I am still working on doing up my sites. Man, why does it take me so long?
Because looking good is a branding thing, which is super important for musicians - to look cool, basically - but it matters more that a site actually works. It moves fans, customers, whatever you want to call them, from interest, to action.
Remove the friction. What do you want them to do? Make it easy as possible for them to get there, just like farmers herding the livestock through the gates - if you’re a sheep, it’s pretty obvious going forward is the way to go, why think about it?
this is how you’ve got to see your site to make it work, getitng your fans from a to b - getting the outcome that’s within your means - rather than just another thing that people just come and look at and leave and never come back.
See if I’m going to spend money on making my websites look better - mainly because it sends the message that I must be doing something right because I can afford to have this stuff - well I want to get it right! But it’s not just about impressing people, it’s about conveying a message about your music and brand is about. Who it’s for.
So if I’m rehauling my blog theme what would I be thinking about including? It’s really a lot of the same principals as your website. The visitor arrives, they GET the vibe of the site, if they care, they want the goods. Where’s the music? Where’s the video?
If they don’t, well . . . they’re gone.
But I want the music player and the video right there, perhaps even in the header. Maybe for an artists blog you do need a huge header. The sign up is also important.
Remember I always talk about outcomes, what do you want to achieve when a visitor comes to your site?
- sign up to email to secure an ongoing communication channel
- downloads some music so they leave your site with a seed, with some of your music that can be shared, so that more people hear your music without you haveing to find them
- connect with you on a social media channel
- watch your video or listen to songs to further build experience
- be aware of the music and content you have for sale
- links to more reading material, blogs, archive material should they want to research deeper content, if it’s available
That’s interesting. Don’t discount video as a great way to explain and show fans what to do and how they can help.
But what about aesthetically, what would you include and consider, so that it actually looks cooler?
- navigation menu
- twitter/blog feeds?
- music player / download
- email sign up
I think these last two are particularly important because they should stand out. This fits with what I was saying earlier - your outcomes - you want to open the communication channel or at least plant some music on them before they leave.
So therefore the places where email sign ups and music appear should lead the eye. Think about how your design hits the eye, this is crucial.
A big impressive picture of the artist and how awesome they are is pretty important. Convey enough information so fans aren’t just left wondering what you’re all about. But then it doesn’t necessarily have to be of the artist, although it really should - it’s about the power and space a big strong image can create.
It makes me think, reusing and remixing old images to make up obscure pages should be a go. I love deconstructing and mashing up my own artifacts.
Loading your pictures and visual full of clout also helps you focus your vision on the websites outcomes, about what you’re doing and saying to fans.
The front of your website may be all about new fans - because only fans who are really into it are going to start digging deeper.
- Listen to the music, download free music, and buy official releases, access comprehensive
- See videos and photos that make me look really cool and awesome
- enter the archive for biographical information varying in their exhaustiveness - perhaps the front of the archive could give the visitor options - do they just want the basic rundown, the media version, an in depth historical overview, or the exhaustive blow by blow details of your journey to creative emergence? There’s advantages in communicating when you tailor the message for specific audiences in this way.
- read the rambling blog/journal for updates and random expositions of theory - how you want to use your blog is really up to you. Theory and philosophy is important to what I do as an artist so I style my blog as a sparring session for seeing what strange ideas stick
- contact / bookings - now this is important from a business point of view - making your propositions explicit. You’ll never get an offer to perform if you don’t make the effort to make people aware of your costs, conditions, and what kind of services you can offer. I plan on treating my bokking/contacts page as a sandpit also, where I can offer performing services.
So that’s just 5 basic links.
Sure I want my social media connections there, and links to my labels, radio show, and general music partners.
And then there’s the content - music, video, and you might add the twitter feed, and email sign up to that also.
Just like your music marketing campaign, a music website has to be carefully thought through, launched, and then tinkered with constantly as you retool it for the fans who you’re looking to target and reach out to.
The new fan wants to know what they’re getting, they want things to be clear and explained.
The established fan wants to find new material
The surfer or pilgrim just wants to access whatever item of interest led them to where they are, and that could be anything.
Do the real fans want to be presented with your video and email sign up, again and again?
Do the new fans understand the context of what they see without reference?
Does it work to make people who have signed up feel like they’re in a special club, are those who haven’t attracted to it by what they’re seeing on the site?
This is where long term, ultimately, your website maybe just a tool - a museum, a virtual graceland - where visitors can step inside your little world, as they pass through to the next attraction, you just want to get that email sign up or any lasting connection, that you can build on.
Is it really the newsletter that becomes more important if you’re trying to maintain a fanbase that is serious, and possibly more importantly makes opportunites to make money easy to create?
Whats the point of a magnificant newsletter as your end stop, if no one gets there?
Why have a great newsletter if you don’t have a great website? Why have a great website if you don’t have a great song or a great video?