By now I’m sure you understand the importance of having a website for your music. However, a sloppy, hastily thrown together website may actually be hurting your brand more than not having one at all. I’m sure you’ve all visited a website that was unorganized, out of date, or unprofessional looking and clicked off without even giving the content a chance. You don’t want that happening to your website!
The fact of the matter is that with all the tools and services out there to help you build a clean, professional website, you don’t really have an excuse. There’s also a ton of people with basic web design skills these days. There’s probably someone in your extended group of friends and acquaintances who knows all about WordPress or can write HTML. Even with all that, building a new site or refurbishing an old one can seem a daunting task, so I’ve broken it down into 5 things you should keep in mind through the design process.
It’s a common error in the music industry to try to fit everything on the first page of your website. After all, you’ve been told time and time again that you want to be able to deliver content in the least number of clicks possible to avoid losing people. However, this can easily backfire if you’re not careful. A cluttered homepage looks unprofessional. Visitors won’t know where to look and they’ll most likely click away before giving your content a chance. Not only will this drive potential fans away, it will also keep your current fans from visiting and buying your products. In other words, you could be losing out on potential income!
So how do we remedy this? Take some time to really think about your biggest strengths as a musician and make that the focus of your home page. You want people to be able to visit your website and say “Oh, I know what these guys are about.” If you have a killer live show and play gigs more than anything else, hire someone to take some awesome live photos and use them on your homepage. Instead of just a basic music video you could include some footage from your shows (just make sure the video and sound quality is good). A rotating banner is a great way to convey a lot of different kinds of content in a relatively small space. You could even have a blog on your homepage with thoughts and photos from the road.
2. Keep it relevant
If your website has obviously outdated content right at the top of the home page, visitors will automatically assume either a) you’re not a serious musician, or b) the band has broken up. While they might still buy your music, they probably won’t come back very often. You want your fans coming back all the time! The more they visit your website, the more opportunities they will have to sign up for your mailing list, buy a ticket to your gig, or buy your album.
Even if you only release albums once a year, you can still have a continuous stream of relevant content. Make videos or recordings of cover songs to give your fans new music on a regular basis. Blogs are a great way to keep your website relevant. Write up quick posts weekly or daily depending on how much interesting content you have. You could post photos from the studio, short sections of lyrics you’ve been working on, footage from your band’s rehearsal, a picture of your new guitar, or even just interesting and funny stories.
3. Call to action
If you’re just putting out free content on your website you’re only going halfway. Of course you need great content like blog posts, photos, a few music tracks, and videos to keep fans interested and to keep them coming back. But the really cool thing about a website that sets it apart from social media is that it really takes fans from the information through the purchase.
After you have your relevant content set up, the first step up the ladder is a mailing list. You should have your mailing list signup featured prominently on your homepage. A mailing list is a great way to forge a stronger relationship with a fan. After you have people signed up for your mailing list, you can send them exclusive information, discount codes, and product offerings, but that’s for another post.
You need to be able to sell your products on your website. Of course, the products you have available will depend on your current financial situation, but try to have a few different options at a few different price points. This could be a free download single, individual digital downloads, album digital downloads, and physical albums. If you want to go beyond that you can offer t-shirts, vinyl, and box sets. Make sure your fans can easily find and purchase your music. Many musicians have a few tracks featured on the homepage with a “buy” button that goes to the purchase page.
4. Address different kinds of fans
Your website is the hub of your online presence. Your fans will come here to check up on news, find out about tours, and buy your music. However, people who are just discovering your music for the first time are also coming to your website, and you need to plan your content accordingly.
New fans may be interested in a short biography of the band. They may want to listen to some of your best tracks, and they will probably be interested in downloading one song for free. A download for email promotion is one of the best ways to engage these new fans. They get a song, you get the chance to connect with them and hopefully drive a purchase down the line. Your current fans will want to see tour dates and more behind the scenes information. A blog is a great way to keep them updated on what you’re doing.
Pledge Music is a great tool to give different fans the content they want. It’s not just a crowdfunding tool. You can pre-sell your album and merch and also give your superfans exclusive and one-of-a-kind products and experiences to keep them coming back.
5. Don’t neglect the visuals
Now that you have all your great content in place, you need to take a minute and address how your website looks aesthetically. Just like how out-of-date content can drive away visitors, so can clashing colors, cheesy fonts, and out-of-proportion text. When in doubt, opt for a clean layout and design. It’s easy for your photos, videos, and content to get lost if you have a blown-up photo as your site background. Instead, go for a solid or minimally textured background that will let your logo, photos, and videos shine. After all, your website is about you and your music, not that cool flame picture you have as a background.
Keep your music and image in mind when addressing the look and feel of your website. A metal band should use a completely different color scheme from a pop singer-songwriter. There are a ton of pre-made color scheme’s out there that you can draw inspiration from.
Like in all aspects of your music career, the key here is not to go at it alone. Even if you’re a pro web designer, if you’re sitting in a dark room staring at the site for hours, you will easily miss color, font, and layout problems. Ask one of your friends who has a good visual eye to take a look at your site and give you feedback along the way. There’s also some great web design services for indie musicians, like Bandzoogle, that will provide you with pre-made templates that already look good.
If you want to learn even more about website design, the website services available to musicians, and some of the cool ways you can be using your website to grow your fanbase and engage with your fans, we cover a lot more in the New Artist Model courses.
The New Artist Model is an online music business school for independent musicians, performers, recording artists, producers, managers and songwriters. Our classes teach essential music business and marketing skills that will take you from creativity to commerce while maximizing your chances for success. We’re offering access to free lessons from the New Artist Model online courses to anyone who signs up for our mailing list.