One of your band’s best friends should be Google services. They offer lots of free resources that can be powerful for running your band’s business. Did I mention these are FREE? Plus, these resources can be accessed anywhere you have an internet connection. Let’s talk about how you can use these to help your band run more smoothly.
Your band needs email to communicate in this day and age. GMAIL is one of the most trusted email services out there. Try to find a username that matches your band’s name if possible. Keep consistent with your domain name and other online identities when you can. Don’t use your personal email for band business. Keep band items separate. Everyone in the band should have access to this account so email can be responded to quickly. If one person is doing it all, they can get overwhelmed. People love prompt replies to their emails, so try to keep up on answering emails.
If you want to look even more powerful then use email forwarding through your domain name provider. You can set up an email address using your band’s domain name and then forward it to your Gmail account. For instance: firstname.lastname@example.org This way, you look more professional and you still get all the benefits of using GMAIL. WIN, WIN.
This service is something that a lot of people don’t know about. Google Voice lets you get a new phone number that you can use for your band. The cool part is that you don’t need to have a dedicated phone for this. You tie the number to your cell phone or home phone and your Google Voice number is really a virtual number. You can also tie the number to any number of phones you like. If somebody calls your Google Voice number then you can have it ring every member in the band’s cell if you like. That way multiple people can share the burden of answering the band’s hotline. You can also let calls go to voicemail and Google will send you an email with the voicemail transcribed for easy reading.
Use Google’s spreadsheet program to keep track of your band’s expenses. Put together a simple spreadsheet to keep track of your money. You can also get more advanced and start detailing what shows are your biggest paying, how much merch sells during the Holidays, etc. Either way, start to keep track as of much data as you can. This is also great for tax time.
Any time you need to write a press release or a setlist then use the word program. The great part is that it is stored in the cloud and be retrieved from anywhere. You can create an archive of your setlists for future reference. This is great for when you submit your setlists to your PRO to get paid for live performances.
Use this program for thing like Stage Plots. You can even use it to make signs for your merch table. I wouldn’t use it for anything too complicated, but it is good for simpler drawings.
This is one of the more useful tools that Google offers. Add all of your gigs and practices into the calendar so that band members can keep track of the schedule. The great part is that you can share your band’s calendar with other Google accounts. My band’s singer was in two bands. Each band shared its calendar with each other. That way each band knew what dates were already booked by the other band. That saves lots of time during the booking process. We also shared our personal google calendars with the band’s calendar. That way when we had a vacation, or a personal date that we needed to attend, the band knew not to book a show on those dates. By sharing, we could also see the band’s calendar on our personal calendar without switching google accounts on our smartphone. You can color code the calendars to keep items separate and easy to identify.
Keep your contacts safe and easy to get at using Contacts. You can arrange contacts by groups to help find certain types of people easily. I like to make a group for bands, booking agents, and press. That way I can filter out people I know I’m looking for. You can also add notes for each person to help you remember things about them. If that booking agent liked a certain type of beer then put it in the notes. Send them a six-pack when you want to get on their good side and ask about playing a certain show. You’ll meet a lot of people in this business, so make sure you can make a good impression when you deal with your contacts. It will make a huge impact if you can include something personal about the person you are dealing with.
Google maps are probably something you are already using. This is probably one of the best navigation apps out there. You can also download maps to your smartphone to use offline. This is useful if you know that you’ll be in an area with sketchy cell service, or you want to save your data usage. You can also use maps to find the closest gas station, music store, or fast food joint. Try saving some money by setting up your route to avoid tolls.
Do you have a pile of receipts from your last tour? Don’t put them in a shoebox for later. Start putting them into a digital folder so you can find them easily later. PhotoScan takes a photo of your receipts and stores them in your Google Photos account. You can add tags to the scan to help find them later. Tags like food, gas, and hotel can help find exactly what you want when you need to. You can find your receipts later when you want to add items to your spreadsheet. Get rid of that pile of paper and put your shoes in the shoebox instead.
Your band will probably be using lots of photos. You might take most of these with a smartphone. After a little bit, your smartphone is out of storage because of this. Google Photos is here to help you with that. Use Photos to sync all of your photos to your Google account. Now you have a backup in the cloud. Plus, if you are out of room on your smartphone then you can delete them from your phone. You can find them later in the cloud and use them as you need them. Photos also makes it easier to find your specific photos. Type in terms like “drums” and Google Photos looks for photos that contain drums. How cool is that? You also get unlimited storage if you choose the storage where Google can compress your files. For most of us, this is the way to go. We would never even notice the difference in quality and we can stop worrying about filling up our smartphones.
This is where you store all your files like your documents, stage plots, and spreadsheets. You can also store things like MP3s here. I use Google drive to store the MP3 files that my band gives away when fans sign up for our newsletter. The cool thing is you can send people a link and they can download the file themselves. Sending emails with an attachment is not always the best email etiquette. In fact, attachments might even flag an email as SPAM.
Google alerts can you help keep track of your online presence. Setup an alert for terms like your band name, album name, or a combination of anything you want to look for online. Any time these terms show up online, you will be alerted to where they popped up online. You can find if somebody is talking about your band online that you didn’t know about. You can seize the opportunity to make a new connection before it goes cold. It can also show you if your band comes up where it shouldn’t. Mistakes can be corrected ASAP and keep your online presence clean and accurate.
Find more free tools
If you want to know more about what products and services Google offers then check out https://www.google.com/about/products/. You will be surprised with all the tools they offer. You might even find your next favorite tool in your band’s arsenal there. I would recommend implementing one thing at a time. Don’t get overwhelmed trying to change your whole process at once. Get yourself familiar with each tool before moving onto the next. If something doesn’t work for you then get rid of it. These tools are only useful if they work for what your band needs. They should make your life easier. Otherwise, they aren’t worth the time to figure them out.
If you enjoyed these tips, then check out my FREE ebook for more helpful ideas.
Be sure to check out Ariel Hyatt’s post about Google Apps for her take on the subject.