Let’s face it, it’s not 2006 anymore, so your band can’t get by with just a MySpace page. Sure, you’ve probably got a Facebook page and a Twitter account, but those are only good for sharing updates. You want to have a centralized location where your listeners have access to updates, shows, media, and your merch, right? Of course. Well, this is why your band needs a website.
The importance of your band’s online presence should not be undermined, so allow me to offer some insight as to how to design a band website, what you should share with your visitors, and what you should avoid. With quality content, a variety of interactive tools that your visitors can enjoy, and search engine optimization, your band can have a stellar online presence to satisfy old fans and attract new ones.
Why your band needs a website
Your content hub
With your own website, your content is under your control—there are no restrictions as to what you can or can’t publish. Want to upload high resolution images? No problem. Streaming media? Easy as pie. Free downloads? You got it. Where many platforms come up short, your own website gives you the flexibility necessary to tailor your online presence to your band’s needs.
This flexibility also affords you the freedom to create the pages that you want to include, such as Tour Dates, Media, and Store. A strict eco-system such as a social network or blog might allow you to link to external pages, but it’s certainly much more convenient and appealing for visitors to have access to them all in the same place.
Furthermore, your own website gives you the opportunity to incorporate tools from third party sources such as YouTube, BandCamp, and SoundCloud for added interactive functionality. These website tools are usually available in the form of a widget, which is the easy way to embed a tool right into the content area of your website. I’ll recommend some useful widgets in the next section.
Search engine optimization (SEO)
One of the bigger advantages to building a band website is that your search engine visibility will increase. The first thing I do when I hear about a new band is Google them, and if I can’t find them in the first few pages, I tend to give up. Don’t let your potential listeners give up before they can find you.
We’ve offered SEO advice on the Jimdo blog in the past, such as common SEO mistakes and some of the best SEO tools, so be sure to take advantage of those tips to make your band’s website more discoverable. A couple of quick website design suggestions: be sure to include your band’s name in your domain name and remember to link to your website from your social media profiles. One of our users, Swedish-born musician, Robine, now appears on the first page of results for a Google search of “Female DJ Barcelona” after taking the time to work on her SEO.
How to build a band website
In terms of band website design, what should you include? Allow me to offer some suggestions regarding which pages to build and which tools to use.
Not all of your fans and friends use social media, so keep them up to date with a News page. This is also a great place to include social media widgets. “Like” and “Share” buttons for each news post is a no-brainer, but also add Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feed widgets to merge your social networks onto one page and promote engagement.
It’s important to include a Shows or Tour Dates page and keep it frequently updated. Make sure to include all of the relevant information: date and time, city and state, venue, other bands or artists also playing the gig, and, if available, a link to purchase tickets. For an easy-to-use tool for managing your tour dates, check out Bandsintown. The service provides an embeddable widget for your website and also integrates with various other platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Tumblr.
PureVolume, a website for artists to host their recordings and get exposure, isn’t as popular as it used to be, so you’ll want to add some music and videos to your band’s website. Adding music and videos is very simple to do using widgets from YouTube, Vimeo, or SoundCloud. All three of those services make it super easy to embed videos and music onto your website so that your listeners won’t have to leave your page to check out some tunes. Also, help your listeners find you on Spotify: embed a Spotify widget onto your site so that, when clicked, your music will start playing via the Spotify desktop player.
Share your stories from the road! Your blog is the perfect place for a tour diary or any other lengthy updates. Blog and CMS platforms provide RSS feeds so your listeners can subscribe to your posts.
Offer some information about your band’s releases including a tracklisting, release date, label, and where to purchase. If you sell your digital music via BandCamp, make it easy for your fans to purchase your tracks via the BandCamp widget.
People love to know the history and biography of their favorite bands and members. This is a great place to list contact information for your band. Optimize your contact page to increase the chances of people reaching out to you.
You need a place to sell merchandise when you’re not on tour, right? Having an online store is key to making your merch available to listeners across the globe. Get some shirts, CDs, and LPs made and add them to your online store, so that your fans have access to your music and can represent you.
Another great way to keep in touch with your fans and friends is through newsletter mailings. MailChimp offers an innovative newsletter platform with a dedicated guide for musicians and bands using their service. They even offer a service that delivers fans a free download of your music whenever they sign up for your mailing list. I recommend sending out newsletters relatively infrequently to avoid getting a reputation as spam—but one or two newsletters per month is common practice.
What to avoid when designing a band website
Building your band’s website is fun, which makes it easy to get carried away. Remember that you want to keep your site clean and leave out unnecessary and distracting features or pages. While some of these features may prove useful for websites in other industries, they are unnecessary for your band’s site. Here are some of the most cringe-worthy offenses in modern band website design:
Guestbooks are intended for fan engagement, but it’s a one-sided communication platform, which serves no purpose in the modern age of band website design. Promoting fan engagement via social media channels is a much cleaner and more robust solution than using a guestbook.
While it may seem counter-intuitive (search is helpful, right?), search fields merely clutter your band’s site without providing much value. Very few people actually use search fields on artists’ sites and most search widgets don’t even work well enough for those who do use them. I would recommend saving the search field for your ecommerce site with hundreds of products.
Please, let’s keep autoplay off, okay? No one likes to be surprised by an immediate barrage of noise upon visiting a website.
Lots of people used to think that Flash was the future of web sites, but its vulnerabilities along with advanced HTML technology have led to its decline. At this point, Flash is not supported by iOS or recent Android releases. I would recommend avoiding it, in order to keep your site looking clean across multiple platforms.
There are much better places for your fans to engage with each other than a forum attached to your website. Forums take work to moderate and participation is usually almost non-existent unless you’ve got tens of thousands of fans.
Keep your band’s website looking fresh: update it frequently with news, blog posts, new music, and new videos. The more often you update your site, the more traffic you’ll get. Don’t wait for a new release to change the look of your home page; switch it up regularly (if you can, updating once per season is ideal) so that visitors will be excited to return.
Speaking of keeping your website looking fresh, don’t lose sight of how important your band’s website design and user experience are. As we’ve mentioned before, the first step in building your website should be identifying your audience, which is quite simple for bands and musicians! Your audience is the same audience you perform in front of and your website should appeal to them.
After your site is built, don’t forget about marketing. Site promotion is no longer as complicated or expensive as it once was, and it’s a great way to attract new fans.
Lastly, don’t forget about the most important part of your band and website: the music. Your website is merely a liaison between your listeners and you—and your listeners are listeners because of your music. If nothing else, your band’s website should serve its intended purpose—making your music easy to find and complementing it.
Please share some of your favorite bands that have great website design in our comments section below!
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