This is a real Bandzoogle review.
I'm an independent singer-songwriter, and I work in digital content with an indie media company. I've got experience using a couple of different website builders (Wordpress, Squarespace, Wix, Shopify, Bandzoogle), so I thought I'd share my opinion about using Bandzoogle, how it compares to Wordpress, and why I would or wouldn't recommend it to other musicians.
What Is Bandzoogle?
Bandzoogle is a simple music website builder and CMS designed primarily for musicians and bands. The themes that it comes with have features that are useful to bands and music artists, such as track players, preset EPK (electronic press kit) layouts, music selling tools, ticket selling tools, crowdfunding features, and a few other tools.
Why I Am Using Bandzoogle
I have used the Standard version of Bandzoogle website builder for 6+ months.
However, I'm most familiar with WordPress, and my website "sarahtolle.com" was originally on WordPress before I discovered Bandzoogle. When I learned about Bandzoogle, I thought it had some cool features, plus it was slightly cheaper than my WordPress plan. Worth a try!
I'm using Bandzoogle at the time of publishing this post, and I don't plan on moving back to WordPress in the next 6 months. I may have to move back eventually if I start needing more advanced audience conversion tools.
Bandzoogle Review: Feature Drilldown
I have used or played with most of Bandzoogle's features. Here's my experience and opinion on each of Bandzoogle's features that they promote on their pricing page.
Pre-made Theme Templates
Bandzoogle advertises a great selection of templates, and they deliver. I don't like doing anything design-related so I was happy that the templates were attractive and easy to sort through.
I'm comparing this experience to WordPress, where choosing a theme is like choosing a life partner. In my opinion, Bandzoogle is way better in the theme department.
Where Bandzoogle's themes are all designed to be useful only to musicians, WordPress themes are this massive library of insanity, themes for every business imaginable—it takes forever to read each theme's specs, you have to make sure your theme is well-supported by the developer...for me, choosing a WordPress theme is the worst and hardest part. By comparison, Bandzoogle's themes are utilitarian, look great, not bloated with features, easy to understand, easy to preview, and easy to customize.
It's 2022, so SSL security is a must—and a default for most web builders. You shouldn't build any website in 2022 without SSL security, and almost all web builders offer this now.
Web Hosting and Domain Name
If you want to host and register a domain name on Bandzoogle, you can, and it's included in your plan. Hosting and registering a domain name can cost a total between $30 and $200 per year, so there's a pretty significant financial advantage in using Bandzoogle to register your domain and host your site. Even the the most expensive Bandzoogle plan is only $180/year.
Hard to know what this means until you use it. Fan data refers to some basic audience analytics. You can see where your website visitors are from, for example. I think the fan data is pretty lean.
Probably the most useful fan data for me is the data about how fans interact with music players on your site:
Beyond that, the fan data is pretty basic: number of visitors, location, length of visit, etc.
Custom Design Tools, Custom Fonts
These work just as they're described. I'd say the tools for customizing your design are really more about customizing how things look, not how things function.
For example, you can change your fonts, social icons, background colors, buttons, headers, footers, spacing, etc.
It's harder to change or add interactive design elements, such as adding an exit pop-up with a downloadable lead magnet to encourage fans to subscribe to your email list. I've figured out how to set up a subscriber pop-up using Mailchimp HTML, but customizing its placement, timing, and who it appears to doesn't seem to be possible.
You don't really have to think about this with Bandzoogle—the website usually displays great on mobile without having to finagle anything. The site builder provides limited customization when you're desinging your pages, but it means that you're already locked into layouts that will display properly on mobile devices. It's great.
The feature works pretty well, although I don't use it. Here's a video describing how crowdfunding works on Bandzoogle.
I don't want to put in the effort for a crowdfunding campaign right now, so I don't use this feature.
It's certainly less involved than using a crowdfunding platform like Indiegogo, and if you use Bandzoogle's crowdfunding feature, it means you're working outside of the ecosystem that major crowdfunding platforms provide. I think some of the benefit in using major crowdfunding platforms is that you have access to the network and the visibility of the platform itself, so I probably wouldn't use Bandzoogle for crowdfunding.
Haven't used this feature. It's mentioned on their pricing page, but I honestly don't know what it refers to. Maybe the mailing list? I go over that in the Mailing List section below.
Sell Music Downloads
It's really easy to set up the music downloads, hook up a payment thingy, and start selling. This feature works well and it still simple enough to use very quickly. I like it.
There are also tools that let you sell gift cards (also easy to set up) and let fans use discount codes to download music, which is a cool feature if you plan on running social media or in-person campaigns where you reward fans with exclusive discount codes.
You can connect the selling tools to either PayPal or Stripe, and the way Bandzoogle is set up make it super easy. You just press a couple of buttons.
I don't sell any merch, so I haven't used this. Looking at some examples of the merch stores people have set up, it seems pretty sweet.
I'm using Mailchimp instead of Bandzoogle to build my email list, but the Bandzoogle option is pretty attractive! Having email management built into your website is pretty nice, as setting it up with a third party tool is honestly just a hassle.
I chose to stick with Mailchimp instead of Bandzoogle's email list feature because Bandzoogle doesn't seem to have the capability to send automated emails, such as automated confirmation emails for someone who joins your audience. I want to set up more advanced drip campaigns, and Bandzoogle doesn't have those features (yet!).
Press Kit (EPK)
The EPK templates are pretty standard. It saves you a bit of time when designing how your EPK will look. I wouldn't say this feature is a deal-breaker, because you can always look up other templates online and sorta copy those. But it's a nice feature!
SEO Tools (I'll include "blogging tools" here, too)
I work full-time in SEO, so my standards for SEO customization are very high. That said, the lack of SEO customization is one of my least favorite things about Bandzoogle.
My main complaint here is that it doesn't seem possible to customize your URL slugs—the part of your URL that goes after your main website name. It's pretty standard to be able to customize slugs, and it's supposed to have an effect on indexation and SEO, so I really wish Bandzoogle would let you do this.
The blog's SEO features are also a little odd. The headings aren't named in the way most other blogs' headings are named—so it's confusing. Headings are very important to on-page SEO if you're writing blog articles to get organic traffic, so I'm a little concerned that the oddness of the heading HTML is affecting my organic performance.
Formatting and embedding media in blog posts is also tricky. Whereas many other CMS have block-style builders that let you drag and drop elements into your blog articles, Bandzoogle offers a more old-school text-based blog. It's okay, but it honestly doesn't make your articles look that great. It looks a little old-school.
The blog article builder is the main feature I wish the Bandzoogle team would upgrade.
That said, if you have a media-rich blog on your existing site that you rely on for traffic, and you're wondering whether you can easily migrate to Bandzoogle, I would say "don't do it".
I haven't used this, so I won't comment on it.
Customer Support Team
100% yes. This is one of the primary reasons to use Bandzoogle, in my opinion. The team behind Bandzoogle is great. While the website builder still lacks some important features (namely, better analytics, better UI customization and integration with other marketing tools, and a better blog builder), the team has truly designed something that is tailored to musicians and bands.
If you're a beginner to website building, it's soooo nice to have a limited set of choices that's pre-designed for you, like Bandzoogle does, rather than having to wander through the forests of other website builders that appeal to mainstream users.
Plus, the FAQ articles on Bandzoogle are written with non-website-professionals in mind. Their support blog articles explain concepts in a more approachable way than a lot of other website builders.
Here are the 3 pricing tiers from the Bandzoogle website: Lite, Standard, and Pro.
I chose the Standard plan because I thought I'd need more than 10 pages in my site. That was the main deciding factor for me when comparing the plans, because the features you get across the pricing tiers are pretty similar.
How does Bandzoogle pricing compare to other website builders?
Bandzoogle offers a little less customization than other builders, but it also does away with some feature bloat and narrows in on the marketing, branding, and ecommerce features musicians want.
Because of this, Bandzoogle is cheaper than any other comparable option.
In my experience, Bandzoogle is roughly 1/2 the price of a comparable Wordpress plan. Especially because you get a domain name (usually ~$15/year) and hosting (usually $2-15/month) included in your Bandzoogle plan.
Is Bandzoogle The Best Website Builder For Musicians?
Yes and no. Here is a breakdown of who I would and wouldn't recommend use Bandzoogle:
I'd definitely recommend Bandzoogle if this describes you:
- Your highest priority is to work with something simple—an all-in-one website where you don't have to learn how to use additional plug-ins, platforms, or apps
- You're completely new to digital marketing and running a website
- You don't plan on doing much custom development on your website
- You have an artist or band website, but it's connected to 5+ separate platforms and tools with separate paid subscriptions in order to function, and you want to reduce costs
- You don't need a lot of detailed analytics about your site—simply knowing how many people are visiting it, playing or purchasing music on your site, and joining your mailing list
If more than one of those things describes you, I think you'll like Bandzoogle.
And conversely, Bandzoogle is not the best website builder for you if these describe you:
- You're familiar with or experienced in web design. I don't think the customization in Bandzoogle is flexible enough to please people who have more complicated ideas for things like pop ups, lead magnet downloads, customizable navs, faceted search, and stuff like that.
- You want access to more advanced tracking and analytics features beyond seeing the stats showing who's visited your site, played or purchased music from it, etc.
- You already have a pretty good artist website set up that works well and looks fine—and you're asking yourself, "is it worth it to migrate to Bandzoogle?". I've done exactly that. While it wasn't my worst decision, I probably should have simply invested some more time into polishing my existing WordPress site, especially because I want to use some more advanced SEO and URL customization features that Bandzoogle doesn't seem to provide. However, if your current website isn't that great anyway, sure—migrate to Bandzoogle. It gets the job done, and fast! They deliver on that promise.
If any of those are true, I'd go with a major CMS like WordPress.
It's a nice perk and it's great to see Bandzoogle giving back and supporting musicians :)
I'm happy to help answer questions if you like.
Get in touch, check out my music, and feel free to join my email list below.