9 Must-Have Programs and Processes I Use In My Music Business

Since starting Designing the Row, I have tried and tested my fair share of online platforms, programs, processes, resources, etc. in attempt to streamline and automate my online business. The following 9 are my "holy grail." I use them all the time and don't know what I'd do without them! 

9 Must-Have Programs & Processes I Use In My Music Business

Paid


Squarespace
 

What it is

My. life.

No really, thanks to Squarespace I am able to design websites for a living from the comfort of my home (and currently my yoga pants)!

But what is it really? In their words... Whether you're showcasing a portfolio, publishing a blog, or running a business, our designer templates have proven to be the most beautiful way to present your ideas online. With social connectivity, calendars, an elegant audio player, and more, we give you everything you need to manage your music. 

How I use it

You're lookin' at it! Squarespace is the reason I am able to run my business! Not only is this a Squarespace website, but so is Music Biz Besties... and so are all the client websites I design. I could write a whole blog post just on Squarespace itself, but just know that I LOVE it and am here to show you how it can work for your music business too!

How much it costs

Personal website pricing starts at $12/month, but if you work with me you get a discount because I'm a Squarespace Circle member.

Learn more

Squarespace for musicians / work with me!


Google Drive
 

What it is

Google Drive is "a safe place for all your files."

How I use it

I use Google Drive for #allthethings...

  • Shared folders with my website clients so we can eliminate email clutter and edit documents together in real time
  • Docs to plan out my content calendar
  • Spreadsheets to keep track of social media counts
  • Spreadsheets to keep track of my business financials
  • Docs for taking notes
  • Docs for client tour itineraries
  • Spreadsheets to collect information from Squarespace forms
  • Folders to organize my business workflow docs

How much it costs

I pay $5/month through Squarespace for my hey@designingtherow.com email/Google account... although I think this price has gone up since I registered.

Learn more

Google Drive homepage


ConvertKit
 

What it is

"Email marketing for professional bloggers."

From the ConvertKit website... We set out to build something simple, something elegant, something built for bloggers… a tool that makes it easy and obvious to grow your business through email marketing.

How I use it

At first I didn't see what was so awesome about ConvertKit... being a designer I was worried that switching from MailChimp's designer interface to ConvertKit's plaintext emails would hurt my reputation as a designer. But guess what!? No one has time these days to take in an email with multiple links and topics. So not only did I change email platforms, but it forced me (in a good way) to change my strategy too! I have gone from the slow growth of 120 subscribers per year to over 120 subscribers PER MONTH!!

If you want to really know all the details about how I use ConvertKit for my business, check out this webinar. You'll learn how to...

  • Set up effective email automation and why it's important
  • Grow your email list whether you're just starting out or if you've hit a plateau
  • Create focused groups within your email list for more targeted email marketing

How much it costs

Pricing starts at $29/month and goes up as your list size increases.

Learn more

About ConvertKit* or why you shouldn't switch from MailChimp to ConvertKit (hint, you should)!


Adobe Creative Cloud
 

What it is

From Adobe's website... Creative Cloud gives you the entire collection of Adobe desktop and mobile apps, from essentials like Photoshop to innovative new tools like Adobe XD. You also get built-in templates to jump-start your designs and step-by-step tutorials to help you get up to speed quickly and sharpen your skills. It′s your entire creative world, all in one place.

How I use it

In college I took advantage of Academic software pricing and bought the Adobe Creative Suite for about $200 (normally costs thousands). But, the thing about Academic software is that you can't update it. And of course, about a month after I bought it, the next version was released.

When I got a new laptop last year, I subscribed to Adobe Creative Cloud. It's nice to always have the most up to date version of the programs, but I still need to dive into using the cloud to its potential! 

How much it costs

Starting at $49.99/month (less if you want only one application, like, Photoshop only)

Learn more

Visit Adobe.com


Dubsado
 

What it is

It's an amazing client management system... From capturing the lead on your website, automatically following up with a questionnaire based on the client's input, to sending them a proposal process that will leave them selecting the big ticket packages, we've got you covered. No more back and forth with clients and endless email attachments. Get it all done in one system to handle it all.

How I use it

  • Capture and organize leads and jobs
  • Create and send digital proposals and contracts
  • Collect and track revenue
  • Create and send invoices
  • Connect to Stripe for payments
  • Track expenses and pull reports
  • Create client workflows
  • Save client passwords
  • Automated email reminders for clients
  • Address book of clients
  • Client portal for easy access to all documents (proposal, contract, forms, invoices)

Basically, it's my everything as far as keeping me on track with client work and I use it every day!

How much it costs

Pricing starts at $20/month (and they don't take a percentage of the money you make!)

Learn more

Start with a free Dubsado trial!


Buffer
 

What it is

Buffer is an online social media management tool. In their words... Buffer is the best way to drive traffic, increase fan engagement and save time on social media.

How I use it

Last year when I was doing social media management, I had all my clients’ accounts linked up to a Buffer Business account. This meant I could log in to one site and post for all clients on various socials in one place. AH-MAZING.

Now, I use it personally for myself. I’ve got my Music Biz Besties Facebook group, Designing the Row Facebook page, Instagram (though I always post to Instagram in real time), Twitter, and Pinterest profiles linked up. Instead of stressing out each day about what to post on various channels, I can plan and schedule content in advance so I can focus more on my work each day.

How much it costs

$10/month Awesome Plan (there's also a free plan!)

Learn More

Try Buffer for free!


Free


Canva
 

What it is

Empowering the world to design: Canva makes design simple for everyone. Create designs for Web or print: blog graphics, presentations, Facebook covers, flyers, posters, invitations and so much more.

How I use it

Blog graphics. Facebook graphics. Instagram graphics. Website graphics. Spotify playlist graphics. PDF download design. Video graphics. E-course graphics. (I could go on).

You name it, I’ve probably designed it with Canva.

My favorite part is that since it’s a website, I can access it from my laptop or desktop and my designs are always up to date no matter what device I originally created them on. So, while I have the “fancy” Adobe Creative Cloud, I use that for more detailed client work and use Canva for my everyday online business needs!

Another awesome thing about Canva is that you can share your designs with others. So, since I do brand design for clients - I will create their brand board in Adobe Illustrator but then design social graphics in Canva that I can share with my clients so they can update the graphics on their own but still maintain the design I’ve created. Works great for Facebook cover photos, Instagram quote graphics, and Pinterest graphics!

Learn More

Start designing now at Canva.com. They say it only takes 23 seconds to learn, and I'd agree!


YouTube
 

What it is

If you don’t know what YouTube is… this probably isn’t the right blog for you to be reading.

How I use it

SO many ways. I love YouTube.

I was in artist management for about five years and really took the time to learn all about how to maximize YouTube for our artists. So if you really want to dive into how I use YouTube, I recommend watching the replay of my webinar, YouTube for Musicians, or check out the written recap here. I'm talkin...

  • How to verify your channel to access advanced features
  • How to use YouTube Cards to gain sales
  • How to activate and create a custom channel homepage to showcase videos from various YouTube channels
  • How to create custom YouTube graphics for free
  • The best way to share your videos to keep fans on your channel longer

Learn More

Check out my channel!


Bandsintown
 

What it is

The touring platform that connects artists to fans.

How I use it

Obviously, I’m not a touring musician... but since I design websites for musicians, Bandsintown is important to me!

Bandsintown is an online platform that you control through Facebook to post and promote tour dates. The main reasons why I rely on it are:

  • It only takes about 3 clicks to connect Bandsintown tour dates to a Squarespace website. Create block > Select Bandsintown > Enter Artist Name > Click Apply
  • Easily managed from Facebook and you can manage multiple artists without having to login or out for access.
  • Bandsintown tour dates sync to Google search and Spotify.
  • If you are doing a special tour announcement with various dates, you can schedule the dates in advance to all “go live” at the same time for your announce.
  • Once you add a date to your tour, Bandsintown can help automate promotion on social media and will also automat ically move the date to “passed” when appropriate.

Learn More

Visit Bandsintown.com.


Bonus!

Access the free resource library of Designing the Row downloads... includes various checklists, planner sheets, an e-course, and more!


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What's your favorite platform? leave a comment below.


 
Katherine Forbes, Nashville website designer

Katherine Forbes, Founder of Designing the Row

A Music City girl obsessed with creating confidence in my clients through design, marketing, and community. In today’s world, your visual branding and online presence will either make or break you. I’ve got my Diet Coke in hand and am ready to get started on your next project.

 

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