Illustration: Filip Fröhlich
Do you have an artist website?
A common misconception is that, as a musician, you don’t need a website until you’ve made it big and thousands of people are searching your name on Google. This couldn’t be further from the truth. You need an effective artist website at any stage of your career, especially when you’re first starting out.
Your website is your online HQ, a place where you introduce fans to your brand and your music and keep them engaged. You may say, “Well I have a very active presence on Instagram and Facebook,” but the reality is that you don’t own these platforms and, therefore, have no control over what happens to your content. If Instagram shuts down one day or simply goes out of style (remember Myspace?), you want to ensure that you don’t suddenly lose all the fans and engagement you’ve worked so hard to build up.
A much more reliable platform, and one that you have full control over, is an artist website. This is where you can direct people for everything related to your music. It’s a place for fans to connect, for media contacts to learn key information about you, and for potential partners to reach out and network with you.
If you don’t yet have an artist website, now’s the time to create one. Or maybe you already have one but you didn’t put very much thought into creating it, so it’s in dire need of an update.
In this article, let’s go over the must-have sections every artist website should have. Even if you’re just starting out and don’t feel like you have much to show off, simply keeping it all in one place will make you look much more professional and worth listening to.
This is the first place your visitors will land on when they click on your website. You want to make sure it’s visually captivating, intriguing, and immediately gives the visitor a sense of your personality, brand, and vibe.
It’s best to keep text to a minimum here and instead, capture people’s attention with strong imagery, such as your most recent single / album artwork or a rotating carousel of high-quality photos.
Your homepage also acts as a directory for the other sections of your artist website. Depending on your website’s design, the rest of it may live on separate pages or be accessed simply by continuing to scroll down. In either case, make sure you include a menu of links that’s easy to see and navigate.
People are likely visiting your website because of your music, so this section should give them a snapshot of what you’ve created so far and where they can find it.
Start with your most recent release and make it the highlight of this section. If you have one coming up, make that’s the highlight instead to help build excitement around it. Be sure to include links to where your music can be pre-saved, streamed, or purchased.
It’s also a good idea to make your music available right then and there – if visitors have to leave your website to listen to your songs, they may get distracted and not come back. This can be done by embedding a music player onto the page, or even just a YouTube video that contains the audio of your song.
This section should contain your musician bio, namely a version of it that you’ve crafted specifically for your website.
With this section especially, take great care to keep it professional and relevant to your music career. When media contacts visit your website, they will more than likely copy and paste whatever you have in your About section and use it in their own publications. Sometimes, it’ll be just the first paragraph of your bio, while other times it’ll be the full version. For this reason, you want your bio to be able to stand on its own, regardless of where it’s published.
You may also want to include a few high-quality photos of yourself. You can do this right on the About page or on a separate press kit page that you link to. Again, make sure you’re comfortable with these photos being used in various media outlets. On a technical note, make sure these photos are actually downloadable and include photography credits.
4. Upcoming shows
This may not always be applicable, but if you have any upcoming shows or tour dates, either local or virtual, let people know about them and include links to where they can sign up or purchase tickets.
The key with this section is to update it regularly – you don’t want to keep advertising a January 2020 show when we’re long past that. If you don’t have anything coming up, it’s best to temporarily hide this page and reactivate it when you have something new to share.
5. Social media links
Your online presence may stretch well beyond your website – you’re likely active on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and others.
Your website should act as a hub that brings all of these together. Make sure you include links to each of your social media accounts in a prominent place that’s visible on every page of your website, such as the header, footer, or sidebar. You may even choose to embed widgets that automatically display your latest post or update, but doing this for every platform can be overwhelming, so stick to just one or two where you’re most active.
Social media platforms provide an opportunity for fans to connect with you further and receive more regular updates on your music. Each of them serve a slightly different purpose and are geared towards different audiences. For this reason, include all possible links but don’t expect that your website visitors will follow or subscribe to you on every platform. Which platform people choose is entirely up to them, but it’s important to give them options.
6. Email signup
This is perhaps the single most important section of your website. Even if your fanbase is fairly small, it’s never too early to start collecting emails.
You may have thousands of followers on social media, but all of them could disappear within seconds if the platform suddenly goes down. Email, on the other hand, will likely be around for virtually forever. Having a fan’s email address is the most reliable and powerful tool you can have.
Even if you don’t have much to send them via email at the moment, it’s always a good idea to collect their address in case there comes a day in the future when you want to share news about a new release, a pre-save campaign, or an upcoming show.
To collect emails, you can include a simple form for your website visitors to complete. For people who are really interested in engaging with you, that may be enough. However, others may need a bit of an incentive. These days, people get bombarded with hundreds of promotional emails every day, so giving their email address is quite a big deal. In order to convince them, consider giving something in return, such as a free download or access to an exclusive unreleased track or demo.
This is self-explanatory – people should be able to contact you after visiting your website, especially if it relates to new collaborations or opportunities.
You can do this by embedding a form that people can fill out, or by simply listing an email address where you or your management can be reached. If choosing the latter, make sure to disguise your email address so it can’t be picked up by spam bots – for example, instead of “firstname.lastname@example.org,” write “info at yourwebsite.com.” Most people will understand what that means, and it’ll help save your inbox from unnecessary spam.
If you anticipate a great number of visitors to your website and are worried that you might miss an important email while sifting through thousands of fan messages, consider providing multiple email addresses: one for business inquiries, one for fan messages, and so on.
Bonus: online store
This is a bonus because it’s by no means a must-have, but selling merchandise is a great way to earn passive income.
Many musicians shy away from selling merchandise because they don’t think they have a big enough audience to make any real profit. But consider this: selling just one t-shirt will make you $20. So will getting roughly 20,000 streams on Spotify, which, if you’re just starting out, is actually quite hard to achieve. So, which one is easier at this point in your career?
If you have just a handful of really dedicated fans, chances are, they’d love to buy anything you create, especially if it means supporting your ability to continue making music.
And this goes without saying, but if you already have t-shirts or CDs that you offer at live shows, then you simply must offer them for sale on your website.
The next steps for your artist website
We’ve covered the basics, but there are tons of other ways that fans can interact with your website. As your fanbase grows, it’s not a bad idea to offer them more special content like a blog or a community forum. Get creative with it and really think about what your audience needs from you and what you can offer them.
Regardless of which sections you choose to include on your artist website, make sure everything is cohesive in terms of style, colors, fonts, and other branding elements. Most importantly, make sure your website is mobile-friendly, as that’s how the majority of your visitors will be experiencing it.
Whether you’re working with someone to build your website or taking a DIY approach, keep these tips in mind and you’ll have an effective and functional way to engage with your fans, promote your music, and attract new opportunities.
Have more questions about creating your artist website? Let us know in the comments below!
October 26, 2020