Bandzoogle SEO Stacey Bedford shares a look at how the d.i.y. musicians platform pivoted in the pandemic and helped struggling creators earn more the $5 million.
By Stacey Bedford, CEO of Bandzoogle
Running a business right now is like playing the Floor is Lava, but the walls are burning and there is smoke everywhere and you have to constantly feel for a safe way forward, with 30 other people following you.
Every January, I create a long term roadmap and break it down into quarters. In March, when the world shut down I threw that roadmap in the garbage. Our plan was no longer relevant; artists would need new tools for thriving in a pandemic world, and they would need help trying to figure out how to use their existing tools effectively.
Helping artists move forward online
The first thing I did was write a love letter to my staff at Bandzoogle. Morale was low and I felt confident we were in a good position to help artists navigate through this sudden new reality affecting every single human on the planet.
Not only were we already a fully remote team, but I knew that artists would need to turn to online operations, as most businesses did, to reach fans. On the flip side, fans would also need to rely more on technology to consume art in a multitude of ways.
As a team who is passionate about helping artists, I knew we’d be up for the challenge.
Next, I revised our business goals altogether. Our entire focus, our entire mission would be to help our customers monetize their music business and grow their commission-free music sales.
So what would the world look like in the coming days? How would it change? What would our members need out of the gate?
Dave Cool, VP of Business Development and former band manager/recovering punk drummer/folkie put together a resource guide for artists during the pandemic and we made it publicly available. Within days, we added a bulk refund option for our events feature. We knew artists would need a way to cancel shows easily and reimburse fans.
Commission-free ticket sales and virtual event integrations
The next thing we did was make our built-in ticket sales feature (usually only available on our Pro level plan) available for all users, and added the ability to sell tickets to live stream shows, commission free.
This allowed users to include a live stream link, along with a password to be sent to fans automatically once a ticket is sold. Since its release, over 1300 ticketed live stream events have been created, with Bandzoogle members earning just under $200k in ticketed virtual event sales across the globe.
Next, we looked at ways artists could safely engage fans and play live shows; Bandzoogle added a Tip Jar feature in April. Fans can easily send tips to support their favorite artists, and musicians can embed their live streams right onto their websites.
This supports YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, Twitch, and Crowdcast. In fact, we opened up all other video integrations at Bandzoogle to support these popular platforms. The Tip Jar feature was launched in May, and fans have already shown their generosity by donating nearly $200,000 in commission-free tips to Bandzoogle artists, with the average tip amount being $42.12.
The current state of affairs
In a world where streaming sales appear to reign king, Bandzoogle encourages and empowers artists to take charge of their direct to fan sales. Since Bandzoogle started compiling sales data in 2010, our customers have sold $67.3M in commission-free sales, with nearly half of that coming in the last 2 years alone. And since the pandemic hit, that number has been climbing only faster.
Since March, artists have earned over $5.4 million in total revenue, commission-free, directly from their fans through their websites. The bulk of those sales are physical goods and services; merchandise sales such as CDs, vinyl, band t-shirts and other apparel (like face masks!). Next, digital goods like sheet music, lyric books, sample packs, and services such as music lessons, account for almost $600k of sales.
Fan subscription sales have also picked up as a result of the pandemic, with Bandzoogle members having spent more time exploring revenue streams like building out fan clubs or improving their offerings for super fans.
We are finding there is a resurgence in artists injecting their creativity into their offerings to fans. It’s not just album, tour, merch table anymore, but live stream, subscription for recurring content, and relationship building.
Features like tips for live streams, pay what you want albums, and tiered subscription has really democratized the fan experience and allowed access to artists to any level of fan. You are essentially asking the fan: how much is this worth to you, and from our data, artists make on average 2x the revenue per event when they accept tips over ticket sales, so it’s clear the fans are saying “your art and entertainment is integral to me right now – please do more.”
More updates for musicians
In the coming months, we’ll continue to deliver more tools to help artists safely monetize their music business through their websites. Our biggest updates yet are in the works and are sure to open up many more possibilities. Notably, Bandzoogle members will see more ways to receive funds, give fans more control over how they pay, and of course, more beautiful and flexible design options than ever before.
We are a relatively small team of 27, but we’re driven. Our workplace culture is warm, accepting, gritty and supportive. I know I’m going to look back on this time, working with this team and what it was like to be part of something so reactive and purposeful. This is a team you can trust to always give their best, even when the world is on fire. This year is a love letter to our members.