First off, let’s address the elephant in the room: do musicians even need websites anymore? With social media and other platforms free and so easy to use, isn’t that enough for fans and audiences to find you? And the answer is yes. FaceBook, Instagram or TikTok can be a fantastic way to alert fans to upcoming events, to engage them with photos, videos, and stories of life on the road, to preview upcoming releases. And if you’re just getting started, that’s likely enough.
There are, however, some drawbacks in using only social media. The primary drawback is that you don’t actually own your own space on that platform. You and your content are at the mercy of the increasingly arbitrary regulations about what you can post. (Ask anyone who’s been thrown in “FaceBook Jail” and you’ll see how weird it can get.) With social media platforms you have very little control over the look and feel of your space, so there’s no consistency of “brand.”
Another, admittedly more subjective, problem might be that it can make you look unestablished or even unprofessional. While you may not think of your band or yourself as an individual performer as having a “brand,” you definitely do have an image that you strive to project; with the style of music you perform, the artwork on your recordings, the way you dress…While your brand should appropriately reflect who you are as a group or a person, you need to maintain some control over it nonetheless. A website can do that much more readily than a random assortment of images or fan posts.
That being said, your website can be the perfect place to present a curated set of videos, images, press clippings, bios and other material to fans or potential fans — all in one place and without having to scroll through the dross. So what are the necessary elements? And what are the nice-to-have features that you can add as you grow your audience?
No two musicians, ensembles or bands are the same, but every musician website needs a few basic things: a Bio page (or section) with a group bio as well as individual members’ bios; a gig or events calendar; embedded videos and/or Instagram feed; social media links; Music page (or section – with links to streaming, or purchase links or both); press kit or just high-res press photos for downloading; booking contact; mailing list signup; and possibly a New/News section to keep the content fresh and relevant.
This may seem like a lot, but in fact, you’ve already got most of the content together in some form or other. Every musician, unless you are just getting started, has a biography with their background, training, a little personal info. You probably have one or two videos up on YouTube that can easily be embedded into any website. Likewise your Spotify playlist. It’s never too early to keep a mailing list of concert attendees or folks who’ve already purchased your music. Several of the mailing list services are still free to use if you have a smaller number of names on your list. (Using a mailing list service assures that your announcements and newsletters won’t end up in everyone’s spam folders.) You probably have press clippings that can be excerpted into great pull quotes for your home page. Good quality head shots and/or band photos should be part of every musician’s basic kit.
Of course, along with the best quality content you can muster, you want a site that shows you to best advantage with an aesthetic that reflects your personality, that’s easy to navigate for your users, that makes it easy for them to follow you on other platforms, and to purchase your music and attend your concerts. It’s tempting (and fun!) to create a website that’s all about you, but it’s way more important to have one that considers your users first and foremost. Think about who they are and what they want, then lead them to that as simply as possible — whether that’s tickets or downloads or just to stay in touch.
A website can be a tool for every musician or performer to connect to their audience — whether you’re a solo artist just starting your career, or a touring band or a studio musician looking for gigs — to show off your talents, let your authentic voice be heard, and build your career.