This week's music monday post is about a tool I've found indispensable to my online presence. When Jordan and I decided to take the plunge and become full-time musicians, we knew we had to utilize every tool available to help build the foundation for our career. What I soon found out is that online, there are hundreds of available tools (if not more!).
At first I tried to maintain a presence on a bevy of social media and music-related sites, but I soon found that less is more when it comes to doing it right. I still evaluate my roster of go-to sites every so often, and I will certainly jump right in to anything that seems to offer popular or significant contributions. At the end of the day, I believe the most important online thing for an independent musician (and entrepreneurs in other fields, for that matter) is their own website. Read more after the jump!
Yes, many musicians survive with only a Facebook fan page, Reverbnation page, etc...and it does take an investment of time and energy to build and maintain a website. However, I really believe the investment is one that pays off. When I started, all I had was a MySpace page with a few demo tracks and comments enabled. I remember spending hours making it just the way I wanted it, and trying my best to use it to it's maximum potential. Somewhere along the way I added a Facebook fan page, Twitter account, Sonicbids press kit, Reverbnation page, and many more. My saving grace was being able to link my status updates, at which point they all offered one stream of content that reached a select few users. I originally hired a web designer to create a website for me, but it didn't end up being the right fit and we ultimately went in different directions. I felt frustrated by the various sites I was part of and was longing for an online space to call my own. Enter Bandzoogle!
I can't even remember how I came across the service, but I knew immediately it would be a perfect fit for me. I had already purchased my domain name (http://jessaanderson.com) which Bandzoogle made it easy to register through their site. I used one of their predesigned templates, which was all they offered at the time, and it was truly a breeze to set up. You do have some customization options with templates and they offer an impressive variety to choose from. Now I am using a custom template, which was a great addition to the template options for those who have the time and desire to build from scratch. Their mailing list feature is a huge asset to me as a musician and it's got a lot of customization options as well. The online store is very user friendly and easy to set up, there is an optional tour calendar, a built-in blog feature if you don't want to maintain a separate blog site (or you can have your feed forwarded), photo galleries, music player options, access to your website's stats, and much more. Bandzoogle also has plenty of partner websites worth checking out.
For independent musicians, or those like me who are quasi-independent―we still run most aspects of our business in-house (literally!)―Bandzoogle is an easy, but well-done and professional way to be hands on with your online content. You pay a monthly fee, which can run from $9.95-$19.95 and gain access to fantastic website building tools as well as a lot of great content and add-ons. You can cancel at any time, and they have some great free trial periods if you're curious about how Bandzoogle would work for your needs. The few times I've had questions or technical issues, their customer service has been extremely quick and helpful. They are also continually adding new features, content and tools and there seems to exist a spirit of true creativity and desire to present a great product.
This post isn't sponsored or provided by Bandzoogle in any way, but they do have a great referral program I'm happy to share with you! If you're curious and want to give Bandzoogle a try, I'd love for you to use my referral link below (meaning that if you sign up for an account, my account is credited for a month). I would happily share the news about Bandzoogle regardless, because it's truly felt like a life-saving tool for someone as slow and technologically clueless (yet determined to DIY) as I am! I hope you'll check it out, keep it in mind for the future, or share the news with friends who may be interested in this kind of service.
Fellow musicians, bloggers and entrepreneurs―what tools do you find you use most? Is there something other than Facebook and Twitter I'm really missing out on? I tried Google+ for a few days because I really enjoy Google's products overall, but I was not a fan. I'd love to hear how you all maintain your online presence without getting overwhelmed!