Website Builders For Musicians: Squarespace vs. Bandzoogle
Being an artist is about more than the music you make.
The music industry has long understood that your image can bring thousands of new listeners to your music, or can turn away potential fans. Just look at Billboard’s top charting tracks — you’ll find that most of the top-selling artists in the country aren’t there on the strength of their music. They’re selling their image.
That doesn’t mean artists should contort themselves to fit a clichéd look or style to sell music. Authenticity will bring more fans to connect with your music (and will bring you more satisfaction in making it) than being an imitation ever will.
Still — the truth remains that most artists can stand to improve their image without sacrificing their uniqueness. We’re in 2016 now. If you don’t have a professional website and space on major social media sites, you’re damaging your chances with listeners and with professional organizations that can deliver deals, licensing, and other revenue streams.
Own Your Own Website. It’s Not Optional.
I once worked on a team handling hundreds of music submissions. With so much music to run through, we needed some way to filter out prospects right away.
One of the biggest turn-offs was a low-quality recording. A great song will have an awful time struggling through a bad recording. But an equally telling predictor of quality was an artist’s website. An awful website often meant awful songs — and even when it didn’t, we still found ourselves skeptical while listening to tracks. On the other hand, a beautiful site made us excited to listen to the music.
It may not be fair, but your presentation does affect the way people hear your music.
Building A Professional Website Isn’t Hard (Anymore)
As we dredged through an avalanche of horribly-designed web pages, we’d find artifacts like Geocities sites from 2001, old Myspace pages, and worse. Occasionally, though, a website would stand out and command immediate attention. To my surprise, many of the sites weren’t built with an expensive developer — they were done with a simple website builder.
Well, that was several years ago and website builders have become just as good as an expensive developer for most musicians. With a platform like Squarespace or Bandzoogle, you can create a website that shows professional photos, your bio, a merch shop, links to your social media profiles, embedded Spotify players, music downloads, your tour, and more — all for $8/month.
These platforms are much lighter than a content management system like WordPress or Drupal, and they have plenty features custom-built for musicians, unlike About.me or Wix. But the biggest draw is that Bandzoogle and Squarespace have invested so much into their in-built themes. This means you can look professional immediately.
In the rest of this article, we’ll dive into some comparisons between the two platforms, but if you’re in a hurry, I’d recommend checking out their provided themes. See a theme you really like? Then put the platform on your short list.
Squarespace vs. Bandzoogle
Pricing and Point of View
Squarespace and Bandzoogle are in a similar price bracket as of this writing: Squarespace is $8 per month for a personal page and $18 per month for a business page. Bandzoogle offers three price point tiers at $8.29, $12.49 and $16.95 per month (if billed annually). Custom domains and syncing with your social media platforms is included with both platforms as well.
It should be noted that Bandzoogle is much more focused on musicians, while Squarespace can work well for just about any business. Squarespace offers a full range of features for those wanting to inject creativity into their site, and they cater to a range of styles and approaches.
An Overview of Squarespace
Squarespace brings social connectivity, an elegant audio player and intuitive calendars together for musicians. It allows you to create a sleek website that reflects who you are as an artist. With lots of easy to use templates and features, it’s no wonder thousands of musicians are signed on with this service, including Lenny Kravitz, Warren G, Miguel, Leon Bridges, Walk the Moon, and many more big names.
One of the draws of Squarespace is ease of use. A drag and drop interface makes showcasing your music easy. The Events Collection feature helps keep fans informed about tour dates, performances, festivals and special events. The site merges flawlessly with an online “merch table” for selling t-shirts, posters and whatever else you want to promote.
Squarespace also naturally assists with SEO so your site is easy to find in the search engines. Clean article links, XML sitemaps, tagging and valid XHTML code are all taken care of. There are also analytics features so you can see who is finding you and what keywords are working best.
As excellent and user-friendly as Squarespace is, though, it is not specialized for music like Bandzoogle. Some might say this is good because its scope is wider and it caters to more feature preferences and customer types. They are also very reliable due to their history and track record in the web creation arena. However, some see them as a “jack of all trades” providing a somewhat watered-down service for musicians.
An Overview of Bandzoogle
Bandzoogle specializes in hosting sites for musicians in an intuitive, integrated and comprehensive way. It was founded by a musician almost two decades ago and has continued to add music industry-inspired bells, whistles and refinements ever since. Three pricing options based on the amount of pages and features desired allow for a flexible approach and something for everybody.
Like Squarespace, Bandzoogle allows users to create a responsive website even if they don’t have coding skills. They make it easy to maintain a fan list and run email campaigns with regular newsletters. Bandzoogle ups the ante when it comes to creative elements. In addition to a music player, you can also easily create photo galleries, start a blog from your site, create a musicians’ forum and run a podcast. You can also open a storefront to sell your merch as well as both audio and video tracks.
In short, there is a lot of overlap between Squarespace and Bandzoogle. However, what musicians love most about Bandzoogle is that the interface, templates and features are geared toward band promotion and music-centric functions. It was made by a musician for musicians, and this ethos and vibe shines through all phases and aspects of the product.
Which Should You Choose?
Both Squarespace and Bandzoogle offer free trial periods for their services to allow you to sign in and take a look around. Of course, each provider is hoping you’ll get started with their service, fall in love, and make a commitment. Both sites have strong features, and ultimately it will be up to you decide which feels like the best fit. So take advantage of that free trial period, sign up for both, and go with what feels best for your needs and plans. As you begin your site design, however, keep in mind these must-haves for today’s modern musician websites:
Remember, you’ll want a site that looks good and is easily navigable on phones and tablets as well as laptops and desktops. This is crucial, as most everyone is browsing the web from smaller touch screens on the go.
Keep it simple.
Fast loading times and easy to read pages are another key to success. It may be tempting to load up your pages with lots of detail, but it’s better to design with the smaller screen in mind.
Who do you love?
Take a look at the sites of bands you admire and wish to emulate. What works? What doesn’t?
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