At Ucraft, we value the success of our clients and believe that sharing their journey is an asset for all business owners who are venturing into the online world. Today, we are shedding light on Chris Zino’s Upperside - the industry leader in online education for music creatives & media professionals, selling cover art and YouTube ads templates, as well as do-it-yourself hacks for music professionals.
U: Hi there, and thank you for offering us this interview opportunity! We have to admit you have one of the most interesting business models addressing musicians we have seen lately. Tell us more about what you do, how it all started, who your team is, what you offer aspiring musicians - you know, a general rundown.
C: Hey Ucraft, thanks for the invite! My name is Chris Zino, 31 from Upstate New York, and I'm the owner and founder of Upperside. I created the company after six years of being a creative director in the music industry. At some point, I noticed how musicians were becoming heavily dependent on 3rd party services such as graphic designers, videographers, marketing agencies, etc. Artists always had to depend on someone else to move forward. Upperside is here to break that cycle and bring everyone “UP” per se. Our company, which is just a year old, focuses on helping music & media professionals find shortcuts to the things they need the most in their creative businesses. In a nutshell, we create digital products that make musicians' lives easier and lay the blueprint out step by step. For instance, we released the first of its kind, Album Cover Templates for Canva. These are professionally designed album covers on Canva that can easily be edited on any smartphone or desktop. If you know anything about Canva, you know how user-friendly and easy it is to create professional designs. This was a game-changer when it hit the market because now everyone has access to high-quality album covers. Before the year is over, we plan on releasing products that help creatives in paid advertising, youtube traffic, electronic press kits, and more.
U: You act as an educator and a marketing consultant for music artists, songwriters, managers, and labels. How competitive is this market niche? What do you do to stay ahead and appeal to artists/labels who want to create a brand image besides music?
C: As an educator and a service provider in the music industry, it’s never an easy task when releasing a new product into the market because of trust issues. Now more than ever, there's been a rise in bad businesses and fraud services targeting the independent artist community. In a time where everyone is over-promising you something, it’s hard not to be cynical. We’ve noticed artists are afraid to commit to the next service or product out there. So to answer your questions - yes, the market is very competitive. Our approach to countering this is through honesty. In every ad or commercial we release, you’ll see we communicate precisely what our service or product does with no strings attached, no gimmicks, and we also make sure we have testimonials to prove it.
U: How do contemporary musicians approach branding and online marketing? Do they feel that knowing a bit about website building, writing marketing emails, or creating blog content helps them on their road to success?
C: More artists have no clue how to approach marketing/branding than ones that do, and I'm not surprised. When you start making music or when you pick up a camera, all you care about is making a smash record, the credentials, the stardom, even the money but rarely think about what it actually takes to achieve those things - it’s marketing and branding. So yes, it’s essential for any creative looking to turn a passion into a career to start looking at their trade as a business and not a hobby. Successful businesses run on marketing, so creatives must educate themselves and find the resources to become effective marketers (marketing products coming soon) - unless you have the luxury of outsourcing this.
U: You promote your business through a very well-designed, minimalistic website. How important do you think websites are for a competitive edge in any industry?|
C: Websites are HUGE if you run a business. A simple and easy-to-navigate website will outperform a complex one any day.
U: What do you think are the most vital components of a successful music marketing site? What should it feature to attract customers?
C: Vital components of any successful website include a short and clear understanding of what your business does, how it can help your target audience, and a visible call to action.
U: What were your expectations of a website builder before you decided to go with Ucraft? In other words, what were you looking for?
C: When I was creating the Upperside website, I was looking for a website builder that was cost-effective, didn’t have transaction fees, and had a user-friendly experience. I found that with Ucraft!
U: How did you first discover Ucraft, and what made you decide it was the best option for your website building needs?
C: I discovered Ucraft through a 3rd party blog site. Even though I can't recall the website’s name anymore, I'm glad I came across it. I knew I wanted to go with Ucraft because there weren't any hidden fees or transaction fees when setting up my store!
U: What Ucraft tools, elements, or integrations did you find most useful for the Upperside website? How do they contribute to the business’s success now?
C: Upperside relies heavily on landing pages, which Ucraft was super helpful in creating since landing pages don't come with any additional cost with the medium membership plan. Also, the eCommerce checkout page was crucial to our success because we had to customize a checkout page that didn’t require the customer to insert their address and phone number (which almost every other site builder out there requires). We wanted to make our checkout process as easy and stress-free as possible. Ucraft did just that!
U: How easy/hard was it to build the Upperside website with our website builder?
C: On a scale of 1-10, ten being the easiest - building our website with Ucraft was an 8. It was easy to find the elements I needed, and it was easy to set up our eCommerce store. Ucraft also gives you access to certain apps through their eCommerce platform that is necessary when trying to run a successful business, like automated abandoned checkout emails and more.
U: What did you love most about working with the Ucraft website builder and our team?
C: The thing I love most about Ucraft is their checkout pages. I can customize my checkout page and edit certain things that might not be necessary for my customer. Not every site will allow you to customize a checkout page. I learned that the hard way! So having the ability to control a checkout page is BIG. The absence of this is a deal-breaker when running an online store. I also like that Ucraft has 0 transaction fees. For a small business, every cent adds up.
U: If you were to recommend Ucraft to a friend, a colleague, a fellow artist, what would you say?
C: Ucraft is the new Squarespace, and they take no transaction fees. That's what I would say!
U: Would you like to offer our readers who want to grow their business websites a few last words of advice?
C: Words of advice for anyone trying to grow their business - have a simple and clear-cut website, run Facebook ads, and provide a real solution to your consumer that they will love you for. Thank you, Ucraft!