Posted tagged ‘web design’

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, www.joyike.com. 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 Amanda Duncan

July 14, 2010

Amanda Duncan

New Jersey artist, Amanda Duncan, is an artist who steals the show even before she gets on stage. She has a knack for grabbing the attention of music lovers because she really stands out!  She’s a a funny chick with a knack for transfering her comical personality into her online representation. Just like Allison Weiss, she’s got some wise words on social networking, online marketing, and image. Read and repeat.

1. What’s your story? How did you get into performing and touring? Are you doing this full time? Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to be in the spotlight. I’ve always wanted to be an entertainer…I just didn’t know what form of entertainment. I kind of got into this whole singer/songwriter-ness by accident. For some reason when I was 17, I thought I was going to get a guitar from my aunt and uncle, but I was given a baseball signed by Wade Boggs. Haha! I was so excited to play guitar that I had to start learning so I borrowed a one and practiced every day so I could play and sing at the same time. Some horrible songs followed. Haha! But some years later I really started to hone my craft of songwriting. I’ve always felt comfortable in front of crowds. So, the performance aspect of my career has come naturally.

In all honesty, I haven’t been on too many tours. I’ve had a few stints here and there, but nothing to shake a stick at. That is all about to change with my upcoming college tour this fall. Once that happens I will be a full time musician. For years now, I have been juggling a web design business and my music career…and I’m sooooo excited that in a few months my job will solely be music!!!


2. You’ve do have quite a calendar with alot of college shows. Are you part of NACA? If so, what are you thoughts on becoming a member and going to regional showcases.  For those who aren’t part of NACA, what do you suggest is the best method for college booking & touring.
NACA (National Association of Campus Activities)! Yes, I am a part of it. Let me explain it to those who don’t know what it is. NACA is an organization that holds regional conferences for college student activity boards across the country. The conferences consist of showcases, exhibit halls and educational sessions. The showcases can be anything from singer/songwriters to magicians, bands, jugglers, comedians, etc. The exhibit hall (which is called the Market Place) is where everyone has booths and the students can walk around and get info from the various entertainers.  More on NACA.

The NACA world can be fickle. One can get easily discouraged by the push and shove of it all. It’s hard to get selected to showcase because there are hundreds of applicants. And it’s hard to get booked if you don’t showcase. Attending regional conferences without showcasing might score you a few gigs, but not enough for a full calendar year. You also have to have music that actually appeals to college students…that is probably the most important thing! Haha!

Booking your own college shows is definitely an option. You have to be super organized, motivated and have college fans. If you have college fans you are one step closer to the student activities board. I did this for a while with some success.

3. Your self promotion is spot-on! Do you have someone handling your marketing? Your songs are bitter-sweet, sentimental, yet playful all at the same time. And your marketing seems to reflects that. What are your thoughts on consistency and uniformity as an artists? I actually do all my marketing. I do my own graphic work and I come up with the ideas for my photo shoots. I have a real vision of how I want to come across to people. I want people to see me as a fun approachable artist. I think that comes through. I feel like we are all swimming in a sea full of musicians and I need to stick out at face value. People may chuckle when they see my photos and think I’m some sort of comedian/weirdo, but once they take a listen to my music they tend to get it. The marketing really comes together at my live shows when they get to see me play and listen to my ridiculous banter.

As far as consistency and uniformity goes, that is a great question. I think being consistently YOU as an artist is important, but I think being an ORIGINAL artist is what will put you above the rest. You can write songs that run the gamete as long as it’s “your sound”. Basically you have to see yourself as a brand. If I say “Pepsi” or “McDonalds” you picture their logo instantly. Obviously, those companies have spent billions of dollars on advertising…but you can do the same thing for yourself as an artist. I have a logo. It’s a lawn chair. And in the beginning, people were asking “Why the chair?” And my response would be “When people listen to my music I want them to think of summer time. And to me summer time reminds me of backyard barbeques with lawn chairs.” Now people just accept it and say “I love the chair!”

4. I see that you really make use of social networking and social networking widgets. Which network(s) do you think you’ve benefited from the most? I think it’s a combination of everything. At first I used MySpace (now apparently only dinosaurs use it). And that got me by for a long time. I use facebook to stay in touch with people and let people know what I’m up to. I am not gonna lie…I obsess over Twitter. Although, that seems to be dying out as well. As an artist, you have to keep up with the moving trends of social networking. If there is a new networking site that comes out…sign up for it right away so you can claim your artist name before anyone else of the same name gets it. If you use the account, cool…if you don’t…don’t worry about it. I keep a spreadsheet of all my accounts/usernames/passwords. There is so much to keep track of these days, but it’s all important!


5. This is a question Grassrootsy asks each of its Interviewees
: What do you think is the single most important thing an artist should do to promote themselves better? I know that there are a lot of artists who don’t want to spend time on the internet/computer. To me, this is a huge mistake. If you want to sustain a long career in music you need to spend at least 1 hour a day making sure you are keeping up with your social networking. My general rule is to respond as much as possible to the people who post stuff on my facebook wall or twitter. I think we all know what it’s like to respond to a tweet of someone we really look up to and yet they never respond to ours. I never want people to feel that way with me. And when you have interactions online make sure they are positive. No one wants to see cryptic emo messages from a musician they idolize. Post funny things, things about your music, things that will provoke people to comment.

“You have to remember music is a business! You can be a genius and write the world’s best songs, but if you make bad business decisions those songs won’t see the light of day.”

6. Any additional advice, lessons learned, or thoughts on independent musicatry (fake word), that you can pass on to readers? My biggest pet peeve is when a really talented artist doesn’t have their ducks in a row. I think the reason I’ve come as far as I have is because I am very business oriented when it comes to my career. I’m organized, not to mention I have a lot of techie skills to help me promote my music. As a musician, you need to know your strengths and your weaknesses. I’m not saying to have a complex about it. Haha! For instance…I am pretty confident in my songwriting skills, but I know I couldn’t produce my songs to their fullest potential. That is when I bring in a professional. I went through that whole phase of wanting to do EVERYTHING myself. It’s great to have that kind of motivation, but it can lead to some really bad career moves if you keep convincing yourself you are good at something you truly are not. If you aren’t organized…get management or someone to help you organize yourself. You have to remember music is a business! You can be a genius and write the world’s best songs, but if you make bad business decisions those songs won’t see the light of day. I have a whole binder separated by tabs (yes, I’m that dorky) to keep me organized. I won’t get into those crazy details, but if you want to know how I have it split up, feel free to email me.

Amanda Duncan Online:
Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/amandaduncan
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amanda-Duncan/8542291310
Twitter: http://twitter.com/amandaduncan
YouTube:  http://www.youtube.com/amandaduncan
Blog: http://amandaduncan.wordpress.com
iLike: http://www.ilike.com/artist/Amanda+Duncan
Reverb Nation: http://www.reverbnation.com/amandaduncan