I’ve had the pleasure of doing several band websites over the years, and they hold a special place in my heart. Mostly because I love music and consider it my second passion next to my work, and because I have a great respect for other artists who are doing their best to get their creativity out there for the world to see.
Most creative people I know usually want all the bells and whistles for their website. My guess is because it looks cool, or because they are trying to one-up their creative competition. These can be great, however there are many things to keep in mind when considering what the website needs and what is overboard.
First, every band or musician website should have sound clips. The internet is often the first place people go to learn about new bands and what their music sounds like, so if they can’t hear you, your website is nearly worthless. That being said, you need to be very careful about protecting your music. No matter what security precautions you take with the programming and setup of your website, sound clips and other media can always be swiped off of your page one way or another, no matter what format it is in. Before you share your music, make sure you edit the MP3 file down to a 30-45 second sound clip. This way, even if someone swipes the file, all they have is a small portion of your song.
Flash is another thing to be reckoned with. I have always made it known that I am not a big Flash fan. It has its VERY small place and it should stay there. Its great for photo galleries and that’s about it. Crazy flash animations and presentations are nice the first time… maybe… but bore the viewer after that, and limit your website’s search engine and mobile device visibility. Be very careful when considering adding flash to your website. Weigh the cost of the extra flash features over the benefit it will have for you and your website.
I also highly recommend adding a content managed area to any band website. This could come in the format of a news script or a blog, and may cost a little more, but is definately worth it. Its very important to stay connected to fans, and your website is a great place to do it. Speaking from personal experience, being on the road is hectic and tiring, and the last thing you want to do is type out updates to your website and coordinate them with your designer. Its a great thing to be able to log into a blog or news module, type in the lastest news for your fans, hit submit, and be done with it. It keeps people connected in an easy and efficient way, keeps fans coming back to your website frequently for more news, and is definately worth the extra cost.
Lastly, keep some of these ideas in mind:
1. Always have an up-to-date list of your gigs on your website, even if its just a link to your myspace page.
2. Always make sure your CD’s are easy to purchase from your website. Don’t make people dig to find your shopping page.
3. Try not to play your music as a background to the website. I know its tempting, but when people are trying to listen to your sound clips (which are a must), they can’t hear them. It also requires flash, which gets complicated. Always give people the choice of whether they want to hear your music or not.
4. Always have good promotional pictures taken. Find a good photographer who can take good quality photos for your website. You can and should use professional promo pics for both your website and your print material. Nothing is worse than bad photos. It makes your band look like its second rate.
5. Always have a media or press kit for download on your website. Its good to give freely available information to the media so they can write wonderful things about you and your band. Your press kit should include high resolution photos, band and band member bios, and optionally a show poster to help promote your gigs.
6. Same goes for a tech spec sheet. If its on your website for everyone to find, you are less likely to show up at a gig and the venue is missing a mic, or forgot to rent you a kick drum, or didn’t realize you needed to eat before your gig.
This concludes my two cents on band websites. Take it as you will, but I personally think its brilliant advice and every band should read it before they start a website, because not all web designers will have music industry experience and might not think to tell you these things.