Apr 1 2011

Bandcamp Tips: Custom Header & Image Maps

Thought I’d write a quick post after spending a couple of hours this afternoon faffing about trying to customise the custom header on my Bandcamp page with the addition of an image map.

It’s actually much easier than at first it may seem and with just a few simple steps you can have your Bandcamp page integrating with your main website in a far more effective form. The addition of a custom url for your Bandcamp page means you can use the site as a shop-window for your music which forms part of your main website as a sub-domain. This is what many artists are doing now to promote their music, using their own site as a hub and using external sites such as Bandcamp for additional functionality.

This is how I created the image map…

First you need the actual image for the custom header. I did a screen grab (command-shift-4) from the home page on my main website. Here is the crucial piece of information (which cost me two failed attempts): Bandcamp custom headers are required to be between 975 pixels wide and 40-180 pixels tall. What I should have done was check the dimensions when I did the screen grab. Third time lucky…

Here is what my custom header looks like. I included the menu at the top so I could superimpose the image map later…

I then went to the excellent Image Maps site and uploaded the image. I shan’t bother to fully explain how to use the site as it is incredibly easy to figure out and simple to use. Basically once the image is uploaded you can create boxes around whichever blocks you want to add links to and away you go. Starts looking a little like this:

Once you’ve finished marking up the image, just click the Get Your Code button and copy the generated HTML code to your clipboard.

Then you hop over to Bandcamp and upload your custom header image on the main page. The final step is to go to your Profile page and paste the HTML into the Use an image map box in the Custom Header section.

Then you’re laughing.

Hope that was useful to somebody. This post could’ve saved me a good hour this lunchtime 🙂

Mar 6 2011

Mandala News…

Hello folks,

This is just a quick update to let you know that my solo album Mandala is now available on virtually all the major music download providers including iTunes, Amazon MP3, Rhapsody, eMusic and Napster. This is thanks to those lovely folks at CD Baby (where incidentally, you can also buy the download!).

Now, CD copies are still only available form my website via Bandcamp, and the best way to help support me and my music is to buy the album from me directly there. I know some people prefer to use iTunes or Amazon and it is for this reason that I’ve submitted the album to these sites. I also really wanted the album to be available on Spotify, which it should be in the next couple of weeks.

Now for a little plea… If anyone who already has the album fancies writing a short review or posting their ratings over on the iTunes or Amazon MP3 sites, that would be much appreciated. Niche music like mine relies so heavily on word of mouth and personal recommendation that any help you can give would make a real difference. If you have any questions on how to go about this, please leave a comment here or contact me on Twitter. Thanks guys 🙂

I have already started work on the follow up to Mandala here at Little Towers. But that is another blog post entirely. I posted a little sketch over at Soundcloud a couple of weeks ago to give you some idea of the direction it’s heading in. Here it is again so you can have a sneak peek..

Glitch #1 by simonlittlebass

If anybody’s in Glasgow at the end of the week, I’ll be playing two shows with Maggie Reilly at The Tron Theatre on Friday and Saturday. These are very special shows as they are the first UK dates Maggie has played in over ten years. Seriously not to be missed. Hope to see some of you there.

Until next time…

Nov 9 2010

It’s All About Bandcamp…

Well we all knew this blog post was coming…

In the run-up to releasing Mandala I spent a lot of time investigating the various channels I could employ to sell the album online. There are myriad ways to get your music onto iTunes, Amazon MP3, and eMusic etc and equally as many routes to selling physical packages online too. But here’s the catch; they all cost you money to set up and you have no control over pricing, availability or branding. Services like Tunecore will put your music onto a variety of digital stores, as well as streaming services like Spotify for an annual fee of $49.99 per album. Reverb Nation now also offers a variety of digital distribution packages ranging between $35-60 per year, per ‘release’ (ie; single, album, EP), but has no options for selling physical CDs and seems mainly aimed at the US market.

Enter Bandcamp!!

Bandcamp is a website that enables a band/artist to easily distribute their music directly to the public, both digitally and physically. It is well worth reading their excellent blog to keep up to date with all the new features they regularly add to the service. It is one of the best new sites to have sprung up over the last few years to embrace the changes in the music industry and the way artists engage with their audience.

Some benefits for artists/bands:

  • Easy to set up. You can have your album on sale within 30 minutes..
  • Integrates with existing website via custom urls, custom headers, design etc
  • Fans can stream the music in it’s entirety, unlike the dreaded 30 second previews of iTunes etc.
  • Offer high-quality downloads in a variety of formats. Also offers the possibility of including an instant download with physical packages
  • Excellent sharing options to place widgets and links on other sites
  • Various pricing options including ‘pay what you want’, set pricing and everything in between. Plus the facility to generate free download codes for promotion etc
  • Receive payments instantly via PayPal
  • Bandcamp only takes 15% commission on sales and has no annual fees

and some benefits for fans/listeners:

  • Listen to full tracks/albums online, so you can try before you buy
  • Know that you are supporting the artists directly when you buy the music (and not Steve Jobs)
  • Easy to share your discoveries via Facebook, Twitter, embeddable widgets/music players
  • Download music in various high-quality formats (MP3, FLAC etc)

I have been a big supporter of Bandcamp since it first started up. I know as a listener I am far more likely to buy an album download from Bandcamp than any other digital store; mainly due to the superior quality of the downloaded files and because I want to directly support the artist when I buy their music. I know of several people that sell their music on iTunes and see a surprisingly small return from sales. Bandcamp is a great resource for independent music.

Over the last few weeks I have noticed more and more artists turning to Bandcamp to sell their music. I have turned several of my friends onto the site this month. Most recently the fantastic pianist Janette Mason has uploaded both her solo albums for download. I also convinced my good friend Steve Alexander to offer his excellent Isometric album on Bandcamp. Artists like Zoe Keating and Steve Lawson have been selling their music through the site for quite some time now, with great success. Both have made use of the ‘pay what you want’ model to some degree, which allows fans to name their own price and pay what they think the music is worth (with or without a lower limit).

This is the pricing model I have opted for with Mandala. At the moment, the digital version is £5 (or more) and the physical CD is priced at £10 (or more). This enables people to pay a little more if they would like to show some extra support for the project and indeed any future projects. I have found that most people do add a little extra than the minimum price, especially for the download. I know that both Steve and Zoe have had fans pay upwards of $100 for albums downloads as a show of support for their music.

Just saying, you know…

Incidentally, Bandcamp have just added Facebook ‘Like’ buttons to their pages, which is by far the easiest and quickest way to share your favourite albums with your friends right now. Please do take a moment to scoot over to my Bandcamp page and click the ‘Like’ button under the album artwork. Even if you’ve already bought it; every little helps in spreading the word! You may have also noticed that I have added my own little ‘Like’ button to this very site recently (it’s at the top of the sidebar on the right), which will magically add you to the small but perfectly formed gang on my Facebook page if you are that way inclined…

So what have you discovered via Bandcamp recently? I’ve downloaded a few corkers recently. Here’s a few recommendations (in no particular order)

Until next time, here’s one of their lovely widgets so you can stream the solo album whilst having a look around. This is the Grande version, in case you were wondering…