Since 2003, Bandzoogle has provided a simple, hassle-free way for musicians to generate gorgeous web presences. Stacey Bedford joined the company as a customer service member and then began quickly climbing the corporate ladder. Two years ago, she was named CEO. In response to the pandemic, she implemented new functionalities specifically designed to help artists through this distressing situation.
A Musician’s Perspective
I play guitar and love karaoke. Our team has opera singers, drummers, all types of artists who are formally trained. We don’t hire often, but we’ll hire our customers because we know that not only do they have experience with Bandzoogle but also the perspective of independent artists. So our team is mostly made up of musicians.
For Artists, By Artists
We’re built for artists, by artists. We look at all the tools you need to build a website and [ask], “How do you make those tools successful and in context for artists?” And, “How do you coach them through what they need to be successful online?” That started out as website tools for musicians. Now, that looks more like—“What do you need to sell your art online?” Or, “How do you communicate with your fans during a pandemic?” There are many tools you need that junior [web design] sites don’t take into consideration.
In February, I planned out this whole roadmap for the next year. Then in March, the whole world shut down. We had to throw that out the window and say, “What do artists need now?” The first thing we did was we added a way to [issue] bulk ticket refunds. We knew that was a priority for artists. The next thing we did was we added a Virtual Ticket Sales option, so you can sell tickets to your livestreaming events. And then, after that, we added a Tip Jar feature.
Artists Come First
We don’t take a commission on any of your sales. If you’re receiving tips, we don’t touch the transaction. No other companies are doing commission-free sales right now. We always put the artist’s needs before anything else. I don’t want to say we’re communists, but we don’t feel there should be a class system. We take what we need to run the company and the rest we invest into building tools. And since I’ve been at Bandzoogle, we’ve never raised pricing.
Three Service Tiers
Our Lite Plan is for artists who are starting out or who maybe want to set up an online press kit for A&R reps. Our lightweight plan is basically a limited number of pages; you don’t have access to a huge amount of tools. Our Standard Plan includes more pages and storage. And then our Pro Plan gives you unlimited access to all our ecommerce features, so you can do physical product sales and have unlimited mailing list members.
Your Web Address: Easy Street
We have hundreds of preset templates. Once you select the layout you’re comfortable with, we bring you into a three-step site builder. You’ll choose a design out of the box, set your project’s theme and choose a header image. From there, you can use our website generator tools to add preset content, anything from EPKs to stores to discographies to band bios. Or you can start blank if you have an idea of what you want.
Once you get content created, you can request a website review; we do these for people who are not Bandzoogle members, too. One of our main value propositions has always been ease of use.
Some website builders have you maintain both a desktop version and a mobile version of your site, so you’re constantly updating two different versions. At some point, it became about breakpoints, so if your screen would change size your website design would change. With Bandzoogle websites, we’ve developed them so they display beautifully across any screen size or resolution. You can open your website in a browser, drag it to a corner and watch everything fall into place perfectly.
Search Engine Optimization
We have a bunch under the hood that we take care of for you. If your website provider offers SSL certificates, if they’re hosting your site on a robust server, if they’re outputting clean code that is easy for Google to crawl and index, you’re already a step above most other artists’ websites. Bandzoogle does that for you.
We provide the option to submit your site map to Google. We have places for you to add tags on all your images. And we also have connections to your social media so you can push music to Facebook, add links to your social networking sites and that sort of thing.
We also provide webinars on SEO and have a ton of content available in our help section. If you’re starting with a Bandzoogle website, as long as you’re submitting your site map you’re usually good to go and can focus on the content you’re adding. In my mind, the web host should be doing a lot of that heavy lifting for you. It becomes more of a question of adding content that is interesting and will get you found.
The New Hotness
We’re always adding new features. On the design side, every month or two we add new themes. We’re always improving on the tool set. Last year, we added digital distribution to our Pro Plan. You’ll see a lot of exciting things in the coming months.
Before the pandemic hit, a lot of livestreaming services shuttered, though there are some popular platforms that have seen 5,000% growth. I don’t know if that’s going to continue in a post-pandemic world, but it’s going to be another tool that’ll probably stay, [just] not at the same capacity we’re seeing now.
A lot of artists were using Facebook Live and Instagram Live and now they’re branching out to platforms like Twitch and Crowdcast. Those are also integrated into the Bandzoogle Tip Jar feature. And we are going to be adding a commenting feature so that your fans can interact with you on your livestreaming Tip Jar page.
Little Big Company
Some people are just hearing about Bandzoogle now, but we’ve been around a long time. Bandzoogle has always been growing. I think there is only one year that we haven’t hit double-digit growth. So we’re here to stay.
The other misconception is that we’re a bigger team than we are. We’re just a group of musicians working from home. We serve about 53,000 customers and we’re a team of 30. We’re a pretty small business, but we’ve been able to scale effectively and grow.
Remote Work Gurus
A lot of companies had to go through the hoops of learning how to work as a remote team, but we’ve been perfecting that for the last 17 years. Because people know that Bandzoogle has been a successful remote company for so long, I’ve been getting requests for consulting on this sort of thing.