BandPage at Music Hack Day SF

Some members of Team BandPage spent this past weekend at Music Hack Day SF. It was a great opportunity to check out and use the latest APIs and technologies available in the music tech space.

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Hosted at Github HQ (with overnight space provided by Spotify SF) there was plenty of room, ample snacks and of course, great music to motivate the hackers throughout the weekend.

via @musichackday

via @musichackday

The larger team from BandPage offered Walk Up as their hack. In the words of Alex Doronin,

“The idea is that when a person walks into a room, his or her theme song starts playing through speakers.

There are two basic pages. The first allows someone to create a “room” which is connected to speakers. The second allows a user to log in using their facebook account, type a song name and starting point of that song and press “Walk up” button when entering the room. We used the Beats music API to play music in the room.”

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Other members of team BandPage stopped by for support. And BandPager Pierre built his own “Prototype Node-SpotifyWebAPI-Midi–Arduino-MotorVibrator-App” to add to the mix. In his own words:

Music, building software and hardware has always been something that I love doing, so I built a hardware hack named “Feel Beats” which combines music with haptic feedback.

A listener searches for a song through a web app I created, which will then find a MIDI version of the song, then extracts the drum notes and use them to power little vibrators through an Arduino board. You hold them in your hands and feet so that you can feel the drummer’s movements while you listened to the song! Pretty cool!

There are some issues, like latency and keeping the beats in sync with the song. This is mainly because there is no proper library for parsing midi files yet so thats on my TODO list. It would also be nice to make the vibrators wireless through bluetooth, but thats something for the future…

If you would like to help out, please go to my repository and contribute.

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Want to join our team at the next Hack Day? Check out the career openings on our engineering and product teams.

YouTube Playbook Guide (The Cliffs Notes)

Last week YouTube was nice enough to release a 40 page “creators guide” for musicians advising them on the best ways to leverage YouTube to build a loyal and engaged fan base.  In case you don’t have the time or energy to dig through all 40 pages we were kind enough to create our own bulleted list of what we considered to be some key takeaways.  For those of you who want to dig a little deeper, you can check out the rest of the guide here.  Enjoy!

Optimize for Better Discovery

1. Get Your Metadata Working for You:  First things first, don’t forget to lead with the song title, artist name [your name] and album title in the title of your video.  And be sure to include heavily searched terms as well.  If you have a famous guests on the song, be sure to include their name.  If you cover a song, be sure to include the name of the artist whose song you covered.  Remember, most people find music channels through search results, so optimizing your videos for discovery is key.

2. Tag Tag Tag: Tag as many terms that are relevant to your video as you can.  Use both general and specific key words.

3. Use An Intriguing Thumbnail:  Be sure to choose a thumbnail that is compelling.  You want people to want to know what is happening in your video so choose something that invites curiosity.

4. Descriptive Description: Take advantage of the real estate under video description to include calls to action like “click to buy here” or “view new video here.”  Be sure to include new album release date, up coming concert dates, links to socials, digital store, etc.

5. Take Advantage of Annotations: Annotations have a few important uses.  First, you can add annotations to your older videos to direct fans to your newest video.  Or you can add an annotation to a new video encouraging fans to check out your other videos so they can get to know you as an artists better.  On top of that, you can use annotations to promote your licensed merchandize directly in your videos.  Just don’t forget to leverage your top performing videos!

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6. Choose a Layout that Meets Your Needs: A single channel layout makes it easy for you to target announcements to specific groups of fans and encourage fans to help shape your content.   A single channel layout will include all of your curated content, live performances and official videos on a single channel.  A multi-channel layout allows you to separate your content into different channels.  You can upload official music videos onto your main channel and your favorite music, live performances, funny videos, etc to a different one.  This makes it easy for your fans to find exactly what they are looking for.

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Releasing an Album or Song

7. Not One but TWO Videos:  If you are going to use YouTube to release a new song, they highly recommend you create both a lyric and an official music video.  Lyric videos are easier to make and will help build buzz for when you do drop your official music video.  Lyric videos also help your fans connect with your music by getting them more acquainted with your message and words.  For many people, lyrics can make or break a song.

8. Leverage the Community: Get your fans to particpate in this intimate process with you.  Ask them for their feedback and thoughts on your song. Enourage them to comment, share and subscribe to your channel.  You can even ask them to create re-mixes or covers of your song and share them with you.

9. Use Data: Be sure to pay close attention to the regions that are driving the most traffic to your channel.  Examine your traffic sources.  Are there any specific blogs or sites that are driving a significant amount of traffic?   Use this data to help determine where to hold live events, interviews, reach out to the local press, etc.

Engage With Your Fans

10. Exclusive Perks: A great way to keep your fans engaged is to offer them exclusive perks.  Give your fans and subscribers first crack at new tracks, behind-the-scenes video clips or even concert tickets.  Leverage  annotations and/or your video descriptions to help promote them.

11. Q&A: YouTube recommends dedicating one day a month to holding a live Q&A or Google Hangout session with your fans.   Take questions, talk about new projects you’re working on and just hang out.   Your fans will appreciate the opportunity to spend quality time with you and you’ll continue to gain new YouTube followers in the process.  A win-win.

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Best Practices: Building a BandPage Experience

Hey Musicians,

For the past few weeks we’ve been carefully studying the various Experiences that have made their way onto our new Marketplace platform in hopes of educating you on what it takes to create a successful “offers” campaign.  We’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to work closely with many of the great musicians who are currently using our Marketplace and have helped many of them develop, refine and successfully sell their offers.  We learned a TON in the process and want to share that knowledge with you.

In our earlier blog posts, we covered the different ways you can promote your Experiences to your fans via Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.  Remember, nothing is more effective than you, the artists encouraging your fans to check out new opportunities to engage with you.  It has proven to be the most useful way to reach your fans that we have seen thus far.

However, for this blog post we’ll start at the beginning and cover some of the best practices for developing and setting up an Experience once you have made the decision to participate in this Brave New World of fan engagement.  Let’s get started!

Where to Start

The first step in creating your Experiences, is deciding on what your goals are.  Are you trying to maximize revenue or are you more focused on creating cool new ways to engage with your biggest fans?  Deciding on your ultimate goal will help inform the choices you make for each of the offer variables below.

  • What to Offer
  • Pricing Your Offer
  • Quantity
  • Title
  • Description
  • Expiration Date
  • Video / Photo

What to Offer

Offerings can be broken down into 3 main types: Personalized merchandise, fan participation, and personal experiences.

  • Personalized Merchandise/Momentos: These are often manufactured goods that you can easily add exclusive value to.  Examples include signed vinyl, handwritten lyric sheets, a signed print from a show, signed drumheads, etc.   What’s great about items like these are they already have real-world value and adding an exclusive twist to them instantly makes them even more valuable to your fans.  Be sure not to confuse this with your standard merch.  You should only choose items that are limited in quantity and that you have personalized yourself.  These types of offers can also include hand-made items that you have put your own personal touch on.  We’ve seen artists successfully sell hand painted pictures/drawings to fans.  Other artists have successfully sold mix-tapes of their favorite songs or songs that have inspired them over the years.  Consider doing an acoustic cover of a fan’s choice.  Maybe a full EP.  Get creative.  Think of your favorite artists.  What cool stuff could they offer that would intrigue you?
  • Fan Participation:  These are super exclusive experience-based offers that let your fans be a part of your creative process.  Shooting a new video?  Let a fan be an extra.  Need some handclaps for a track your working on?  Give your biggest fans a crack at it.  If you’re feeling brave, you might even let a fan design your next album cover.  One artist created totally unique songs using sounds, samples and concepts sent to them by the purchasing fan.  Pretty amazing.  If a fan does participate in a project of yours, consider including their name in the credits or thank you notes as a further token of your appreciation.
  • Personal Experiences: These are also experience-based offers that allows your fans connect with you on a more personal and intimate level.  These types of offers can include a one-on-one skype session, a meet and greet before a show or a visit to the recording studio to sit in on the recording of your next album.  We’ve seen a number of talented artists offer their fans guitar or piano lessons.  We even had one artist completely sell through all of her theremin lessons.  There are handful of other artists who have successfully sold private concerts that are to be held in a fan’s living room.  Fans are always looking for unique and exclusive ways to engage with their favorite artists and creating a once in a lifetime experience is worth a premium price.

Pricing

In general, pricing will be a learning process for each musician. When first starting out, we recommend limiting the quantity of offers and pricing them to sell.  You can always add additional ones later.  It’s important to engage your fans right off the bat with an intriguing offer that won’t break the bank.  This will help generate buzz among your fanbase.  We saw a number of bands completely sell out of their offers within hours of promoting them to their socials who ended up having to add more items due to overwhelming fan demand.  That’s the kind of position you want to be in.  Remember, the higher the price the more promotion you’ll need to do in order to reach those few “Superfans” who’ll be willing to and have the means to pay a high price.

A few things to keep in mind when pricing your offer.

  1. First off, consider the costs associated with your offer.  Are there costs associated with transportation, shipping, merchandise, the venue, etc?  Your time is obviously worth something to you so don’t forget to take that into consideration.
  2. Secondly, you want to make sure you are offering something of value.  If you are selling a manufactured good like a signed CD or poster, you’re going to want to keep the price close to it’s real world cost (depending on how popular you are.)  You can always add additional value to a manufactured good by adding your own unique twist to it.  Hand-write lyrics on a poster or draw a picture on a drumhead and sign it or for a fan.  Perhaps you can create a personal one-of-kind greeting to open your new album.  Adding a one of a kind experience to a manufactured good that already has real world value not only gives you a decent starting point price-wise but also affords you some flexibility depending on your audience.   However, if you are selling a vinyl test pressing, or a meet and great before a show or something that is super rare and limited in quantity, you will be able to fetch a premium price based on the exclusivity of the item or experience.
  3. A good rule of thumb: Put yourself in your fan’s shoes.  Would you be willing to spend your hard earned cash on your reward?  Let your honest answer to that question guide you.

Quantity

Depending on what your goals are, you can either choose to keep your experiences exclusive and intimate or far-reaching and accessible.  If you’re experimenting with offers, it’s a good idea to keep inventory low to see how they initially sell.  You can always increase the quantity if things start to sell quickly or even better, sell out.   Keep in mind, the quantity you set is closely related to price – the lower the quantity of something the more exclusive it is and therefore the higher you can price it.  Offerings with a high quantity do not have that “exclusivity” factor and you are better served to price those a bit lower.

Let’s take a look at two good examples of both cases.  We’ll compare Mum (an avant-grade Icelandic band) and The Postelles (an up and coming American indie rock band) to highlight the dynamic relationship between exclusivity and price.

  • Mum offered fans a completely custom song created using a fan’s choice of sounds, samples, concepts, etc. Due to the time commitment and effort needed to produce this offer, the band decided to only sell a few.  Naturally, the price was expensive for such a unique opportunity but the final product warranted it.  Within hours of sharing these unique opportunity with the fans, Mum was able to sell 3 customized songs for $1500 each.  Not a bad way to make some extra cash and cultivate a greater relationship with some of their biggest fans.
  • The Postelles wanted to create some buzz around their newest release and encourage their fans to actually BUY their album rather than stream it.  So they came up with the idea to personally “audiographed” 50 copies of their new album. An “audiograph” (according to them) is a personalized dedication just for the fan in digital format to be played in (STEREO) at the very beginning of the new album.  Fans loved the idea of having something personal and unique to them and jumped at the opportunity.  The Postelles kept prices incredibly reasonable knowing they could sell a large volume and create some excitement around the album.  It worked like a charm.  Fans who weren’t able to get their hands on the first wave of audiographed albums begged for the band to create more via The Postelles Facebook page and Twitter.  There was clearly a large demand, so The Postelles made a handful more which almost immediately sold out again.

Title

The title is the first thing a fan will see when the come across your offerings on your social channels, via email, and when they’re surfing the BandPage Experiences site so be sure to make it simple yet compelling and memorable.  Fans should want to click on your experience to learn more so have some fun with it and keep it personable and honest.

Top selling Experience titles:

  • Exclusive Pre-show Listening Party!
  • …And It Shook Me (AUDIOGRAPHED VERSION)
  • Personalized Outgoing Message from Us!
  • Backstage Buddz Bundle
  • Catch Our Show From The Side Stage
  • Wood Printed Design Hieroglyphics X Oakland
  • Intimate “Living Room” Album

Description

Your description is the best place to communicate to your fans what exactly it is you are offering them.  It’s imperative that you are as descriptive as possible so that the fan is absolutely clear on what it is they are getting in return for their money.  What format is it in, how long will it be, what’s included and how it will be fulfilled?  If there are rules and policies, be sure to list those out as well.  If you can’t give fans side stage access to shows that you aren’t headlining, be sure to make that clear.  Be sure to also include a clear call to action at the beginning or end of the description if there is something you specifically need from the fan.

Examples of good descriptions:

  • Issues’s Exclusive Pre-show Listening Party tells you exactly what is included: a Q&A, all the autographs you want, photos, an extremely intimate group setting, and of course, listen to the new material.
  • Stars’ Watch a Show From the Stage tells you the logistical details: you get 2 tickets included with the purchase, you get to choose which show you want to be on the stage for, and the purchase does not include travel to/from the show.
  • Hieroglyphics’ Wood Printed Design’s description includes the exact canvas size, some background and history, and for this offer the image shows you exactly what you see and is used to support the description.

Expiration Date

Shorter durations for your Experiences will have higher success rates and create a sense of urgency for your fans. We recommend setting your expiration date no later than a month out, and promoting it at big milestones (2 weeks left! 1 week left! 2 days left!).

Video & Photo

You should already have a BandPage profile photo uploaded. It’s your main form of branding on the page so choose a good photo that embodies who you are as an artist.

When uploading your photo or video, be sure to use an image that will catch the eye and is related to the offer. Unique, bright, colorful, high-resolution images get more clicks.

If you choose to make a video, there are a few important things to keep in mind.

  • Make it personable.  Don’t be afraid to get in front of the camera and tell your fans how excited you are about this opportunity to engage and connect with them.  You don’t have to be sales-y, just be yourself and stay true to who you are as an artists.  
  • It doesn’t have to be perfect.  Knock it out in a couple of hours with a few friends or spend days editing it – whatever floats your boat.  Being yourself and being genuine goes a lot further than a slick, well-produced video. If you can do both, even better!
  • Be descriptive.  Here is another opportunity to explain to your fans what exactly it is they are getting.

Some Last Notes…

  • Number of Experiences: Start with no more than 3 unique offers.  You are going to need to promote these things to your fans and you dont want to be spamming them day after day.  Many artists prefer to promote one offer at a time.  Others have found success promoting a handful at the same time.  Find what works for you.  We feel keeping the number of unique offers low challenges you to really develop the ones you do have and that’s important.
  • Try to Keep Your Offer Audience Wide: If you have offers set in certain geographic areas, you’ll be limiting your audience to those of your fans who live near that region. Be aware of when this happens because you’ll be able to target those fans really well with Facebook ads. If you’re offering instrument lessons, be aware that you’re limiting the pool of potential buyers to your fans who happen to be currently learning how to play that exact instrument.
  • Fill Out Your BandPage Profile:  The Marketplace is another opportunity for you to market your content so important that your BandPage profile be up-to-date.  A fan may come across your profile looking to check out that signed vinyl test pressing you just put up for sale and notice you are playing in their town in a few weeks.  Or your offer might catch the eye of a fan of another band and they may want to check out your songs or videos.  You never know who is going to be seeing and listening to your stuff so make sure it’s all filled out and completely updated.

Those are our tips for setting up a great Experience! Definitely leave us feedback if you have questions or thoughts – and check out our other posts regarding promoting your offers if you haven’t already.

BandPage Plus Features Keep Getting Better

Two months ago we quietly released some amazing new features as a part of our Plus subscription package.  The idea behind these new features was to allow you, the artists, to more effectively brand and customize your website or blog when utilizing BandPage solutions to manage your online presence.  Now with our newest release, creating a customized and consistent feel on your website is easier than ever.  Check out the list of improvements we made to the BandPage Website and widgets below.  If you like what you see, you can go ahead and upgrade to Plus here.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out these new features in the wild, here are some great examples of Plus BandPagers putting our tools to good use!

Upload Your Logo

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A logo is one of the most important components of any artist’s branding strategy as it is inextricably linked with fan recognition.  Our Plus subscription now allows you to upload your own logo to the Bandpage Website to ensure your branding is consistent across your various online properties.

Choose from 12 Different Fonts

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You can now choose between 12 different fonts options on both the BandPage Website and widgets to help you further brand and customize your digital presence.

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Add Twitter Feed

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We even added a way for you to add your twitter feed to your BandPage Website so your fans can stay up-to-date on everything you’ve been up to

Additional Navigation Tab

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And last but certainly not least, you can now add an additional tab to your BandPage Website.  Use this tab to direct fans to your online store, YouTube Channel, Instagram – wherever.

If you have any questions about how to get your BandPage set up or need help upgrading, check out our Help Center for more info or drop us a line at support@BandPage.com.

Overview: About BandPage Experiences

Hey Musicians,

A few months ago, we quietly launched BandPage Experiences, a new marketplace that enables artists to create, sell and fulfill unique and memorable interactions with their fans.  Musicians including Stars, Slightly Stoopid, George Clinton (Parliament/Funkadelic), Dada Life, Collie Buddz, stic.man of Dead Prez and more are already successfully using BandPage Experiences to help monetize fan relationships in a manner that is authentic but more importantly also deepens their fans engagement.  We wanted to take a moment and explain our thinking behind this exciting new concept.

Why Experiences? We believe there’s an opportunity for musicians to make a better and more sustainable living by offering fans something more than just merch or CDs. Experiences are a one-of-a-kind chance for you and your fans to connect in a direct and more personal way. Nielsen announced at SXSW 2013 that there is $450 million to $2.6 billion in unrealized revenue in the form of better tailored experiences for fans. “Fans want more,” said Barara Zack, Chief Analytics Officer at Nielsen Entertainment Measurement. “There is an unmet need there. There is a desire to engage at a different level than what they have.”

And that’s exactly what we’re helping artists do.

Our goal as a company has always been to create new revenue streams and drive higher fan engagement for artists and this is the next logical step.  BandPage Experiences answers a fundamental question: there are many different kinds of music fans, from casual listeners and established fans to superfans. So why sell everyone the same products — t-shirts, tickets, CDs or downloads? Our platform lets musicians list anything they want, which translates into the flexibility to tailor different experiences to different types of fans.

A number of our launch artists have already experienced a great deal of success using the BandPage Experiences platform and have had the chance to engage and learned a ton about their fan base along the way. Here are just a few of the great examples we have seen thus far.

BandPage Experiences and the artists using it have received a great deal of positive press in major music publications.   USA Today loved the idea of The Octopus Project teaching their fans how to play the theremin. MTV, Billboard, The Next Web and more have also given shoutouts to other launch artists including Zakk Wylde, Black Veil Brides and Parliament Funkadelic.

We believe this can fundamentally change the way you make a living, and allow you to do more of what you love.  We will be in Beta for bit longer but are looking for forward thinking artists who want to navigate these new fan engagement waters with us and create some memorable memories for their fans in the process.  You can sign up Beta access now inside the BandPage Editor.  We’d love to hear from you.

Tip of the week: Ordering tracks on your BandPage

There are lots of things to consider when setting up your BandPage Profile, like which songs to use, what order to put them in, whether or not you should feature them on your Website, and the list goes on.  To help make this easier for you we have made some improvements to the ordering function of your BandPage track list.

Step One:  Choose the songs that you want to have in your BandPage Profile

We recommend that you upload at least five tracks to provide variety to your fans and keep them engaged.

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Step Two:  Put your tracks in the order that you want your fans to listen to them in

This can be based on what was most recently released, what is the most popular, or however else you want to order them.  To do this, log in to BandPage.com and access the music editor:

1) By default you will land in the “Create Your Profile” tab.

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2) From here, choose “Music” from the left side menu and click the white space next to each track to drag it into a new location in the list.

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3) Once your tracks are in the order that you want them in, save the changes and you’re done!

Now when fans come to your BandPage Profile they will see a customized track list and have the listening experience that you have designed for them.  If you have any questions about this process or want to give us some feedback, feel free to drop us a note through our Help Center or by emailing us directly at support@bandpage.com!

Introducing BandPage Experiences: A New and Sustainable Way for Musicians to Make Money

Our mission here at BandPage has always been to connect people who make music with people who love music.

Three years ago, we took an important first step when we launched the first iteration of BandPage, an app that helped musicians reach their fans on Facebook. Over the past year, we’ve built on that offering, giving the musicians who use BandPage ways to more easily set up their online presence and automatically syndicate that presence to the world’s largest social and music platforms, including Twitter, Soundcloud, and Pandora’s Concert Calendar.

Today, we’re taking another big step forward, one that opens a new chapter for BandPage and the more than 500,000 musicians we work with.

Introducing …BandPage Experiences!

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BandPage Experiences is a new feature that answers a fundamental question: there are many different kinds of music fans, from casual listeners and established fans to superfans. So why sell everyone the same products — t-shirts, tickets, CDs or downloads?

We believe there’s an opportunity for musicians to make a better and more sustainable living by offering fans something more: experiences. Experiences are a one-of-a-kind chance for musicians and the people who love their music to connect in a direct and more personal way.

BandPage Experiences enable you to make a deeper and lasting connection with your fans through memories, not stuff. It gives any artist the freedom to create different experiences for different types of fans, and offer something more imaginative than downloads, CDs, t-shirts, or concert tickets. With BandPage, you can tailor experiences to the unique characteristics of your fanbase; offer low-cost items for people just discovering your music, premium experiences for your super-fans, and everything in-between.

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Until now, offering these experiences to your fans hasn’t been possible through a single platform. BandPage Experiences changes that by giving you –or any musician– a way to create these experiences and a place where they can live. And it’s possible through a platform you’re already using to connect with your fans across the web.

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Over the past few weeks, we’ve had the pleasure of working with more than 50 truly world-class musicians who are launching experiences today through a redesigned BandPage.com, including Black Veil Brides, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, Collie Buddz, Nataly Dawn, Free Energy, Hieroglyphics, Los Rakas, Múm, The Postelles, Slightly Stoopid, Stars, and Zakk Wylde among others. As you can see here, these artists have put in the effort to come up with creative and valuable experiences for their fans:

Here’s a video where Rinoceros, Mum and The Stone Foxes explain their experiences:

For this first release of BandPage Experiences, we’re starting with a select number of musicians. We will make the feature available to a wider audience in the coming months, with a goal of offering it to any artist who uses BandPage by this summer. Starting today, anyone with a BandPage can sign up to be among the first to try Experiences as we roll it out this spring; just log into your BandPage account on the Experiences tab. Meanwhile, think about what types of experiences your fans might be interested in!

We believe that offering these types of experiences directly to fans will be a significant source of revenue for musicians over the next few years. We’re proud to make BandPage the first platform where artists can easily offer these experiences at scale, and look forward to seeing the amazing new experiences musicians come up with.