21st-century musicians need to be conscious not only of the quality of their music but also of their online presence. Social media platforms, streaming platforms, and a professional website are your door to the public and the main tools to connect with your audience. In particular, designing an easy-to-navigate, functional, and visually appealing website can help boost your career and create new revenue streams.
Working with a web designer can be a great solution, but not every artist, especially at the beginning of their career, has the means to make such an investment. Luckily, various website builders allow you to create a website almost from scratch without design or coding experience. Today I’ll analyze two of these, Bandzoogle and Squarespace, and give you an overview of their functions, the costs involved, and the services they offer to musicians in 2023.
If you are wondering which one of them you should use to build a website that will allow you to promote your music, sell merchandise, and connect with your audience, this is the right article for you.
Let’s get into it!
Unique in its approach, Bandzoogle is one of the few website builders explicitly designed with musicians in mind. Frequently listed as one of the top services to build a website for musicians, it offers everything you may need to promote, sell, and share your music.
Bandzoogle was created in 2003 in Montreal, Canada, by Chris Vinson, a former bass player for the alt-rock band Rubberman, who also had experience building websites for record labels. Vinson decided to create a platform that would simplify web-making for musicians after realizing that the artists’ requirements were all quite similar.
Today, the company is based in Canada, and its staff is 100% remote, spread throughout North America and Europe. Bandzoogle’s over 100 features and regular CSM updates make it a valued and popular service amongst musicians worldwide.
Last year, I wrote a detailed review of Bandzoogle with step-by-step instructions on how to create a website using their service, so if you’re considering using it, make sure you check it out.
Squarespace is a perfect all-rounder in the website-building industry and is known for its visually stunning designs and easy-to-navigate interface.
While not specifically designed for musicians, Squarespace offers many templates and functions, such as the ability to set up an online shop or maintain your website with ease, making it an excellent solution for any artist.
Squarespace started, similarly to many successful projects, from the dorm room of a student at the University of Maryland who wanted to build a website for himself. In 2004, when Anthony Casalena created the first version of the platform, there weren’t many solutions allowing one to build a website without decent coding knowledge, and the ones that were available wouldn’t focus on aesthetics much.
It wasn’t until six years later when Casalena started working on scaling up his business, but when he did, Squarespace quickly gained popularity. Today, many solopreneurs, creatives, and small business worldwide build their websites using Squarespace, and their simple drag-and-drop system helps build functional and appealing websites with ease.
Setting up a store on Bandzoogle is pretty straightforward: after selecting a template, customizing fonts, and scheme, you can integrate music features, upload tracks, connect payment options, and you are ready to go. Editing and choosing elements with their WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor is a simple and intuitive process.
If you have experience with any website-building platform, you won’t have any problems using Bandzoogle. Website preview allows you to view your page at any time in web and mobile format. Additionally, each section is linked to a video explaining how to use particular functions.
Bandzoogle’s customer support is definitely one of its strongest points. While they don’t offer 24/7 service, they have a live chat, email support, a blog, an extensive FAQ section, and a versatile forum that provide all the information you may need to get the most out of their system. On top of that, you get access to informative video tutorials to assist you with website creation.
You can choose from multiple music-focused and regularly updated templates library. The designs, however, lack a bit of variety, and most of the templates I tried gave a similar vibe. I believe diversifying template designs would be a valuable improvement to their offer.
Bandzoogle offers a blogging option, but it is missing advanced SEO tools. The functionality offers the possibility to enable comments and integrate media files. However, there is not a lot of space for customization. Overall, the blogging functionality is quite basic compared to Squarespace.
Bandzoogle features an e-commerce engine integrated into the website, which allows you to sell your music and services online. Its focus is on music exclusively, and you can benefit by selling tickets, posters, albums, tracks, and other merch in more than 25 currencies.
Thanks to the user-friendly interface, almost anyone can build a website on Squarespace, taking advantage of one of the available templates. Similarly, a WYSIWYG drag-and-drop editor allows you to customize the templates without including a line of code. It makes it very easy to add and rearrange the content. However, if you want to do some coding, this function is also available on a business plan. Squarespace may take a bit longer to master all its functions when compared to Bandzoogle, but once you get a grip on it, you’ll be able to create more advanced websites than with the music-focused website builder.
Squarespace’s support is top-notch. The Help Center offers video tutorials, an informative blog section, an FAQ, and how-to guides. You can contact the support team via email or Live Chat.
Squarespace offers over 100 versatile and easily customizable templates. You can also take advantage of tools such as Image and Style Editors or Logo Maker that will allow you to personalize your design.
Blogging functionality is more advanced than the one offered by Bandzoogle. You get advanced stats and the ability to customize URLs, add tags, and migrate existing blogs from other platforms, as well as schedule posts and invite contributing writers.
Squarespace provides specific e-commerce templates perfectly suitable for any small to medium store, including music sales. It allows you to create product lists, track sales, and benefit from Google Analytics. It has more advanced promo and customization functions.
Bandzoogle prides itself on not changing the membership price in the 15 years of its activity. Indeed, the price it offers is very competitive, which is a big selling point for many musicians at the start of their careers.
You don’t get a free plan, but you get to try it out for 30 days. All memberships included domain name, hosting, unlimited bandwidth, access to over 100 music themes, unlimited support, promotional features, including SEO, plus blog and music player functionalities.
There are three membership plans available:
The Lite plan is advertised as the best option for bands starting out. For $9.95/month or $8.29 when billed annually, you can create ten pages and add up to 10 tracks and 100 photos. You get access to selling tools, and what’s neat is that there is 0% commission on transitions made through the website. Plus, you can run crowdfunding campaigns, sell subscriptions and music downloads. You also get the ability to build a mailing list with up to 100 subscribers.
The standard plan costs $14.95/month or $12.46 billed annually. This plan is created for bands growing their fan base and allows 20 pages, 50 tracks, and 500 photos. Plus, you can sell your merch, and you get up to 1000 subscribers on your mailing list.
The Pro plan, designed for established bans, costs $19.95/month or $16.63 paid annually. You can include unlimited pages, tracks, and photos. It has an advanced analytics option and more custom features, like custom fonts and headers. In terms of selling functions, on top of music and merch, you can sell tickets to your events, videos, and media. On top of that, you have a print-on-demand merch function, album pre-orders, discount codes, and inventory tracking available. Promo features include unlimited mailing list subscribers, landing pages, and advanced reporting.
To summarize, Bandzoogle is more affordable and offers more functions that are designed specifically for musicians. It also doesn’t charge a transition fee, even on the basic plan. If you’re a musician or a band looking for an affordable option that will allow you to sell your music and merchandise, Bandzoogle offers everything you’ll need without breaking the bank. Squarespace is slightly more expensive, and you also have to get a more advanced plan to avoid transaction fees.
Squarespace offers four payment plans ranging from $16 up to $65. They don’t have a free version, but they do offer a 14-day trial, so technically, you can build a website without paying for it until you decide to go live. All plans include a free domain for a year, which will automatically renew at a standard price after that.
The main difference between the plans is the number of features they offer. Let’s see what they are.
Personal plan costs $23/month or $16/month when paying annually. This option offers unlimited bandwidth, access to the templates’ library, SEO features, and 24/7 support service via email or chat. It also allows up to two contributors and access to basic analytics.
The personal plan is the only one that doesn’t come with e-commerce functions, so if you’re planning to sell your releases or merchandise, it won’t work for you.
The business plan is $33/month or $23/month if you pay yearly. It offers everything included in the personal plan plus a professional email on Gmail for a year (after a year, the offer will be redeemed at a standard price). The business plan has a full e-commerce functionality with a 3% transaction fee. If you want to sell courses, videos, and memberships, the transaction fee is 9% on this plan, but you can lower the fee by purchasing the Digital Products Add-on. On top of that, you get access to promotional pop-ups and banners.
The Basic Commerce plan will cost you $36/month or $27 paid annually. Except for all the functions included in the business plan, you also get point-of-sale access (only available to US customers), merchandising, and customer accounts. Plus, you can synchronize your website with Facebook and Instagram to sell through your social media channels. On commerce plans, you don’t pay transaction fees.
For $65/+month or $49 when paid annually, you get access to everything offered in the Basic Commerce plan and more. Additional features include advanced shipping options, abandoned cart recovery, access to back-office functionality through APIs, advanced discount features, and the ability to sell subscription plans.
The 30-day trial allows you to try it out without adding card payment details.
No commission on sale transactions.
Easy-to-use website editor and responsive design.
The preview option allows you to see your page before publishing it.
Built-in mailing list.
Free domain, web hosting, and SSL security are included in all plans.
Limited designs with little variety.
Custom email inbox is only available as an add-on only.
Includes hosting, a custom domain name, and email at no extra cost for a year on all plans.
Fully integrated eCommerce features into most plans.
Many additional eCommerce features are available as add-ons or with pro plans.
Diverse and easy-to-customize designs.
Easy-to-use drag-and-drop editor.
No preview option, which means you only see the website once it’s live.
Domain, hosting, and professional email cost extra after a year.
Only a 14-day trial is available, which can be too little to try most features.
The editing tool is less intuitive than Banzoogle, especially for beginners.
As an artist, once you reach a certain level of notoriety, you need a website to promote and sell your music: a digital space that acts as the HQ of your online presence, where people can go to find the latest news, subscribe to your newsletter, and show their support.
Thanks to services like Squarespace and Bandzoogle, you can create a website without the help of a professional web developer. If you’re not sure what to include on your music website, the article by Jon can come in handy.
As your first choice, I would recommend Bandzoogle as it is created by music professionals for musicians, and you really can’t go wrong with it. It’s also more affordable and has everything you need to promote and sell your music. If you are a musician seeking to upgrade from a social media platform to your first professional website, Bandzoogle is a great solution.
Still, if flexibility and the ability to scale up your online presence are important to you, Squarespace will probably work better. Thanks to its many advanced options like design customization, advanced blogging features, SEO functions, and developed e-commerce and marketing, you can create a high-quality, versatile, and functional website with ease.
Before you make a final decision, take advantage of the trial periods and play around with the web editors to see which one is the right choice for your needs.
With the right platform, you will have the power to create a professional website that showcases your music to the world. Good luck!