Websites 101: Elements Every Musician and Band Website Should Include
You might know me for my fabulous focus on female players.
But my day job is marketing and PR for music and audio. And that is why I feel the need to share with all of you, dear readers, some tips for getting your band and music in the news. So, here’s the first installment of some marketing and PR wisdom that I feel compelled to share with you, free of charge!
Today’s topic, your website.
Before you ever send out a news release, call a radio station or book a gig, you need a website. OK. Maybe you can gig without a site, but if you want that second or third gig, you need one.
And as a journalist who wants so badly to spread the word about your awesome talent, I can’t help but cringe at the lack of info on many of the sites I visit. There are a few things that really and truly should be included on every musician's website. Things that make it easier for journalists, booking agents, potential endorsing companies and more to find the assets they need to report on your music.
Here it is. The list of essentials.
And actually, if this were a dream and I could have whatever I wanted, it would be multiple photos in high res (300 dpi) and web resolution (72 dpi) that I can easily download for use in print and online. Studio band shots and live photos as a group and individually for every band member. The rights would be cleared for usage, and you would provide me with the name of the photographer so I can give him or her proper credit. Oh, and if you have a logo, put that there for me to download as well.
Yes, give me your long-form bio that tells me about your background, who the other musicians are that play with you, where you hail from, what you eat for breakfast. Give me some juicy quotes I can use. Give it all to me. But also, give me a one-paragraph version, so that if I’m just writing a short blurb I don’t have to read through a 2,000-word essay to pull it together. Oh, and I know you want to hire that skilled PR agent to write the most amazing bio ever, but if your bio author uses all the best adjectives, what’s left for me? Give me some facts and a little icing and then let me decorate.
Video links I can embed
I want to see you play. I want everyone else to see you play, too. If you have a killer video on your site that I can’t embed and link back to, then I probably won’t include a video. Either that or I’ll have to search through YouTube to find one, and it may be the one your cousin shot while he was drunk at the show that was, shall we say, not your very favorite. Help me find the video you want to share. Give me a live one and your “official video,” and I might share both!
Yes, have some audio files up there. But not 100 of them. Share the ones that are the best, most catchy ones that show off what you do. Because I probably only have time to listen to one or two, so point me in the right direction.
I know you don’t want every schmo on the planet emailing you. But please, please, please, include your manager, your press contact, your booking agent, your general email@example.com email account, something so that I have a clue as to how to contact you. Put this info everywhere: on your website, your Facebook account, your YouTube channel. Don’t make it hard for me to reach out to you!
You may not have a newsletter. That’s OK. Hopefully someday you will want to reach out to your fans and tell them about your new album, gig, etc. If someone wants to give you his or her information, you should take it! Any marketer will tell you that an opt-in email address is like a piece of gold. Get lots of them and they sure do add up. What, you say, I don’t need that because I have lots of fans on Facebook! Well, here’s the reality. Facebook is changing the rules all the time. In fact, bands and musicians used to be able to send mass update alerts to their fan base and that functionality has been taken away. So take the email address. It’s yours to keep!
Tour and gig dates
We want to see you. We want others to see you. Keep it up to date so we are not sending people to websites with old info on them. Yuck.
Hey, if I am interested in interviewing you, I want to read other recent interviews. They will allow me to know you a little better. AND perhaps I can come up with some questions you haven’t answered a million times already. That’s more fun for both of us!
Other good stuff
If you are equipped to update news on your site on a regular basis, or tweet a lot and can have your Twitter feed, that’s all good. Just don’t have the most recent news item or blog post be from two years ago. That’s just lame.
Links to your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc., help me find out more info on you and see how many people are following you. All good info.
Cross-links to other projects you are involved in, endorsing companies, and more help round out the picture and show you are supportive.
Links to buy. Someone is on your website. They like your music. They like your music enough that they want to buy it! If you have a buy link on your site you can point them in the direction of the download service that allows you to make the most money. And we like money.
And speaking of selling, have your merch up there with a simple store. T-shirts, hats, etc., are great gifts and people want an easy, secure way to buy. Lots of website services have simple store functionality you easily set up and use.
Something fun. Do you draw? Write poetry? Take awesome photos of lattes you’ve had around the world? Reward your fans with a quirky extra tab on your site. You’d be surprised at how much people will share that stuff.
Your website does not have to be the most gorgeous on the planet. Cool yes, intricate, no. Do not make me have to hunt to find what I need.
Laura B. Whitmore is a singer/songwriter based in the San Francisco bay area. A veteran music industry marketer, she has spent over two decades doing marketing, PR and artist relations for several guitar-related brands including Marshall and VOX. Her company, Mad Sun Marketing, represents 65amps, Dean Markley, Agile Partners, Guitar World and many more. Laura was instrumental in the launch of the Guitar World Lick of the Day app. She is the co-producer of the Women's Music Summit and the lead singer for the rock band, Summer Music Project. More at mad-sun.com.