David Dufresne is the CEO of Bandzoogle, the website builder created by musicians for musicians. Bandzoogle is a platform that helps you build a website for your band to sell more music + merch–all without coding or downloading complicated software. Since 1999, tens of thousands of artists around the world have used Bandzoogle to build their website and promote their music online.
Table of Contents
3:40 – If you had to describe yourself as a band, song or genre, what would it be?
6:18 – How did you get started at Bandzoogle?
9:33 – Looking back at your career, what stands out to you as your proudest moment?
13:01 – What are the main reasons why bands need their own website?
17:09 – What’s been one of your biggest failures?
28:03 – Three things artists should have on their website to grow their fan-base and move their careers forward
If you had to describe yourself as a band, song or genre, what would it be?
I really like Beck. He’s been around for 20+ years and every album he puts out is a reinvention. He remains relevant and innovative. For example, a few years back he released an album only in sheet music form. He never takes his audience for granted.
How did you get started in the music business?
I joined the company four years ago. I’m not the founder, that would be my partner Chris. Chris started ten years ago. He played bass in a grunge band and also learned how to build websites in the late 90’s. His band got signed by Aquarius Records, which was one of the biggest record labels in Canada at the time. The band eventually broke up and Aquarius hired Chris to build websites for their bands. Chris built a console so bands and managers could build the websites themselves, and a bunch of people starting asking if they could use the console for their indie bands and that is where we first got the business idea for Bandzoogle.
While Chris was doing that, I was working in venture capital. I was investing in web start-ups, video game start-ups, buying a lot of records, and going to a lot of shows. Eventually we teamed up. I was a business guy looking for a technical partner, and he was a technical guy looking for a business partner. That’s when I joined and we started working together.
Looking back at your career, what stands out to you as your proudest moment?
When I joined, we had 10,000 customers. Recently, we crossed the 20,000 number mark and that came at the same time that we launched our updated platform. That was a proud day and accomplishment after growing so much as a company in such a short period of time.
Why do bands need their own website?
Obviously, I’m biased, but I don’t think and serious musician, band, or business can truly be serious without a good, strong, well designed website. Yes, social media is important. And I like to include the concept of the mailing list when I talk about websites because I think they go together. They should really be the hub of your online strategy.
A website is an address you own. It’s your own dotcom. It’s always going to be yours. Wherever people go and however their habits change online, they are always going to be able to find you at your dotcom. Remember that a few years ago, people were investing a lot of time and money on their MySpace page. And all of that is worthless now. Right now, people are finding out that it’s getting harder and harder to reach their Facebook fans, because Facebook wants you to pay. Having your own website ensures that you have your own slice of the Internet forever.
What’s been one of your biggest failures?
Over-promising the delivery of our new platform. We promised a one-year delivery for our users, and it took us two and half years. While we were working in the new platform, we stopped developing new features on the legacy platform. We did lose a few customers, but most of our customers stuck with us. We learned to manage expectations. We’ll never again say, “hey, we’ve got this cool new thing we’re working on and it’s going to be ready in a few weeks,” because you never know what technical issues you may run into.
For bands, it’s very similar. You need to treat your fans like patron and partners. We found that there are a lot of parallels between an artistic project and a creative project. You need to leave room for uncertainty and we did not do that this time.
Three things artists should have on their website to grow their fan-base and move their careers forward:
- You must have great music! You may have the best website ever and follow all of our advice, but if people don’t engage with your music, the website won’t help. Focus on your art first, and the business second.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of your mailing list. When people sign up for your mailing list, they give you permission to email them and let them know what’s going on with you for potentially forever. It’s a lot more powerful when someone gives you an email address…far more powerful than simply liking your Facebook fan-page.
- Think about growing the quality of your fan-base, not just about the quantity. Grow your relationship with the fans you have first, then work on growing from that base.
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