This is the Unstarving Musician. I am your host Robonzo. This podcast features conversations with indie music artists and industry professionals, and me. All intended to help independent music artists better understand the marketing, business and creative processes that empower us to do more of what we love. Make music.
Welcome to another episode, it is a pleasure to be in your ears today. Thank you, I humbly thank you. The Unstarving Musician is made possible, by the way, through the generosity of listeners just like you. And there are many ways that you can support us including joining the Unstarving Musician community, which is free, and you get a bunch of tips and insights by joining in your inbox, unsubscribe at any time. You can also visit our resources page for deals with Unstarving Musician affiliate partners, including Amazon, Bandzoogle, and many more. Or you can pick up a copy of my book the Unstarving Musician Guide to Getting Paid Gigs. Second Edition is coming soon. By the way, you can even become a producer sponsor of the show. Sounds pretty cool. It is. It’s super cool, the ultimate way to support us. But all these ways are great. So to learn more about the many ways of offering your support, please visit our sponsor page at UnstarvingMusician.com forward slash crowd sponsor.
So my guest is Dave Cool of Bandzoogle. And yes, Dave, cool, is his real name. He’s the Director of Artists and Industry Outreach, among other things, I think, at Bandzoogle. We spoke back in Episode 142, which was recorded on March 20 of 2020, at the outset of this pandemic we’re still in, as I’m recording this it’s December 1 of 2020. This year is almost gone and over. I’m trying not to wish it by too fast. But I do you look forward to non pandemicy days. So Dave and I we discuss our current and relative pandemic situations at the outset of our conversation. But we we also talk about CD Baby and Bandzoogle. They have a new partnership, a newish partnership, which includes CD Baby distribution with Bandzoogle. That’s pretty cool. We also talked about the ways musicians around the world are adapting to the change driven by the pandemic, what the data says about fan support. We also talk about naming your price and setting minimum price for your music on the Bandzoogle platform or any platform for that matter, why we’re fans of it. And the output of the Bandzoogle blog, which is amazing this year. They’ve just really been pumping out tons of great articles, you should check out the Bandzoogle blog, which of course is at Bandzoogle.com, and probably forward slash blog. But you’ll see the blog there when you go to the website. We discuss Bandzoogle features including the EPK component, free review of your website, etc. And lastly, keeping live streams alive. Live Streaming alive. Sounds redundant. It’s not, I don’t think. Typically I’d say there’s much more. But that’s about 90% of our conversation. It’s a great conversation too.
By the way, I’m a humble and honored affiliate of Bandzoogle which means I make a wee bit of money if you purchase a plan using the promo code ROBONZO which you’ll hear more about at the end of this episode, or you can read about it in the post related to this episode. But it’s just a little full disclosure and a heartfelt thank you, if you do buy with that promo code. It helps support what I do here with the podcast and my music. Ah speaking of my music, my new song is set for official release on January 8 of this coming year 2021. And you can hear a sample and even download it for free at Robonzo.com. If you want to follow the saga of my release, it’ll be my first ever so this is great. Thanks to all those who’ve been helping me with with your experience and expertise. And you can become part of the collective of supporters. Just follow me @robonzodrummer on socials. Okay, here is me and Dave Cool.
Dave Cool 4:19
Awesome. Well I’m glad I happen to speak again.
Yeah, how you been.
Dave Cool 4:24
I’m good busy. You know Bandzoogle’s been going great, I’m sure we’ll get to that a little bit. But are we, is it this is not part of the…
This is it man.
Dave Cool 4:33
You remember how I roll, it’s all casual.
Dave Cool 4:36
Haha! Sure, well Bandzoogle’s busy so that’s good. No I was just gonna say up here in Montreal, you know, pre pre recording we were talking a little bit about, you know, pandemic situation then where you are, and up here in Montreal, we just got re locked down as of yesterday.
So sorry to hear that
Dave Cool 4:54
We had reopened and then took it too far. Clearly. So, now we’re on lockdown for at least 28 days. So…
Is it? Is it? Um, can you tell what happened? Is it just like a societal behavioral thing? Or was it something specific that pushed it back the other way? Besides the numbers?
Dave Cool 5:14
Yeah, yeah, the numbers got really bad really quickly. And it depends where you ask if you ask the government or other people, but there, you know, there are different, different theories on that. But the numbers are the numbers. And we’re rapidly approaching a similar spike as earlier this year. So things have shut down again,
And I figured we’d probably talk about live events of yesteryear, of 2019, and before. Are there in, where you live, are there live venues, you know, that that we’re trying to, or looking forward to reopening
Dave Cool 5:55
Some of them had literally just opened. And so there was a The Pop Montreal Music Festival which has been going for many many years and is one of the most well respected in terms of like the curation of like up and coming bands. They had a scaled down partially virtual partially in venue festival that happened last week. And things got shut down yesterday. So they they got in just before the shutdown again, but most venues were not reopened. And a handful that did are now shut down again. So it’s, it’s tough. It’s tough for that whole bar, club, venue industry. Obviously, you know, there was some glimmer of hope. But now, we’re seeing that there will likely be several of these kind of ups and downs before we finally get out of this.
Yeah, I am. I almost hate to say anything for for the sake of our friends who are, you know, bar owners, venue owners, restaurant owners, but I guess I’ll throw in I’m a, I’m in the restaurant business as of last year, maybe late 2018. And so we’re reopening. So when I say these things, I empathize with you all. But I was I spent a couple hours a week or more listening to This Week In Virology, which is pretty interesting. And this morning, I was actually writing this stuff down, just kind of share with my family. But they had some studies I hear every time you say studies, you know, some studies, though about, it was kind of centered on people who had gotten the virus and they didn’t know how. But so they wanted to find out what the apparent risk was if they were at bars, or coffee shops, or restaurants. And I don’t have the numbers in front of me. But yeah, they were, you know, I think the lowest one was coffee shops at three times more likely to get the virus. It didn’t take into account though this is good news, potentially, the one studies had didn’t take into account whether it’s indoor or outdoor. So I know this isn’t a virology podcast, but it’s really affecting us all.
Dave Cool 8:12
It’s really all and you know, up in Montreal, well in Canada, Northern, I should say north northeast, especially. Yeah, we’re about to hit a very long winter, like so there’s no outdoor, anything
Could save you.
Dave Cool 8:25
Yeah, yeah, maybe it’s possible. But I feel for those restaurants and bars that invested in like heat lamps and things to like, extend their outdoor seating, but now they’re shut down through November. So it’s, you know, it’ll all have to be indoor when it does eventually reopen, which is, as he said, It’s tough. It’s, it’s, you know, it’s tough to know whether indoors, you know, more dangerous than outdoors, but there’ll be no choice. You know, pretty soon with the cold weather coming. So I don’t know if you guys get winter in Panama, I assume not.
You know, we’re kind of in winter and it’s just rainy season, the temperature stays about the same. To give you a perspective, I think it dropped to 78 in the last week on a couple of afternoon evenings because of the rain, and I was literally cold. And I’m sorry, 78 Fahrenheit comes much easier for me. But what is that around twenty, it’s not 26 is it? It that about right?
Dave Cool 9:23
Yeah it’s in the 20s? It’s uh, yeah, I have no sympathy. We go down to I mean, it does get very hot in Montreal, but we go down to, you know, zero degrees Fahrenheit. You know, regularly Yeah. You know, in the winter months up here, so yeah. Yeah, we have a lot more layers of, of jackets and sweaters than then you probably need down there.
Yeah, one of my musician friends who I played some music with here locally is from I believe, Alberta. And I just kind of wondering, based on how things happen for us here in Panama, if they’ve contemplated, or not contemplate, I didn’t think they would be returning to Canada. But I just asked if they’d thought about it. Boy, it would be nice to be there now. But he, he kind of laughed and said, Look, this being stuck, you know, away from people is most of the months of the year in that part of Canada, because it’s so cold most of the year, so he kind of laughed when he was telling me so he’s like, now this is fine for me. So,
Dave Cool 10:23
Heah, we’re kind of used.
Dave Cool 10:26
In a way. Yeah.
So okay, I do have questions for you that are a little more centered on the whole Unstarving Musician thing.
Dave Cool 10:33
It’s on all our minds. It’s daily, you know? Daily stress.
I know. So I wanted to ask you about Christine Brackenhoff.
Dave Cool 10:39
Is that right, that’s their name, right. Rock, Paper, Scissors.
Dave Cool 10:48
The music and tech PR people. How long have you been working with her? How’s it been gone? What kind of things does she do for you? And I asked, obviously, because, well, musicians often seek PR for various reasons, so.
Dave Cool 11:00
Yeah, that’s interesting. Yeah, I’ll get to that right away, Rock, Paper, Scissors actually stopped doing PR directly for musicians this year. Now, they’re just focused on music tech companies. And so I had known I’ve known Dimitri, the founder of Rock Paper, Scissors for close to 10 years, almost entire time I’ve been at Bandzoogle. We met at probably the Folk Alliance Conference, because he was very active in the world music space, doing PR for world music artists, and then pivoted to also doing music tech PR. And, you know, we wanted to hire him and RPS for the longest time. However, they were CD Babys publicist, and CD Baby for the longest time had a competitive website platform to Bandzoogle called Host Baby
Do they still have it?
Dave Cool 11:58
So no. August last year, so CD Baby has a, and I’ll get back to your original question. CD Baby has this annual DIY musician conference. It didn’t happen this year, unfortunately because of the pandemic. But last August, and I flew down to Austin to be there for an announcement and something that we have been working on, and I’ve personally been working on for close to a year, arguably many years of having relationship with with the folks over there at CD Baby, but they decided to get out of the web platform space, it wasn’t core to what they do. They’re digital distributor, they’re heavily involved in licensing and they want to focus on those, those things. And so, you know, we got to talking and August of last year at their conference, they announced that there they were going to migrate, Bandzoogle’s gonna migrate all the Host Baby users to our platform. And CD Baby and Bandzoogle we’re gonna partner and I, you know, and I say, finally, partner, because it’s been, you know, there’s not many music tech companies that have been around for as long as Bandzoogle and CD Baby have, CD Baby longer. But so, you know, so many positive things have come out of that, you know, host family members have are now on Bandzoogle, which, you know, we had the luxury of focus. So all we were focused on was our website platform. And so we had a lot more features and a lot more direct fan commerce tools, more templates, and you know, mobile friendliness, all that stuff. And so, you know, Host Baby’s now, those users are now and Bandzoogle, our members at Bandzoogle get access to CD Baby distribution.
Dave Cool 13:41
So there’s a lot of great you know, synergies, I guess, kind of hate that word. But there is a lot of synergy between the two companies. And we complement each other well, because what you know, they’re really good at things that we don’t want to do or get into. And we’re good at the things that they wanted to no longer be involved with. And so it’s been great. Like I I’ve always admired the DIY musician blog, like Chris Robley and Kevin over there have done an amazing job and running the Bandzoogle blog for nine years, I always saw the CD Baby blog as kind of like the gold standard of musician advice, and to finally get to work with those guys. I’ve after, you know, knowing them for years, seeing them at conferences, and it’s all always been very friendly, kind of a, you know, friendly rivalry between the two companies. And so it’s nice to finally work together and I got to get an author byline on their blog, finally, after all these years recently, which was kind of fun. But getting back to your question. One of the other nice side benefits of this partnership is we could finally hire Rock Paper Scissors after all these years of knowing, Dimitri and his team and so we just hired them. I guess it would have been an August to help us out, just get get some of the stories out of our Bandzoogle and our members and some of the, the features that we’re adding to the platform. And working with Christina has been amazing. She’s you know, she’s great, super well organized super Pro. It’s like having another amazing person on your team who’s working with you on the communication side. So, you know, it’s been great. And it’s been great to finally work with Dimitri again, who, you know, I’ve known for for many, many years. So unfortunately, I don’t do artists PR anymore. They were very involved in the world music space for many years, but but no longer. I think they’re just focused on music tech, but for any music tech companies out there, who are looking for a publicist, I would definitely highly recommend looking into Rock Paper Scissors.
That’s cool. Inside, I was laughing a little bit like, wow, music, music tech, I’m like, well, it’s probably doing okay, there’s probably some money there. And then I was like, well, there was clearly limited money in representing artists, I guess at the time, maybe, but I know they have they had a wide focus, and they maybe just narrowed it down. It may have nothing to do with, there’s no money in the artist representation space. It, my guess is it’s a bit more lucrative to focus where they are or let go of that focus.
Dave Cool 16:07
It’s possible. I think also, in their announcement, they they mentioned the fact that so much of the PR was focused on our artists touring. And so with the shutdown [Done.] of touring like, they just, they’re like, you know what, for years, like, we’ve gradually shifted their focus to music tech, and with the, with the pandemic, it’s like, there’s, there’s no artists touring, obviously. And so they’re like, you know, it’s time to fully embrace this, you know, this direction that the company they’re going, and I’m speaking for them, but that’s kind of the gist of what their announcement was, but I have no idea what you know, you know, all the factors that went into it, but that was definitely one of them. And they still have a service called story amp where you can sort of do yourself publicity, and that’s still very much artist focused. And so, you know, they still put out resources for the artist community for sure.
Nice. So from Bandzoogle user perspective, or prospective, you know, member perspective what what good came up the what good came of this merger for, for them or for us?
Dave Cool 17:14
With CD Baby?
Yeah, yeah, with you guys joining forces, and you take bringing on these new user members that came from CD Baby, and just all the new things that you have arms for now? Yeah, how does it? How does it benefit? You know, someone who’s thinking about? Yeah, and I’m kind of thinking of the, you know, occasional person, it’s like out, I probably, you know, too big or going through growing pains. Maybe I should look at some other, you know, avenue, you know, what I mean? So, yeah, what do you think the benefits are?
Dave Cool 17:46
Uh, you know, the primary one, for current members, like, the actual migration of the Host Baby members obviously wasn’t of any benefit to our current members. I mean, it was just additional members. And we hired, you know, more support team to accommodate and, you know, everything was completed with the migration back in February. And you know, things are going great. And you know, the biggest benefit, the most tangible immediate benefit for current and prospective band members is that they now get CD Baby distribution included with Bandzoogle membership. So there’s, there’s a submission fee for CD Baby for singles and albums. And so we have, they’ve been very generous, like we, we do offer some coupons for current and new Bandzoogle members. So to encourage them to use CD Baby, they have these coupons that waive the submission fees for for the album and singles, which is incredible value added value for no extra, no extra cost, obviously. So that’s, that’s the biggest and most immediate, there’s other things, we’re working on the technology side that will make things easier for the two platforms to communicate and use each other’s tools. But I’d say one thing that I I’ve been really excited about, and we’ve already done a bunch of it is just pooling our educational resources. Obviously, I’ve been running the Bandzoogle blog for for nine years. And I’m slowly you know, handing that over to our communications manager, Melanie Keeley, who’s amazing, and I’m less involved in the day to day, but it’s been great this past year to work with the CD Baby folks like Chris Robley and Kevin Bruner, and work on guest articles. And we’re finally able to share their content with our users because it’s not a competitor. And so, you know, being able to give our members access and let them know about some of the great things that CD Baby do are doing on the education front and vice versa. They’re going to be giving a webinar for our members later this month, on their show.co marketing tools. So there’s a lot of stuff like that planned. I’ll be doing a guest article for their blog coming up later this month as well. So I’d say obviously, the built in distribution is huge added value for current and prospective members. And just, you know, all the stuff we’re doing in our blog, and through our email, communications and social media, just sharing all of these great educational resources between the two companies. That’s another thing that we shared in common not only like that musicians first attitude for the company and philosophy, but just the emphasis on educating artists, about the industry and how to advance their careers, that something that they’ve always done and something that Bandzoogle’s always done. And so now we’re able to finally, you know, pool those resources and do it together in some ways and, and shine a light on what each other is doing. So it’s been super positive. It’s been, you know, in my mind, many years in the making, I, you know, when I started talking to those folks, I, I told them, you know, you should check your, your customer database, because I’m probably a customer of CD Baby from year one or two, like, I used to order CDs from CD Baby, every month and 22, 23 years ago, whatever it was, or 25 years ago, and became a real like, CD Baby evangelist. And like, you know, this is the wave of the future, like DIY and distribute your own music, take control your career and their founder, Derek Severs was in a documentary film I made and got to know him. And, you know, but I was always a CD Baby evangelist, but a Bandzoogle evangelist long before I ever worked Bandzoogle, because they were founded in my hometown of Montreal, and I knew the founders band were the big rock band in our scene. So my band would be like, oh, they’re like the, you know, that’s where we want to get to. And so when he founded Bandzoogle, I mean, I was, again, I was a customer, I think, in year one or two, for my record label, and for my movie, I use Bandzoogle. So I always promoted those two platforms. And then when I joined Bandzoogle, join their team, I quickly realized, Oh, we can’t, you know, I can’t talk about CD Baby anymore, because the website, platform, you know, so and so then being on the road for Bandzoogle conferences, but see the CD Baby team, and, you know, keep in touch. And then finally, after all these years, just worked out that they made a strategic decision for their business to get out of the web platform business, to focus really, on what their core services are. And, and, you know, it just worked out really well for the two companies to finally work together. So it was an exciting year. And then we were just about to launch into our new roadmap of all these new features and tools, and then the pandemic hit. And we, we had to like, like the arts community, we had to pivot, big time and change, change directions. Not, not this wasn’t negative, in terms of what we release, we release some really awesome new features and functionality just wasn’t, wasn’t in the plans to do it at that particular moment in time, but it’s been a busy, hectic, stressful, but also inspiring year. In some ways, it’s been really interesting.
Well, I mean, clearly some good came of it, for the company, and, and it being the pandemic, and, and you guys did a lot of good stuff for to help artists. And I know, I guess, Stacy Bedford, your CEO, when I talked to her for my biz podcast that, you know, all this stuff was brewing, maybe. And I’m trying to remember the timeline. But she, she, you know, we were already in the pandemic, and she was very upbeat about the adjustments that Bandzoogle had made. So that’s really nice. I’m happy for you guys that that has happened. When I talked to Christine, back to PR Christine. One of the things that she said we could talk about, I don’t believe she knew that we had spoken before, when she first come out now that she said, “He can he said he could talk about the ways musicians around the world have been adapting to cancellations of live events,” which you may have. We may have talked about, well, no, you and I wouldn’t have been able to talk about it. But, um, is that something that you talk about? A lot? Much or a lot?
Dave Cool 24:22
It’s funny, I think you and I spoke right when the pandemic hit like the first week, because I just released a blog post about all the ways musicians can ask their fans for help
Oh, that’s right.
Dave Cool 24:33
You’re the first person I spoke to, you know, outside of, you know, Bandzoogle and yeah, I mean, it is funny with sometimes with with the publicist, it’s I probably have to do a better job and go like, “Oh, yeah, I know that person or I spoke person.”
It was all good. I mean, I understand how it would happen, yeah.
Dave Cool 24:55
But you know, our focus, since So last time you and I spoke, you know, I just released a blog post about, here’s all the ways you can ask for support from your fans just trying to, you know, when some of it was you could do through Bandzoogle. You know, some of it was through other services, just all the ways you can get some support from your fan base. And then we, you know, Stacy, together with the development team at Bandzoogle, started working on, you know, what can we build into the platform now that can address the needs of artists who are facing lost revenue from the loss of gigs and tourism festival dates. So you know that the first thing we did was, you know, kind of an unfortunate, but it helped artists, anyone. So we have built in ticketing commission free ticketing through the platform. And it is one of the immediate needs of musicians, unfortunately, was having to refund all of those sales. So we added a simple functionality in the in the control panel so that you could bulk refund, like each gig, that kind of thing, just to make it easier, because obviously, the musicians want to make right by their fans and get them their money back quickly. So we just added, that was the first thing we did right off the bat. But then we added, so we had that ticketing, functionality, the ability to sell tickets, commission free to shows. And so we added the ability to then add your live stream link and a password if needed, so if it’s like a zoom, private zoom thing. So we added that functionality to the ticketing platform, and we opened up ticketing, it’s normally a pro plan. So we have three plans. And it’s normally the pro level $20 a month where you get the ticketing, but we open it up to all all, all the plans so that every Bandzoogle member can access that feature and access the new live streaming functionality. And it’s been amazing, like we’re about to release an infographic that shows all the revenue generated by Bandzoogle members since mid March. And it breaks down all the different revenue streams. And this is all through our member websites. But with live stream tickets, I mean, just under $200,000 in live stream ticket sales from over 1300 virtual events since April, which is pretty good. I mean, we were encouraged by by those numbers, that, you know, fans are buying tickets to see live streams, like obviously, the most common thing you’re seeing if you’re on any social media platform is the you know someone’s going live and someone else is going live. And you know, there’s a lot of Instagram and Facebook and YouTube live streams. But some of our members have sold tickets to these events and generate some revenue that way. So that’s been, that’s been great. And then we added, you know, at the time, it was just a very simple tip jar feature. So you could commission free leave it you know, fans could leave a tip with credit card or PayPal, and you could add an image and some text. And we’ve now since added video integrations Twitch, crowdcast, Vimeo, YouTube and Facebook. So you can actually embed your live stream right in the tip jar. But that’s recent, only last couple of weeks. But
Dave Cool 28:14
Since the tip jar launched, again, just under $200,000 in donations from fans to Bandzoogle members. And the most striking statistic from that is that the average tip was $42 and 12 cents.
That’s amazing. I have a friend who’s been on the podcast a couple times I’ve brought him back on after the pandemic began. And I wanted to talk to him about doing the live streams. And particularly because I wanted people to hear his experience, what his experience has been with online, you know, tipping or online support. And, you know, one thing he said to me was I, this guy has been playing for more than 20 years. And he said one thing I could kick myself for is not having that setup before this happened. Because I mean, just in the initial weeks of his doing a twice a week live stream, he was making as good or better at shows, and he was doing pretty well. I mean, these guys can always make more of their live shows, but he was doing pretty well. So I wanted people to hear that. It’s very exciting that that you guys you know, we’re integrating that and all these other things as much as you can into the site. I think it’s another reason why you know, this particular guy by the way he’s not he’s not a minority necessarily, but he he’s uses Facebook, does not have an artist website, does not use email marketing. And there are different reasons why people don’t you know, but I think that all these things that you’re talking about, give such good reason for, for people to consider it. I myself. I was going to tell you, I have sneak previewed to song on my website on Bandzoogle. And I put a, you know, name your price on it. But that wasn’t supposed to be a sneak preview, but I thought I’m just gonna put that on there. I already made some sales from it. So that’s really cool.
Dave Cool 30:12
Yeah, it’s it’s, you know, when we looked at this data, we’re like, it just, it reinforces that idea that if, you never know, unless you put it out there, you never know what fans [Yeah] how generous they’re going to be in it, you just have to ask or leave the option for them. Like the pay what you want model, I love that, because you can also set a minimum price. But you know, I’ve done it as a fan a bunch of times where when given the option, whether it’s through a Bandzoogle member site, or through Bandcamp, which also has a functionality, I’ll give 10 bucks for one song like the song is great.
That’s exactly what happened to me.
Dave Cool 30:47
Exactly. It’s like hey, it’s just kind of a nice, but if you set the price and keep it at $1, then you’re gonna get $1. So you never know. And so with this pandemic, it’s obviously every, fans understand, you know, that musicians are hurting from this. And one of the most inspiring stories to come out of these tools and from Bandzoogle members, is this band Enter the Haggis, who have been [Love that], yeah, they’ve been around for, for a while they’ve been longtime Bandzoogle members always, like, really on top of the whole direct to fan thing, like they’ve done some really creative things with their with their fans, but with merch and taking their fans on tour to Ireland, like it’s, you know, they do some really fun things. And they had just, they all live in different cities around North America. And they just finished their album. And we’re about to embark on the tour for that album in March. And so things shut down, all their festival dates cancel their gigs cancelled. And so they decided to start doing these Throwback Thursday listening parties, because they have an extensive discography. So every two weeks, on a Thursday night, they started I think, in chronological order from their first album going forward from there, not only would they listen to the record with their fans, they pre recorded interviews with the band members talking about the songwriting process for the songs on that album, like really a deep dive into each one of their albums. And they would drive fans to their website powered by Bandzoogle to a page that had the tip jar, the donation button, and their store. So the fans could buy that album or other merchandise and albums. And they generated over $15,000 in donations, and
Dave Cool 32:36
And music sales from these listening parties. I mean, it’s,
That’s an album!
Dave Cool 32:40
Yeah, exactly, exactly. So, you know, it’s simple link, they just, you know, drive fans to where they can give money and also shop at the same time. So that’s why like people like your friend who only use Facebook, look, it’s great, you’re reaching your fans, you can put like a PayPal link or whatever. And you know, that works. And at any way that artists can generate revenue during this time is great. The nice thing about bringing fans away from that noisy environment of Facebook is that you can bring them on to that place that you control, like, you can sell merch, you can click their email address and then reach out to them later, that kind of thing. So and Enter the Haggis has always been very savvy with that type of thing. So when, I wasn’t surprised that they figured out a way to do this creatively, but it was it was ended up of course being such a great success story for them. And yeah, so it just goes and that’s one of you know, we saw in the data like people leaving thousand dollar donations, $500 donations, and like, it’s amazing, you just leave put the option there not everyone’s going to leave a donation. And not everyone can like everyone, like a lot of people are hurting obviously, the pandemic, but some people that can help will help if you give them the opportunity to.
Yeah, totally. So on, this was a question for myself. But I know other people will be interested. So when when you make a sale on the website of whatever, and you collect an email address, which I assume kind of happens with every any transaction like that on your Bandzoogle website, if you have one. In that process. Is there an opt-in like I’ve always been very careful about this, because of my line of work but very careful about email and opting in and permission based email marketing. But in that process, is there a default opt-in so that I or the you know, artists can communicate with the person who, you know, bought song or whatever?
Dave Cool 34:36
Yeah, so that it’s not default opted in. They do have to check the box.
Okay, easy enough.
Dave Cool 34:43
Yeah, exactly. And so I’m not sure I’m pretty sure it’s probably not legal to do an automatic opt in. I think you have to give the consumer
Yeah, yeah, you know, it’s still an option on my email, marketing platform. But they it’s, you know, it’s highly discouraged. But I, it seems to I think it’s still an option, though. And I see that on various things that, you know, if you do, I guess enough marketing, you know, you run in these different platforms that have the option to, you know, what, well I see this a lot, because I build websites for small business. And so you’ll see these kind of e commerce things, and they’ll have this opt in. And then there’s the automatic versus non and you know, there’s language there about why you want to let them double opt in, and all these kind of things.
Dave Cool 35:33
And I think it might even be country specific. And in a new ad GDPR, on top of all of
And speaking, I know, and speaking of which, as somebody who designs websites, on WordPress, for small businesses, I’ve done it for a few musician, friends, there’s so much value in having a company like Bandzoogle, because you guys are taking care of, you know, I always talk about the, you know, you don’t have to worry about updates and security, you know, updates things, they take care of that for you. But these are the other things that we’re talking about that you guys take care of,the legality, which is becoming more and more daunting for people, you know, I know web designers that have just, frankly been scared away from continuing to be in the field, because they’re like, I can’t This is too, too much, you know, to keep up with.
Dave Cool 36:17
It’s crazy. Yeah, I wasn’t directly involved. It’s not my not my lane of the company. But when the whole GDPR thing hit, I mean, months of research and lawyer like, Look, my perspective, from someone who’s not an expert on it whatsoever was lawyers made a lot of money during that whole thing from a lot of companies, because everyone was like, what do we need to do?
Dave Cool 36:41
You know, everyone had to hire lawyers in Europe, to make sure it was compliant there, and, you know, wherever else, they had a presence, so it was, you know, on our end, I know, it was many months of just making sure that we had everything in place to make sure that our members were compliant with all those new rules. And and yeah, that’s, that’s an example. Maybe an extreme example, but as an example of what you said, like, you know, we take care of all those things in the background for artists, you don’t have to worry about security updates, and new versions, and plugins and things like that. So everything is, you know, on the on the back end, I mean, we’re, the dev team is constantly constantly updating. Not only we’re not only releasing your features, but updating the back end, to make sure that things are running more efficiently. Like we’ve just, it’s not it’s it’s something we haven’t even announced. But like, we’ve spent so much time in the last, we’ve spent a lot…
Be careful, I’m calling I’m gonna email Stacey after this.
Dave Cool 37:41
Yeah, exactly. And we spent a bunch of time this year, just really working on the back end code to make sure we’re streamlining it. So sites load as fast as, you know, possible. And so like, like revamping the code for all the templates, and making sure that they’re, you know, as efficient in loading as possible. They were already great, like it, we know. But that’s the type of thing that goes on behind the scenes at Bandzoogle. That doesn’t get talked about very much like we you know, because it’s, you know, it’s, it’s sort of some of these under the hood changes, but they’re, it’s constant, the developers are always looking to improve things on the back end, and make sure everything’s running as smoothly as it can and trying to up the performance of of everything from servers through user sites, you know, start off with features. So yeah, it is a nice thing to you know, and I’ve spoken to designers over the years, who are WordPress designers and love the, you know, the flexibility of what that platform offers. And they would build like yourself build websites for small businesses on WordPress, but if they got an artist or a musician, client, they say, I will brand your website using Bandzoogle, then give you the keys and you can talk to their support going forward, because, you know, they’ll, they’ll take everything like they can design the branding for the artists, but, you know, they’re like, they’ll take care of you seven days a week, and I don’t have to worry about things.
Man. It’s worth it. It’s worth it. Hey, here’s another question for me. It’s something that as, I was looking at your blog, by the way, it seems like it’s grown exponentially since last time I, I looked at it. I don’t know how much that has to do with the new partnership that we’ve been we talked about earlier, but right up at the top was something I’ve always been a little curious about, which is which is the EPK and my curiosity is simply, why is it so important because for me, somebody who’s not been involved in distributing music and that’s coming in my life now, but like in all these years, I’ve been playing I’ve just been a gigging musician and haven’t really thought about that stuff. Now granted, I’m, it’s for a long time, I’ve had a web presence and, you know, try to be active on social and all this stuff. But what is so special about the EPK that musicians want to, to put some focus on that? And, you know, why can’t we just have all our stuff? All our assets on the website, you know, for people to use?
Dave Cool 40:17
Great question. And I appreciate you noticing the the output of the Bandzoogle blog and and, you know, to be honest, it’s it’s unrelated to the CD Baby partnership, it’s internally, we just, we made a decision to up the output of content. And we’ve we’re working with a larger team of writers. And it’s been, it’s been awesome. The reaction has been great. So I appreciate that now. Yeah, the new article EPKs. It’s one of the most popular subjects on our blog. And, you know, EPKs are, I think attractive for artists and attractive for industry to because it’s, it’s really, that one page, on your website, let me back up a second. So on your artist website, you know, you’re going to have your current fans visiting, you’re going to have potential fans visiting, and you’re also going to have industry and media visiting. And so there’s got to be content for all of those different audiences, and the EPK is really the industry media page. Like that’s, that saves so much, they can click on that one page. And you know, there, there are obviously EPK specific platforms, you know, for us, and I realized that sounds biased, because we’re a one-stop platform,
I’ll just stop and say for you. You guys focus some attention on making it part of your platform. And so if there’s, if there’s EPK, specific platforms, no biggie, because you guys clearly put some emphasis there, so.
Dave Cool 41:48
Yeah, and it’s just included, right, it’s just it’s, we have a preset template, you can easily add it to your website, and build out your EPK. And just make it part of you can password protect it if you want, you know, you can just make it part of your website. So when people are landing on your website, your APK is there. And it’s just that one place where industry media can find out, get your bio, get your promotional photos, get your album cover, listen to your tracks, find out who they can contact for reviews or interviews, find all your socials, maybe your latest video or two, or most popular video or two are on that page, you know, high res photos, if needed. So instead of, any way that you can make a media person, blogger’s, podcaster’s life easier. And they can just go to a page and grab the length of bio they need or the the type of image that they need. The better. And, you know, obviously EPKs are really important in booking, that’s probably the primary reason to have one. But it’s also when you release a new music and that latest blog article on Bandzoogle was really more geared towards when you’re releasing new music, how to set up your EPK when you’re going after reviews, maybe streaming playlists, so they can those people can take a look at that page and get a snapshot of who you are as an artist, what you’ve been up to what you’ve accomplished, and how to get in touch with you. So that’s why I think it’s such an attractive promotional tool for for musicians and on the industry side because you know, you can go to an artist website and and you can dig around for you know, 10 minutes and not find I just need like a short bio, or I need this type of photo or whatever the case may be, or it sends you away to, you know, YouTube or something like, you know, the EPK kind of simplifies that back and forth between industry media and the artist.
Okay, I get it. Thanks for clarifying. So just to kind of summarize it, it’s a it’s one place for media related information, inquiries, obviously making their lives easier. And I was kind of looking at it like, like, I’ve got all this stuff on my website, you know, somebody wants it clear. I’m thinking I’m speaking for everyone, all this stuff’s on my website. And if it’s well laid out, it’s easy enough to find. But I guess also, the important side note of it is that the EPK would, could and should include stuff that, frankly, the fan doesn’t care about that much. Right? It’s very specific to…
Dave Cool 44:22
It’s not a fan facing page at all. No, exactly. That’s why like, so when you have your bio on your website, like we encourage artists, like if you want to be more personal on your bio page, let’s say and speak like in first person to your fans or potential fans, cool, that’s great. But on your EPK it has to be written in third person, because a lot of the time people are going to be copying pasting that, you know, for this and they can’t copy paste something that’s in the first person. It just won’t make any sense. So
Okay, so another cool feature that you guys have, and you put a lot of thought into it. I actually have to tell you that for people that don’t know, so Bandzoogle offers a like a review of your website, and like, you know, to give you some feedback and ways you could improve it. And that was one of the, one of your guys did that for me, he or she, and said, “Yeah, the only thing, it looks great, the only thing I can see is that, you know, you might want to add an EPK.” So it’s nice, you know, they’re, it’s nice in that they are, you guys are there sort of looking out to help us make the best site that we can, those of us that are using it.
Dave Cool 45:27
Yeah, it’s interesting. I see, every once awhile I come across companies or people that offer website review services for like, you know, hundreds of dollars review your website. We’re like, we just do it. You sign up for a trial account, like, well, we’re like you contact our support team will review your site, if you’ve been a member for seven years, and you want to refresh your website and you want someone to review it, we’ll review it like it’s not, it’s not an additional, you know, add on fee or service or anything. We’re happy to help artists look their best online.
That’s great. That’s great. And it’s good point. Yeah, I get stuff in my inbox about like webinars for reviewing your, your website. And those may be free. You know, like, it may be free content, you know, from people that attend the webinar and a way to funnel in some some prospective customers and align some people who might need some services. So all good, but yeah, it’s nice that it’s all there. That’s fantastic. And I saw, I didn’t even scroll two pages into the blog, just looking at the the article titles, you know, the topics. Yeah, just so just a testament to how much good stuff is there. But one of them that caught my eye, maybe people are interested in and I’m gonna need to be interested in it. Possibly. I saw one titled quarantine hacks for album artwork. Do you personally know much about this? And can you share anything? Any tips?
Dave Cool 46:46
To be perfectly honest? No. That was one of those that you know,
Someone from the team did.
Dave Cool 46:54
Someone from the team did. I together with mellie, our communications manager, we look over all the the pitches from writers that we work with. And we’ll go through them and approve the topics that we want to cover and make sure that we’re we’re hitting some of the core things, but also your more unique subjects like that one. And I honestly didn’t even I didn’t personally read that one. I’m sorry to say,
That’s all right.
Dave Cool 47:19
It’s one of the many posts that go up and I’m like, Oh, that’s cool. That went up. I remember reading that, you know, pitch a couple months ago or whatever. So unfortunately, I can’t speak to that one
Well be advised listeners, it’s there in case you’re curious, like I am, so I’ll have to go back and read it. And the other one just was funny. I’m like, Hey, I know this angle it was I didn’t write the title down. But something about six things that you know, every independent musician needs to be successful, because I’ve contributed a piece to Forbes.com on that very thing. And I was pleased to see that, you know, the information was somewhat similar, but slightly different, too. So that was cool. I enjoyed looking at that.
Dave Cool 47:55
Yeah, that was, yeah, like that went up earlier this week. Yeah. That’s another one that I approved months ago and saw go up as I go.
Dave Cool 48:06
That’s good. Do you guys have some in house writers? And then some people that are contributing?
Dave Cool 48:13
That’s absolutely, yeah. So we, Melanie, our communications manager is probably a primary writer, I used to God the first, my first five years that Bandzoogle I was pretty much, you know, I would write over 100 articles a year. For the blog, I will, once in a while contribute something but not really, Melanie’s really taken over for that we have other people on our support team that contribute to all the website advice posts that that get published to the blog are coming from internally, so everything website related selling music related things that are core to what Bandzoogle does, we handle all that internally. And for, for a lot of musician advice, stuff, we we have a team of freelancers that pitch us on ideas on a on a monthly basis. And we go through those and work with a team of writers to make sure that we’re putting out you know, I diverse, you know, amount of content of different subjects and things that could be of interest to musicians.
It’s cool. It’s a nice, nice model to leverage to. Okay, I guess Let me ask you one last thing and and I’ll let you get get to the rest of your day. What are your thoughts on? I think this is another topic I saw on your blog, but what are your thoughts? I’m sure you have thoughts on this one, by the way, whether you saw the article or not, but what are your thoughts on keeping live streams alive, and Do you get any sense that artists and or fans are you know experiencing a little live streaming burnout in any regard?
Dave Cool 49:51
Yeah, that was by Joy Ike, who? She’s a singer songwriter, who I adore and I adore her running she’s a run a blog called Grass Rootsy for many years that had incredible advisor musicians. And she was one of Bandzoogle’s primary bloggers, maybe four or five years ago. And then her touring schedule got so busy, she was for a good reason she had to stop writing, and she closed down her own blog. But with the pandemic, obviously, she’s off the road, and we got the talking. So she’s back on, contributed Bandzoogle blog. So I’m thrilled about that. And that was her first piece, way back, which I did read because I edited it. Because I wanted to work directly with her. But, you know, I think she has a point, I think that already, you know, fans and even artists are experiencing a little bit of livestream burnout. You know, there are some days where that red notification on Facebook says, like, this person is live, this person’s live, it’s like, I can’t watch four live streams at once. And it got a bit saturated. And now obviously, that whole business of live streaming is saturated. There’s so many different platforms now that have gotten into the space or who were in the space, but are, you know, obviously, a little bit more visible now. And I think that her advice and article is very pertinent, just making it more unique and making it engaging. So you’re really involving your fans to make it a special and unique experience, not just hitting live, playing or songs, turning off your phone kinda thing, like you really got to, you got to make it more diverse. And she mentioned like, you know, when she does a merge giveaway on a live stream, her sales or merch store always go up because the mere mention of the fact that she has merch for sale, or that she has merch by giving it away drives fans to check out what merch she has in her sales go up. So just things like that, like, you know, to hear from artists on the ground. That’s one thing we always try to do on our blog is have active musicians contribute to our blog to tell their stories, what are they experiencing? What are they doing that’s working or not working. And so that was a great example of that, which I thought it was such a great tip of like, giveaway one t shirt, but in mentioning that and having that contest run through the whole live stream and giving it away at the end. You know, you’re basically advertising the fact that you have merch for sale. And yeah, and the data for her showed that every time she did that her merch sales went up for that livestream for that stream. So yeah, it’s all those there’s so many things, you know, as a musician to try to think of and to manage. And it’s, it’s overwhelming, no dead. But But yeah, getting back to your original question, I think there’s probably a little bit of burnout from the live stream thing. But I, you know, I’m one, I’m the person who believes that post pandemic, which will hopefully be sooner rather than later. And when live shows get back, I think live streaming will still have its place, obviously not as big of a place, but I think it’s shown to not only fans, but to articulate like you’re mentioning your your friend earlier, like, the amount of money you made is like almost as good as you know, if you played a gig, and I think what artists are realizing is that, “Oh, I can reach fans all around the world with these live streams.” So it’s been a necessity, obviously. And most of them will obviously go back to pounding the pavement going on tour playing festivals, which are all great things. But I think and I hope that artists will sprinkle in a live stream every month or every couple of months for all those fans that they can’t reach around the world or, you know, who would prefer to stay at home? Maybe they have kids and can’t, you know, go out late anymore. And you know, those all those kind of considerations. I think live streaming definitely has its place. So I think, you know, things will probably settle and settle down a bit post pandemic, but for now, it’s obviously a balancing, kind of got to gauge the engagement of your live streams and see like, maybe you should pull back or maybe, you know, try a different format to see if you get more engagement from your your audience.
Yeah, that’s, that’s a great tip. And I think, you know, mine to add to it is just have fun doing it or, you know, take a break. And I also agree with you about that live streaming will have its place and I suspect it will have a place that is just different than it is today. So it’ll still be pretty big. And I’ve even I say that because I’ve seen artists, and I think of Lenny Kravitz and I know he’s a he’s an extreme, but he’s been extremely creative in what he’s done. And I think other artists have done that as well. So it’s almost like it has become an extension of the art form that I think a lot of artists hadn’t been using maybe maybe they didn’t need to but they’re finding some joy hopefully in that and largely of course in keeping touch with their fans through the process.
Dave Cool 54:53
Exactly, totally agree. Yeah.
Dude, it was great talking with you again. I appreciate you making the time for me.
Dave Cool 55:00
Mr. Robonzo, always good to talk to you. Glad everything is relatively well down where you are and look forward to speaking again, hopefully soon.
All right, man, it’s gonna happen. We’ll talk to you again.
Dave Cool 55:09
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