Usually I’m not super swayed by company press releases.
There are always milestones for this and that. This company raised millions. That company got sold for millions. Blah blah. It’s all insider baseball and nothing that truly affects artists.
However, when I got the Bandzoogle announcement this was a little different.
For the unacquainted, Bandzoogle (a long-time Ari’s Take partner) is a website builder primarily geared towards musicians. It’s an extremely simple drag and drop style service that lets you create very nice looking websites without any coding or graphic design expertise.
Now of course you’re wondering if in 2023 you need a website when you’ve got Instagram, Spotify, Facebook and TikTok.
The short answer is yes. Yes, you absolutely need a website in 2023.
For one, many services use the official artist website for verification across the web (like Google). It’s also a simple way to populate Google search with images you want to show up when people Google you. But it’s also the official hub for tour dates, contact info and merch.
If you don’t have a Wikipedia, then your website should host your bio so people searching for you can learn more about you.
It doesn’t need to be fancy. You don’t need to create an interactive photo album beat maker like SZA.
These days all you really need on your official website is:
- Tour dates
- Links (to socials, music)
- Email / SMS signup
- And maybe Music and Videos (embedding Spotify or Bandcamp players and YouTube videos)
And sites like Bandzoogle enable you to do this extremely simply.
So how did artists earn $100 million from sales on Bandzoogle?
Well, the press release lists that 75% of this came from merch sales. They have a built-in merch store (that actually syncs with Printful for print-on-demand – so you don’t have to order inventory in bulk, store it under your bed and run to the post office every time someone orders a Tshirt). Bandzoogle also doesn’t take commission on sales. So if you sell a tshirt for $25 you make $25. And the only fees the fan pays is shipping costs.
The Toronto based band Enter the Haggis actually hosted monthly livestream listening parties over Covid (embedding YouTube Live onto their Bandzoogle site) and accepted tips and sold merch during these livestreams – averaging $5,000 per listening party. Not bad for sitting at home, chatting with fans.
Fans also contributed to artists’ bottom line via Bandzoogle through digital merch (sheet music, lyric books and sample pack), fan subscriptions (ala Patreon), and tips.
Even though Bandzoogle has been around for 20 years, half of the $100 million has been generated in just the last 5 years.
Here’s how the revenue breaks down:
- Merch sales represent 75% of the total revenue
- Merch was the top income generator for over 70% of the top 50 sellers in 2022
- Digital music sales represent 15% of the total revenue
- Ticket sales represent 6% of the total revenue
- Tips/donations represent 3% of the total revenue
- Fan subscriptions represent 1% of the total revenue
I’ve built a ton of websites on Bandzoogle over the years including ariherstand.com and uncancelledmusic.com.
If you’re not selling merch on your website right now, well you should be. There’s no excuse not to when print-on-demand exists. If you use Bandzoogle, you can use their built-in merch store and link it to Printful (for free) to sell print-on-demand.
And if your merch business is ramping up, you should also probably have a Shopify store which enables you to embed merch onto your Spotify profile. (You will have to cover Shopify’s monthly fees however).
With so much of the conversation these days surrounding streaming and social media, touring and AI, we tend to forget that we have the ability to sell directly to our fans, via our websites, without middle men or gatekeepers muddying the waters or dictating the terms.
Social media platforms will come and go. Streaming services will rise and fall in prominence. The most important thing you can do is harness the relationship with your fans. Remember, you rent your fans to social media, you own them when you have them on your mailing list. And you own your website. Social media and streaming platforms oftentimes flip the algorithm overnight and you lose access to your hard-won fans. Make sure you are developing a long-term relationship with your fans to support the life of your career – not just the trend of the moment.
Learn more on Bandzoogle.com