What I Learned At NMS: One Call To Action

This post is by Ryan Van Etten (@ryanve), Editor/Producer of VirtualMusic.tv; he was our featured corespondent at New Music Seminar in New York.

"Why make your own website? You own it.
You own the
experience." – Chris Vinson, Founder, Bandzoogle.

One Way

Since before you heard of Google, Chris Vinson has been designing musician websites. Like many today, he was in a band that needed a website. He did what anyone with enough determination would have done—he built it.

1000+ people were on his email list before email was a staple. Based on the success of his band's site, he was later hired by his record label to build hundreds more. In 2004, he launched Bandzoogle—now a comprehensive, subscription, website platform for musicians.

"Decide an important action
and encourage fans to do that action."

Tracking website analytics for years, Vinson has concluded that "elaborate sites lose traffic." Simple is better. Having a complicated, all-Flash website is self-defeating. "Flash sucks" was rule #1 in his 18-minute intensive at NMS about 'how to make an artist website that rocks.' He echoed these rules and really drove the idea of having exactly one concept per page. Have one call to action—e.g. 'download this' or 'become a fan on Facebook.'

There are three phases according to Vinson: Attract fans from social networks a.k.a. "outposts." Engage them with a "compelling fan experience." Sell through simple calls to action. "Artist websites emphasize an artist's own brand." Make it personal. "Frequent updates = repeat visits."

Chris Vinson 0374

Bandzoogle founder Chris Vinson explains how to make an artist website that rocks.

Brand isn't something you sell. It's not schilling other people's products, and it's not selling out. Brand is what you stand for." – Liz Leahy, Co-Founder, Section 101.

What about fan mailing lists? What's the right frequency? Ariel Hyatt suggests one email per month.

Each should contain a single call to action—a different call to action each month. Disc Makers CEO Tony Van Veen said, "Retain mindshare. Don't let them forget about you." and "Add value in your communication." Everything you do online is communication and should reflect your brand vision.


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