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!

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.