years?


Our goal is to keep growing in an independent and organic way. We want to keep building features that will make our members’ lives easier and help them gain more fans, engage more fans, and create opportunities to make more revenue. Our goal is definitely to get to a point where Bandzoogle becomes the first place artists think of checking out when they decide they need to build or revamp their website. We also have plans to expand our services beyond music, so we want to offer a similar platform to comedians, actors, models, etc.

Reader Comments (13)

"... when you factor in the cost of web hosting, media hosting, domain name registration and adding a commission-based store the total cost of ownership of a good WordPress or Tumblr site is actually much higher than a Bandzoogle site."

Don't wanna rain on Bandzoogle's parade here, but my yearly costs are about as much as one and a half month of the pro feature, including all the things Bandzoogle includes in a pro account. I really like what Bandzoogle has to offer, but I'm better off paying for a domain and getting all the things for free by just Googling for it. Put in a few hours of work, and save yourself $270,- a year.

That said, it does mean you have to do some research yourself. And getting someone to design your site might not be easy (for a nice price, that is).

March 5 | Unregistered CommenterJordyVision

Hey thanks Jordy,

To estimate in the total cost of owning your website, few things you need to factor in:

How much of your time do you need to spend, researching, learning, building, etc. (and what's your hourly rate ? and cost of opportunity vs. practicing, songwriting, etc.).

Do you need to hire a designer, or developer ?

Do you need to buy a theme ?

Do you need to buy a domain ?

Do you need to pay for hosting ? How much ?

Do you need to host your media (music, videos) somewhere else ? Do they provide embeddable players ? Are they free ?

Do you need to sign up for a mailing list service ? Is it free ?

Do you need to sign-up for a different service to commerce-enable your website ? Is it free ? Commission-based ?

Do those different services you signed up for provide support ? At what cost ?

Can you update and modify your website yourself, at no expense ?

I'm probably missing a few elements ... great idea for a blog post if someone want to do the work and guesstimate the dollar numbers ;-)

I'm not saying you can't build an excellent band website using free or mostly free tools, but you do need to look at the Total Cost of Ownership before you make a decision, and probably spend more time and/or money than you'd think.

Cheers.

Side note:

To be fair Jordy, the Bandzoogle PRO plan is for huge sites -- unlimited tracks, unlimited mailouts, unlimited pages, and it is $200/year. You won't get this for free by Googling (even Soundcloud charges 500 euros/year for unlimited storage)

For simple sites, we have a LITE plan at $100/year, or around $8/month, which includes your domain name, mailing list, store, etc.

March 5 | Unregistered CommenterChris Vinson

In all fairness, yes, the costs of space is something else if want to distribute big / a lot of files, you won't be able to keep 100% of the sold music if you do it the cheap way, and I was lucky to know a few designers who wanted to work on their portfolio. (Saving in web-design costs.) But just like Soundcloud I think the prices are a too steep. Hope that clears things up..

March 5 | Unregistered CommenterJordyVision

Both ideas for bands, WP for almost free and Bandzoogle, are a must, we all know this. I think with both Bandzoogle and WP a band can have a cool site and because of the low cost and ease of use, a band could hire someone to build and maintain these sites and it wouldn't cost anywhere near the $10,000 startup cost for a big, professionally built site. Nothing worse than visiting a site and finding out it hasn't been updated in weeks. Bands, please hire an art student or someone to keep your site fresh and up to date.

March 5 | Unregistered Commentermarion

Nothing against Bandzoogle, my comment would be the same for any ADVERTISEMENT on MTT...

Why is this post here, not MTT Open?!?

March 6 | Unregistered CommenterDG

Arkade.com does all this better for 1/10th of the cost!

I do have one question about Bandzoogle. Once a band builds a site on Bandzoogle and decides to cancel, who owns the data (for example, email addresses) that the band has collected on that site? Will the band be able to move the site design and files to another server if they cancel? Or does all of that belong to Bandzoogle?

March 6 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle Hall

@DG

I kind of see your point about the interview being "advertisement" ? To give you context, Kelland sent me the interview questions a few weeks ago for the purpose of publishing it on his own blog sosoActive :
http://www.sosoactive.com/bandzoogle-your-website-should-not-be-a-blog/

So yeah, the interview was mostly about Bandzoogle. I'm not sure why MTT published it here. I'll assume they liked the "website should not be a blog" sound bite, which opens up a lot of debate. And debate should be be a driver behind this Think Thank, right?. (We do have an ad on the right column, though. Because we love to support MTT, and Hypebot).

Michelle: Your mailing list is yours and you can easily export it at any time from Bandzoogle.

March 6 | Unregistered CommenterChris Vinson

@ David

Your candor is much appreciated, and yes, placement issue is on MTT. Paid advertising here is certainly applauded (over the years MTT has been an amazing resource so they sure deserve it), and being the real world it's not surprising this post therefore got front page - but does everyone a disservice in the long run, as it diminishes the brands, at least with discerning readers - a growing population these days and the one that matters most.

Your addressing it is highly respected, thanks.

March 7 | Unregistered CommenterDG

There's exceptions to the rule when it comes to using a Tumblr blog as your official site. For example, Frank Ocean's upcoming album is probably one of the most anticipated. He only has a Tumblr blog though.

March 10 | Unregistered CommenterAnthony

Really enjoyed learning about Bandzoogle platform!! Seems like it's indeed an amazing hosting platform for web hosting!! I'll surely recommend about it to my musician buddies to build their website using it. Thanks.

May 18 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew

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