Which Platform 2.0 is here!

October 13, 2016

Back in 2014, we published the first-ever comprehensive comparison of direct-to-fan platforms, and now after quite a few months of nose-to-the-grindstone style hard work, in 2016 we’re following it up with an entirely revised, expanded and updated edition.

The best part? It’s available at a new low price of just £29.

Quick-reference guide

Which Platform is designed as a ‘quick-reference’ guide, intended to help music industry professionals including musicians, management and labels to decide which direct-to-fan platform is the best fit. The information helps to shed light on the kind of questions which ought to be asked by bands and professionals who are looking to harness the power of direct-to-fan retail and marketing strategies, but stops short of overloading users with unnecessary facts, figures and information.

Compare seventeen leading platforms

The updated report goes in-depth, taking a thorough look at some of the most popular platforms. We’ve expanded our coverage from ten to 17 of the leading service providers around the world. We’ve created a set of standard criteria to measure and compare the core features of each platform, so that you can make an informed choice for your next project. And we’ve taken the number of comparison criteria from 43 to 64. That’s 64 different ways you can analyse and compare the competition.

Which Platform - featuring seventeen leading service providers

Source data

What’s very exciting for us is that for the first time, we’re making the source data available as a companion file, meaning you can take our work and organise, filter, splice and slice the information however you like. If you’re not into that, we’ve already organised it into eight helpful sections. You can quickly compare information on services according to:

  • costs and accounting
  • chart and mechanicals
  • platform management
  • marketing and email
  • commerce
  • fulfilment
  • social integrations
  • merchandise services
  • Try Which Platform before you buy

    The digital report is now available as a PDF download together with an Excel spreadsheet, at a new low price of £29. If you’d like to take advantage of our expertise and 6 years’ experience in the direct-to-fan field, grab one of our consultation packages. Priced at £119, these bundle one-to-one consultation together with the download content. Check out the offers here. And by all means, please take advantage of our free sample, which details the contents and includes a snapshot of report pages together with sample profile summaries for Bandcamp and Music Glue.

    Got questions? Get in touch and we’ll respond. Or just go ahead and grab your copy of the new report, plus source data.

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    Categories: news


    The Great Escape 2016: buzzwords

    May 18, 2016

    Festival season kicks off in 2016 for Wicksteed Works down in Brighton, a place director Jessie Scoullar proudly calls her second home, since becoming a music business tutor at BIMM last year. Now in its 11th year, The Great Escape Festival has established itself as the biggest showcase of new bands in Europe and largest music convention in the UK.

    As more than 450 emerging artists and 3500 music industry professionals from all over the world prepare to descend on the seaside town between May 19 and 21, Jessie is also getting ready to hit the beach for her 8th year attending the festival.

    Drowning in data? Learn how to swim

    Jessie is delighted to be chairing an exciting session included in one of the key strands taking place on day one, Thursday 19th May at Dukes at Komedia – Transparency! Data! Blockchain! Let’s make buzzwords happen!

    The strand will be addressing the discussion on data in the music industry, broken into five sessions spanning the day. Jessie chairs the first session “Drowning in data? Learn how to swim!”, between 10.45am and 12.15pm. During this time, we will hear from data providers Jordan Gremli from Spotify, Aly Gillani from Bandcamp, Christopher Elkins from MUSO and Liam Negus-Fancey and James Ponnusamy from Street Team, alongside data users Lyndon Stephens from Champion Sound, Adam Scrimshire from Wah Wah 45s and Jennifer Roberts from Festival Republic.

    What else is happening?

    Led by industry experts, the convention will be packed with presentations, panels and talks, giving delegates a chance to learn, discuss and network. Besides data, other main topics to be covered over the course of the three days will be What if YouTube actually is the future?, CDs! Vinyl! T-shirts! Who the hell is buying this stuff? and What has the music industry ever done for you?


    On Saturday, CMU:DIY presents a mix of lectures, interviews and panel discussions for emerging talent. This year’s theme is Going Live and there’s a full day of content from some great industry representatives. Among them will be Jessie, taking part in a panel titled “Beyond The Venue: Engaging Fans And Maximising Revenue”. This discussion will address how artists can build a fanbase and keep the conversation going, and also includes Sam Taylor of Tunecore, Joe Porn from Music Glue, and singer-songwriter Little Boots, chaired by Juliana Meyer of SupaPass.

    There’s also music

    Outside of the convention, The Great Escape is known for having a diverse line up, featuring artists both new and emerging, local and international, hosted in intimate venues across the city. You can catch us at the conference and once that’s done, we’ll be heading to the festival to catch as many gigs as we can – hope to see you there!

    Our picks include Aldous Harding and Nadia Reid. What do you recommend? Tweet us @wicksteedworks!

    To find out more about The Great Escape, including full convention programme and music line up, visit the website here.

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    Categories: news

    How to write a winning subject line

    How to write a winning subject line

    September 4, 2015

    Do you ever find yourself stuck at the final stage of drafting your mailer, pondering the empty subject line box? You might wonder, how important can it be? Here’s the thing: it’s very important. There are a limited number of factors that affect your open rate metric. Who you are, and your subject line.

    Two subject line tactics

    We have limited influence over who you are. So let’s focus on your subject lines, inspired by this post last week on the Return Path blog.

    The data solutions provider suggests two approaches to help brands cut through overstuffed inboxes.

    First, use humour. Return Path offers examples of companies doing “a great job of having their subject line focus on their product while also drawing in their subscribers in with a comical punch.” The main caveat on this approach is to ensure that your humour doesn’t offend.

    Second, stress urgency. Cultivating FOMO, or fear of missing out, can be a great tactic for your promotional strategy.

    Let’s check out some music subject lines

    With these tools in mind, we searched through our “artist mailers we’re subscribed to” folder. And one thing we note is that by and large, subject lines for artists’ newsletters are dull, dull, dull.

    Here’s some subject line examples:

    • [Album] – out now
    • Free [album] download ends tomorrow
    • July update
    • [Track] – new video
    • Autumn tour dates


    Not a shred of humour, and only one vague nod towards urgency. In effect, these artists are relying on the power of their name alone to encourage fans to open the mailer. With all the messages you’re competing with, that’s not always enough!

    These subject lines fail on two counts. Either they’re too specific: “Album out now”, “New video”. Or they’re too vague: “July update”.

    Create a curiosity gap

    If a subject line states “new album – out now”, the fan has all the information they need to decide whether to open the email. They might just go straight to a streaming service or YouTube and check it out, and ignore your message, regardless of any other info that might be in there.

    If the subject line is non-specific, like “July update”, there’s no hook to entice the casual fan.

    One answer is to place your subject line within the curiosity gap. This theory was first developed by George Loewenstein of Carnegie-Mellon in the early 90s. Loewenstein explains curiosity as our sense of a gap “between what we know and what we want to know”.

    That’s what we’re aiming for!

    Why not work a little harder on the subject line and give yourself a better chance of success? Why not use humour, build curiosity, stress urgency, or appeal to your fans?

    Subject lines that work

    Here’s the best we’ve seen in the last few weeks, and what makes them great:

    • Asking a favour, from the Edinburgh Fringe – please vote!

    This is quite clear: She Makes War is appealing for help, at the Edinburgh Fringe. She wants our votes for something unstated, and as a fan, I’m curious to find out what, and willing to oblige.

    • everybody wants you to just

    This fragment from Half Moon Run might be a song lyric, we think, when we catch sight of it in our inbox. It hangs without capitalisation; we’re intrigued. The email content rewards curious fans, linking to the lead track Trust from the band’s forthcoming album.

    • Cobblers’ UK headline tour – Support announced

    The preheader text saves Keston Cobblers’ Club‘s subject line from the dull pile, asking “Who’s it going to be……”. Who IS the support act going to be? Suggesting the question is smart and we’re betting that made for a strong open rate.

    Remove the guesswork with a test

    You can A/B test your subject lines on a subset of your users, to see how they fare. Return Path suggests ensuring your sample is statistically significant; they even provides a calculator here. Many email service providers simplify the testing process, meaning you can make an informed choice and get the best possible results.

    Are you wondering how to create subject lines that inspire curiosity? Unsure how to run an A/B test? If you’d rather let someone else figure it out, get in touch. We love this stuff.

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    Categories: news


    SEO for Musicians: 3 tips

    August 25, 2015

    This post originally appeared on the Bandzoogle Blog. Bandzoogle is an easy all-in-one platform where musicians can build a beautiful website in minutes. It’s free to try, and Wicksteed Works readers get 15% off membership! Start a risk-free 30 day trial here.

    Making your website rank well in search engines can seem like a daunting task. Now more than ever, people look to Google to find out information, and it’s important for your music website to work in search engines.

    Not sure where to begin? Even starting with a few small things can help with the search engine optimization (also called SEO) for your website. Let’s look at a few quick ways to update the text on your website to help it rank better in search results.

    Content update 1: Page title

    Writing a descriptive page title tells Google what your website’s pages are about, and improves the chances of matching a search query.

    Let’s look at Bandzoogle members Gladstone Ave, a new band just starting out. They have a generic band name and no custom Page title yet.

    Changing their page title from the default “Gladstone Ave – Home” to “Gladstone Ave – Acoustic-folk duo in Toronto” gives a bit more information about them right off the bat. It makes the page more likely to return in search results that include “acoustic-folk” and “Toronto,” and a user is more likely to click on it because they know what they are clicking on (that IS the band website I was looking for!)

    SEO for musicians

    To do this with your Bandzoogle music website, click the Pages tab and choose Edit Title and Settings. Look down the page to the ‘Meta tags for this page’ area, and click Custom.

    This will open up a Page Title field and that’s where you’ll write out your text. Try to keep it under 55 characters so that it will show up in Google without being cut off.

    Content update 2: Page Description

    Similarly in the Edit Title and Settings area, you’ll see a spot to add a custom meta description. This tells the search engine what that specific page is about in more detail, and helps match the page to search results.

    You can set a page description in your Pages tab, again by clicking Edit Title and Settings, then looking for Meta tags for this page: custom: Page Description.

    By default this is set to ‘Automatically generated from your page content’ which can work well. But it’s nice to have a bit more control, especially for your pages that don’t have much text, or if the text that you do have is not very descriptive or keyword friendly.

    For your Home page, describe your band in detail. For your Music page, you’ll talk more about your sound or your latest CD. With your Events page’s description, you might mention that you play at a certain venue regularly, or an important upcoming show. Write these details in paragraph form, using around 155 characters.

    SEO for musicians

    Another reason to add a great page description? Social sharing sites like Facebook tend to use a page’s description when that page is shared.

    Content update 3: Homepage text

    Remember, Google is a machine, not a human, and can only match what people type into the search engine to your website if you provide the words. So adding a short paragraph to your Homepage that includes words that describe yourself and your music (called keywords) will help your website come up more easily in search.

    To do this, write your bio and make sure to include your band name, your genre, your location – things that you think people would type into Google to find you – and put it right on your Homepage (need help writing this? Here are a few tips on creating a perfect pitch).

    Search engines are also very smart, using complex algorithms to determine what is relevant on your pages, and can penalize you for stuffing many keywords that make no sense in context onto your page. So keep it simple, relevant, and human-readable.

    Updates complete? Submit to Google!

    Once you’ve done these updates, you can re-submit your website for Google to crawl here: Submit Url to Google

    Do you need a band website, or are you thinking about upgrading your existing site? Check out Bandzoogle – create a beautiful website in minutes, with no coding or design skills required. Try it for free with no credit card required, and get 15% off your first year here*. If you have questions about Bandzoogle or would like advice on creating your website, get in touch.

    * We receive a small commission from sign-ups to keep the wifi flowing.

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    Categories: Bandzoogle news


    Wicksteed Workshops

    June 5, 2015

    At Wicksteed Works, alongside working with our wonderful clients, and furthering our research across direct-to-fan software platforms, we also produce and facilitate workshops, helping to educate artists, managers, labels and other industry folks about direct-to-fan strategy.

    Generating awareness

    Director Jessie Scoullar has recently been spreading the message far and wide, with a Demystifying Direct-to-Fan series of workshops produced in partnership with the Music Managers Forum in New Zealand, followed by an appearance at PrimaveraPro in Barcelona last week. In addition, we have also partnered with the Generator team in Newcastle and the BPI, and we occasionally facilitate workshops for private clients.

    Making connections

    Our workshops take a deep dive into the building blocks of direct-to-fan strategy, providing participants with an interactive environment for learning about the underlying theory and how it fits into a wider marketing strategy. There is always a broad review of live examples found around the web today, followed by a walk-through guide to kickstarting participants’ own strategy: goal-setting, timeline planning and product strategy, finishing with an overview of the software platform variants currently available and how to narrow down the options to find the right solution.

    Workshop with the MMF in Wellington, NZ

    Encouraging conversations

    The sessions usually run for two to three hours, and provide participants with a valuable opportunity for the sharing of knowledge and experience, idea generation and networking. Participants emerge with a fresh understanding of this wide and challenging area, with eyes opened to the range of online tools, ready to build their own tailored strategy.

    Interested in participating in one of our educational, interactive workshops? Get in touch to find out about availability or to book one in for your team.

    Photo credits: PrimaveraPro, Ayesha Kee

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    Categories: MMF news PrimaveraPro