It’s a fact that in 2012, the web is becoming more and more social and you hear a lot of talk about your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube strategies and what it is changing for artists and bands. But that doesn’t mean you should forget about the oldest tool of the Internet: your website.
Indeed your website is still your biggest first window on the web. Someone heard about you or listened to one of your songs on the radio, YouTube, Facebook… They loved your song or want to know more? Their first stop: Google, to search for your name and look for all the info about you in one place. Thanks to search engines’ crawling technology, in most cases your website will appear first. Now that you’ve attracted fans and potential fans to your home, here are some tips to help them feel comfortable, find the info they are looking for and help convert them into devoted fans.
Before we dive into specific pages and tips, keep this one thing in mind: don’t think about yourself, think about the user. Be kind and friendly to him/her. This means making pages and media accessible over any device he/she may be using, and keeping your website updated and current with your latest music, videos, tour dates and more. Give ’em what they’re looking for!
You never get a second chance to make a first impression and this is where people will land first and where they should find all the basic and latest info as they start to enter your universe:
– Banner, Photo, Drawing, Your Name: Think simple, aestethic, something that represents you. Forget Flash pages where people don’t know where to go and where to click — and remember that Flash doesn’t work on iDevices, so again: think about the user.
– Social Network feeds: You of course have a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest… So make the most of them. Put the last 5 posts of your feeds directly on your homepage. It’s a nice and easy way to show people your latest activities without manually updating the website.
– Social Network links: Put them all in one place with logos: Like FB, +1 Google+, Follow Me Twitter, YouTube Channel and a field to subscribe to your mailing list.
This is also a good place to put your iTunes and/or Spotify/Deezer links with logos to access your artist’s page on those stores. For instance: The Raveonettes on iTunes. You think it’s too much? It’s not. You’ve just made your user’s life easier.
– Music and/or Video: I still see some bands’ websites without music on the homepage. How strange! You don’t want your music to be listened to? You absolutely must allow users to listen to your latest song or see your latest video without subscribing to a service or buying something. For that, the easiest tools are SoundCloud and/or YouTube so that everyone can listen to and see your music from any device in the world. And don’t forget about embedded players! I saw links on a website just last week! Remember what I said about making it easy for your users? The cherry on the cake is that if your video is monetized, you’ll get some money from YouTube through views from your website.
– Other: If you want to encourage people to download a free track in exchange for an email adress, your homepage is also the right place to do it.
As usual, keep them friendly and simple. Here is a basic selection:
– Bio: Updated (not a 3-year-old one!) and available in your local language and English.
– Music: This is where you should put your entire discrography with artwork, release date, tracklistings and links on iTunes, Amazon, Deezer, Spotify, etc. You can also put your SoundCloud account if you have one.
– Videos: Stop uploading videos directly to your website, making it slow to load and costing you a fortune in bandwidth. Just embed players of all your videos available on your YouTube, Vimeo or Dailymotion channels from the most recent to the oldest one. What’s more, these players can be played on any device in the world. Win-win!
– Photos: Include a selection of press and live shoots. If you have both, it may be better to separate them. Don’t forget to credit the photographer and make sure he’s approved the use. Never copy and paste a photo from a blog on your website without authorization.
– Tour dates: If you are not using Songkick or Bandsintown yet, you should! These tools allow you to manage and edit your tour dates, publish them on Facebook, SoundCloud, Spotify, add links to buy tickets, allow users who follow you to see your new gigs, and of course, to publish them on your website through plugins… all from one place.
– Press: You got some interesting reviews, interviews or live reports? This is the place where you can share them. For online articles, just include a small quote and a link to the content on the website (bringing traffic to the outlet who mentioned you is a nice gesture and looks better than copy/pasting to your page). For press, put a small quote too and add a screenshot. If you like, you can also make the full press cut available for download as a PDF.
– Blog: You’ve got a blog! That’s great, but don’t start to think your blog can replace your website. It’s a great tool to let your fans know what you are currently doing in your own words but doesn’t provide enough general information for people who don’t know you and are looking for a good overview, so opt to include it only as a tab on your website.
– Store/Merch: Got a Topspin shop where you sell merchandise, goodies, bundles? This is the place to include it on your website.
– Contacts (Manager, PR, Distribution, label…): Want to get more reviews, gigs, etc.? So allow people to reach you! If you have a full team working with you — even better. Put down each of their roles, name and email. For the email, type it out like: xxx[at]x.com rather than hyperlinking it so you avoid boatloads of spam.
So, you’ve followed all these tips, your website is finished, and ready to go live? Don’t forget to install Google Analytics so you can track where your visitors come from, which page on your website they prefer and in general to help you monitor and understand your online activity.
Now that you’ve cleaned up your house and are ready to make your future fans feel welcome, you’re all set to nail that first date!