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Bandzoogle, The Musicians' Website

An interview with Dave Cool of Bandzoogle

The Bandzoogle story

In the late 90s, Bandzoogle's founder Chris played in a rock band called Rubberman. The band played big festivals, toured, made videos, and did all the crazy things rock bands do. And like many rock bands, had a parting of ways with their singer and broke up.

Their record label liked the website Chris built for Rubberman, so they hired him as a web designer for their multi-platinum artists. Over time, he got overloaded with requests to update the websites. So, he created a "control panel" to let managers make the changes themselves. Chris realized that the program could also help indie bands build and update their own websites. Bandzoogle was born.

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Thank you so much Dave, for taking the time to chat with us. How are you doing?
Thanks for having me, life is good, lots of great stuff going on at Bandzoogle these days.

I would also like to compliment you and the whole Bandzoogle team for putting such a great product/service on the market for musicians to create a web presence for themselves. When do you think is the best time for musicians to create a website?
Well, I personally have nothing to do with it, the founder Chris Vinson along with the developers have built a fantastic platform that I've been telling artists about long before I ever worked for them. And the support team is incredible, they're probably our best feature.

As for when musicians should create a website, as soon as they know they're going to release music, they should look into building a website, especially to be sure to get the domain name they want.

Bandzoogle accounts come with a free domain, plus it's free to try, so you can take your time and build a site, then register your domain and you're ready to go.

I have viewed a few of the websites that were created with Bandzoogle and you guys make it look so easy to create an awesome web presence. What are some of the challenges that keep musicians from building their website and how is Bandzoogle helping musicians to overcome these challenges?
I like to say that Bandzoogle is so easy your drummer can do it (I'm a drummer). But the biggest challenges for musicians to build a website are usually the cost if they want to hire a designer, or learning to code if they're trying to build a site themselves.

With Bandzoogle, for $200/year musicians get hosting, a domain name, commission free store to sell music & merch, mailing list, email management, blog, calendar, music players, download codes and more. Plus, you don't need to know any coding or have any design skills. If you can send an email, you can create a website using our system, and if you need any help, the support team is online 7 days/week.

There are several schools of thought on having your own website vs. social media vs. utilizing both. How can musicians use their website and social media in a cohesive marketing strategy?
With social media, it's important to maintain a presence, but musicians should make sure to have their own proper domain name as well. As long as you maintain it, it will always point to your website, so your fans will always be able to find you.

This is not the case with your social networking profile. They can get bought out, lose out to competition, or simply become uncool. Remember MySpace? Any musicians that spent a lot of time building a fan base there had to start over on Facebook or Twitter unless they got those fans signed up to their mailing list.

Social media is great for engaging with your fans and finding new ones, but musicians should get into the habit of driving fans back to their website. We refer to this as the “Hub & Spokes” method of marketing, where you use your social media “spokes” to drive fans to your website “hub”.

So blog posts, new music, gig announcements, videos, contests, and special offers are all great ways to drive fans back to your site where they can shop in your online store, and sign up to your mailing list.

What elements should musicians have on their website?
That's a big question, but it really starts with a strong Homepage. A great Homepage will give people a snapshot of who you are as an artist, let them know your latest news, hear your best song or watch your best video. We wrote a blog post with more details about creating a Homepage: 6 Essential Elements for Your Band's Website Homepage

Besides that, having a strong Bio page, a Music page with free and paid downloads, your upcoming shows, best videos, promotional photos, and an easy way to contact you would all be essential elements to have on your website. We released a free eBook that goes over this in detail:

Building Your Website: A StepByStep Guide for Bands and Musicians

Those are some great suggestions. I want to take a detour and ask you about the workplace culture at Bandzoogle. What is the vibe in your office(s) and do you all have any funny daily/weekly rituals that keep the creative energy going? Do you have a stuffed Yogi Bear at the front door that you all have to rub, upon entering the building or something?
Haha, well, the truth is there is no Bandzoogle office! The staff all work remotely from home. The company is based in Montreal where the Founder/CTO Chris Vinson, CEO David Dufresne, and myself live. There's also staff in Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, as well as in California, Massachusetts, the United Kingdom, and Spain.

So, there's not much of a “vibe” in the office, but we're all online together, using tools like Skype and Flowdock to chat throughout the day. It's a fun atmosphere, and most of the staff are active or former musicians, so there's always a lot of music talk.

OK, back on track. So, how important is it to have a website that is responsive and how are your new responsive mobiles themes assisting with this need?
Well, the reality is that more and more people are accessing the web through mobile devices. So after launching the 2.0 system last year, the biggest priority was making Bandzoogle themes responsive.

Now when a fan checks out a site using one of Bandzoogle's responsive themes, it automatically adapts to the size of their screen. With responsive design, musicians don't need to build and maintain a "mobile" and "desktop" version of their site. The page contents will look great no matter what size screen visitors are using, including mobile phones and tablets.

Does Bandzoogle have any other new features that musicians may find useful?
We're constantly adding new features, like the ability to sell any kind of digital file through the Store feature. So along with music and physical merch, musicians can now also sell videos, eBooks, sheet music, etc.

We've recently added an Instagram feature which is designed to match the style of the band's site and automatically refreshes to display new photos. Plus, we released some new design features like adding slideshow headers, new styles for social media icons, and more.

Is there currently, a problem in the music website world that you and the team at Bandzoogle would like to solve? Or are there any Bandzoogle projects in the works to solve these issues? You don't have to give away all of your secrets. Just a few hints.
I'm not sure if there's a specific problem, the company is just continually working to make the system easier to use, adding new design styles and options, as well as adding new features. We'd like to reach the point where Bandzoogle has such a deep feature set along with easy and flexible design options, that if you're a musician or a band, then there would be no reason to host your site anywhere else.

Finally, what is your favorite Bandzoogle created site and why?
Ha, well, there are over 20,000 musicians and bands using Bandzoogle to power their website, so it's hard to pick a favorite. Any of the websites featured on are great examples, and we also feature a site we love every Friday on our blog.

Special thanks to Ced of Independent Music and Media for the research and questions in this interview.