Describe your music on your site (before someone else does it for you)

cazWe’ve talked about your band bio on your site, and how it should clearly state who you are and what your story is, but we also need to talk about how you describe your music on your musician website. This is another opportunity to add a piece to your story and take control of your narrative.

Looking around at sites, I’m surprised by how many artists list their music, provide links to buy and samples to listen to (all good stuff!), but don’t put any words next to those titles and links to give any context. You want to make it easy for writers to write about you! Provide context. Provide salient details. Give the author something to start from (which just so happens to be your favorite parts of the music) and they’re much more likely to not only write about you, but also hit those key points that you’ve laid out for them.

If I’m a journalist (or blogger or podcaster or whatever) and I want to write about you, I’m probably gonna want to focus on your most recent release. Sure, I’ve got the music to listen to, but that doesn’t tell me how this release fits into your overall story, its origins, its trials and tribulations – any of the info that makes for a compelling reason to listen to and/or buy your music!

Use this opportunity to see how your music releases fit into your overall story, and let each release – as well as the words that accompany it – serve as a chapter in your book, whether it just started or we’re well into the plot. By taking this approach, you’re not only staying “on brand” and getting ahead of what’s written about you, you’re also lessening the risk of a writer barely listening to your music, making a snap judgment based on one song snippet, and completely fumbling on describing you and your music in a public forum.

Sure, they still might do that, but from my experience, they’re much more likely to start with what you give them and go from there. Make sure you give them that jumping-off point, and your music has a much better chance of being represented they way you intended.

Any thoughts or personal experiences with this one? Let us know in the comments!

 

Your musician bio: What it needs and what it doesn’t

biookEver see the phrase “TL;DR” online? It stands for “Too long; didn’t read” and it’s the last thing you want someone saying about your musician bio on your site. Now: this is not to say your bio can’t have some length to it – it can! – but if you’re gonna write  a novel, you better have a damn good story to tell.

Because that’s what it should be: your story. And like any good story, if you spend too much time focusing on things that are irrelevant to the overarching plot, you’re going to bore your reader and they’re going to put your book down.

Of course, there’s more to a great bio than just being succinct. This is your chance to craft your image, focus on the story you want to tell – which, in turn, should help a writer tell that same story – and put your best foot forward.

So, that being said, how do you make your bio shine?

Your musician bio serves a few key purposes: introducing potential fans and visitors to you and your story thus far, and giving journalists a jump-off point for penning an article, show preview, or record review about you and your music.

Do they care about where you grew up, when you started playing music? Probably not.

Do they care about the other local bands you played in previously that no one has heard of? Probably not.

Do they care about how your band met, how many incarnations it took to get to your current lineup, and how you’ve learned to make music together? Probably not. Every band does this.

Do they care about famous people you know or have “shared stages with”? Probably not. Lots of bands open for other bands. Did Drake take you on tour? Worth mentioning. Did you once play a festival (on the local stage) that John Fogerty also played (on the main stage)? Not worth mentioning.

Do they care about awards you’ve won? Depends, but if you start listing them off, it’s just that: a list. Of you bragging about yourself.

So what DO they care about?

You. What makes you unique. The challenges you’ve faced to get where you are. The inside scoop on what it is that makes you think you can stand out from the pack and bring something new to such a saturated market. If you can’t determine that and get it into a few paragraphs, you probably don’t stand much of a chance grabbing anyone’s attention.

So make it count!

Check out this article on CD Baby’s DIY Musician blog for more tips and more articles about this very important aspect of your music. And give us any of your tips in the comments.

HostBaby’s email server update: What you need to know

55615Your HostBaby email has been upgraded!

This upgrade was implemented to help your email run faster, improve spam filtering, and bolster account security.

In order for your new email to function properly, you’ll need to update your server settings. If you’re using a third-party email client to access your HostBaby email (Apple Mail, Windows Mail, iOS, Android, etc.) go here for step-by-step instructions. Don’t worry: it’s real simple!

More of an advanced user? Go here for the bare-bones technical server settings.

Need to reset any of the passwords in your account? This article explains how.

We hope you enjoy your new HostBaby email! If you have any further questions, check out the Email Support section of the HostBaby Help Center.

Add a downloadable press kit to your musician website

epk1If you want bloggers and journalists to write about your music, and if you want to impress talent buyers so you can play more gigs,  you need to make it easy for them to write about you or get a feel for your music by providing them with all the essentials.

A while back, we listed the 10 things that every musician website needs to have in order to make the job of talent buyers and editors a little easier. But there’s one other, simple thing you can do to increase your chances of getting written about or booked for the show.

Create a zip folder that includes:

* a one-sheet (PDF) or bio (Word doc)

* 2 or 3 high-res photos (at least 300 dpi) in both landscape and portrait orientations (because you never know what publication or website will need)

* any articles, reviews, press quotes, or press releases that might be useful to a journalist or blogger Continue Reading . . .

Want to increase engagement? Post new content (at least) every week.

PrarieHB

Fans want to stay connected to you, but they’re not going to spend their free time refreshing your site, hoping some new content pops up. (That’s what Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are for: a constant stream of stuff.)

But let’s say you have a blog on your musician website. And let’s say you commit to posting on that blog every Tuesday, you let your fans and followers know your plan, and you keep up with it. Visits to your site are gonna go up, along with engagement with your content. Plus, you’ll increase the visibility of the main focus of your site, whatever that may be at the moment: gigs, getting followers on your social networks, etc.

Why do you want to drive traffic to your site, instead of sticking to Facebook? Because social media, as ubiquitous and convenient as it is, is erratic in its dispersal, unreliable in its algorithms, and doesn’t always have your best interests in mind.

Your musician website is where ALL your content lives, giving visitors a purer picture of what you’re really all about, which can be very endearing to potential fans and buyers. And it’s this same sentiment that you can use to your advantage when updating your site on a regular basis: get personal, get weird – do what you do that make you you and know that it won’t just be breezing by in someone’s timeline!

Take a look at the site above. You can tell they’ve got a diverse mix of content – plenty for a new user to explore, and even more to come back to when they want to see the latest.

It doesn’t take much – a recent photo, some written thoughts about your songwriting process or a new track you’re working on, heck: introduce your fans to your dog. It’ll add to your story, add to the connection potential fans feel with you, and ultimately add to your fanbase.

What do you do to keep visitors engaged with your site? Let us know in the comments.

I’m looking for your “listen” link – where is it?

listenhbSomeone just told me about your band. They’re sure I’ll like your music a lot. I trust this person so I’m gonna give it a shot! But, just so you know, it’s 2017 and I’m not looking to spend more than about 45 seconds searching around for your music.

I’ve got my phone in my hand, my earbuds in, and I’m googling you. I land on your site. I’m looking for the “listen” link. I see “media” – is that it? No, that’s pictures and art. Your “music” link just takes me to a page with iTunes links which lead to clipped samples. C’mon, not even a Spotify button? I guess I’ll settle for your video page and just click the one at the top. Is this your newest one? It doesn’t say.

The internet is full of distractions, and thus, it’s being navigated by people with constantly decreasing attention spans. Yes, it’s a bummer, but it’s the way it is. If you’re expecting people to work overtime to find your music, let alone spend additional time figuring out which of your songs to listen to, you’re probably expecting too much.

People are looking for a “listen” link. Poking around in HostBaby sites, I see people are also using “audio” as a link name (this is a HostBaby default), and even “music” – and that’s cool, too, as long as when people hit that link they’re able to press a button and hear your music within a few seconds after that. How you make that happen is up to you – use HostBaby’s audio pages for easy streaming and downloading, or embed videos or audio from other sites.

You’re in control, so make sure your music is accessible and you’re putting your best foot forward. If you have ONE song you want prospective fans to hear, which is it? Place it front and center on your Listen/Audio/Music page and make that decision for them. It’ll earn you new fans, keep ’em engaged, and lead to more listens down the road.

How do you handle your music on your site? Do you make it quick and easy for new fans to hear what you’re about? Let us know your tips in the comments.

 

Don’t feel obligated to link to your social networks if you’re not using them

HBBBBNot keeping up with your Twitter account? Don’t link to it!

Social networks can be tough to stay on top of. Musicians today might feel obligated to be active on every popular social network, which can often lead to account creation (with the best of intentions), a short period where you engage with the platform regularly, a longer period where you engage with it sporadically, and then eventual complete abandonment. Got tumbleweeds rolling through your Twitter account? That actually looks worse than not having one at all.

So, really, you’ve got a couple options:

  1. Stay on top of your social networks and really encourage people to follow you on all of them via your website. If you keep up with it, this can, obviously, be a great way to engage with listeners and potential fans on a daily basis, holding their interest while you’re in between new releases. Make a plan to keep your socials fresh by picking a day, a time – whatever – that you’ll post updates. Or just become one of those people who’s able to click out quick posts as you go through your day. People aren’t expecting groundbreaking stuff every time, you know.
  2. Only link to your active social accounts and delete any that are gathering dust. This is totally OK! You don’t have to have a Twitter account. Some people like the constant stream it provides; for others it’s just too much to maintain. There are thousands of Twitter handles out there that are “active,” but haven’t tweeted in years. This is not a good look. Got a social account that’s suffering from neglect? Remember that it’s showing up in search results and visitors are going to assume you’ve got nothing going on. So, either stay on it or get rid of it.

HostBaby makes it easy to include your Twitter and Instagram feeds on your site, and we also provide simple social buttons to use as links on your site. But just because they’re there doesn’t mean you have to use all of them. Link to the sites you’re current with – that way, when someone clicks on your social links, they’ll get additional content, not a ghost town.

Got any thoughts on this subject or tips that can help? Let us know in the comments.

Two fresh new themes available in your dashboard now

HN-lightHow do you prefer your HearNow – light or dark?

Thinking about a new look for your site? Now’s a great time. There are two new themes in your HostBaby dashboard right now, each a variation on our popular HearNow mini-sites.

With a clean interface, prominent sidebar elements, and simple header navigation, this theme is one of our most modern yet. Feature your new release in the top image section, or use the unique layout to display whatever picture or graphic element you like. The top image frame is square – perfect for album covers.

Feeling bright and sunny? Go with HearNow Light, shown above. Want a more sinister vibe? Try out HearNow Dark:
HN-darkIt’s nice to have options, right? And both themes look great on mobile, so you can be sure that no matter what device your fans are viewing your site on, it’ll look great and they can find exactly what they’re looking for.

Log in to your HostBaby dashboard today to check ’em out!

Not a HostBaby member? Try it free and see how easy it is to build a professional-looking site, no coding skills required.

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 press kit page.

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!