What Makes a Great Band & Musician Website Builder?
With website builder services popping up left and right, you may think that it doesn't really matter which one you pick. Not all website builders are created equal, though.
Your choice can spell the difference between an active online headquarters that accurately represents you and your music, and and a sparse home base resembling a ghost town. Below, we run down the criteria we used to assess each website builder in our rankings.
Sights and sounds will always go together, which is why it is equally important to have a design that reflects the look and feel of your band's music. A website builder that offers not just a variety of colors and patterns, but also high-quality designs--preferably with a customizable layout--will go a long way.
First off, you need a page that looks professional. The Internet is on 24/7 and you don’t know exactly who is looking at your website. It could be a dedicated fan or it could be a major corporation looking to sponsor you, so make sure you don’t skimp on your design. A beautiful website tells both your fans and prospective sponsors or collaborators that you care about how you present yourself to them, and that they matter to you.
Music and Merchandise
Okay, you have fans. What's next? They may be engaged by your daily content and activities, but remember that what they're really interested in is what makes you--and your website--special: your music. So give them what they want!
Website builders will make it easy for you to get your music into streaming and selling services like iTunes, Spotify and the like; though this may be more of a paid tier perk. You're not likely to have access to this with free website builders. The same can be said for online stores that will allow you to sell your merchandise; be careful and choose well. You don't want to shortchange yourself, but you also want to provide your fans with the best access to what you have to offer.
The main purpose of having a website is to have a centralized and easily accessible digital space where potential and current fans can find out more about who you are and what kind of music you make, interact with you and fellow fans, and purchase your albums and merchandise. Taking that into consideration, it is imperative that you reach the widest possible audience base--and if possible, encourage it to grow.
How do you accomplish this? It's simple, really: don't bore the audience. Authenticity helps, but activity is what drives engagement. Interactive sections in your website, like daily blogs or live chat sessions, will make or break it. Some website builders even incorporate the use of email, SEO advertising and social media marketing into their service, so everything you need to make noise is at your fingertips.
Sharing Is Caring
Those interactive sections won't be possible without the right tools to do it. While it is safe to assume that most builders will let you upload and showcase your songs and albums in the site, more is always better in this case. Event photos, music videos, podcasts, live broadcasts--your website should be the ultimate content hub for anything that your band wants to share with the public. Your fans will love you for it.
Marketing and Making Connections
You probably know this already, but a great social media presence not only keeps your fans captivated, but also extends the reach of your music--so use it. In line with being interactive on the website, connect your online hub to your social media accounts. Most website builders suggest that you do this and even have features to make the most out of the connections; for example, they can take care of cross-posting content from the website to your Facebook page or your Instagram, or vice versa.
This also sets up a foundation for hard numbers you can present when marketing your music to would-be promoters, sponsors and managers. How popular are you? How many people does your music reach? With social media accounts, engagement is a something that is quantified, measured and easily understood by those who ask for it.
Optimizing and Advertising
You also need to start thinking about advertising. Website builders offer features that allow you to run your own ad campaigns, and making it possible to set your website to play well with search engines by using SEO. SEO assigns sets of keywords associated with you--like your band's name, your genre and the names of your songs--to be easily brought up by searches online. Imagine if Nirvana were just getting started today; search for them on the Internet, and without SEO, you'd probably just come up with links to Buddhist temples. This is awesome for Buddhist temples, but not so awesome for Nirvana. Don’t make the mistake of not getting an SEO campaign together.
Is Your Band Page Working for You, or Against You?
There are many things you can put into your website--show schedules, song lyrics, performance photos, social media feeds, blogs, band members' bios, the works. Everything your fans could ever want and everything you can think of, to be sure.
This is a great strategy, but don’t neglect the business side of the website. Make sure that your contact information is strategically placed on all of your pages. Make sure that there's a section of your website dedicated to a press kit with high resolution photos and a decent write up. You're doing this for your fans, yes; but you're also doing this for yourself. The next time an industry bigwig or a music journalist stumbles upon your music, they will search for you online and when they find and visit your website, they will be able to contact you right away. Good news for your music, good news for your fans, and good news for you.