Music Biz wanted a modern and responsive site that would establish the Association as a 365-days-a-year resource for members and the industry at large. They wanted simpler navigation that would automate member sign up, drive traffic and increase the time users spent on the site.
About Music Biz
The Music Business Association (Music Biz) is a non-profit membership organization that brings together the commerce, content and creative communities as a collective voice in the industry. Music Biz provides multiple opportunities for members to gain visibility and connect to business partners; opens access to the important data and metrics needed to make smart decisions; promotes and advocates on the important issues affecting our industry; and offers a myriad of programs to promote professional career development.
After 55 years as the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM), the Association undertook a massive rebranding effort in 2013, becoming the Music Business Association. With a fresh identity and a new communication strategy, they needed a new website.
Aside from outdated branding, the site was burdened by functional limitations. Over the years, new features had been added but were usually quick fixes rather than long-term solutions. Eventually, the “band-aid” fixes and a growing list of outdated and unsupported plugins resulted in a broken site that deterred members rather than attracting and retaining them.
Music Biz’s goal is to provide members with resources to do their jobs faster and more efficiently, and the website wasn’t delivering. The time was right for an overhaul. With their annual event eight months away, Association staff felt it was the perfect time to launch a new site, as nearly 1500 members would be convening under one roof.
Top issues we identified:
No single sign-on functionality made it cumbersome for members to obtain member benefits
No database integration meant that new member requests or renewals had to be manually processed by Music Biz employees, which could take hours for a member to get a response
The site was not mobile responsive despite web stats indicating that many visitors were using mobile devices – and Google was gearing up to downgrade non-responsive sites in search results
First, our team met with Music Biz leadership to understand their business, members and challenges. We created a timeline of milestones and deliverables to ensure we would hit their event launch date. Then we moved into strategy, where a sitemap (the site’s architecture) and wireframes (essentially the blueprint of a website) were developed and vetted with the team. We worked closely with Music Biz to identify outdated or unpopular pages that were no longer needed, opportunities for potential new pages, and new functionality that was missing on the old site. Music Biz provided their own content using a manuscript template that we developed.
After the site’s framework was finalized, we created a site design that featured lots of photo galleries showcasing their events over the decades, plenty of icons and a clean, fresh color scheme that leveraged the new brand.
Programming was complex, as a custom integration with their CRM and member database was required. This meant sketching out and modeling the data flows and conditional logic for multiple yes/no decision paths, then implementing and testing. A secondary database, third-party feeds and several forms also needed to be integrated. In addition, the site needed a subsection for their annual events that had a different look and feel from the main site, requiring a subset of unique page templates.
The new site is built on WordPress, a popular and secure platform, and was tested thoroughly across multiple devices and browsers in preparation for their high-profile launch. The site is built to SEO (search engine optimization) best practices and with keyword-rich meta tags to help it rank in search results. It’s also easy to use, letting Music Biz’s team update content as needed – something that their old site sorely lacked.
Today, members use a single sign-on across the site, and have full access to download whitepapers, research reports and past webinars. Members can also search the Online Directory for new contacts or the Job Center for career opportunities. Non-members can view a wealth of information about the resources offered by the Association and, if they choose to sign-up for membership, they can easily and securely pay their dues with no manual delay. Visitors who are unsure of their employer’s membership status can check the status quickly using the new ‘Are You a Member? Tool, which gives the visitor the option to be added to their employer’s roster or receive more information on membership.
In May 2017, one year after launch, Music Biz reported that year-over-year unique users were up 22%, page views were up 129%, and the time that users spent on the site was up 96%. In addition, hundreds of industry professionals check their membership status each month through the “Are You A Member?” tool and hundreds of additional visitors sign up for a daily feed that shares Association and industry news.
Also over the past year, the Association has seen a 24% increase in membership. They associate this in part to the new site, which helps to better showcase member benefits and events, and allows the Association to more easily generate and follow-up with web-generated member leads.