In today’s episode I’ll be going over at least 4 things your website needs in order to work for you as a musician. Now, there’s no one-size fits all in terms of deciding whether or not a website is a must have for every DIY musician. Most musicians do have them, but there are musicians that exist without them and function just fine. Some musicians may just have a domain purchased, which is just a dot com of some kind, that forwards to another page, like their Bandcamp so it’s easier to find and remember. Deciding on whether or not a website is for you is dependent on your overall goals as a musician and where you are at right now in your career.
Now, before I go into what you need for your website, I’ll talk about it’s general function. This will serve as a mini-guide for you as you decide whether or not you need a website at whatever stage you’re in your career.
In eCommerce, websites function as a store that’s open 24/7. This means that different elements of their website should somehow represent a sales person, shelves with product, the walk-in experience, and overall brand. For a musician, a website could be like your own virtual store. You have your own goals and your own marketing scheme, so your job is to decide what kind of function your website will have in your overall marketing plan and goals. Part of deciding involves whether or not you’d like it to be a virtual store front, a static meet and greet, or a “tasting menu” for your music or live experience, or it’s another representation of your brand. Your website could be a mixture of these things. Most websites are. But usually, websites have at least one of these prominently highlighted. At the time of this recording in early 2018, Taylor Swift’s website has her new album highlighted with reviews, tour dates, and new singles.
When you enter Keaton Henson’s site, it communicates his brand and style with cryptic links like “Procrastinate”, “Intrude” and “Gather”.
Chance the Rapper has only three links on his with “Home, Tour and Shop” as the only links. And, his main page has merchandise with streaming links embedded right below for immediate listen. None of these choices are wrong, but what is happening with these choices is a deliberate, strategic choice as it relates to their goals.
Taylor Swift is promoting her new album and tour. Keaton Henson is communicating a brand. Chance the Rapper’s website is functioning almost as a musician storefront with merchandise and tours with highlighted elements and then streaming music as a sort of free “tasting menu”.
What about you? Is your website a place that synchronizes everything like merchandise, songs on tap, a biography, videos or maybe even a fan forum? Or will it have only some of these elements? Most people are tempted to dive into all of these things, but if you go on your own artist website investigation, you’ll notice that not every website has these elements while some have all of them. So, ask yourself, what is the most important element? If something is added, will that take away or add to the larger goal I’m trying to achieve?
If you don’t have a website, you may want to ask yourself, can these functions be replaced with other means so I don’t have to spend time or money building this? What added value does a website deliver that my other platforms can’t? How does a website add value to what I already have? Does time or money towards my website take time away from something else that may be more valuable marketing-wise? As a musician with a limited time and limited budget, these are questions you should be asking yourself as you consider adding a website to your plate. As you grow your following, generate more income and delegation power, you’ll definitely need a website. In short, it’s a place to collect fan traffic; you can have a place to collect your press releases and social content; it’s an online store that’s open 24/7; it showcases your work, informs people about you, and gives credibility to your growing brand. As you generate income and your career grows, you’re essentially a business and almost all businesses need websites if they want to expend their reach nationally or internationally.
Now, let’s say you’ve decided to build a website or you already have a website. Here are 4 things your website needs in order to work for you as a musician. None of these are affiliates or sponsors. These are genuine recommendations from what I know and researched.
1.) You need a tool that gathers e-mail.
I have a blog post on e-mail marketing. If you haven’t checked it out, make sure to visit musicroad.co/email after this podcast. In short, e-mail marketing is a way to immediately connect with your fans. Social is one way, but e-mail is like social’s DM but next level. It allows you to share the ongoings of your music, new merchandise, contests, live Q&As, tours, and more. When you get a fan’s e-mail, it’s their way of saying, “yes, please message me directly about your music.” And this is super valuable, because they’re identifying themselves as someone that’s more than a follower, but a fan or even super fan. So, have a tool installed on your website that gathers all those loving fans that want to hear from you so you can connect with them directly!
If you don’t have a website, Bandzoogle is a website builder made specifically for bands and they do have the option to collect e-mails and even send e-mails from the platform.
If you already have a website, you can start off with Mailchimp. It’s free as long as you have 2,000 subscribers or less.
2.) Have a Facebook Page account.
A regular friend account won’t do because the max amount of friends you can have is 5,000. Plus, you won’t be able to advertise your posts. With a Facebook page, you can have as many people like and follow it. The most important part about having a Facebook page for your website is the ability to track visitors on your website by using a piece of code called a “Pixel”. A Facebook Pixel is a piece of code that you use to place in the backend of your website or a specific page to track traffic. For example, let’s say that you want to track activity on your “music” page. The next time you advertise your Facebook Page, you target those visitors to let them know that your album launched. This way you’re paying for audiences that have warmed up to you that are more likely to be interested in your album versus paying for cold audiences that know nothing about you. This is just one example of using the Pixel and making it for you and your website.
3.) You’ll need a tool to be able to sell your products.
Bandcamp, Bandzoogle, Squarespace, and WordPress are some common places musicians build their websites. These platforms also have the option to build an eCommerce side to the website, which is usually an extra fee for the service. But these services are necessary if you want to sell any kind of merchandise.
The costs to these services vary. Some are monthly, while some take a percentage of your sales. You’ll need to do some investigation here to decide what may work for you. I did some investigation for you and I’ve put that together for you in the free podcast worksheet for today’s episode.
4.) If you can’t afford a graphic designer or don’t know how to use any Creative Cloud programs, you’ll need something like canva.com
I have a background in graphic design. In fact, I have extensive experience as a multi-disciplinary creative, using video, photo, Photoshop, Illustrator, and website building. But even then, I still use programs like Canva because it’s super quick, easy and the designs are actually pretty good for what I need them for!
What’s most convenient is that you can select social media sizes, like a Facebook or Twitter banner or a Facebook profile. This is important because you want the best optimized size for the best quality. You can design something in minutes and download your work from there. In fact, all the worksheet buttons I have were made in Canva because it’s quick, easy and professional looking.
For your own website, you can use it for blog images with titles, e-mail headers, a quick logo, buttons, posters, images for your Facebook ads and more.
Now, I know I said 4, but here’s a bonus tool if you’re feeling extra ambitious and have the capacity to tackle more tech. If you’re up for the challenge, I highly recommend Google Analytics. In Google Analytics, the two important pieces for you to learn are the “Audience” and “Acquisition” tabs. The audience shows how many people are visiting, how long they’re visiting and how many pages they’re visiting. And as you’re defining your niche or understanding your fan culture, you can review your website audience’s demographics, like location, age, gender, and other related interests. The acquisition tab lets you know where your visitors came from, what they’re searching for and how you’re ranking for certain keywords.
This just barely grazes the capacity of those two functions. But the nice thing about Google Analytics is that there are comprehensive videos within the tool that you can watch to better navigate and understand it. Using this tool will help you better understand your audience and where they’re coming from which will help you create effective strategies to continue reaching them and more.
Now, where do you go from here? I have a free worksheet guide to help you decide whether or not a website is right for you right now. If you do have a website, there is also space for you to process to continue enhancing your website to better serve you. In this episode, I mentioned a lot of services, specifically for selling merchandise and gathering e-mail. I share options of what you can use with pros and cons to each of them so you don’t have to do the research. I highly recommend you check out this worksheet freebie! It’s a good one. To download it, click the button below.