So, you are a Band or a Musician? That’s Great! But how do you get your name and message out, and more importantly, your music into the ears of people around the world. To start, you’ll want to get website. But first, you’ll need a domain name (URL address) that represents you or your band’s name as accurately as possible, and is very easy to remember when searching for you. (Example: www.collegetransferstudent.com)
Initial Website Design and Structure
After the name, comes the website development process. The overall site should reflect you or your band’s image. For example, if you are a happy pop band, but your website is all black and “dark” looking, that doesn’t really give a good representation of who you are. So make sure to pick a good color scheme and choose a layout that is visually appealing, easy to follow, and gives the viewer a good overall picture of who you are; after all, this is the first thing your viewers will see and could affect if they stay on you site or not.
Obviously, as an artist, we want to look good and have our website reflect our image. However there are many things to consider when designing your website. I will touch on a few of the basics below.
When someone visits your site, after the initial “first impression,” they will begin looking at your content. The most important info for a specific page should be right under the header (where your logo and navigation bar are), and usually this is in the form of a banner. It should illustrate what you will be talking about on that specific page. Remember: you want to make it as easy as possible for someone who visits your site to understand the main topic(s) of a page(s).
Font Type, Format, and Styling
When viewers are reading the mind blowing information on your website, you want to remember several key elements that play a huge role in keeping attention and focus; font type, font size, and font color.
- Font Type – You want to choose a font that is easy to read and not distracting in any way. Some good fonts are: Sans-serif, Verdana, Tahoma, Arial.
- Font Size – You will also want to choose a good size font (nothing too small or too big); you don’t want it too small to read, but don’t want it too big that it will be distracting and hard to read.
- Font Color – When choosing colors, be careful! You are trying to get your message across as easily as possible. There should only be 2-3 colors maximum on your site; 1-2 main colors for body/title/navigation text, and one extra color for contrast or emphasis. Any more, and it begins to get too distracting for your readers.
It is very important to make sure that your site is easy to navigate back and forth between the various pages. Your navigation should also be consistent across all of the pages on your site (this means placement of the navigation and font style, size, and color). When making the navigation links, try not to include more than 2-3 subtopics for dropdown menus. For bands and musicians, you’ll want to have a site structure that includes several pages:
- About Me/Bio Page – This page describes to your audience who you are and what you stand for.
- Contact Page – People need to be able to contact you, from a promoter booking a show for you, to a fan just wanting to say hi! You need this page!
- Subscription Form – This isn’t really a page at all, as it is a form. This should be an email sign up form, which should be located and easily visible on each page, that way, no matter what page someone is on, they can easily sign up to get the latest updates.
- Press Section – This page should include all relevant info that journalists or bloggers need to write up amazing articles about you.
- Booking Section – This page is for promoters to get to know more about you or your band’s reputation, and if you’d be a good fit for their venue or festival.
- Music/Media Page – This page will include your media such as music, videos, and photos of you and or your band.
- Site Map – This isn’t really a page either, more of an overall site map that lists out all the pages on your website (located in the footer of your website – very good for Search Engines).
Media is a very important component to all websites, but especially for musicians and bands, which tend to have large, high quality photos, videos, and music files. In order to keep page speeds as quick as possible, it is important to keep file sizes as small as possible; however, you want to make sure quality is not effected. There are several ways we can address this:
- Graphics/Photos – Should be in .jpg, .png, or .gif format. Resize and lower resolution so that file is ~30-50 kb.
- Video – Upload to video sharing sites such as Youtube and and embed the video to your site.
- Music – Use .mp3 files. You can also embed music players or widgets to stream your music.
It is very important to minimize the file sizes of various media files on your site, to keep page loading speeds as quick as possible. Site speed is very important and effects whether people stay on your site or not! So please remember to follow these guidelines.
Intro to Search Engine Optimization
I will not go into too much depth for SEO, as that is a topic for a whole other article, but I will touch on the basics. In order to increase peoples’ chances of finding you when they search for you, there are several things you need to do to help search engines read your website (A search engine, such as Google, will scan the code and text of your website, and using various algorithms, which will allow people to find what they are “searching” for.).
To begin, you should submit your directory and sitemap to Google using “Google Webmasters”.
Next, you want to write your website’s description (which is the description found under your link in the Google search results). This should include your name and a description about what you do/who your are (This should be under 66 characters in length).
After that, are your site’s meta tags. These are the title tags (page name) and headings. The page title tag should also include your name or band’s name in each title, for each page. They should give a quick description of what that page is about as well.
One more thing to note is, anchor text. Anchor text is the highlighted text of a link.
- Bad – “To read my Band’s Blog, Click here.”
- Good – “Click here to read my Band’s Blog.”
Remember to keep your content relevant so that everything from the title, meta data, and text copy all relate to each other.
Lastly, it is important to note a few other factors, which are important to Search Engines and your ranking within them. Backlinks are another very important part of SEO and getting the word out about you or your band. Backlinks are links from other websites, blogs, or social media outlets that “link” back to your website. These not only help search engines rank you higher because you are seen as more trustworthy, but provide traffic (new viewers) to your site. Also, you should always be adding new content and making updates to your site at least once every couple of months, if not sooner, to stay relevant and keep your audience engaged.
Artist Press Section
While reaching out to other blogs and news outlets is something you should be doing on a regular basis, it is a great idea to have all the information a journalist or blogger might need all in one section (maybe they discovered you). This page should include:
- High resolution color, and black and white photos for print news sources.
- Low resolution color photos for blogs and websites (they can immediately upload to their site!)
- Logo graphics
- A biography (background info about you or the band)
- Quotes from various media sources/outlets
- Links to any interviews (video/audio)
- 3-4 press clippings
- PDFs of advertisements, promo flyers, posters
- Web ready graphics/banners in a variety of sizes
- Press releases
- Weblinks/blog mentions
- Fan endorsements
- Social Media connections (links to all social media outlets)
Note: For large quality files, such as videos, photos, and music, it is best to use some sort of File Transfer Protocol (FTP) to download. Remember, you do not want large files on your site, as it will slow down the page speed of your site; you want to make it as easy as possible for those who visit you. You can also see an example of the artist press section on the College Transfer Student media page.
Artist Booking Section
If you want to start playing more shows, and really become more attractive to promoters, it is a must to include a page with the following information:
- Statistics of mailing list subscribers, Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram followers
- Average attendance of your band’s shows
- Markets/venues that your band plays
- Photo gallery of quality photos from live shows
- Good quality videos
- Stage plot/gear rundown
- Typical set list
- Quotes from media about your live show, venue bookings, fans
Note: The more information you can provide, the better! You’ll look more professional and experienced.
Artist Web Performance Metrics
So, you have a website that is completed. Now you need to start analyzing the traffic that your website is receiving or not receiving. There are several tools out on the web that you can use to view the various metrics of your website, but the main, and probably most powerful free tool you can use is, Google Analytics (Free – all you need is a Gmail account). Using Google Analytics, you can view the visitors coming to your website, how long they were on your site, what pages they viewed, the location they are from, demographics, and a whole lot more.
Some basic terminology to note:
Unique visitors – the total number of visitors to your website during a specific time period.
Conversion rate – visitors to your website who take action (purchase a product, fill out a form, etc)
Bounce rate – the percent of visitors that leave your website immediately with no interaction.
- Organic – Traffic that came directly from link on search engine
- Referral – Traffic that came from clicking on the link from another website or blog
After creating your band website, this is the next most important step you will need to do, and continue to do. Tracking your website’s engagement can help you and or your band focus on who your audience really is. This step of the process will also allow you to reach a greater awareness then you ever thought possible.
Overall, if you are a musician or band, and want to get your sound and message out to the world, you need to have a website. Nowadays, there are many do it yourself website builders, so pick one you like and begin creating! Remember to design your website in a way that reflects who you or your band’s image is, but make sure to keep the audience in mind. Always keep it simple and easy to read. You don’t want crazy graphics all over the place or font that is hard to read. If you click on the “About me” page, I should be able to quickly, and easily navigate back and forth to other pages. You never know who will visit you page, so make sure all images, videos, and music files are all optimized (small file sizes). Also, be consistent with the content you produce. And lastly, whenever you make changes to you site, always check and double check your site before it goes live.