Want press? Provide press-ready photos!

HBPressPhotoIt’d be great to get some press for your music, right? It’s really not a far-fetched goal for any musician: papers, weeklies, blogs – they all need content, and you could be that content! But you could just as easily miss that opportunity by not making it simple for the author to write about you.

We’ve discussed this before: having a clear-and-concise bio, providing samples of your music, and making your contact info easy to find are all part of the recipe for write-up success. Today we’re talking about photos, which can be equally important.

You probably already have some photos on your site – maybe live shots, studio pics, or photos your fans have taken. But do you have photos that are ready for the web and/or print? You should have at least one hi-res (full-sized, no editing or compression) image on your site that a journalist can use to accompany an article, profile, or show preview about you and your music. Even better? A small variety of hi-res photos including both landscape and portrait configurations, light and dark contrasts, and live shots mixed in with more traditional, “posed” photos.

Hi-res photos are HUGE, so you won’t be able to display them on your site like you would any other photo in your gallery. Instead, you can upload the image to your media library (under the image tab) within your HostBaby site builder, then link to it from your photo page. (If you are using the Photo Gallery page type, the image will also be automatically uploaded to your photo gallery, but not at hi-res. You will need to link to it directly via a text or image link to access the full-sized image.)

Linking directly to an image from your site is simple. Use this formula:

http://YourDomain.com/img/yourimagefilename.jpg.

The bolded parts indicate your unique naming convention. So if your website address is bestbandever.com and your image name is bestbandpic.jpg, the link to your image would be:

http://bestbandever.com/img/bestbandpic.jpg

You could even make it easier by creating a dedicated “Press Photos” page on your site, directing writers of potential features right to where they need to be.

By offering up hi-res photos on your site, you’ll not only increase your chances of getting written about – you’ll also control the images used to promote you and your music. Plus, it makes you look professional. And hi-res images work for both digital AND print, so you’re covered!

Got any tips on using press-ready photos on your site? Let us know in the comments.

You want visitors to take action. Make it easy!

martyHBWhat do you want people to do when they land on your HostBaby site?

You may have multiple answers to this question (download a track, sign up for your email list, follow you on social networks), but you should have ONE answer, one goal that supersedes all the others, and it should be clear upon landing at your site.

If you give visitors a little guidance, they might just take some action. Give ’em no direction, or nothing to draw the eye? They might just wander around your site and leave without doing anything. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that – it’s cool they’re checking you out! But wouldn’t it be better if you got some interaction?

Check out the pic of Marty Haggard’s HostBaby site above. He’s got a welcome message for visitors to read upon entering, along with a bright, clear link to his upcoming shows. Plus, he’s got his gigs listed in his sidebar, as well. Think Marty wants you to check him out live? I bet he does, and he’s doing a great job of making that his focus.

Of course, he’s also got his social icon links and his mailing list signup form, as well as all his useful links lining the top of the page. Not looking for Marty’s live shows? Take any other action you want!  But he’s excited about his live shows, he wants you there, and it’s very clear to a first-time or returning visitor.

Of course, this is just one example. What have you done on your site to get visitors to take action? Let us know in the comments!

This tweet better not be about you!

Hostbaby-jun-2017-EmailThis is a real tweet from a real person who does artist management and PR in Los Angeles. She’s not talking about you or your band, is she?

If you’re not making it simple to contact you through your website, you’re at risk of missing out on a lot: gigs, press, heck – even sales. Seems like a lot of artists these days figure people can contact them through their Twitter or Facebook profiles, so they don’t explicitly provide contact info on their website – or even on their social networks. Don’t assume people will do this! Email is still the preferred method of communication for bookers and bloggers, and for the press, this is even more true.

Folks who write about music or book bands aren’t in the business of checking messages in five different places, nor are they going to go searching around for the best way to get a hold of you. Make it complicated? They’ll move on to somebody who doesn’t.

Your site should have a dedicated “contact us” or “contact” or “talk to us” tab or something similar that is clearly visible when reaching your home page. And on the other end, you should have a dedicated person in your band who checks this contact email regularly. We’re aware of more than a few instances where artists missed out on big gigs or other opportunities because they were going weeks without checking their email!

Don’t let this happen to you: make your contact info easy to find, and be quick to respond when you get a message. At least, it’ll build your reputation as a reliable artist. At best, it’ll get you more gigs, more coverage, and more fans.

Got any tips on how you display and handle your contact info? Let us know in the comments!

Summer’s almost here – get your gigs on your calendar!

HBCalendarGot some high-profile gigs coming up? Got some low-profile gigs coming up? Got a clear calendar you’d like to fill? The summer’s fast approaching, and eagle-eyed music-loving pre-planners will be looking to schedule their weekends, months in advance.

Make it easy for ’em! Get all your upcoming gigs (no matter how big or small) listed on your calendar page on your HostBaby site. Got some empty space on there you’d like to fill? Don’t be afraid to put “available for gigs in The Great NW” (or whatever) on your open dates – you never know who’s looking for an opening act, private-party accompaniment, or a headliner to fill in and save the show when you least expect it.

Feeling like everybody’s gig calendar is bursting at the seams while yours is a barren landscape, devoid of any upcoming action? Trust us: you’re not alone. The good news? Now is a great time to look forward and secure some shows for summer, and maybe even fall.

Put a bill together. Does your local venue have a show booked for that quiet Thursday after 4th of July? Well, you’ve got a ready-made night in the bag, and you’ll bring it all.

Mention in your next email newsletter that you’re available for shows, BBQs, weddings, – whatever you’re comfortable with. Get that calendar filled up and you might be surprised: once you get the ball rolling, other opportunities present themselves, and that ball just keeps on going.

Here’s to getting some great gigs this summer! Got any tips for managing your calendar or scoring summer shows? Share your tips in the comments.

Make sure your website links to your music on Spotify

Spotify_logo_horizontal_blackWe’ve talked before about making it easy for fans to find what they’re looking for within seconds of viewing your website, and this tip is along those same lines: Potential fans will be looking for a link to your music on Spotify when they hit your site, and you need to make sure it’s there!

Spotify is fast becoming the go-to platform for quick and casual listening online. If your music’s not there, it should be! If it’s isn’t, you’re missing out on new fans, getting your music on playlists (which can be HUGE), the easy cross-platform shareability that Spotify provides (allowing your music to easily reach more people), and many other functions that modern music listeners have come to expect. Plus, if you’re not on Spotify in the year 2017, it can delegitimize your image as a “serious musician” in the eyes of the listening public.

Your website should be your hub, the place where all your links live, and adding a Spotify link to your HostBaby site is simple. In fact, it works just like the social links you’ve probably already added to your site. Check out this article in the HostBaby Help Center for step-by-step instructions, and you’ll be linking to Spotify in minutes!

Want to take it a step further and add a direct-follow link, one that allows fans to follow you on Spotify, right from your site? This is a tiny bit more advanced, but still fairly easy to pull off. Here’s an article direct from Spotify on how to do it.

Check out Abbie Gardner’s HostBaby site to see one in action!

Any other ways you’re using Spotify via your website to grab new fans? Let us know in the comments!

Using HostBaby’s video pages to build your YouTube channel

video_pageCouple quick questions: Are you putting your music on YouTube? If not, you should be! It’s the #1 music-discovery platform in the world and CD Baby can help you get paid for your music’s use on YouTube, whether you put it there or not. Already got your music (or at least some of it) on YouTube? Good move.

Next question: Are you using HostBaby’s video page feature on your site? If you’re not, or if you haven’t checked it out lately, give it a look! With new features and an easy-to-use interface, it’s simple to display your videos, gain new subscribers, and keep fans engaged with your music, all while they’re on your site. (As opposed to sending them to YouTube, where we all know how easy it is to get distracted with other content.)

Setting up your video page doesn’t take long at all, and updating your videos is even easier. Check out this HostBaby help center article for full details.

Some tips on using your video page:

Use playlists. This is a simple YouTube function that allows you to control what video the user sees after they watch your first one. Put a playlist together of your best stuff and keep ’em locked in to your music.

Put your best foot forward. The first video on your page, or the first video on your playlist, should be the ONE you want visitors your site to see. This might be your newest video, your most popular video, or one with an urgent message about what you’ve got coming up. Whatever it is, make sure you’re showing potential fans what you want them to see!

Make it easy to subscribe. Savvy YouTubers will know how to get to your “subscribe” button via your profile, but you can do ’em one better: With HostBaby’s code-snippet widget and this official button from YouTube, you can have that subscribe button on every page of your site, increasing visibility and upping your chance for new subscribers.

HostBaby supports more than YouTube. You can include single Vimeo and Facebook videos on your video page, too, just as easy as YouTube. Mix and match!

Any tips you’d like to share about your use of video for your music, and/or how to make the most of your HostBaby video page? We’d love to hear them. Let us know in the comments below!

HostBaby’s webmail just got an upgrade

UnknownHostBaby’s webmail function just got big upgrade, and you can check it out now in your account.

We’ve given everything a facelift, providing a modern look and feel, but never at the expense of function. This new system is faster, mobile-responsive (so your emails look great on any device), and if you had settings saved in your previous webmail, they’ll be carried over and fully integrated.

So how can you access it? If you have your old webmail bookmarked at (yourdomain.com)/webmail, go there and just be sure to click on the new webmail icon.

You can also go directly to the new location which is (yourdomain.com)/webmail2.

We worked hard on this and we think you’re really going to like it!

Your 5 most important calls-to-action: every musician website should have at least 3 of ‘em

Tips-For-Creating-A-Legitimate-Call-To-ActionEven if you have the best designed, most streamlined website in the world, you still need to TELL your fans what you want them to do when they’re there.

That’s where a good “call-to-action” comes in. A call-to-action (or CTA) is any element on your website — text, banner, button, etc. — that asks visitors to take some specific and immediate action before they leave the page they’re on.

[Go HERE to read 7 tips on crafting more effective calls-to-action.]

But what should you be asking your fans to do?

Every musician website should have at least 3 of these CTAs:

(These should all be phrased in your own words, of course.)

  1. Subscribe to my email newsletter — Don’t believe the haters. Email is still the most reliable and direct way to reach your diehard fans and encourage them to continue supporting your music. Get their contact info!
  2. Follow me on Spotify — We now firmly exist in a streaming world. Because they’ve had a few years headstart, Spotify is still king. So get your fans to follow you on that platform. When they do, they’ll get updates whenever you post new songs, your music can appear in their Discover Weekly playlist, and more.
  3. Purchase my… [t-shirts, Cds, vinyl, downloads, etc.] — What are you focusing on selling right now? What’s new? What’s hot? What are you trying to get rid of at a discount? Sell it! And make the case for why a purchase, as opposed to a stream, helps you go further in your career.
  4. Find me on… [your preferred social media platform] — Give a shoutout to your primary social outlet and ask your fans to subscribe, like, or follow.
  5. Go the extra mile — There’s bonus $$$ to be earned beyond sales, streams, licensing, and ticket sales. Ask your fans to get involved by pre-ordering your album on PledgeMusic, contributing to your Kickstarter campaign, supporting you on Patreon, putting a tip in the digital tip jar, etc. (And be sure to make a strong case for what’s in it for THEM).

What is your website’s most prominent call-to-action? Did we forget something that’s even more important? Holler in the comments below.

It’s October Madness at HostBaby – get FREE unlimited CD Baby distribution!

octobermadnessemail_2Embrace the Madness!

It’s that time of year again: HostBaby’s stirring the cauldron, cackling maniacally, and in the mood for October Madness!

This is your chance to get a year of hosting for way below the normal price, but this year we’re sweetening the deal even further: Not only do you get 13 months of your very own website, but you’ll also get…

Free CD Baby distribution for 13 months!

All you have to do is create (or log into) your HostBaby account, pay $199, and you’ll receive 13 months worth of hosting credits and access to as many distribution coupons as you need during that same time period.

That breaks down to only $15.30 a month, instead of the standard $20. You’ll save $61, eliminate your monthly bill, AND get FREE CD Baby distribution to use whenever the mood strikes you.

Already a HostBaby member and paid ahead a few months? No problem: the 13 months will get added to your total. Just log into your account here to make your $199 payment and save!

Not a HostBaby member already? Sign up today‚ get your discount, and create a site your fans will love.

Feel the madness flow through you as you save $61 and release music at will!

12 tips for a better band website

dt_bd_leftYou don’t need to completely redesign your website to make it resonate – sometimes it just takes stepping into the shoes of your fans and making a few tweaks here and there. Here are 12 tips that will help make your current band website even better.

1. Get rid of distractions

Kill auto-play on videos and music, and if you’ve got any pop-ups (email sign-up forms, etc.), make sure they’re functioning properly and not constantly barraging your visitors. People want to feel comfortable, not overwhelmed.

2. Tell people what to do

Your site should be easily navigable so visitors can find what they want, but by highlighting certain elements, you can increase engagement, gather info, and encourage visitors to spend time on your pages. So: what do you want people to do when they land on your site? Preview tracks on your new album? Sign up to an email list? Read your blog? It’s OK to steer visitors in the direction you want them to go – it can be mutually beneficial!

3. Make sure your site is optimized for mobile
Mobile and tablet usage is huge these days, and you need to be prepared for website visitors who will be viewing your site on a device other than a laptop or desktop computer. Be sure to preview your website on various devices. If it’s not mobile friendly, now’s the time to make the switch. (Hostbaby offers a number of mobile friendly responsive templates. hint. hint.)

Continue Reading . . .