This year, we’ve seen artists take to Yelp and Craigslist to tell the stories behind their songs. If you’re looking for another way to share the places and experiences that influenced a record, try making a custom Google Map. A custom map will allow you to include points of interest with your own names and descriptions. All you’ll need to get started is a Gmail account.
Create a new map by opening maps.google.com, clicking on the empty search bar and selecting My Maps. You’ll see the option to then create a new one. Google Maps work in layers. The base map layer will change how the map itself looks. If you want to remove standard Google Maps features (like the names of businesses or public transit stops), change the base map to something simple. You’ll automatically have an “untitled layer” – use this to add your places. Add some icons to locations you’d like to highlight by clicking the marker icon under the search bar. Icons will default to your standard red Google Maps icon, but each icon can be a different shape or color. There are preset images for things like restaurants, bars, music venues, and more. There’s even an option to use your own custom icons, although you’ll need a “pro” account.
Try highlighting the places songs are about, where they were written, or the venues where they were first performed. You can even create separate layers for different categories, like in the example above (Songwriting Spots and Inspiration). Description text supports links, so you can add a purchase link. There’s also the option to embed a video or image. Try adding YouTube videos to stream within the map!
When you’re ready to share your map, click the green Share button and make sure your settings are at “Anyone who has the link can view.”
Looking forward to seeing what you come up with!