Empower Your Brand with Easy and Inexpensive Online Resources

By Marina Terteryan
JEN Marketing & Communications Coordinator // Integrated Marketing Consultant

It is not always possible to hire a web developer, graphic designer, or makreting consultant, so jazz artists need to be empowered to handle the three crucial aspects of their brand: website, graphics, and mailing list. Here are my three favorite tools that empower musicians to build the visual components of their brand, for free or very cheap!

Website: SquareSpace.com

This site is an easy and affordable plug-and-play website builder, which allows you to create a beautiful and functional website in minutes without needing any technical skills. If you can use a computer, you can use this program. Squarespace is a simple web-based platform in which you select a website template, upload your photos, videos, audio, tour dates, bio, and more. They have several dedicated templates that are specifically for musicians.

One of the best parts of Squarespace is that it allows you to create an online store through which to sell your albums and merch. You’ll have to do the actual boxing and shipping, of course, and they will take a small percentage of fees. But the setup is simple and Squarespace handles all the security protection and deposits the money directly into your account.

Pro tip: Please note that most of the Squarespace templates feature large images on the site, so I wholeheartedly recommend investing in a great photographer to take some powerful images of you or your band.

Bonus: They have tons of informative videos to help you use their platform, and their 24-hour customer service is fantastic. So feel free to email them at 2 am, when you’re working on your page after a gig.

Cost: There are three subscription tiers ($8 per month, $18 per month, $26 per month), based on how many e-commerce items. Also – not many people know this, but there is an ongoing public coupon that gives you 10% off if you use the code GIMME10 at checkout.

Email Blast: MailChimp.com

Every musician needs to keep in touch with their fans and email remains the best way to do so. Social media profiles are powerful, but the current trends of social media has made it difficult to ensure that all of your followers see your messages. Email is still as important as ever because you can control your own interactions with your fans by email. My favorite email tool is MailChimp (it’s the service that JEN uses).

MailChimp is easy and templated, just like Squarespace. But the best part is that it is free for accounts with less than 2,000 names. You start getting charged as your subscriber count goes up. Their templates are attractive and don’t require any technical knowledge to use. Squarespace even integrates with Mail Chimp, so you can place a form on your site and get sign ups directly into your Mail Chimp account.

Pro tip: Please keep in mind that anytime you add someone to your mailing list, they need to have opted in to receive information from you or your band. This means you can’t upload your friend’s mailing list into your own account and start sending them emails. The internet is an unforgiving place and these emailing list services are ruthless about banning people. The good news is that you won’t have any problems if you are actively building your own list by getting sign ups at shows and placing a sign up form on your website.

Cost: Free for under 2,000 subscribers, and goes up in tiers based on the number.

Graphic Design: Canva.com

With 99% of the internet leaning towards photos and graphics, it’s not always possible to hire a graphic designer for that volume of work. This is a template-based website, just like Squarespace and Mail Chimp.

You can create every kind of graphic you want, using beautiful templated designs. And when I say every kind of graphic, I mean EVERYTHING. From social media photos custom-sized per site, to flyers, to album covers, to digital ads. I’m not kidding when I say I had dreams about a service as great as Canva.

The best part? IT’S FREE! Specifically, 90% of the designs are free to use, and they charge $1 per usage for copyrighted materials such as premium designs, illustrations, and stock photos. It’s worth every penny.

You can even upload your own photos and logos and add them to your designs. This site doesn’t create an entire brand identity for you, so I do recommend hiring a great designer if you have a big project, such as your brand creation or major album design.

Pro tip: Please respect any and all copyrights as you conduct your marketing, including making sure that images and recordings are used within legal limits, with proper credit and payment provided to copyright holders. It is easy to accidentally break the copyright rules, so when in doubt, leave it out.

Cost: Free, with $1 charge per premium item usage (stock photos, illustrations, and premium designs).

Enjoy your marketing activities! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to find me on Twitter: @musicalmyrrh.