In this podcast you’ll discover:
- The key differences between a cover band website and one for a band that writes their own material.
- The key difference between a growing a fanbase and getting clients (this is so instrumental to your success)
- What actual website pages should you have on your cover band website
- How one Bandzoogle user got 50 bookings driving paid website traffic to his website
- Some of the key benefits for cover bands of using Bandzoogle
- How to do basic SEO on your site
- Dave offers to review your website
Dave’s website review offer for Gigging Success listeners:
Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jon Hart website
Listen to the Podcast:
Brad: I’m here with Dave Cool. It’s his real name. He’ll tell us about that. He’s the Artist Relation’s Manager at Bandzoogle. If you don’t know Bandzoogle, it’s a fantastic platform where you can basically go and build yourself a band website and they’ll host it for you, do the lot for you. It’s a fantastic platform, which I’m sure he’ll tell us a little bit more about. How are you, Dave?
Dave: I am well, Sir. Good to talk to you.
Brad: Yeah, and you. Thank you for your time. I really appreciate it. Tell us a little bit about your background and your role at Bandzoogle, and then we’ll get into a little bit more detail about cover bands and websites.
Dave: Sure. Yes. I’m the Director of Artist Relations at Bandzoogle. I do most of the blogging for Bandzoogle. We have a very active blog. We post two, three, four times a week with advice for the musicians. Then travel to conferences, meeting with members, speaking on panels, and giving workshops, things like that.
I’ve been with the company for about four years now. We’re platform where musicians can easily build a professional band website without having to hire designer, know any coding. It’s not the official company slogan, but I tell musicians that it’s so easy, their drummer could do it.
Brad: We’ve lost all the drummers now.
Dave: That’s right, yeah. I am a drummer myself, so I like to think I can get them to stay, but …
Dave: It’s a super easy platform, plug and click. You can choose from hundreds of different themes. They’re all mobile-responsive. You can sell your music commission-free. We just crossed $15 million in sales through our store feature where we have taken exactly zero dollars. We’re really happy to do that for our members.
It can also run their mailing list, blog, calendar events, integrate their social media, integrate their Instagram, things like that. It’s really all-in-one platform with musician-friendly support. Most of our staff are musicians themselves current and past, so it’s a very musician-friendly and musician-centric company. It’s a lot of fun here.
Brad: From all around the world from what you mentioned.
Dave: Yeah. We’re a remote company, so we all work from home on our PJs. We’re based in Montreal where I am, but our founder’s here and CEO is here, but we staff across Canada, and throughout United States, and Europe as well, so really a global company.
We have members and probably 30 plus countries. We recently celebrated 10 years, and we did a blog post that I featured 22 bands in 22 different countries outside of North America. Then after we posted that, we discovered many more bands in different countries.
Dave: It’s pretty wild that this little tech company from Montreal has grown to a global company because we’re … This is privately owned. There’s never been any VC or outside investment. It’s a much different approach than a lot of the tech companies in the music inside and outside of the music world.
The tech world, it’s very much about getting a bunch of funding, spending a bunch of money, getting market share, and then making money later. Bandzoogle has been profitable since day one and never taken any outside investments. We’re the small little tech company that keeps growing every year.
Brad: Yeah. You’re not just a tech company. You’re really involved with the whole kind of artistic kind of process, aren’t you, in getting involved with artists in terms advice and career development, aren’t you?
Dave: Well, yes, for the blog, and for workshops, and e-books, and conferences. Yeah. The music industry can be a tough place to navigate. That was the primary reason I was brought onboard the company. I’ve been doing a lot of educational work in the music industry for musicians, and they brought me onboard to bring that to their company. They had already been doing it to a certain extent, but they wanted someone to really focus their fulltime energy on it.
I’ve written probably 400 plus blog posts since I’ve been there, traveled to dozens and dozens of conferences, written several e-books. It’s all put out there for free.
Our blog is a great resource for musicians to get advice about their career. You know, there’s a lot of website best practices and social media marketing stuff, but there’s also … Once in a while, I’ll slip in different career advice, booking gigs, dealing with managers, things like that. We’re not exactly hands-on with our members’ careers, but we definitely like to put out content and give them advice, and help push them along, and help them in any way we can.
Brad: I’m interested to know. The staff at the company are working so remotely from so many different countries. Are there differences in the way that they approach websites? Is it generally quite a globalized thing?
Dave: That’s a good question. It tends to be a globalized thing. When someone starts a free trial of Bandzoogle, we nudge people in a certain direction to follow best practices. We prepopulate certain menu items and pages that we think they should be using with features already populated on those pages.
A lot of the time, bands and musicians will keep to that basic structure, but we see websites where they completely undo that and create their own.
Brad: Have you seen that from testing? Do you collate data centrally?
Dave: Once in a while.
Brad: All your websites are hosted through Bandzoogle, aren’t they?
Dave: Yeah. They’re hosted. The domain names are all included. Yeah. We look at reports. We’ll often, several times a week, look at the new trials. Where our support team goes and actively helps out new trial members, because it’s free to try for 30 days.
We try to give people a quick website reviews to help them along. When people upgrade to a paid plan, we take a look at those websites every week and see what people are doing, see what themes they’re using, how they’re using them, just so we can try to notes any patterns and see what themes are more popular than others.
Brad: Right. What was interesting to hear now before we start recording was that you’ve seen a lot of cover bands coming on and using the service. Is there any fundamental differences that you’re seeing between the bands that are cover bands and your acts writing their own material websites?
Dave: Yes. Part of my job is every day I do website reviews for members. They can email me directly and I’ll send them a full review for their site. I was getting a lot of requests from cover bands. That’s what led me to write this blog post “How To Build The Website For Your Cover Band,” which we’ll get into.
It made me think, like what we’re talking before. We started recording like that there’s fundamental difference between an original band and a cover band, and that you’re not trying to gain fans as a cover band. You’re trying to gain clients.
The way you structure your website will be different as a result of that. You’re not going to have a store on your cover band’s website necessarily, but you might have an FAQ page. Instead of a music section where you show-off and sell your original music, you might have a song list page where you list all the music that your cover band hasn’t a repertoire, so that the clients can see if you’re the type of band that they’re looking for.
Brad: We were talking about the cover band website really needs to sell the band to the potential client.
Brad: So, you need sell off the page, don’t you?
Brad: … as opposed to your original act, which is all about growing fan base, so just being engaging and not in, “Is this bad and right for me,” and gone. It’s in, “Let’s keep them on the website for longer and try and engage with them.”
Dave: Yeah, and develop a relationship with them over the long term and get them signed up to your mailing list. I guess the cover band I don’t think they worry so much about developing your mailing list, or engaging with people on Twitter as much as you are developing relationship with clients, and making sure that you put your best foot forward on your website, and answer any questions that they may have right there on the site, and to make it very easy to get in touch with you to find out more, and to book your band.
Brad: Would you advice two separate websites then? A lot of our listeners, they have their cover band, but they also have their original stuff on the side as well. Is two separate websites advisable?
Dave: In my opinion, yes, because I think it will just be more effective. I think if you try to do it all in one website, you really want to focus people’s attention when they land on your own page. If you’re focusing on getting fans and promoting your cover band to try to get gigs, chances are it’s going to be a bit cluttered and confusing.
You really want to focus on one call-to-action when you land on a website. Once you have more than one, you’re already starting to dilute the message a little bit. One great example I always point to is an artist based in the U.K., actually, Jon Hart, J-O-N H-A-R-T.
Brad: Yeah. He’s featured on the foot of that blog post.
Brad: … which I’ll put in the show notes.
Dave: Nice. Yes. He’s great.
Dave: He’s won on a Wedding Industry Award for London and Southeast for his wedding gigs. He has a website for “Jon Hart Music,” his original stuff. He created a secondary website, “Jon Hart Weddings,” and they’re very different sites with very different goals. His wedding’s website is the one I point to for cover bands.
It’s brilliant. He’s got a great imagery. He has a description right on the homepage, promo video, a clear call-to-action to book him. His website has everything. He’s got a song list page, and FAQ page, a testimonials page, which is really important for cover bands. You really want to get positive testimonials from past clients to show that you’re a trusted band, and professional, and deliver the goods. That’s an important element to have in your website as well.
I wrote this another blog post at Google Adwords for musicians’ posts where I used Jon Hart as an example as well, because he used Google Adwords to book 50 plus gigs, wedding gigs to really hone in on his market, his niche in his area to get booked for weddings. He end up booking over 50 weddings through Google Adwords alone.
Brad: We built my business marketing and selling cover bands off the back of Google Adwords. You have to commit to it, don’t you?
Brad: You can’t go in there for 20 minutes and think, “Oh. I’ll go and get 50 gigs with 20 minutes work.
Dave: A few months, he said there’s some trial and error, trying different keywords and different strategies. When he finally found what was working and really started to work for him, and said he easily made his money back very quickly, and he’s booked his calendar for the next couple of years using Google Adwords.
That’s one thing where an original band would not use Google Adwords nearly the same way.
Brad: No. That’s why Facebook comes in and Facebook Ads almost. If you’re going to spend on building an audience, you better off doing that as an original act through Facebook …
Dave: Yeah. I certainly agree with them.
Brad: Just to give some specifics to the listeners here in terms of looking at your blog post here, you got nine pages on the cover band ideal menu. You got homepage, about, and the key difference here, song list …
Brad: … and the testimonials as we discussed. Then we go into shows, photos, videos, FAQs, and then contact as well. One of the key things that I find, which gets missed off so often on cover band website is – you touched on this – this click “called-to-action” on every single page …
Brad: … not just on the contact page.
Brad: Because people come in at different times, they get distracted, don’t they? That to me is a huge thing, because you always want to be driving people to take an action or to pick-up the phone and call you or email you to make an inquiry.
Dave: Yes, exactly.
Brad: In terms of kind of images. Any key differences you see between the original stuff on the websites that you see in cover bands?
Dave: Yeah. Original bands are going to have more, I guess, I would call them “artistic photos.”
Dave: You’re a cover band. Having images at live shows is probably a better bet. You can’t just have someone take photos with an iPhone and expect them to be professional photos. They still have to be professionally shot. If you play in weddings, especially the wedding photographer there, you can ask the wedding photographer if you can slip them some extra cash to take photos of the band while they’re there or hire a photographer. I want your corporate gigs to take some professional photos just to show the band in a gig situation preferably …
Brad: It’s got to be in their natural environment.
Dave: In their natural environment with an audience that is, hopefully, enjoying themselves.
Brad: Yeah. Ultimately, the difference between the audience in a band playing original stuffs and the cover band, is the cover band audience really ultimately is about dancing…
Brad: That’s the kind of … From my experience, I’m being able to capture that in an image, so you can show a prospect is really powerful. The next step to that obviously is the rise of video.
Dave: Oh yeah.
Brad: You must have seen that from the 10 years that he’s been involved in websites how that’s changed.
Dave: Oh yeah. For original bands it’s incredibly important. I think for cover bands if you don’t have a professional demo reel or promotional video, you’re really hurting your chances of getting hired. There’s no better way to sell your band and then show them live and performing, and showing a crowd that’s enjoying it.
That being said, if you put up a video on your website that isn’t professionally shot and the sound is crap, it might hurt your chances of getting.
Brad: There’s nothing worse than seeing a dodgy mobile phone footage from the in camera mic.
Dave: Yeah, exactly. Where a lot of band go wrong with video is they get someone to bring in a really nice camera and they shoot with a professional lighting. They got a great camera, so it looks incredible, but they used the on-board mic to record the audio, and it sounds like shit.
Dave: It’s a pain to watch because it sounds terrible. You really have to take care of the audio and have a separate audio component, so that you’re recording professional audio at the same time as the video.
Brad: I know with my bands, what we’ve managed to do is … We’ve had lot of success actually in the last couple of promos out that we’ve done where we brought in a couple of Go Pro lenses …
Brad: … which have been … The difficulty with being at an event like a wedding or a corporate event is you can’t have this camera guys floating around with cameras on their shoulders.
Brad: They can be quite intrusive. To have the Go Pro lenses almost strapped to a pillar in that function room taking a wide shot … Or to the side of the stage, taking a wide angle and maybe doing some cutaways with the handheld. That’s worked so well. The ability to be able to put something like that together for two, three hundred bucks, actually, they amazed me.
Dave: Yeah. That’s really cool idea.
Brad: I can see why the whole Go Pro lens became so successful.
Dave: Yeah. They’ve done well.
Brad: Yeah. It’s incredible. What we are able to do is let you get three camera shoot …
Brad: … and then put a promo video together off the back of it for literally a few hundred bucks. What I suggested to bands is they put annotations on the screen; describe what you do, the genres that you play, maybe put some testimonials on there, so that your video promo becomes this really powerful sales tool, which is ultimate what it’s for.
Dave: For sure, yeah, adding testimonials and little descriptions in the video is … Yeah. That’s exactly the cover band should be doing for sure.
Brad: Yeah. In terms of the differences, in terms of what Bandzoogle can offer as suppose to going and getting your site self-hosted, buying a domain, getting a designer, develop, and etcetera, where are the kind of the benefits for Bandzoogle comparatively to the other, you know…?
Dave: Well, it’s really the ease of use. We’re really proud of ourselves on being able to build a website in minutes. Once you’re taken through the site builder, you choose a theme, you choose a font, upload an image, and then away you go.
Now, so if you’re a cover band, maybe our e-commerce features may not be as attractive, but we’re a platform where you can easily design a professional-looking website and have it up in minutes.
Just the cost-effectiveness of that, our Pro Level Plan is 200 bucks a year. That includes the domain, hosting, mailing list and e-commerce. For cover band, they may not use that stuff as much, but you can change your design as often as you want and your content won’t be affected. You can change your design as many times as you want.
A lot of site builders, you have to start from scratch if you want to change the design. With our system, it’s really super easy to change the look if you feel like changing the look. Embedding video, photo galleries …
Brad: This is all drag-and-drop, isn’t it?
Dave: It’s all point-and-click, drag-and-drop. If you want to move a feature, just point on the page where you want to move it to. There’s seven-day-a-week support. We get a lot of bands who used to work with a designer and were on WordPress or another platform like that. To make any edits or changes to their site or changes to the look of the site, they’d always have to hire the designer again.
With Bandzoogle, you don’t have to worry about that. You can just talk to our support team seven days a week. The idea is to give musicians and bands full control over their website and be able to make the changes that they want to make on the spot.
Brad: I hear so often, one of the biggest things when I speak to bands that their website is not up-to-date or the live pages from three years ago. I said, “Why haven’t you changed that? Have you not got any shows in there?” “We got loads of shows. We just can’t get hold of the guy that did the website.”
Dave: Yeah. Their locked out from the password to get in.
Dave: That’s the other thing with cover bands. Your events or gigs page won’t be quite the same, because you’re not trying to let fans know where you’re playing next, because these are all private events considerably. A lot of the time they will be, but you want to show activity for potential clients on that shows page.
It’s important to have the ability to update that calendar as soon as you book a gig, because at the end of the day, clients want to hire band that are being trusted by a lot of other clients.
Brad: Absolutely. Yeah. No question. Yeah. One of the benefits that I see here of Bandzoogle is there’s nothing worse than sitting down to a blank piece of paper or a blank screen when you come to try to design something or to write something.
You have many different “ready to go” off the shelf themes.
Dave: Yeah. There’s over a hundred and they’re all responsive on mobile, so they’ll adapt to the screen size that they’re being viewed on, whether it’s a mobile phone or an iPad table, or a laptop, or desktop.
Brad: Then we can add the various different features. How intensive integration with social media is a big part as well? I’m not a huge fan of social media when it comes to cover bands, although I do think it is important. There’s full integration there as well, isn’t there?
Dave: Oh, yeah. We have an integration with Twitter, too. You can show you Twitter feed if you want to. For cover band, I’m not sure that you can show your latest activity. The idea is to show you latest activity right there on your website. For cover band, if you didn’t have a Twitter feed, I wouldn’t hold it against. I’m not so sure.
There’s Instagram integration. That might be more interesting for a cover band, because then your photos are automatically updated from your Instagram feed, so you can have a special gallery just for your Instagram photos. You can post those from gigs.
Brad: Right. You can be at a show, take a picture …
Brad: … put it on Instagram, and that feeds right through to your website.
Dave: Exactly. Yes. That’s something we … For the last 10 years, Bandzoogle build features based on member feedback from the musicians themselves. Instagram is a great example, because last year, we noticed that in our help section, people were searching the word “Instagram.” We started to notice that search is coming up more and more. We guess bands want to …
We start to notice people were using outside apps to embed. We have an HTML feature, a blank box that you can embed any HTML onto, so you can embed any widget onto your websites. People were starting embed widgets for their Instagram feed, so we built it. We build the integration, so in one click you can put your Instagram feed on any page of you website. That’s a handy way to keep the content fresh on your site. For a cover band at each gig you can snap a few photos, and show the atmosphere and environment right there on your website.
Brad: Yeah. Interesting that you got that piece of data off the back of the search function …
Brad: … on the Bandzoogle helpdesk feature, right?
Brad: What other things have cropped up in the last year also that you’ve seen being searched on and then integrated? It will be interesting to know.
Dave: Slideshow header, so having your header image to be able to be a slideshow.
Dave: That’s something we added. We’re getting a lot of request for it, and a lot of people searching our help tab for it. What else?
Brad: Just to be clear, that’s what somebody lands on your homepage.
Brad: That’s the slide of three, four images …
Brad: … scrolling across. Yeah?
Dave: Exactly. Yeah, for your header images or your background image depending on the theme that you’re using. If it’s a full background image theme then you can actually turn that into a slideshow as well.
We add a lot of functionality to our music players in last year. You can now import directly from sound cloud if the area of your music up on sound cloud. We just added a pre-sales feature that we’re announcing tomorrow, actually. This doesn’t relate to cover bands necessarily, but a lot of members we’re looking to pre-sell their album, obviously, so we added that functionality.
We added an integration with Bandcamp, because a lot of bands they’re selling on Bandcamp. It’s a cool hip place to put your music. We worked with them to develop an integration where it schemes the player to match the theme of the website, so it just looks a little bit more cohesive in the design, but everything is processed through Bandcamp.
Instead of imbedding … Sometimes, we see bands that use widgets for everything, it breaks the design a little bit.
Brad: Yeah. Everything’s just … There’s no palette colors.
Dave: There’s no palette where it can go all messed up, so Bandcamp was a big one we wanted to do. It’s a seamless integration, fully responsive on mobile. Everything looks great, it manages your design and still goes through band camp for those bands that want that.
In the last year, I think Bandzoogle has released more features than ever. It’s been a steady stream of new themes and new features. We have a very active community in our back end as a community to have for members. There’s a specific forum for suggestions. I’m in there every day logging the suggestions. Our developers look at that list, and they start to see a popular request, then it goes on to their to-do list. That’s a never ending list. Let’s put it that way.
Brad: Yeah. The internet is never ending, is it? It’s consistently, it’s constantly changing …
Brad: … almost daily in many respects. One thing that we haven’t touched on – I know this can baffle a lot of people – it’s the whole subject of SEO.
Brad: Did you have any specific best practices? How does the Bandzoogle platform deal with on-page SEOs, so to speak?
Dave: Yes. It’s a question that comes up … Every conference I go to the panels seemed to develop into … I just got that about SEO.
I would say for original bands, as long as your name is unique – Google is pretty smart – they’re going to find you.
Now, that being said, Bandzoogle uses clean code that’s easy to read. We don’t use any flash in the technology at all, so that part was taken care of. Google loves when you update your website, so blogging and using keywords associated with your band and your career in those blog posts is always going to help. Getting links, external links, coming back to your site helps with your SEO as well.
In terms of what Bandzoogle offers, you can add … We generate Meta tags and page titles for the websites, but if you want to customize that, you can for each page. You can customize …
Brad: Just to explain what page titles are and Meta tags then.
Dave: When Google crawls the internet, it’s going to read that information and rank it based on those word that it finds. In recent years, Google has shied away from keyword tags for blog post, because a lot of people were trying to game the system, so adding a bunch of unrelated like “Britney Spears sex” in your blog post about cooking or something.
They’re going to look for those tags and page title just to … They’re going to crawl that just to show that information when someone searches your name. Again, for original bands… Google is pretty smart, so they’re going to find you.
If you’re competing in a market, I think, for cover bands, it becomes more important.
Dave: Because if someone searches “wedding band Montreal,” well, now, SEO becomes more important, because …
Brad: Absolutely. Yeah.
Dave: Your clients are not searching for your name, so you want to be found by people who are searching for what you offer, and that’s a different game altogether. That’s when Google Adwords comes into play and SEO comes into play a lot more. Customizing those tags and those descriptions becomes important.
Blogging, again, talking about wedding gigs or cover gigs, and just having information that’s easily crawlable. Never embed any text into images on your websites. Google doesn’t craw those, as well as plain text. I’m not an SEO specialist, but I do …
Brad: The basics, it seems to me, obviously, Bandzoogle would let the user do the basics. It sounds to me that you’re saying it’s really is the page title, the Meta tag, …
Brad: … which is the thing that you see at the top of the tab on the browser?
Brad: That’s primarily really, as well as, obviously, the URL and then the content of the page …
Brad: … but that’s the starting point for what Google looks for to try and understand what is on the page.
Dave: Yes, exactly. You’re just trying to let Google know what your website has on it
Brad: That goes back to your example of “Montreal wedding band.” That would be on the tag, and then Google would come along, crawl, see that you’re a Montreal wedding band, and then hopefully deliver that result to the person searching your page.
Dave: Yeah. Exactly. A domain name can also help as well. Getting back to Jon Hart as an example, his domain for him wedding gigs is “Jon Hart weddings.”
Dave: That’s a pretty good idea, because he’s focusing on that niche. Not all cover bands will do that. It’s just an example.
We offer those tools that you can go and customize. Again, we’ll generate that information based on the content on the page, but your members are free to go in and tweak that if they want to.
Brad: Great stuff. Excellent. Dave, we’re out of time.
Dave: Pretty much. Yeah. Wow.
Brad: Yeah. Listen. Where can people go and check out what Bandzoogle is all about?
Dave: They can just go to Bandzoogle.com. If they’re looking for website, they’re looking to change their website, there’s a clear call-to-action right there on the page, of course, …
Dave: … to try it free.
Brad: The price is what you preach.
Dave: Exactly. There’s live chat right there on the homepage if someone has a question. They can talk to our support team. They don’t have to be a member to do that.
They can check out the blog with the blog tab right there on Bandzoogle.com. You can see all the content that we put out and e-books, “Best Practices For Websites,” things like that.
You can follow us on Twitter at Banzoogle, Facebook/Bandzoogle. You’ll find all of our stuff there. Whenever anyone has any questions or is looking a review of their website who’s listening to this, you can email me directly at Dcool, d-c-o-o-l@Bandzoogle.com, and I’d be happy to offer some tips.
Brad: Fantastic. I’ll put those on the show notes, on the blog page as well.
Brad: That’s great. They’re really helpful for people. Also, I should mention as well, what’s really useful is your example’s page …
Brad: … on the Bandzoogle, because it really shows you what the potential is from taking the theme that you offer off the shelf and how you can then adapt it to fit your brand.
Dave: Yeah. You’ll notice on the example’s page the websites looked totally different. Some of them are using the same theme, especially our newer themes from the past, a couple of years, are a lot more simple. We’re just making it a lot easier for bands to customize and make it their own and look great on mobile as well.
You can be using the same thing. There’s another band in your website will look completely different. It’s really customizable. That example is … Fairly, that’s a great page to go to for people to see just the range of designs that they can create on their own.
Brad: What’s great about this is you can spend an hour-and-a-half putting your website together and have something to use, so you can spend 10 hours and get to a level of customized design …
Brad: … to take it to the next level. Either way, you’ve got yourself a website within a couple of hours.
Dave: Yeah, for sure. Again, having the support team online seven days a week, if you have any questions or need a nudge or a little bit of help here and there. If you’re trying to do it on your own, it can be a pretty daunting task, but when you have a team helping you out if you have any questions, or if you’re stuck, or need any advice, it certainly helps the process alone.
Brad: Fantastic. Excellent. Dave, thanks again. Really appreciate you coming on talking to us through there. Hopefully, we’ll catch up again in the next few months and see how any new features for Bandzoogle that progressed.
Dave: Yeah. Sounds good. Thanks, Brad. I appreciate it.
Brad: Thanks, Dave. Cheers.