Posted tagged ‘html’

I Don’t Know html. How Do I Build a Website?

November 4, 2010

ARTIST: Eric Downs of Yours Truly (Pittsburgh, PA)
QUESTION: I was wondering if you could suggest a few things for me to research in regards to building a website. I’ve researched options like the cost of domain registration and hosting fees, but outside of that, I’m relatively oblivious. Do you think you could provide me with some guidance?

ANSWER: Hey Eric. Yea I think the biggest hangup preventing artists from owning their own website is not know html code.  Yea its easy to get someone to design a site for you, but you still need to be responsible for maintaining it.  Here are some great options.

1. Bandzoogle. I’ve heard really great things about Bandzoogle. Artists have told me its great because it helps you design a site without needing to have any html knowledge.  BZ handles all hosting and you can claim your desired domain name through them.  The minimum fee is $9.99/ month. This is more costly than registering a domain and buying annual hosting space on your own…but the ease and user-friendly approach of BZ is what sells the idea.

2. WordPress. Everyone uses WordPress. Believe it or not, many of the sites you visit today are created with WordPress. You have to register your own domain and hosting. And it’s definitely necessary to have some html and css knowledge to establish your site. But once everything is in place, updating your pages is easy.  Wordpress has thousands upon thousands of themes (i.e. designs) that you can pick for the layout of your website. Here are two ways to go about using WordPress.

  • Consider having someone do all the setup (if you can’t), then go in and do all the tweaking. My sister’s band,  The Peace Project,  just did this with their site, but you might never know it’s WordPress. She added and updates the content when she wants.
  • Consider having someone do the setup and design. Maybe you can’t find a WordPress theme that you like. Create one. This is a bit more work and would also require a third-party if you don’t know how to do this. I had someone custom make a design for my website, Css and html knowledge that I didn’t have was required. But it feels great not having to worry about using html when updating

Good luck with your website! I hope it goes well!
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An Interview with Allison Weiss

September 2, 2009
Allison Weiss

Allison Weiss

The first time  I came across Allison Weiss’ myspace page, I knew she was a musician after my own heart. Grassrootsy first covered her back in July in a feature on Kickstarter.  And after reading more about Weiss, it was apparent that she is one of the hardest working independent artists you will ever come across.  I mean ever. And believe me, it will pay off! In fact she’s already scored tons of top-notch gigs and an interview with Billboard Magazine.

Grassrootsy asked her some questions about herself and her music marketing techniques.  Read on!  Read everything! (and post your thoughts below)

1.) What’s your story?
I started writing and playing music when I was in high school, but didn’t really do a lot of it until I came to college. At that point I started playing out all the time. I hit as many open mics as possible until I had gained enough exposure to land some coffee house gigs, and in time I moved up to playing clubs in my town. Eventually I reached the point I’m at now, where I play regionally every weekend and tour during my breaks from school. I’m currently a full time student and part time musician, though it feels like full time. I’m pretty much constantly thinking about writing, performing, and promoting my music. It’s second nature. It’s what I’m most passionate about. I’m working as hard as I can to get to full-time status. As soon as I finish school I plan to work as a freelance graphic designer in order to pay for my musical endeavors. I already do this now of course, I just intend to do it even more intensely.

2.) It looks like some really great opportunities have been coming your way. How did you score that interview with Billboard Magazine?
The Billboard thing was definitely amazing for me. My friend Rosie Siman has always been a huge supporter of my music, so when she befriended Billboard editor Bill Werde, she made a point to bring him out to one of my shows in New York. I guess he liked what he saw, because he ended up coming to the next one a couple months later and he only had great things to say about my performance and my music. He then set me up with an interview for the Underground section of their website. It was pretty surreal to see myself on the front page of I never thought I’d be so close to the Jonas Brothers. Bill has been really awesome to me and supportive of my career. He’s also a total badass in general and I’m proud to know him.

3.) What do you think is the single most important thing an artist should do to promote themselves better?
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. When I first got started, some people criticized me for my “shameless” self-promotion techniques. Four years later, the same people are now asking for my advice. It seems pretty simple, but the most important thing is to scream your name from the rooftops. If nobody’s ever heard of you, how will they hear your music? Make sure they know you exist. Do it with honesty, charm, and style and you’ll earn the trust of people who will support you for a long time. Also: get a mailing list. Make people sign it. Announce onstage that you’re giving away a CD to someone who signs the list, pass it out into the crowd, and then announce the winner right before your last song. Those email addresses are almost as valuable as album sales, because each one is a potential attendee at your next show and a potential fan.

4.) What is your biggest frustration with your fellow musician?
Nothing bothers me more than a musician who swears off the internet. It’s a new age. Unfortunately, its about more than just writing great songs. You have to be organized and you have to be on top of things and you have to be putting yourself out there in the real world and online. There are so many opportunities for musicians on the internet, to see someone swear it off is heartbreaking. It’s so easy to use Facebook and Twitter, I don’t understand people who refuse. Plus its really fun when you get the hang of it. I enjoy social media almost as much as I enjoy writing and performing.

5.) According to the Grassrootsy Reader’s Poll, the biggest frustration among readers is trying to build their fanbase and finding a supportive music community. How do you do this?
I love people. It sounds pretty cheesy, but I live for human connection. I want to meet people and I want to know them. I don’t put barriers between myself and the people who listen to my music. Aside from really personal stuff, I pretty much talk about anything on my blog or my twitter. I think that honesty and openness allows for more of a connection between band and fan. Also, I’ve never really sat down and tried to determine who my “target market” is. I mostly just put myself out there and go with the flow. I wish there was an easy answer to this question, but I think if you’re making good music, touring, and promoting yourself, the supportive community will come in time. Overall I think it’s important to remember what it’s like to be a fan of a band and how much fun it can be to really love someone for their music. I treat my fans the way I’d like to be treated by my favorite bands. It’s the golden rule, after all.

6.) If you could suggest one tool that every artist should familiarize themselves with, what would it be? Why? (i.e. html, photoshop, video editing, other…)
Honestly, social skills. I strongly believe that if you’re going to be a DIY musician, you can’t be a mysterious hermit. You’ve gotta have the guts to be outgoing and positive and ready for adventure. There are a million people out there trying to do what we’re doing, and it’s the go-getters who will succeed. It’s scary but true, and you’ve got to be willing to jump right in and join the fight.

But if you’re looking for a real answer…nowadays it’s essential to know enough HTML to edit your own MySpace profile. It’s a terrible waste of money to pay someone else to make simple changes you could do yourself. Look up tutorials online. There are millions of them. Make yourself a cheat sheet with codes used most often and eventually you’ll learn it. Video editing is also a great skill to have and with programs like iMovie, it’s very simple to learn. If my mom can do it, so can you. Having the ability to document your own tours and experiences and put them on Youtube can be really beneficial to the promotion of your own career. The real answer to this question is “All of the above.” The more many tech things you can familiarize yourself with, the better.

Allison Weiss Online:

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A Couple Things Every Artist Should Have #3

June 29, 2009 Chris McDonald aka Sale the Salesman

 To read the first two posts in this series check out:

A Couple Things Every Artist Should Have #1
A Couple Things Every Artist Should Have #2

A YouTube account
Soul/Electonica artist Chris McDonald has the right idea.  In anticipation of his forthcoming CD, Life of a Salesman, McDonald puts together 3 minute comedic video shorts featuring himself as Sal the Salesman.  Check em out. Not only is this an excellent way to build hype, but videos allow you to engage with your audience in a way that you just can’t do via audio or photo.  Consider opening a youtube account and posting a new video every 2 weeks (every week if you can).  It will pay offf…and will be the best/fast/easiest way for fans to get to know you better.  p.s. videos don’t necessarily have to be about your music…maybe something that just shows of your personality.

The Simplest, Most Straightforward merch store
When it comes to making money, don’t mess around w/ the potential to pull in supporters.  If your information is confusing, cluttered, or too much, you’ll miss out on sales, and web traffic.  Keep it cut-in-dry…especially on myspace.  Check out Mary Bragg’s music store.  Also visit her store on her official site.  It’s incredible and a perfect example of offering perfectly clear/concise information! Her store is powered by IndieKazoo. Check ’em out. They’re fabulous.

A header banner image on your myspace
Why not? Alot of artists are doing it these days and its just a great way to welcome ppl to your site.  Include an image of yourself or your band at the very top of your myspace. Visit Transmissor’s page for an example.  Why are headers important? Considering that it’s the first thing a person sees when they get to your page, a header is your chance to catch their eye and tell them your most important fact….like the an upcoming major show, or the release of a new CD. Visit Tommy and the Whale’s page for an example. 

To learn how to put up your own image on your page, check out this post on 10 Fun Websites to Create Your Own Free Banner.


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Getting Others to Help You Promote Your Music

April 20, 2009


Jenny & Tyler

Jenny & Tyler

Getting outside help is hard!  The truth is, if we could simply get 2 people to tell 2 friends, to tell 2 more friends, every artists music could potentially take off. But its not that easy. And even if it did work, only a percentage would become die hard fans.  So here are a few ideas for ya…

Recruiting  a Street Team
They exist!  There are people out there who do love your music enough to help you get the word out about shows.  In most cases, you just need to give it time.  You won’t develope hardcore fans like this overnight.  And its likely that these hardcore fans will come when you’ve made a connection with them at a show or online (i.e. random conversations and seemingly pointless banter).

So how do you find your street team?  I think Fanbridge offers the best solution so far. Fanbridge gives people an option of subscribing to a “fan” list and a “street team” list.  In other words, “street team” subscribers will receive additional correspondence from an artist about what they can do to help get the word out.

Another option is to create a Facebook Street Team Group.  Facebook is becoming the leader in effective communication to large audiences. Once you have your group created, you can easily correspond with all members. Lets say you’ve created a facebook event for a show in Philadelphia: Use facebook to figure out which Street Team members live in Philly. Talk with them and make them “administrators” of the event. This will give them the ability to be more hands-on in getting the word out.

Street Team members are also more likely to organize events in their cities and bring you in to perform.


Using Incentive
Try to give Streem Team members incentive for helping you…stickers, posters, a free CD, put them and one of their friends on the VIP list for a show…etc. It means alot to fans when they know you appreciate their support.

Speaking of Incentive, I recently split a show with Nashville duo Jenny & Tyler and came across NoiseTrade on their website. Noisetrade is  an application that allows music listeners to buy your music or reccommend it to 5 friends.  If they choose to reccommend instead of pay, they get the songs for free but at the same time, an artists music gets passed on to 5 new potential fans.  It’s a cycle that keeps on going and going and free music is great incentive for people to spread the work about your tunes in this framework.  NoiseTrade has an initial startup fee but I’ve heard great thing about the program so definitely check it out for more details.


Using html
If you check out last months post, A Couple Things Every Artist Should Have #2, you’ll find that one of the easiest ways for others to promote you involves offering banner code.  This doesn’t involve any work other than the initial setup.  Site visitors can snag the html code and put your bannner on their own page(s).  Here’s an example for grassrootsy.  And yes! Feel free to copy/paste the below code on your site! 



 Visit to get an idea of how this will look on a music page.


If you have any other ideas, please suggest them in comments.

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A Couple Things Every Artist Should Have #1

December 18, 2008
Butterfly Boucher

Butterfly Boucher

Here is a short piece of a very long list…

A digital camera
New content is the key. Are you taking pictures or having someone take pictures for you? Take pictures of your band in action, videos of your performances, pics with “fans”, footage of behind-the-scenes stuff…etc. Butterfly Boucher tapes these random, comical pieces called “Blah Blah Blah”.  They are hardly edited and extremely low budget videos, but funny and give her web visitors an accurate idea of whoe she is when she’s not behind her guitar.  New content on your websites keeps people coming back repeatedly. For more on this, visit the “Drawing Traffic to Your Website” post.

Regular Internet Access
Ok, perhaps I’m attached at the hip to the internet.  Not so healthy.  But how often are you online? Specifically, how often do you check your email? If you’re an artist actively pursuing music, you need to check your email at least once a day, not once a week or every three days. Bookers and reviewers crave immediacy.  If you’ve been asked to do a show, get back with a response ASAP!  The longer you wait to respond, the less likely you are to get the gig.

Photoshop  &  Html Knowledge
This is a big topic and I’m only going to briefly scratch the surface.  Photoshop & Html, in my opinion, are a musicians best friend.  With Photoshop you can make your own artwork (posters, website designs, photo editing).  With html you can post the artwork you create without help from html generators and/or alter code on myspace (and anywhere) for a more unique, simple, personalized feel.

  • Editing possibilities with photoshop are endless.  Here’s an awesome, hilarious video tutorial: You Suck At Photoshop. Plenty of short 5 minute videos, quick easy lessons, very effective.  (p.s. some people prefer Illustrator to Photoshop.)
  • Likewise, html opens the door for so many options on your website(s).  Tomas Vera has some great, easy-to-follow instructions for creating hyperlinks and changing fonts (look, size, color, etc).  This is simple stuff that I use every day and its pays to know.  If you want to learn more, do a google search for “basic html.”

If you have any other great sites, please suggest them.

Its always great when you have someone doing all this stuff for you, but knowledge is power…and the more you know how to do for yourself, the better you are at promoting yourself. 

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Stay Informed: Read, Watch, Listen, Go

December 8, 2008


The City Paper: your local guide to city venues and events

The City Paper: your local guide to city venues and events. Most cities have a City Paper, even if it's not called "CP".

In this post I’m basically going to suggest some ways for you to stay on top of what’s going on in your city, get more girls, learn about the music industry, and be more internet saavy..  Read last week’s post “Mimic the Artists You Respect” for other tips.

Read the City Paper
Always read your City Paper.  Stay on top of what’s going on in your city. In the back of the Pittsburgh City Paper, there is a “Call for Artists” section that you can check out for shows. This might be the same in other CPs.  Also check out the CP simply to learn about new coffespots, bars, clubs, lounges who are looking to book entertainment. 

If your city’s paper is anything like Pittsburgh’s then they have an extensive Art Festival listing in the summer.  Sweet!  This is probably my favorite issue of the CP.  I basically skim thru the list, call numbers they provide for the art festivals I want to play at…and book myself throughout the summer. I hold onto this list for the whole summer.  p.s. alot of community and art festivals wont pay you, but you will always have larger crowds outside and get your name out alot easier than trying to book indoors…especially in the summer.

Listen to Local Radio
Listen to local community radio.  They are most likely to support local artist and let you know about what’s going on in your community.  Pittburgh’s local radio station WYEP-FM does this thing called the WYEP Taste Test.  Its a free workshop that allows you to go into their studios and learn how they pick music to be aired on the station.  You always want to check out things like this.  Another thing I use local radio for is to find out what community events they will be broadcasting live from.  Example:  WYEP broadcasts LIVE from a major art show called Art All Night every year.  Because of this, WYEP hypes up the show on their station and I can always be sure that there will be thousands of people at this show (simply because everyone has heard about it).  So I always make sure to contact AAN to see if  I can get booked.

WYEP also has an awesome online Arts & Events Calendar. I visit this every few weeks, see what events are coming up in the area, and contact the appropriate organizers to book myself for the ones I like. Sometimes it works.  Sometimes it doesn’t.

Read Online Music Resources
Derek Sivers, the founder of CD Baby is a genius!  That’s why he’s make so money off of artist who use CD Baby! (read more about this in one of my recent posts).  But I don’t hate Derek.  In fact, I love him and read his blogs.  He has awesome tips on marketing your music, helping you to make money, and expanding your fanbase.  Read this type of stuff!  He is an artist who thinks like a businessman and this is the number one reason why people love him.  Go here to check out all of Sivers’ various blogs. Subscribe to one or find another. There are tons on the internet! Tons.

Listen to Podcasts
Podcasts are just another great way to stay current.  Here are a few that I really like. But there are many others, of course.

  • Music Business Radio: They’re a fun laid back podcast that brings in an industry professional each week.  They talk about what’s going on in the music world, give helpful tips to artists…etc.  They also do this great thing called Demo Derby- aritsts send their CDs and press kits in and MBR plays a song, critiques the artist’s music, and information the artist sent in.
  • My Music Image: MMI is a short 5 minute podcast that gives you one solid piece of music marketing advice each week.  They also feature one artist each week (play a song and give out their website).


Seminars Rock!
Go to seminars!  In Pittsburgh, there is a semi-annual event called Podcamp Pittsburgh. Its a free 2-day social networking workshop that teaches you need-to-know information about being a better manager of your myspace, facebook, twitter, wordpress…etc.  Stuff like this is important simply because it pays to be internet saavy.  Check out your local paper, library…etc for listings on workshops. Many are free.

p.s. you gotta learn html and photoshop. It will make it so much easier for your to be more creative in putting information on your website and myspace.


Watch what other artist are doing at their shows
Lasty, just be attentive when you go to other people’s shows. Get ideas from what they’re doing…i.e. the type of merch they are selling, how much they are selling their CD for, clever ways they promote themselves. 



Feel free to suggest other great resources!

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