Are you an independent musician? Want to make money with your music? Bring more fans to your show? These days, online is the place to go to make it happen. We’ve all heard tales of social media and YouTube sensations. But all that traffic has to lead somewhere: your band website.
With so many options for free and low-cost websites, and infinite design flexibility, where do you start? How do you know what works? We turned to Bandzoogle. They’ve been doing band websites for more than 13 years—that’s like a century in “internet years”—and spoke with their blogger-in-residence Dave Cool. Over to you, Dave!
At Bandzoogle we’re proud to help tens of thousands of musicians build their own professional websites. But, having access to the tools is just the first step in creating an effective website for your music.
How you design your site will impact how well it performs to reach your goals. Here are five of the most important aspects of modern band sites that will help to engage your fans, increase your sales, and impress industry gatekeepers.
1. Professional photos
We cannot overstate the importance of using professional photos on your website. With great photos, you’ll create a positive first impression for potential new fans, as well as industry and media.
But if the images on your site are low-resolution, badly cropped, poorly lit, or simply don’t fit your brand, it can create a negative impression. It might not seem fair, but bad photos can give people a negative view of you, and your music.
So be sure to invest in a professional photo shoot before designing your website. You’ll use these images for your header and background images, promotional photos, social media profiles, and for your digital press kit.
More people now access digital media from mobile devices than desktop computers. So the mobile experience on your website must be seamless.
This means your site has to load quickly, and be easy to navigate (no pinching the screen to zoom!). The content on your site needs to be easy to find, music has to be easy to listen to, and all features have to work well on mobile devices.
Another good reason to have a mobile-friendly website? With searches done from a mobile device, Google now punishes sites that aren’t mobile-friendly, and boosts ones that are. You can test the mobile-friendliness of your website here.
3. Clean and simple design (no clutter!)
With so many options, it’s understandable to want to add lots of features and put as much content onto your pages as possible. But if your website is too cluttered, people will likely leave without reading your content or listening to your music.
A good rule of thumb is to have one primary focus per page. Each page should be clean, and simple to find information. Your Bio page should be focused on your story. Your Music page should be focused on streaming & selling your music. Avoid adding other features that will distract from the main purpose of the page.
You should also make sure that your website’s navigation is clear. Keep your page names simple and straightforward. If someone has to think about what content might be on a page because the name is fancy/cute/artsy, chances are, they’re going to skip it. Stick to names like About, Music, Shows, Store, and avoid vague names like Experience, Discover, My World, etc.
4. Direct-to-fan purchase options
If there’s anywhere online that fans should be able to find all of your music, it’s on your own website. Don’t simply use your site to send fans away to other online stores.
It might feel good to get sales reports from iTunes and Amazon, but those services will not share their customer emails with you. This means that you won’t be able to follow up directly with those fans about future albums, tours, or merch offerings.
So be sure to have all of your music available for sale on your website. There are many tools out there to help you sell directly to fans through your site, where you keep most of the money (100% with Bandzoogle, 85% with Bandcamp), and also collect valuable email addresses.
5. Mailing list sign-up
Sounds a little old-school, but email remains the most important marketing tool for musicians. This is because you own your mailing list. No matter what happens to your favorite social media platform, you will always own that database of emails.
Email marketing has also been found to be 40 times more effective as Facebook and Twitter combined. If you’re selling music, merch, or crowdfunding your next project, you’ll get much better results with a dedicated email blast to your fan list than anything else.
So be sure to have a mailing list signup right at the top of your Homepage, with a clear-call-to-action offering an incentive for fans to join your list.
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