A lot of musicians find the idea of building a website daunting. It sounds difficult, it sounds expensive, is it really necessary?
In a word…YES! While a substantial amount of business and growth takes place on social media, if you don’t have a nice website to point to, you’re going to have a hard time impressing the big cheeses (bloggers, managers, A&R reps, etc.).
A common complaint among independent musicians is that building a customized website is very expensive; a few artists have shown me quotes for more than $5000. It’s not 1997 anymore, and those quotes are not OK. It is perfectly possible to create an effective website at an affordable price. There is a global marketplace of fabulous platforms and talented designers who can help you build a beautiful site for a few hundred dollars. Or, if you are willing to do some of the work using a template design, an effective website can be created for less than $20/month with no upfront costs!
A lot of artists drive themselves crazy building websites because they forget that simplicity is key. Your website exists to do two things:
Number one: Help you engage with and make new fans.
Number two: Make you money.
Here’s how to set yourself on the right path…
Step 1: Secure Your Domain Name.
The easiest way to register a domain name is to use GoDaddy. You can register a domain in almost any country through GoDaddy, or you can use other country-specific sites like crazydomains.com.au (AUS).
Register the domain that you would like to use. I highly suggest a dot com (.com) with no slashes and underscores if possible. GoDaddy will guide you through this process, and if you have any questions, their customer service is great.
Some of the website builders featured below have options where they will register a domain for you. Check out your options thoroughly before you make any moves!
TIP: Try to purchase a domain name that matches the URLs on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc. This way, if someone Google’s your band, they’ll easily find your website and all your social media channels.
Step 2: Working with a Web Designer
I will do your site for FREE – I’m an old school groupie at heart. You may have to wait a minute, as I do all sites on a first come/first served basis (unless you’re Mickey Thomas or Phil Collins). Make sure you read the designer’s reviews, ask a LOT of questions, provide a LOT of intel in terms of your vision for your site, and see examples of his/her work before your hire in order to avoid unpleasant surprises and or unmet expectations/goals. I will register your domain, build your website, host on my personal server with 24/7 tech support, AND offer all the bells and whistles of the big dogs out there. Your site will be able to stand up next to Coldplay and U2, No Doubt and Bon Jovi.
TIP: Don’t pay more than $1,000 for a basic site. It really shouldn’t cost that much. Also, keep in mind that your website has to be clear and functional. Don’t go crazy with elaborate film intros and moving parts. If people get confused by your website, they’ll leave. Make it nice, but keep it simple.
Step 3: Build Your Homepage
Your entire website should be easy to navigate with a navbar across the very top of each page so visitors can see it (not buried where they have to scroll down).
Remember – your site needs to support your brand! The colors you choose, your logo, the pictures you use… these things are all incredibly important, and help tell your story. Figure out what story you want to tell, and then keep your brand consistent. Try to make your socials match your site colors and style as well.
Your homepage should feature your name and your pitch, or specifically what you sound like in a few words. If you feel weird creating a “pitch”, use one killer press quote or fan quote, which sums up the way you sound.
Another very effective addition to a homepage is a ‘free download in exchange for an email address’ box. This is an easy way to capture data on new fans, and get your music into their ears. I recommend using a Noisetrade widget (http://noisetrade.com/). Create an artist account, upload a track (or two, or ten) that you want to offer as a free download, then go to the Tools section and scroll down to ‘Embeddable Widgets’. This will give you a beautiful little button to put on your website.
Don’t forget to link to your social media! Most of the site builders featured above will help you do this. Your website should be a focal point, where a new fan can find everything you’re doing in cyberspace. A Spotify follow button is also a good addition to a homepage.
Step 4: Fill out the Other Sections of Your Site
1. Bio/ press kit
For your press kits use Sonicbids, Reverbnation, or Presskit.to.
TIP: Photos/ Images. Make sure your photos really capture who you are, and give clear instructions on how they can be downloaded.
2. Buy music
Make sure people can find where to buy your music (iTunes, Amazon, etc.). Building your own storefront is always a good idea. But we don’t recommend putting this on your homepage. People are so used to streaming nowadays, and if your homepage doesn’t have a readily available Soundcloud or Spotify link, they may lose interest.
3. Your tour shows or performances
I recommend using Bandsintown for this. This allows you to link your shows across different platforms.
4. Your blog
Blogging is a great way to connect with your fans and build your brand.
Embed your best videos, put up your best press quotes, link to an interview you did with a music blog… Basically, talk yourself up. The more legit you look, the more legit people will think you are.
6. Your contact info
Make sure that you have your contact information with an e-mail address or a contact form so people can contact you for online publicity, booking, or just to tell you they like your music. Don’t make it hard for anyone to connect with you online.
After your site is done, make sure to keep your social media sites updated! That means daily. This way your whole site remains interesting and dynamic and fully updated.
Good luck, be creative, and have fun!