Tag Archives: BandZoogle

Controlling column width in Bandzoogle

People often come up to me on the street and say “Hey, Kelly. How do you get your columns in your Bandzoogle-hosted website pages to be uneven?”. Well, actually the previous statement is only half true. The true part is that I do manage to control the column widths on my pages. The bit about people approaching me on the street is patently untrue–they tend to cross over to the other side of the street and look away.

Now, let’s suppose that Bandzoogle is not hosting your music website. Then this blog post is probably not for you, unless you want to learn a little HTML and CSS trick, or you have a similar issue with your HostBaby site. So let’s dig in!

Here is what my news page currently looks like:

Adhering to the “rule of thirds”, this page has two columns of content, the left one taking up roughly 2/3 of the page width, while the right column takes up–anybody, anybody?–that’s right: 1/3 of the page! (Aren’t we all glad we signed up for math in the 5th grade?)

The Bandzoogle page designer, on the other hand, provides no direct way to do this. It will automatically assign equal width to your columns, as in the following example:

So how did I accomplish the uneven columns, thereby embracing the aesthetic rule of thirds?

Simple. Simple, of course if you know a little HTML and CSS. If not, follow these instructions:

First, add a simple Text page feature to the bottom of the left column of your layout:

Now go in and edit its content. First, click the HTML button in the right end of the formatting toolbar so that you can enter HTML code directly. Now enter the following code:

<div style="width: 600px;">
Hope you enjoyed the news!
</div>

Geek speak: By creating a <div> tag with a specific width, it forces the containing table, which you have no control over, to readjust its column width distribution. Theoretically, you wouldn’t need to put any text there, but if you leave it out, the site builder sometimes removes all of the code. So, putting some text there keeps the <div> thing there. Of course, you can experiment with the width, do this with the right column instead, and use some other text, perhaps a couple of unobtrusive dots. (Don’t use only the literal “non-breaking” space &nbsp;.)

So there! I have scratched my “share something geeky” itch and perhaps you learned something helpful.

Until next time!

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What’s next?

Wow! I feel like a chapter has ended. I have been working on my new CD for almost a year. And now it’s finished!! I got the delivery a couple of days ago. I’m looking at the boxes. It looks wonderful (the CD’s, not the boxes). It sounds wonderful. I am SO proud. It is available now on my Bandzoogle website here, will be available on CDBaby in a few weeks, and then eventually on iTunes, Rhapsody, Amazon, etc. You can read more about the rollout in my monthly newsletter.

So, what’s next? I am putting a band together and am planning a few release parties in the Seattle area for September. I have to figure out how to market this thing. I won a free 3-month PR campaign through CyberPR. I need all the help I can get. Word of mouth is a wonderful thing.

In addition to hustling my product, I am now working on a CD with my good friend Scott Burnett. This is just the two of us and will be produced solely in my home studio, so it will be done much quicker. More about this in the days and weeks to come…

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Filed under Art, Music Career

Why DIY Is Facing a Darwin Moment… – from Digital Music News

Reblogging this from Digital Music News. Wow! I haven’t heard of most of these, but I feel under internal pressure (constantly) to check them out whenever I hear about them for the first time. Too crazy!! There are more that aren’t mentioned that I’m looking into: RootMusic (recommended by Ariel and CyberPR), DamnTheRadio (acquired by the folks at FanBridge), and some others that I can’t quite remember. No wonder! Read on…

Why DIY Is Facing a Darwin Moment…

If you’re a musician, you have an interesting issue: too many DIY, direct-to-fan options. The space is just totally overloaded with tools, direct-to-fan platforms, and analytics options… it’s like a supermarket with too many aisles! But can this wildly overcrowded, overlapping marketplace last for long?  Or is the DIY sector headed towards a grim, Darwin moment?

Here are just thirty companies competing in this space.  Some are highly differentiated, most are not.  And, we have a feeling we could easily double this tally.

  

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ASCAP Trip Recap

Sheesh, I was congratulating myself over blogging every day about the ASCAP Expo, but I had to split a day early to attend my nephew’s wedding in Tucson, so I was running out of time. By the way, if you ever have to take an early flight out of Burbank airport, the rental car counters don’t open until 6, good luck finding breakfast, things are pretty darn mellow. I was freaking out a little over returning the car, but it only took five minutes to go through security, and they don’t have those full body scanner thingies.

The Expo was beneficial, I got a lot out of it, I wish I could have gone to the whole thing. Since this was my second year, I was more selective about what I wanted to learn, so I wasn’t quite the wide-eyed sponge from the previous year. By the way, have you ever seen a sponge with eyes? I personally haven’t. I propose we ask Nemo for the definitive answer. Well there is of course Sponge Bob Square Pants, but we’re talking reality here. (Right, and I just suggested interrogating Nemo.)

One fun thing was that I got to meet Ariel Hyatt in person! She is the owner of Ariel Publicity and author of “Music Success in Nine Weeks”, which you will know if you go sleuthing around on this blog, I won a 3-month PR campaign by participating in a blog-writing contest.

Once again, she moderated a panel about using social media for fan engagement. It was very useful information. I found out that research indicates that the best times to post to Facebook, send out emails, etc. are 11AM, 3PM, and 8PM. Also, when you send emails at 6AM, it will be sure to show up in the first page of people’s email inbox, (unless one is getting spammed to death). Another tidbit is that anything you post on Facebook or Twitter has about a 30-minute shelf life, so you really can’t over-post status updates because otherwise people just won’t seem them. It makes sense if you think about it. How often do you click on the “Older Posts” link at the bottom of your news feed? It goes against my aversion to annoying people but I’m just going to have to get over it.

I also stopped by the Bandzoogle booth, where they were evaluating people’s websites and giving advice. I had one of the founders of Bandzoogle look at mine and his first reaction was that there was too much information on my home page. It needed less stuff, bigger fonts, more white space, and an obvious focus of the main “call to action” element on the page. My call to action is the email signup widget and do to my tend to be verbose, it got kinda buried on the page. If you’re interested in receiving my newsletter, you can sign up here: http://kellycarpentermusic.fanbridge.com

So the last two days I did another website makeover. The signup widget is clearly displayed, my Passage promo video is right underneath it along with a picture of the Passage Special Edition CD, and I did some menu reorganization. Go check it out at http://kellycarpentermusic.com

Well that’s about it for now. The first picture is of the Renaissance Hotel where the Expo was held in downtown Hollywood. And the picture below is of an auto repair shop that obviously does not want to sell gas. The actual average price of regular in that neck of the woods was anywhere from $4.25 to $4.35 a gallon. Ouch!

Ciao!

Yep, that's $4.85 a gallon.

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Filed under Music Career, Music Success in Nine Weeks Blog Challenge

Music Success in Nine Weeks – Nine Weeks After

Yes, it’s hard to believe that about nine weeks have already gone by since the end of the Wave 1 Blog Challenge. I am so grateful for the challenge and the amount of progress I made during that time. I thought it would be good to reflect on how things are going now and share that with y’all. So what have I been up to since then?

Well, first of all, I won the grand prize for the Wave 1 blog challenge! This means I get a free 3-month PR campaign from Ariel Publicity whenever I want it. When I started the blog challenge, I decided to give it 110%, fully expecting to win. Of course, I knew there were 82 other contestants that were “all in”, so as much as I wanted it to be me, and visualize it so, I was still very surprised to win. I am so grateful for Ariel and company! Even if I hadn’t won, the amount of progress I made would have been reward enough. But it’s great to win! Here are some highlights of my progress since then.

Making a New Recording

After nine years of no output, I went into the studio in Vancouver with some friends and started work on my new album. The post-production is taking longer than I expected, so I won’t have it ready for release until after the new year, at which time I will take advantage of the PR campaign. If you’d like to keep track of my progress, I have been making a video blog series that you can see on my website, KellyCarpenterMusic.com

My 15-Second Pitch

My official pitch is “Instrumental piano infused with splashes of Chill, Jazz, Americana, and Post-Rock. Perfect for daydreaming, relaxing with friends, and beach sunsets”. When I share this, people appear a bit perplexed, asking questions like “what’s ‘chill'” or “what’s ‘post-rock'”. Of course, I can use this as an opportunity to hand then my card with my website address. But I have also added a bit more meat to my pitch once people land on the site. Speaking of…

My Website

I have been keeping tabs on the wave 2 and 3 blog challenge contestants and have found their website development ideas to be very helpful. So, I decided to do a mini-overhaul of my own website which I launched last July. One major change was to make the front page dynamic where before it was pretty static except for changing the free song I give away. I have moved my “news” section to the main page and am updating it at least twice a week. I am also employing BandZoogle’s available page elements more fully. I now consider myself an advocate for BandZoogle; I suggest you check them out if you are a music artist and still not sure who to use for your site.

My main page also features an expanded pitch: I am a music artist, songwriter, and producer in the Seattle area who is currently focusing on “Instrumental piano infused with splashes of Chill, Jazz, Americana, and Post-Rock.” What does that mean? Well, imagine the “new age” stylings of Kevin Kerns, David Lanz, and Michael Gettel, mixed in with the jazz and Americana influences of Dave Grusin, Lyle Mays and Bruce Hornsby, against a backdrop of Chill and Post-Rock beats and textures. The result? Perfect music for daydreaming, relaxing with friends, and beach sunsets.

Social Media

There is so much to continue to develop regarding social media. For Twitter, I try to do at least five tweets a day. I find that Echofon is a great Twitter client for the Mac. It makes it easy to find new people to follow and also to increase your presence by retweets and follows. I get an average of about half a dozen new followers each week. As far as Facebook goes, I find it challenging to get people to visit my fan page, and more importantly, interact with it. I started video blogging my album project and have tried creating FB events around each video blog episode release. When it comes to personal and professional blog posts, as well as events, I am spreading out the timing of sharing them on FB profile and fan page. For example, when I do a new video blog, I will share it to my FB fan page one day, my FB profile, the next day, my BandZoogle page the day after. That way, my announcements don’t get all clumped together in the FB news feed.

I am also keeping track in a spreadsheet every professional thing I post or share and then checking out the analytics of my blog, BZ, and FB fan pages at the end of the week to see what the effects of those posts are. Of course, I want to drive up my site visits and search engine rankings so it helps to know what’s working vs. what’s not.

Blogging

This, by far, is my greatest opportunity for growth. By blogging, I am referring to finding music blogs that feature music similar to what I do, commenting on songs, and building enough cred with the blog hosts to be listened to when I send them songs to consider. I believe that a nine week course could be developed just for this piece of the puzzle alone. How about “Blogging Success in Nine Weeks”? Short of that, there is an excellent free e-book by Chris Bracco called “How To Really Get Your Music On Blogs”. You can find this on TightMixBlog.com. I highly recommend it.

Mailing List and Newsletter

I roll my own HTML for my monthly newsletter and then send it out via FanBridge. They have a great preview feature so you can see exactly what your newsletter will look like before you send out the full campaign. You can save multiple drafts and also manage multiple mailing lists. Good stuff.

One thing to know. If you like giving away a free song in your newsletter, don’t bother trying to imbed a music player in your newsletter. Most mail web services will throw a fit over security issues and possibly divert your email to the junk folder. So now, I simply include a link. And I just discovered FanBridge makes it real easy to download a song; I’m going to check it out.

I am still tweaking the free song giveaway. I get very few email signups via the freebie. So I am trying a “mystery gift” approach where they won’t hear the song until after they sign up and download the song. Currently, I am using BZ’s signup widget, although it is a bit confusing what the difference is between a email member and a full-fledged member, the latter of which requires a separate signup process.

By far, the best way to build the email list is at events. I am doing a couple of keyboard workshops this weekend at a conference and hope to add at least 200 people to my list. We’ll see.

Networking

A well-timed opportunity during the blog challenge got the ball rolling with live networking. I am pretty shy and introverted, but when I went to a local “wine walk”, it wasn’t difficult to figure out what to ask people to get them to talk about themselves. “What made you decide to get into the wine business?” “How would you describe this wine?” And in the case of the local “boutique” winemakers, “What do you do for your day job?”.

How Do I Do All This?

I am in this full-time. I don’t have a day job. This is a good thing, but it is also challenging because I have a lot to learn about effective time management. I realized that I needed to work out a weekly rhythm in order to be consistent with all my business activity. This is what I came up with:

  • Mondays – Work on the newsletter email list, catch up on email, read and comment on music blogs, post and promote the video from last week on FB profile page
  • Tuesdays – Catch up on social media, write a personal blog and post to FB profile page, post video to BZ news blog
  • Wednesdays – Work on newsletter or finish up whatever free songs I’m working on this month. If it’s the week before the newsletter, it’s time to change the free song for the email list incentive. Share the previous day’s personal blog post on the FB fan page if it’s professionally oriented, such as this blog post.
  • Thursdays – Create new music day!! It’s important to set aside time to just create new stuff, whether it’s some instrumental music or songwriting (music with lyrics, which I haven’t done much in a while). The fruit of this work is both mentally beneficial as well as material that I can use for freebies. Since I’m getting into video blogging, I can do a lot of this with the digicam in record so that I have fresh video content.
  • Fridays – Produce a video for the video blog, then post it to YouTube and share a link to it on FB fan page. Also, create a news post on BZ about whatever I’m up to. And finally, review web traffic analytics on my main music site (kellycarpenter.com) my songwriting site (kelsongs.com), by BZ site, FB fan page, BandCamp, etc.
  • Mondays – And that brings us back to “doe”, also known as “rinse and repeat”

Pomodoro

All the above is necessary business stuff and, of course, on top of that all, I have projects I need to work on, such as my new album, keyboard workshops I’m preparing for, practicing music, etc. So much to do, and it seems like I never have enough time to do it. The sheer weight of stuff to do and the fact that I have ADD, means that I need some type of time management framework in order to not get too overwhelmed. Enter the “Pomodoro Technique”. Major thanks to fellow blog challenge alumnus Neil Milton for telling us about this. This blog post is already way too long, so I won’t go into detail here, but if you struggle with time management and feel shamed by the clock that seems to be moving faster than you’d like, check out PomodoroTechnique.com.

If you found this post useful at all, please express your gratitude by “liking” my FB fan page which can be found at http://facebook.com/KellyCarpenterMusic and/or share this post on your FB profile. We all benefit when we share the love.

Cheers!

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Filed under Music Success in Nine Weeks Blog Challenge, Work