Make your band look and feel more professional, optimise the free tools the web has to offer by Planzai Music – Part 1 (Behind the Scenes)
This guest blog post comes from Planzai, a how to app for musicians, and their content expert David Hill. He is also the director of an independent record and management label so is well placed to pass on some zero cash methods to bring your band up to scratch…
The Internet promised this great digital democracy. A space in which the most creative people would become destined for greatness. The truth is; the opposite happened. Those who have achieved greatness are the least creative. Untalented people have achieved world wide acclaim. If only for 15 minutes.
Today being a successful musician Is more difficult than ever. Being in a band means much more than writing and performing great songs. In order to get ahead in the music industry and make money, you need to promote your music, and build long-term relationships with fans and the media.
You can set yourself at a much higher standard, and look more professional, than so many other band and artists without spending a penny. Below are my favorite free tools and how you could use them.
Gmail can become the heart of your operation its many free apps within the menu bar allowing you to keep onto of your affairs. These are all easy to share with your band mates and to keep everyone in the loop. They are also available for mobile devices which will be handy on tour.
- Gdocs – Google’s version of ‘Microsoft office/Work’. Use it to manage all your money from gigs and merch sales. Store all the email addresses of your blogs/press/media/record label/management and those people who download your free music (from Bandcamp) to email them from your mailing list (Mailchimp). I will cover these later. Use Word to write and save your lyrics, booking contracts rider and tour schedules
- Gcal – Keep track of all your touring/recording commitments, PR campaigns using Google’s simple calendar. Colour code each member of the band to keep track of personal commitments like school, uni and work to ensure you dont double book.
- Gmaps – Great tool to research and plan getting around during tours. With Gmail you can save your travel schedule to look at anytime you want. It has a new feature that tells you about toll roads, speed cameras and how much fuel will cost for your journey. Gmaps are handy to help you find services on the road like where to eat, music shops, hotel, service station and laundrettes. This app can be used as your sat nav on tour to help you make sound check on time
- Greader – this is an RSS tool. Save all your favorite bands, mags, promoters, venues and record labels blogs and receive regular updates. Keep on top of what’s happening in your scene. Interact with these blogs and let them know if you like or dislike what they are up to.
- Blogger – Sign up to Blogger and keep your own blog. You wont need to use this every day when you are starting out, post an update every month to make everyone aware of your overall happenings. It’s a great idea to sync this to your facebook page and twitter feed. I will talk about this later too.
- Youtube – you can set up and manage your Youtube channel with your Gmail address. It’s simple and effective and makes sharing tour/studio diaries and music videos even easier.
So now that you have yourself organised. So organised that you have set up an awesome tour or have an awesome new recording to share with your fans.
So you want to issue a press release about your new tour or EP to all the press contacts that you have collected (Gdocs’ version of excel of course). Gmail is a traditional email service, its very difficult to email multiple people at once. This is where MailChimp comes into play. MailChimp allows you to have 2,000 emails in your mail out and send 12,000 at once, for free.
Sign up for MailChimp’s free service and customise your own digi press release/newsletter filled with all your most relevant up to date news. MailChimp makes it very easy to create your own personalised news letter so don’t be scared to pimp it out with your colours and logo to give it a sense of identity.
Remember its best to send this letter to those people you know have interest in your act. Sending your news letter out cold can be a very challenging task but keep at it. MailChimp also allows you to see who has opened your email, keep track of these stats to gauge your progress.
Part 2 – Front end coming soon.
Our very good friends at Disco Shed have just launched their new range of summer essentials for the shedonist massive!
Kitsch, cool, and full of character, the Disco Shed was conceived in a moment of garden party madness by club promoters and long time festival goers Peepshow Paddy and Aidan ‘Count’ Skylarkin. Taking inspiration from their actual shed, in which they’d enjoyed one too many parties for their neighbours liking, you’ll find their 8 x 6 ft Billy O Box rocking the lawns and greens of festivals right across the UK this summer.
Going deep into the wildlife zone, this year sees the likes of “Nutkin Squirrel”, fancy feathers “Twit twoo Owl”, “The Worm” and a whole bunch of “Fungi” representing in the latest rave-up range.
Newport’s finest, Goldie Lookin Chain have wandered as far as Cwmbran for their new track & video The Fresh Prince Of Cwmbran:
You can get these sexy GLC Fresh Prince Of Cwmbran t-shirts here.
We expect to see photos of you next to the biscuit factory in Cwmbran wearing them.
Well, we don’t know about you guys, but here at Dizzyjam HQ in not-so-sunny Cardiff we’ve become heartily bored of the lack of the British summer so far. Two or three consecutive sunny days isn’t too much to ask, is it?
So, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to improve the weather for everyone with a little t-shirt voodoo. What is more than likely to bring on a blazing few weeks of sunshine than offering UK postage for t-shirts for just a penny? Yep, any t-shirts despatched the the UK in the month of July will cost no more than a whopping £0.01 to be delivered.
But that’s not all. This morning we launched some groovy new functionality. All shopowners are now able to give away MP3s with their t-shirts or hoodies. You’ll be able to upload a track, a mix or an album, and give it away as a bonus with your merch. Or maybe you consider the MP3s the stuff they’re paying for, and the t-shirts are free! Either way, it’s a cast iron way to sell more merch (and bring out the sun!). Just head to Dizzyjam, login, and click on the “Downloads” link in your shop menu.
When we arrived at opening time, we were greeted by a humungous queue, all waiting for the exclusive RSD releases. So we got ourselves some tea, and waited for everything to calm down. Except it didn’t, in fact the queue kept getting bigger as the morning wore on. How great is that? Music fans turning up super early and keeping independent shops going strong.
In between the madness of the morning, and the bands on in the late afternoon, we were kept busy at the Dizzyjam stand making the shirts, saying hello to customers, and drinking more tea. We drank a lot of tea – it’s compulsory if you work in a record shop.
Early reports show that the day was a massive success, with album sales being up 20% overall, and NINE of the top ten vinyl albums were RSD exclusives, despite being on sale for only one day.
We’re happy to announce that we’ve just launched a Facebook app to allow your customers to browse your products on your Facebook fanpage and then buy.
To add the app to your fanpage all you need to do is….
1 – Click here.
2 – On the left hand side of that page there is a menu with “add to my page” on it. Click that.
3 – Go to your fanpage – You’ll see a link in the lefthand column entitled “Merch”. Click that.
4 – You’ll be taken to the settings page. At the moment you can only change one thing, which is the setting to point your FB app to your shop. This should hopefully be self explanatory. Drop us a line to support -at- dizzyjam.com if you need help here.
You can change the name of the page from “Merch” to anything you like by going to the “edit info” link at the top of your fanpage, then “Apps”, then Dizzyjam – Edit Settings.
The paint’s still drying, and we intend to add more functionality as we go along, so please let us know if you find any bugs or have any suggestions.
These four shirts were sat right next to each other in our order queue – and in terms of genres, you’ve got (left to right) Jungle (Jungle Syndicate), Welsh Folk (Mary Hopkin), Goth (Solemn Novena) and Breakbeat (Ape Music). And that’s exactly the kind of diversity we want to encourage. We think it’s healthy to listen to genres you wouldn’t normally – and we love listening to bands we’ve discovered through making their merch at Dizzyjam.
We don’t mind what type of music you make, or what genre of music you put out on your label, or what you DJ – as long as it’s music. You won’t see anyone who isn’t involved in music on our site, so you know you’re always in good company.
Do you listen to just one genre, or do you take everything in? Are you a radio listener, a Spotifyier or an MP3 or CD or vinyl person? Or even Youtube?
January 2011 Newsletter
Welcome to a new decade. At Dizzyjam, we variously saw it in by: drinking strong drinks out of ribena bottles; frightening karaoke; DJing on an indoor boat; drawing on walls at 6am; saying b0llocks to it all and going to bed at 11pm.
Aside from that, we’ve got a few important announcements we want to make sure all our shop owners are aware of.
Yep, we can now offer full colour merch creation for your fans. And it’s really easy too. All you have to do is upload a high quality image, then choose whether you want to offer the new full colour service, or stick with the one colour service. Boom, job done. We’ve got some new design guidelines here and a tutorial on how to add transparency to your designs here.
Want to see some full colour examples? Head here.
A widget is a bit of code that our site automatically creates for you, which you can then copy and paste to your website or blog. What you’ll get is the ability to display your merch away from Dizzyjam.com, so your fans can see your designs while they’re still on your site.
At the moment they work with WordPress and Blogger (and of course your own site if you can edit your own code). As they’re still in beta the widgets aren’t yet compatible with MySpace and Facebook. But we’re working on that, as well as adding new features. Let us know what you think by emailing us at [email protected]
^^Puts old man hat and pipe on^^ We’re sure you can’t have escaped from the fact that everything costs more these days. VAT’s gone up, the price of cotton has doubled in the last six months, and petrol seems to be more pricey than champagne. And that unfortunately has a direct effect on the cost of our shirts and our printing materials. So unfortunately we are forced into putting our prices up. Yeah we know it sucks.
We’ve held our low introductory prices for as long as possible, but we have to raise prices so that we can continue to help you sell your merch and make money for you. The good thing for you is you still make a big percentage of every sale, so you’ll actually earn even more money on every product you sell. The prices below will come into effect on Tuesday 1st February 2011, so you’ve got until then to let people know. To put a relentlessly happy spin on it, you could tell your fans to buy before 1st Feb so that they can get themselves a bargain.
T-shirts in UK, Europe, Asia, Australia – £14.99
Hoodies in UK, Europe, Asia, Australia – £24.99
T-shirts in North & South America – $19.99
Hoodies in North & South America – $39.99
4. CUSTOMER PHOTOS.
It’s not a new thing, but just a reminder that your fans can upload their photos of themselves wearing your shirts to your product pages. They don’t have to log in to do it, and merch that has a real picture on the page sells bit more than those that don’t – so it’s worth uploading photos yourself and asking your fans to do it too.
Here’s a guide on how to create transparent areas for your designs.
CREATING YOUR IMAGE:
First off, you need to decide if you are starting your design from scratch, or editing an existing design? Starting from scratch is always best, as it means you won’t lose any definition in your designs. When you create your new document, the settings in the picture below would make a good image. It’s Photoshop, but if you’re using a different program, you should still be able to enter the same information.
If you’ve already got an image you want to use, but it has a white (or any colour) background, then you’ll need to create transparent areas so that when you place your image on a coloured shirt, your design isn’t surrounded by a background-coloured square.
It’s absolutely vital when editing any existing design that you start with it in the highest quality possible. Carrying on with the following process with a low or medium quality image will probably result in a small “halo” of the background colour remaining on your image, which in turn will be printed on your products.
Open up the design in your image editing program. Now it’s possible that your existing design is in a file format that doesn’t like transparent areas. The easiest way to solve this is to copy all of your design using ‘Select All’ then ‘Copy’ from the menus. After this, choose ‘New Document’ and use the settings in the picture above to create a new document. When it opens, notice anything? Instead of a white background, you’ve got a grey and white chequered background. That pattern means ‘transparent area’. Wherever you see that pattern in your design, whatever colour fabric it is printed on will show through. Hit ‘Paste’ and your existing image will cover the transparent area. All you need to do now is chop away the bits you don’t want, revealing the grey and white pattern behind them. Here’s how you do that:
Choose the Magic Wand tool. Click on a part of your white background you don’t want, and a see-through dashed line will appear around it. You might need to set the sensitivity of the tool if it tries to eat too much of the image you want to keep. Choose ‘Cut’ from the ‘Edit’ menu, and there goes a bit of your white to be replaced by the grey and white pattern. Keep doing this until you’ve got rid of everything you DON’T want printed onto your merch.
When saving, choose a file format capable of transparency. DO NOT CHOOSE JPEG – it doesn’t support transparency. We recommend the PNG format.
The brilliant “Wear Your Old Band T-Shirt To Work Day” is today. In it’s third year we’re proud to bring you these photos from the Dizzyjam office.
Neil wearing an ancient t-shirt from breakbeat act "Phantom Beats". He claims he's thrown all his Wonderstuff and Frank and Walters t-shirts away. More's the pity! And this photo wasn't staged at all, oh no.
Now Dafydd, doing something intense on a calculator, and trying to avoid the camera. He's wearing a falling-apart "Godspeed You! Black Emperor" t-shirt.
Shelley's not in the office today, so she sent us this doozy of her in an old Maiden shirt. Rockin'!
And finally, a member of staff who refused to be identified, in this erm… well, it speaks for itself.”]
Steve Lamacq, and Wear Your Old Band T-shirt To Work Day, we salute you!