TPM 91 | Bandzoogle Websites

 

The needs of musicians evolves through time. To be able to succeed online, the mission of their platforms has to evolve too. Our guest today helps expand the Bandzoogle to include everything a musician needs to run a successful online business. Bree Noble welcomes Stacey Bedford, the CEO of Bandzoogle, to discuss how musicians can make money online. Stacey discusses the milestone of Bandzoogle as the sales exploded with $100M. Listen to Stacey as she shares the amazing growth of the platform and why you should dive head on to Bandzoogle. Hit that play button now!

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How To Power Your Direct-To-Fan Marketing And Sales Through Bandzoogle Websites With Stacey Bedford

I am excited to be here with Stacey Bedford from Bandzoogle. This is her second time being on the podcast. The last time was in 2021. It was one of our earlier episodes of The Profitable Musician that I had her on, and we were talking about during the pandemic how much Bandzoogle had helped musicians and increased sales and all that. Now, they have hit a major milestone.

Before we jump into that, because I want Stacey to be able to announce and brag a little bit about her company on what their milestone is, if people haven’t gone to the previous episode with Stacey, I’d love for you to catch them up a little bit on you and your experience with Bandzoogle. You’re also a musician, which is something that Bandzoogle is so good at, bringing in musicians to their team. Give people the quick once over of what you’re about, where you’ve been, and where you are now, and then we’ll jump into all the news with Bandzoogle.

Thank you for having me back on the show, Bree. It’s nice to speak with you. You’re an important partner of Bandzoogle. If you haven’t met me before, my name is Stacey, and I’m the CEO at Bandzoogle. I’m starting my 17th year working with Bandzoogle, so it’s been a long time. It’s aging me, but that’s okay. I’m an avid guitar player and a beekeeper. I’m a terrible karaoke singer, but I love to do it on a professional level.

We celebrated our 19th birthday. If you don’t know what we do, we’re an all-in-one platform for artists online. We provide things such as commission-free eCommerce tools, a store for physical products, and digital downloads. We provide fan engagement tools such as a mailing list and call to action. We integrate all of your social media tools, YouTube, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, Bandsintown, Twitch, Crowdcast, and more.

We create beautiful websites to pull all of your content together. They’re responsive and adapt to different screen sizes like mobile, desktop, and tablet beautifully. They’re fully customizable and easy to use. You don’t need to know any coding or design to be able to create a fully functional responsive website with Bandzoogle.

I’ve been a partner of Bandzoogle for several years. I’ve helped so many people get online or switch from things that didn’t work for them like WordPress, Wix, or anything that is not built for musicians. If you’re reading this and want to try out Bandzoogle, you can have a free 30-day trial and 15% off your first year if you use WOS15. I’ve had this promo code for so long because it started out with Women of Substance, my other podcast, and now this one. I’m still using the same promo code.

If what Stacey described gets you excited, go and try out that 30-day trial and the promo code. I got a press release from you, and I was like, “This is major news. I need to get them back on the show.” Let them know Stacey, what you guys announced in your press release. It’s a milestone for the company and the musicians.

It’s huge because Bandzoogle supports independent artists, and this milestone shows the artists are making it on their own. The milestone that we hit was that Bandzoogle members have sold $100 million in music and merch through their Bandzoogle websites. This is a huge milestone for us and our members, especially since we’ve been faced with this looming economic downturn and everything you hear is so negative. Touring and everything shut down for a couple of years. During this time, Bandzoogle members’ customer sales exploded. It was something that we were proud of.

You should be. You guys adapted and created a lot of things to help musicians during the pandemic because a lot of them were selling a lot of merch in person. Suddenly, that wasn’t happening. The fact that you made that possible for people, I’m sure that’s what helped increase sales by giving them more ideas and ways to sell things. I was talking to other members of the Bandzoogle team, and I was asking, “How much of this growth happened in the last few years basically since the pandemic?”

The exciting part about that $100 million in sales is that more than half of those sales happened in the last couple of years alone. You might think Bandzoogle is an old company, and this is a long time to accumulate those sales, but our user site sales exploded in the last couple of years. That’s under $53 million in sales that have happened in the last couple of years. As our customer base is about 60,000 active users, that’s a big amount of sales relative to the size of our customer base.

It is. I was also asking Dave, “How much did you guys grow? How many new customers did you get in those last couple of years?” He’s like, “It’s nothing in comparison to how the sales grew.” It’s not like you can contribute it to, “We got 60,000 new customers in the past couple of years.”

It’s interesting because I often say, “To know Bandzoogle is to love us,” because once members signed up, they don’t leave. Our average member tenure is 48 months and that number is always growing. We don’t have a very high amount of churn. Bandzoogle is a small organization. We have this global presence. We’re going up against these huge website providers and eCommerce platforms such as Wix, Squarespace, and Shopify. It’s incredible that anytime we start to accumulate any members, they don’t leave us. That’s something that we’re also proud of.

Absolutely, because there are so many other options. I also noticed that you guys are getting into the area of competing with a lot of other digital marketing options like funnel building and things. You’ve added landing pages and upsells. Can you talk a little bit about that? That’s something that the average musician doesn’t know how to utilize or the musician that was excited to utilize those things had to go outside of the music industry to put those things in place.

The whole reason why we’re building out these tools is because the goal of Bandzoogle is to be an all-in-one platform with a comprehensive online presence. A lot of external services that provide these tools are not doing them with the artist’s focus. They’re also not doing it in a way that all of their marketing initiatives are integrated.

At Bandzoogle, if you’re creating landing pages for different projects or online press kits, those are all matched and branded cohesively with your website with very little effort. They’re all on the same domain, so you don’t have this weird random sequence of letters that you’re linking to and sharing. Everything is branded the same and cohesively across all of your different marketing initiatives.

The other thing is that Bandzoogle has always provided these mailing list options. It was only natural that we would provide these options where artists could control their whole funnel. Whether you’re trying to make an album sale, single sale, show, or new merch product with a more successful offering, all of those tools can be in one place at Bandzoogle.

I love that. It’s not some weird URL where people are like, “Is this the actual business I’m trying to reach?”

It’s recognition too. It’s something that you can remember. When the artist remembers your domain, they can keep coming back for more.

Let’s talk about landing pages because I’ve known about landing pages for a long time, but there may be some other people reading who don’t know the power of landing pages. What is the reason a musician would use a landing page?

Landing pages are important because they allow you to create a single place with a dedicated call to action, like some action that you would like your visitor to take. For example, it allows you to tie in all of those extra marketing initiatives. Let’s say you are promoting on your socials. You have a TikTok reel, Instagram post, or even a blog post about a specific initiative like a single that you have or a pre-order, and you would like to be able to send all of those visitors to a single place to take that action like, “Pre-order our new album. Buy this new merch item. Purchase our live-streaming tickets.” All of those initiatives can be driven to a single page with a single action.

From there, artists are able to look through all of the data on the interactions with that page and make more informed decisions. Also, it will help you decide things like, “Was this an effective product that we’re offering? Were the marketing initiatives effective? Where should we put in more effort next time? Did we get more visitors from Google ads, Facebook, or Instagram?” It allows you to compile all the data for a single page in a single initiative with a single marketing effort.

If you’re putting something like that on your homepage, then you don’t know why they are going there. Maybe they googled me and found me, or maybe they were at a show and they looked me up. You don’t know that they were going there for that particular thing which totally makes sense why you would use a landing page. Do you have the analytics built in so you could see the traffic sources and what was the most effective?

Yes. This 2023, we added single-page analytics that’s tied into our in-house metrics. If you have a conversion point like if you wanted to make a sale or wanted to get a mailing list sign-up, there are a bunch of different actions that you might be interested in making on that page. We will compile the number of visitors to the number of successful executions on that page. We also integrate Google Analytics, so it’s quite powerful. All of these reporting, the page level reporting, and the full site reporting are integrated right into your control panel. I ran a company, and when I log into Google Analytics, it can be quite overwhelming. We pull all of the data points that are relevant to artists and the initiatives they’re taking.

That’s very cool. A lot of sites don’t have anything like that. If you’re going to take the trouble to create a landing page for a specific thing, you want to be able to know if it’s working. Kudos that you guys have all that analytics built in. You added upsells, which is cool. What’s an example of some things that artists are using as an upsell?

Upsells are interesting because we came about this feature because of a change that SoundScan made. Bandzoogle offers SoundScan reporting. In the last few years, we added this bundling option so you could bundle different products, but SoundScan doesn’t like to include bundles in the reporting because they found that a lot of people were gaming the system. They would attach a bundle of a digital sale or a physical sale to a t-shirt or something that was very popular.

Upselling allows you to associate different products and still count towards those SoundScan reports. If you’re selling an album or a single, you could also relate it to different products that you have, like a show ticket or a t-shirt that represents that album. It’s pretty interesting. As a consumer, even when I’m shopping, what always gets my attention is all of the fun stuff by the cash register.

Upselling allows you to associate different products and still count towards those SoundScan reports. So if you're selling an album or a single, you could also relate it to different products you have, like a show ticket or a t-shirt representing that… Click To Tweet

In my opinion, upselling is suggesting to the people who are already intending to purchase something on your site that there are these other things that they might be interested in. That always gets me because it usually encourages me to make extra purchases, and we found that it was helping to increase the overall sales numbers for average users.

That makes sense. In general, people are like, “I’m going to buy a t-shirt,” but then they get an upsell for maybe a digital album, or is it the other way around?

There are all sorts of things. If anything, the most successful users are getting creative with these tools. By far, t-shirts have always been the most popular sales item. However, if you’re proposing a unique experience, you could even add in as an upsell, for example, some form of experience, a show ticket, or future digital files like song sheets. You could add anything to those bundles.

There are probably so many fun creative things that you could do with that. I love it. I also know that over the past couple of years, you added the integration of Printful, which makes it easy to create your own merch right there on your site. Do you want to talk a little bit about that and what musicians have been doing with that?

The Printful integration has been great because if you’ve been on tour, one of the most annoying things is having to bring all of the stock with you and truck it around, especially if you’re away for long periods of time. Another challenge to having inventory on hand is figuring out sizing mixes for your audience, especially if you’re visiting different locations.

Even as a company, we have a box of dusty extra-small and triple extra-large t-shirts in the basement. We want to make sure that those are available for whoever needs them, but it’s hard to figure out things like sizing mixes. Lastly, that comes to your investment. Drop shipping allows you to try out different offerings without having to have a huge upfront investment. That’s been important for bands, too, because you could try out different offerings.

Every audience is different. Every audience has different preferences. It’s all about the demographics that you’re serving. It allows artists to try different things and see what’s working with little investment and little buy-in. If they discover that there’s a specific product or offering that is selling a lot, they might want to try to increase their profit margins and then invest in the inventories, and they’ll have a better understanding of things like size A mixes. There’s no reason not to do Printful because it’s free. You just add it in and we don’t take a cut of the sales, and you’re either going to sell them or not and then you can try different products over time.

TPM 91 | Bandzoogle Websites

Bandzoogle Websites: Every audience has different preferences. It’s all about the demographics you’re serving and allows artists to see what’s working with little investment in little buy-in.

 

I’ve had a lot of my artists having fun going on there and creating different things, like creating specific merch for each of their albums and stuff like that.

It’s neat. Printful is always adding different products, and they’ve been a great partner for us too.

That’s cool. I also saw that you guys added gift cards. I’m not even sure I knew that. Maybe I saw the email come across a while back, and I was like, “That was a smart thing to do.” How did that go over the last holiday season?

The idea to add gift cards came up around the holidays because a lot of the stuff that we add is based on member demand. Whenever I’m creating a roadmap, I’m like, “What have users been asking for in the last year?” A lot of artists have fans that would like to support them, but maybe they’re not offering something right now that they’d like to purchase, or there might be a future commitment that they would like to support. Adding gift cards was interesting because it’s very similar on the backend to something like ticket sales where it’s like a unique digital purchase. Over the holidays, it’s been a more successful integration, but we have a wide variety of different types of artists that use Bandzoogle. We also have music venues, recording studios, and music stores. Those have been popular with gift cards.

That makes sense too. It’s not all just individual artists. As you said, record labels and even music stores are so excited to get the gift card option. That’s cool. The bundling is so key, especially nowadays when it’s not easy to sell a CD or music in any form. Some people do well selling their USB catalog and stuff, but it’s hard to get people to buy music, and I feel like bundling is the key. Have you found that amongst the Bandzoogle members that bundling has been popular since you started it?

Bundling is an exciting way to move your merchandise. You can create some pretty interesting collections of similar items, offer different formats of your music, or even get more personal, like selling handcrafted items along with digital items. It’s a good way to introduce your fans to different things that you’re offering. Also, it will allow your fans to consume music in multiple ways too. You can pair digital downloads along with your latest final so they can hear your tracks right away while they’re waiting for it. There are some interesting things that you could do with bundles.

You can create some collections of similar items, offer different formats of music, or even get more personal by selling handcrafted items along with digital items. So it's a good way to introduce your fans to different things you're offering. Click To Tweet

Some of our members are doing experience bundles now, which is so cool because, especially after a few years of everybody being on lockdown, people want to get out and be around others. We have this one band, Enter The Haggis, that’s been with us for several years. They’re movers and shakers. They’re creating these bundle experiences where they’re renting out a full campground. It’s like a three-day retreat where they’re going to play shows a couple of times every day. You can rent a camping spot, show tickets, and meals are all included in these bundles. People are getting so creative with them. Those are experiences that wouldn’t be possible without them where you could customize the offerings for specific groupings.

That is cool. I love when artists get creative around the things that make sense with their brand, their audience, the type of people that love their music, and the lifestyle that those people like to live. I’m always wondering, how much of this $100,000 million is for physical goods versus tickets versus experiences, subscriptions, and all those things? It might be hard to tell because people are doing that bundling where there are some experiences bundled in. They’re not a product, but they kind of are. Do you have any sense of how much of this is actual physical merch?

To be honest, the bulk of it represents merch sales, so about 75% of that $100 million. Also, you’re right. It includes bundles, some digital merch, and those Printful items dropshipping. It’s also the top income generator for over 70% of the top 50 sellers in 2022. Not only are we selling a lot of merch now, physical or digital, but the artists who are doing well are creating a pretty diverse offering when it comes to their merch to be able to sell that amount.

Can you give an idea of the average amount that say one of the top 50 sellers is making from their Bandzoogle website?

We have artists who are making over $200,000 a year. There are some pretty good success stories at Bandzoogle. We also offer fan subscriptions. Let’s say you’re only selling like $200 a month. That’s recurring revenue that you can depend on for various things and build on it. If you’re not making these products, services, and goods available, then you’re leaving money on the table because it’s obvious that fans are supporting artists and making purchases from their websites. Artists who are trying things out are earning more. I was going through some of our sales data before we spoke. Artists are selling around $40,000 to $65,000 on average a day at Bandzoogle. There’s a lot of movement going around in the sales. We’re already at $102 million in sales since we put up that press release.

Some artists may be using Bandzoogle sites to sell things like coaching, lessons, custom songs, or things like that that are a little bit maybe higher priced.

Yes. This is very popular. We have a lot of music teachers on Bandzoogle. Since the pandemic, a lot of artists and teachers had to move their activities online and offer a virtual offering. Because we integrate things like Crowdcast and YouTube, you then could embed videos on your Bandzoogle site. We also have password-protected pages, which work well for music students.

You could create a dedicated page for each of your students and have their downloadable content. They could either pay for lessons through your store or pay for a monthly subscription to be able to access this content. There are a lot of things that you could do if you have different types of music businesses. We’re seeing a lot of artists diversify their revenue stream. Maybe they weren’t even doing virtual lessons before it all, but they’re quite successful with us.

In April 2020, I did a webinar for Bandzoogle about how you can bootstrap getting started with teaching online. One of the things I said was, “Bandzoogle has password-protected pages. You don’t have to go and invest in something like Teachable, Thinkific, My Music Staff, or anything like that to get started. You can use your Bandzoogle site and have this gateway area where you send your students and sell lessons.” I’m glad people are using that.

Also, another way that they’re doing it is through fan subscriptions. Some artists will create fan clubs using tiered subscriptions. Some music teachers will have different levels of instruction, how many lessons and services they provide, and at what frequency can be set at the different tiers that you have access to if you’re subscribing.

TPM 91 | Bandzoogle Websites

Bandzoogle Websites: Some artists will create fan clubs using tiered subscriptions. Some music teachers will have different levels of instruction, how many lessons and services they provide, and at what frequency set at the different tiers you have access to if you’re subscribing.

 

It must be interesting to see when you create a tool and then how people get creative with it, and people maybe use the things that in a way that you had never even conceived of.

It’s incredible. This is not necessarily music-related, but many years ago, we created this thing called the Custom Style Editor because it was impossible to generate websites without a web designer or without code that was completely unique back in the day in Bandzoogle’s earlier history. We developed this thing called the Custom Style Editor, which would essentially let artists build whatever design they want on their site.

This was a little terrifying to us because we said, “They’re going to create Frankensites. They’re not designers. They’re musical artists.” We were pleasantly surprised at the incredible designs that our members were creating from this. There were not too many Frankensites. It changed the direction of how flexible we made our sites in the years to come. The users and how they adopted our new offerings influenced how we created future tools.

I’d be worried that someone would create a strange-looking site, and then they would tell people it was on Bandzoogle. Is there anything else that we haven’t covered that you want to let people know about Bandzoogle and how it can serve them as a musician?

The important thing as an artist is to get started. Don’t let this full suite of tools that we discussed overwhelm you. Start with a single one-page site and have an online presence. Start small, whether it’s putting up a t-shirt that you didn’t have to purchase inventory for, uploading your most recent track, or putting up a poll and get engage your fans and asking them, “Which one did you like listening to more? Which song would you like to see completed?” Engage your fans in fun ways and start simple. If you’re not sure, we have a ton of guides on our blog that are free on how to get started with your online presence.

I always encourage artists too, even starting with an electronic press kit. Bandzoogle has some templates for that which I encourage my artist to use because that’s like, “Here’s an overview of who I am. Here are a few songs and some quotes. Here’s some press.” If you have those things, “Here are some pictures and videos.” You can start with that, and then build out your site.

If you have mental blockers where you’re like, “This is overwhelming,” the best thing you can do is take a step forward.

If you have mental blockers, the best thing you can do is take a step forward. Click To Tweet

By working with artists, sometimes the idea of a website is so overwhelming to them. They don’t want to put anything out on the internet until it’s all perfect and it’s their dream site. What she said is so important for all of you guys reading. Get something on the internet so someone can find you. There’s a place you can send people if you’re trying to book yourself, trying to get press, or anything that shows that you’re a legitimate artist and that you’re not just somebody that has a social media presence that doesn’t show who you are. It gives a complete picture of who you are as an artist.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t spend time on all these social media sites. I like to say hang out where your fans are but then drive them back to a place where you could control the experience. Gather that contact information that you’ll own and that you’ll be able to leverage in the future.

Also, a place that someone’s not going to shut down someday or is not going to have a glitch where it’s down for an entire day or whatever that you can’t control.

Bandzoogle has 99.98% uptime annually. It’s not very common.

TPM 91 | Bandzoogle Websites

Bandzoogle Websites: Bandzoogle has 99.98% uptime annually.

 

That is pretty impressive. Thank you so much. This has been so informative. I’m glad that we got you back on after a few years because so much has already changed in what Bandzoogle offers and gotten even better, and there are more tools for musicians. Thank you for all of your service and the company’s service to musicians for all these years. I love to be a partner. I haven’t counted how many people I’ve sent to Bandzoogle, but it’s got to be hundreds by now that have officially joined. There are plenty of other people that have heard about it from me, but I’m happy to continue to promote Bandzoogle in the future.

Thank you so much, Bree. It was lovely speaking with you as always.

You too.

 

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About Stacey Bedford

TPM 91 | Bandzoogle WebsitesHired as Bandzoogle’s very first support technician in 2007, Stacey Bedford was named CEO of the music website platform in 2018. In 2019 and 2021, and 2022 Stacey was awarded both International Power player and Digital Power Player by Billboard Magazine. A mother of three, Stacey is an avid guitar player, book lover, beekeeper, and karaoke singer.

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