The band is getting along. Songs are great. Gigs calendar is filling up. Now you just need to get people to notice you and you’ll be good to go. But where do you start?
If you focus your efforts on Facebook or Twitter, your music is likely to get lost in a sea of political rants and fur baby videos. The best way to keep fans focused on you is through your own custom website. A website puts the focus on you and your music. It’s easy to build a website, but how do you know if you did it right?
Let’s take a look and the most common ways bands win and lose with their websites. And don’t forget to check out Soundfly’s brand new free course made in partnership with Bandzoogle, How to Create a Killer Musician Website, and start implementing more effective web-based strategies for promoting your music!
1. Do have a website
We often get the question, “Isn’t social media enough?” And the short answer is NO. Although social media is great for promoting your music, it can’t replace having your own website. Social media is distracting. Your website is your personal piece of the internet that focuses on you.
2. Do have a great homepage
The most visited page on any website is the homepage. Make sure to build it properly to encourage visitors to click around to other pages. Include a couple of your best songs, some upcoming shows, and latest news. To get it just right, you can follow our blog post on how to build the perfect homepage for your band website.
3. Do use professional photos
Your header photo is so important that it’s almost better not to have a website than to have one that displays crummy photos. It might be tempting to use a candid shot or one from your phone, but resist. Those photos typically aren’t optimized and will display blurry on desktop computers.
Bad photos can create a negative impression on you and your music. We recommend investing the money in professional photos. Not only can you use them for your band web design, but also for social media and your electronic press kit.
4. Do use a call-to-action
A call-to-action (CTA) is the primary thing you’d like visitors to do once they hit your site. Some examples are:
- Buy my album!
- Watch our new video!
- Sign up to the mailing list!
This keeps visitors engaged with your content. It’s also important to ask for what you want. Add your CTA high on the page — like in the header, for example — so it stands out. This allows you to promote your music from the minute a visitor gets to your site.
5. Do have a mailing list signup
Speaking of CTAs, the most important one is the mailing list signup form. Sure, getting someone to buy your track is ideal, but if they aren’t on your list, it’s only a one-time sale. When you get fans on your list, you can notify them of new music, merch, and tours. This creates a steady connection for fans to buy from you long term.
6. Do tell your story
The music will draw people to your site, but once they get there, they want to know about you. Have a dedicated bio page that talks about how you got started, what you’ve done, and where you’d like to go next. Having it written in third person makes it easy for media professionals to use parts of it in interview introductions and articles.
7. Do have music for sale
Adding songs to your site may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many band websites we see without any music on them. You don’t have to wait until you have a full album to get your site hummin’ with tunes. Even if you have snippets or rough tracks, add those. Fans love all the small behind-the-scenes updates of a musician.
With Bandzoogle, you can add music to any page on your site with just a few clicks. From there you can set any track to free, free with email, fixed price, or pay-what-you-want. If you set a price, your fans can buy your music from your site and download it right away.
8. Do have a mobile-friendly website
Mobile viewing is now much higher as compared to desktop, so your site needs to work seamlessly on all screen sizes. In a recent update, Google noted they would give preference to mobile-friendly sites. This means if your site isn’t mobile responsive, Google will punish you by ranking your site lower in search engine results. The good news is that Bandzoogle sites are optimized for mobile. You only have to design your site once and it will scale down to any screen size a fan is visiting from.
9. Do have an EPK
In years past, artists would package press items and mail it off to music reps for consideration. Most of the time these packages wouldn’t even get looked at. There were just too many to go through, and the reps had limited time. Since most people spend more time online now, an EPK is now the way to go.
An EPK stands for electronic press kit. This is a one-page layout that includes the most essential parts of who you are as a musician or band. This may be the only page an industry pro visits, so you’ll want to put your best music, videos, and photos on this page.
10. Do customize your template
You might be thinking that all template sites look the same, but that’s not so here. With Bandzoogle’s built-in theme designer, you can choose a template and customize it to look how you want. They have lots of options to play around with, including styled buttons, custom fonts, and image filters (think Instagram!). If you take a look at some sample sites, you can see how just a few tweaks can make your site fit your own style.
11. Don’t have a pointless intro page
An intro page is great for displaying a temporary message, but shouldn’t be used long term. You can use it for announcements about your new album release or an upcoming tour, then take it down after about two weeks. Longer than that, and it becomes an extra step a fan has to go through before getting to your main content. This can be annoying to click through every time they visit. You want to encourage fans to come back, so make the homepage the focus of your band’s website design.
12. Don’t autostart music
Picture this: You’re at work and get a text from a friend to check out this new band they saw Saturday night. You get to the site and all of a sudden, BAM! Their music starts playing loudly. You look around in a panic, then fumble with your mouse to click off fast before your boss hears. You probably won’t be going back to the site, and by the time you get home from work, you’ve forgotten about them.
This is the same way your fans feel when you autostart your music on your site. If someone got to your site, they’ll want to hear your music, so let them control when they want to click play.
13. Don’t have confusing navigation
People are inundated with information. Attention spans are short. Keep your website simple and your navigation menu to eight tabs or less. If you have more than that, consider using sub-pages or condensing information. You also want to keep the page names to one word (for example: Home, Bio, Music, etc.). The navigation menu is not the place for long phrases or vague concepts. Once a visitor clicks on the page name, you can get more creative in the content of that particular page.
14. Don’t use too many colors
With so many design options, it can be tempting to go crazy with color. But resist! You want your website to look fun, but professional. To achieve this look, you’ll want to stick to three to four colors.
- A primary “brand” color
- A secondary color
- An accent color
The first step is to decide on your brand color. Once you do, you can check out any color wheel on Google to find complimentary colors. A good example is the Adobe Color CC.
15. Don’t use wacky fonts
Eccentric fonts may seem cool, but if they’re hard to read, it defeats the purpose. Fonts with curls, swirls, jagged edges, or stripes may look fun, but are unprofessional. Many times those fonts can appear dated and make you look like an amateur. Instead, use modern fonts with clean lines. If you don’t find a style you like in Bandzoogle’s font list, you can upload your own custom font!
16. Don’t clutter the pages
Most visitors will not take the time to go through all your pages, so keep it brief. Only put content on your site that’s most important to you. Bandzoogle’s templates give you a guide of the most commonly used features for a band. You can customize the content with styled sections and columns, but keep it organized.
17. Don’t overuse bold, italics, and ALL CAPS
It’s very exciting to be a musician, but if your whole website is in CAPS, it can feel desperate. To avoid looking like a novice, only use CAPS and bold text for titles and announcements. You can also use italics, but reserve it for words and phrases that need emphasis.
18. Don’t add a hit counter
Just because a feature is available doesn’t mean it’s wise to use it. Hit counters were popular in the early ’90s, but don’t have a place on modern websites now. To track website visits, you should use built-in analytics. This is a much more accurate view of the stats for your site.
19. Don’t add a guestbook
Unless hundreds of people are adding messages to your guestbook, it’s best to leave it off your site. It’s better to get fans to engage on blog comments and share your music/events to social media instead.
20. Don’t use a random “donate” button
Adding a random “donate” button on your site is like standing on the street with your hand out. People don’t know what you’re using the money for, so they’ll be hesitant to pull out their credit card. Instead, it’s best to sell music, merch, or even fan perks on your site. That way they can support you, but will get something out of it.
21. Don’t abandon your website
Getting your website set up is easy, but getting people to your site is a bit more tricky. This is where updates and promotion go hand in hand. Keep your website updated with new music, photos, events, and blog posts. Then let people know so they’ll continue to come back. If you just let your band website sit dormant, fans may think there’s nothing going on with your music and stop coming back.
Now you know the ups and downs of website design for bands. Use these tips to make your custom website stand out, and go sign up for our free course to dive even deeper!
Got 10 minutes to learn something new? Explore Soundfly’s wide array of free online courses and expand your musical skills over your lunch break! Here’s just a few free courses you can choose from: How to Create a Killer Musician Website, Theory for Bedroom Producers, Touring on a Shoestring, and Live Clicks and Backing Tracks.
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