Tell your site visitors about 1¢ shipping on 3 CDs or more

Through the end of the year, CD Baby is offering 1¢ shipping on orders of 3 CDs or more. Got 3 physical CDs up for sale on store.cdbaby.com? Now’s a great time to push your back catalog via a bundle sale! Encourage your site visitors to pick up a selection of 3 of your discs – maybe even at a limited holiday sale price – and tell ’em shipping will only cost them a penny.

Don’t have 3 different CDs up for sale? Buying 3 of one of your albums at a holiday discount with the added bonus of penny shipping can encourage your friends and fans to pick up your CDs for gifts or stocking stuffers.

Feature this offer on the front page of your site and remember: it never hurts to mention that people can feel good about spending their holiday funds on a product like yours – unique music made by an independent, DIY artist.

Got other tips on how to take advantage of this limited-time sale? Let us know in the comments!

5 quick tips to make the most of the holidays

Have you heard? The holidays are here!

Yes, it’s true. And it’s a great time to do a few easy things to make your site look festive, and maybe even help you gain some new fans and sell some music! Let’s get into it:

1. Holiday-ify your site – switching up colors on your HostBaby site is easy, so you can get in there and add some red and green touches, or whatever gets you in the mood.

2. Got a holiday song? Feature it front and center – There’s still time to record a holiday song and get it distributed, though make sure you keep your eye on CD Baby’s holiday deadlines. Got a new holiday song? Embed the video on the front page of your site or use a music player to embed your song or album. Got an old holiday song? Do the same thing! It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and the accompanying music is timeless.

3. Give your site visitors a holiday gift – This could be a limited-time free download of your latest single, a special price on your back catalog, or even a personal holiday greeting via a video message, wishing everyone the best. Strap on some antlers and get in the spirit!

4. Make a Spotify playlist – If you’ve got a holiday song, create a playlist featuring your track, followed by some of your other favorite Christmas-time music. People LOVE curated playlists, and they’re especially useful during these months when more gatherings take place than ever. Feature it up front on your site and make sure to let your fans and friends know about it.

5. Email your fans and friends – Last, but certainly not least. Even if you just send a general “Happy Holidays” email to your contacts, they’ll appreciate the gesture. But it’s also the perfect opportunity to let them know about any of the above things you’ve got going on your site, or to fill them in on your plans for the new year.

Got any holiday ideas of your own for making the most of the season? Let us know in the comments below!

Organize your webmail with message filters

If you get a lot of email, you can now make sorting it simpler by using automatic message filters to filter messages into folders using criteria you specify. It’s time to organize to your heart’s delight! Here’s how.

If you’re using Moving Pictures but not using this feature, you should be!

I found myself on a great-looking HostBaby site the other day, the home of the Dirk Quinn Band. When you first land there, you can see they’re making perfect use of the Moving Pictures theme: with some great live footage of the band looping continuously, their site is dynamic without being overly busy, and really makes a solid first impression.

To add to this vibe, they’re also taking advantage of a widget option that is exclusive to Moving Pictures. In the bottom-right-hand corner of their site (also pictured above), they’ve got their social links, email list, and tour-date widgets rotating smoothly, catching the eye without distracting.

These widget choices reflect their priorities – gaining social-media followers, building their email list, and getting fans out to their shows – and they’re now able to include those actionable items across every page of their site in a cool, rhythmic way that goes hand-in-hand with the overall feel of the theme.

Are you using Moving Pictures and not taking advantage of this cool feature? Hook it up! Just select the widgets you’d like to have rotate through (you’re not limited to the ones mentioned here) and watch ’em add even more depth to your site.

Look like something you’d like to try but you’re using a different theme? Again, this is exclusive to Moving Pictures, so switch to that theme and give it a shot!

You can find even more info on HostBaby widgets here.

Are you using this feature currently, or did you just set it up and want to show it off? Hit us with links in the comments and we’ll check ’em out.

Are you missing out on sales because you’re making this mistake?

There are a handful of things to discuss here in regards to the above tweet:

First, Dave is using the word “purchase,” not “stream” or “listen to.” Dave seems to be the kind of fellow who enjoys supporting bands via buying their music (artists love guys like Dave!), but I’m not sure that even means vinyl or CDs. He could just be talking about downloads. Either way, he’s not saying he looked for a Spotify link and didn’t see it. He’s saying he was ready to BUY something and couldn’t. That’s not a good luck for a musician’s website.

Second, don’t forget about consumers like Dave! It’s easy to get caught up in thinking that streaming is king now, especially if you’re in a younger demographic where it seems like everyone just listens to music via Spotify, Apple Music, etc., but there are still a TON of people who prefer CDs, vinyl, and downloads. These items make you more money, and some of your fans know that, so they feel better buying a physical product from you or paying full price for a download. You should let them do this!

Third, even if you don’t have physical products, people should be able to download your music. Maybe you have a “listen” link on your site, and that’s great! But maybe you could consider changing it to “Listen/Purchase” or “Listen/Buy” or something else similar. Then you’ve got a great “try before you buy” setup that allows people to listen to your embedded music on your site and purchase directly from the links you provide on that same page.

Bottom line: missing out on a sale (and maybe a new fan!) by not being clear and deliberate on your site is easily preventable. Make your buy/purchase/download links prominent, so when someone’s in that space where they’re really excited about your new music, they can get what they want instead of getting frustrated. You’ll get some cash, they’ll get your music, and everybody’s happy.

A decade-old indie music DVD taught me the importance of having your own website

I suppose I should say “reminded me of” the importance of having your own website, because it’s something we’ve been championing for years! And if you’re a HostBaby user, you already know how important it is to have your own web address and a site YOU control.

When we talk about the benefits of your own musician website, we’re usually focused on the here and now, but staking your claim on your own little space on the web is also beneficial to the long-term health of your brand. Something I watched over the weekend reminded me of this.

I was checking out an old-ish (mid-to-late 2000s) DVD that an indie artist had put together himself, and it featured a bunch of groups and solo performers from his label, showcasing their music and giving each of them some camera time to describe who they were, where they were from, what their music was about, etc.

Every single one of them gave out their Myspace address.

Along with the unintentional side effect of immediately making this video (which was actually a really cool, DIY effort, especially for the time) seem painfully dated, it also shined a huge spotlight on the problems that come with putting all your eggs in a basket you’re not allowed to hold, let alone keep.

Remember how big Myspace was? Depending on your age, you may not, but it was HUGE, and lots of folks – musicians especially, it seemed – spent serious time souping up their Myspace pages. Heck, there were even services that would trick out your profile for a fee. And for a while there, it worked! There were bands and artists who gained serious exposure and huge followings via the now-tumbleweed-infested platform.

But when Myspace fell from favor, it fell hard. And all that work artists put into their pages? They couldn’t take it with them when everyone left. Why? Because somebody else had the keys to the house they built.

A dedicated site with your own, personalized URL? That’s yours. You control it. And it’s basically timeless. There are artists who have been using the same URL for their music for 20+ years now, and though the look of their site has undoubtedly morphed over the years, the home base has remained the same. The website address from the liner notes of their late-90’s CD is still active. Smart move.

And doesn’t “yourband.com” just have a better ring to it than “myspace.com/yourbandmusic4real503”?

Resizing images on your site

You’ve got options. Let’s make ’em quick and easy.

Resizing images to fit the needs of your site is something you’ll have to do occasionally, whether it’s a design choice, a file-size consideration, or maybe pushing a low-res image to its size limits. Whatever the reason, you’ll want to find a process that works for you. Once you’re comfortable with your resizing method of choice, it’ll become second nature.

But wait: Can’t I do all my image resizing from within my HostBaby account?

Absolutely, and instructions on how to do that are right here if you need them. Sometimes this will be your quickest option – just part of the flow of the work you’re putting in. And if that works for you, perfect!

But maybe you’re up against the size limits of your media library, or you plan on using this image in a number of different sizes, for promotional materials outside of your main site, and want to easily save those images to your computer. Or maybe you’re looking for a few more tools to play with. This is where the mighty PicResize comes in.

PicResize makes it easy to not only change the dimensions of your pics (by percentage or by custom size), but it also crops, rotates, flips, and can even add visual filters to your image a la Instagram or Photoshop. And once you get the hang of it, it’s real fast.

Need to resize multiple images? Check out their batch uploader. The cropping and special effects (filters, etc.) functions aren’t available in batch mode, but if you need to change up a bunch of pics real quick, this is the way to go.

Need it even faster? They’ve got a quick resize function, too.

Find the one that meets your needs and make sure to bookmark it for quick access down the road.

Got any other tips for image resizing? Let us know in the comments!

 

Your press photos: Variety is the key

We’ve talked before about having hi-res, quality photos on your site for use in the press, whether that be online or traditional. Now, let’s talk about variety in those photos, and how this can really help your chances of getting that pretty face of yours some media exposure.

This whole idea is something that didn’t occur to me until early in my own music career, when a local paper was doing a layout for their annual band directory, and wanted to feature my band in the photos section. Ideally, they were looking for a landscape-shot photo – wider than it is tall. (You know, like when you turn your phone sideways.) We didn’t have one. Never thought about it. We had a bunch of portrait-style photos and some square ones, but nothing more “widescreen.”

We knew somebody at the paper and they ended up patching a few photos together to serve their purpose, but if we hadn’t had that connection we would have been passed over, and even as it was, we ended up looking less professional than the artists surrounding us on those photo pages.

So, when you’re planning your photo shoot, make variety a priority! If your photographer doesn’t suggest it from the get-go, let them know that you’re looking to cover your bases, and want both portrait and landscape shots to use on your site, with some location/outfits/color-scheme variances worked in, as well.

Then, upload your sweet mix of hi-res photos to your site, knowing that you’re ready for any press coming your way.

Featuring your instruments on your site

Does your instrument tell a story? Well, really, they all do – but for our purposes, it’s a matter of whether that story is interesting or not.

I think we can agree that “It’s blue and I just bought it on sale at Guitar Center last week” is not very compelling.

However, how about: “It was my grandfather’s. He was a luthier and built it himself from a tree split by lightning in his boyhood backyard. He played it, my mother played it, and now it’s been passed down to me.” You might be onto something there.

It’s this kind of story that, for the right audience, can help you connect with fans on a musical level that’s not just about your songs – it’s about the tools you use to create them.

The provenance of an instrument, especially old ones, can be fascinating, even if you don’t know the whole story. Maybe there are some chunks missing in the narrative that you’re hoping to help fill with some assistance from fans, friends, and the internet. Maybe now, since the web is so dense with info, you were able to determine exactly how old your instrument is and it’s way older – or way newer – than you thought. Tell the story of your journey to finding out exactly where your instrument was born!

Maybe the instruments you and your band play are non-traditional: handmade, obscure, something you frankensteined together yourself – a piece of gear you wouldn’t normally see at a shop or a live gig. Describe how it is played, how it was built, or what inspired you to pick up an instrument that isn’t usually featured in “traditional” music.

Or, maybe you’re just a good-old-fashioned gearhead, and it’s not the instruments themselves that are especially rare or noteworthy, it’s the way in which you combine them that makes it interesting. Talk about your guitar, pre-amp, and speaker, but also tell us how many pedals are on your board, how you keep track of them, and how they work together to produce your signature sound. Not every reader is going to be all-on on some high-level gear talk, but the ones who are will love it.

Got other ideas about how you can feature your instruments on your site? Let us know in the comments. Already got an interesting story about your gear up on your HostBaby site? Add a link!

 

Adjust your site’s colors to match your latest release

If you’ve got a new album or single ready to release, you’re gonna want your site to look its best in anticipation of more visitors – especially those who have never been there before. Need some inspiration? Look no further than the artwork accompanying your project.

HostBaby makes it simple to change the overall look of your site, so adjusting your main colors to complement your new cover art can be a simple and fun way to give your site a fresh look, while also drawing big-time attention to your new music.

Some cover images or graphics might not be conducive to a simple matchy-matchy color scheme, but most will. Take the main color elements from your art, match ’em to the colors in your Site Builder, and find a great place front-and-center to feature your cover image. It’ll look great, frequent visitors will definitely take notice, and new visitors will see that you put time into thinking about this and are serious about your music.

If you plan to do a cover-art reveal for your new music, this can act as an aspect of it. Even if you reveal your imagery on one or more of your social networks, use it as an opportunity to direct followers to your site, where you’ve got a new look based on your new release, along with a song preview, show dates – whatever you’ve got!

Have you redesigned your site with your latest release in mind? Let us know how you did it, how it worked, and if it’s still live, share a link!