‘Tis the season: give your fans a free gift (and drive traffic to your site!)

shutterstock_337772219(1)For most of us, the Christmas season doesn’t really start until after Thanksgiving, and that’s great! It makes this time of year even more special, but it also means, as of today, you’ve got the next few weeks to prepare yourself and your artist website for the upcoming rush.

Want to spend the holidays giving thanks back to current fans for their support, making some new ones in the process, and driving traffic to your site? Get in the spirit and start giftin’!

Pick a window of time in December to offer up some goodies on your site – it could be the whole month; it could be just one day – and start a mini-campaign of giveaways that displays your generosity, welcomes new listeners, and exemplifies the ideals of the holidays.

Give away a free song

When we talk about giving something away on your site, a free download of one of your strongest songs is always at the top of the list, and the holidays are no different. Want to make this count? Put your best foot forward and offer a free mp3 of your last single, or simply a song you feel will grab any new listener. This might not resonate with longtime fans who are already familiar with the track, but if it’s a song they love, they’re apt to tell their friends to go grab it while it’s free.

Release a holiday single

Or, record an exclusive holiday song and give that away. There’s still time to get it distributed, too. Then you could offer it up for free on CD Baby and on your site, but also let people know that it’s on Spotify and Apple Music so they can easily add it to their Christmas playlists. Better yet: create your own Spotify playlist, including the song, and direct folks there!

Get creative with it!

  • Make a short, video Christmas card and mention your freebies there.
  • Record and give away an “unplugged” version of one your better-known tracks.
  • Customize cheap stockings from the Dollar Store, fill them with your CDs, and hold a drawing from the pool of email addresses you get from downloads over the course of the month to give them away.

Now is also a great time to spruce up your website, whether that means cleaning up your current iteration or holiday-izing it for December. Make sure if you’ve got some new eyes on it, it’s reflecting everything you want people to know about you and your music.

Got any other ideas? Let us know in the comments!

Musician Websites 101: Does your homepage make things easy for fans?

Example site: John Kelly

When someone visits your website, they should be able to find exactly what they’re looking for in a matter of seconds.

One of the ways to achieve that is to create a clear top navigation bar (Home, About, Calendar, Videos, Contact, etc.).

Another way to make it simple for fans is to present your homepage as a distillation of all the most important things about your music career at a glance.

The HostBaby website shown here for singer/songwriter John Kelly (click the link to visit the site) is a great example of both methods working together: the design is clear and minimal, so the “top nav” items are easy to read — AND he’s used widgets to make a kind of one-page displaying music, videos, a web store, upcoming shows, his mailing list, and social media links. Continue Reading . . .

Protect .music websites from the exploitation of big tech companies, pirates, and domain squatters

Protect .music domain namesSave .music for the indie artist! It’ll take less than a minute of your time.

What if all musicians and bands had websites that visitors could be certain were safe, legit, above-board, official — like .gov and .edu websites? In the coming years, .music domains will become the norm for musicians worldwide, but only if we ACT NOW to keep it in the hands of independent artists.

There is an effort to make sure the new .music website names are protected from domain squatting and piracy, and to keep the names out of the hands of non-music corporations who have already snapped up a lot of the valuable Internet real estate.

The goal is to give DotMusic control over the .music top level domain. They would issue domain names to artists, bands, and other music companies; they would prohibit spammy “parking pages” and domain squatting; and they would ban any .music domain guilty of mass copyright infringement.

You can support that effort by e-signing this community support letter: http://music.us/sign. It takes less than a minute.

We know that domain names don’t sound all that exciting or cool, but this is very important. Because .music sites will become the norm for music-related content online, who controls that top level domain is a big deal. Continue Reading . . .

Updating your existing theme to a mobile-friendly website is easier than you think

Mobile-friendly website theme

Because high tech shouldn’t mean high maintenance

Depending on the country you live in, as much as 30-70% of your visitors could be looking at your website on a mobile device.

Is your site design responsive, or mobile-friendly? Are you taking advantage of all the latest tools HostBaby has to offer?

If you’ve been using HostBaby for a few years, you might not have seen our latest mobile-friendly website templates.

Think it’s time to update your website? Check out our new high-tech themes and make the switch.

It’s simple: Continue Reading . . .

You don’t want people saying THIS about your music online

Continue Reading . . .

5 ways to add your music to a HostBaby website

HostBaby Audio PlayerYou’re a musician. Music is kinda like… your thing. So you want to make sure your songs can be easily heard on your website, right?

Here are five ways to let fans hear your music when they visit your website:

1. Use HostBaby’s built-in audio player

The HostBaby audio player can be easily added to any HostBaby website. Choose your favorite design and create an audio playlist. The share feature makes it easy for your fans to share your tracks on Facebook. Best of all, the audio player is designed to work seamlessly on smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers. Continue Reading . . .

HostBaby client Sawyer Fredericks wins The Voice (season 8)!

Photo from NBC.

Photo from NBC.

Who won season 8 of The Voice?

Sawyer Fredericks, the 16-year-old songwriter from upstate New York, was announced this week as the winner of The Voice, NBC’s popular music competition show.

Fredericks has distributed his music through CD Baby and hosted his website via HostBaby for a while now, so we were psyched to follow his progress on the show.

Sawyer was the youngest contestant on The Voice this year but he seems to have an old soul, singing gritty blues and Americana inflected songs by the likes of Ray LaMontagne, The Soggy Bottom Boys, and John Fogerty.

He was humble about the victory. “I’m feeling great and I kind of want to get back to the farm just to have a little bit of a break from all of this, so I’m excited to get back home,” said Fredericks. “I do not want to move to L.A.!” Continue Reading . . .

Introducing the new FILTER theme from HostBaby!

HostBaby's new FILTER theme

We’re excited to launch a brand new website theme for musicians: FILTER!

With FILTER you can upload a band photo or album cover, and the theme will automatically abstract the image into a background that will give your website a super interesting vibe.

With a single photo, you can give your website both a dynamic AND consistent feel. FILTER gives you a simple way to integrate your design and imagery.

Want to try out the FILTER theme for your website? Here’s how:

Continue Reading . . .

Two HostBaby artists give outstanding performances on ‘The Voice’

Tonya Boyd-Cannon and Sawyer Frederick

HostBaby clients impress judges on The Voice

Huge congrats to Tonya Boyd-Cannon and Sawyer Fredericks, two HostBaby artists who successfully auditioned for The Voice earlier this year, and who are both still in the running to win the popular TV show’s vocal competition.

We wanted to give them both a shout-out here and share their initial audition videos with y’all.

Watch them wow the judges below!

First up, Tonya Boyd-Cannon kills it with a soulful rendition of Pharell’s “Happy.” Continue Reading . . .

More than a thousand artists now using HostBaby’s Instagram tool

Instagram for musiciansRecently at HostBaby we were excited to see that more than a thousand musicians were using our Instagram tool to display awesome photos on their websites.

If you’re one of them, we’d love to take a look at your photo gallery! Feel free to leave a link in the comments below. If you’re not using HostBaby’s Instagram tool yet, get started today. It’s super simple.

If you’re wondering how to use Instagram to promote your music, check out the following articles:

1. Why you should be using Instagram as a musician (and all its dirty secrets)

2. Spice up your Instagram profile with these tools (and the best ones are FREE!) Continue Reading . . .