Building a website and make it go online is much easier than you may think. The thing is, that a musician’s website has to be nice to browse and the focus of everything should be you and your music. There is no need for fancy graphics stuff and animations.
A website, to operate properly, needs a web address, a hosting service and some web design. You have, at this point, two options:
the first one, the cheapest (but yet effective), you open your blog in a free platform such as Blogger.com or Wordpress.com, then buy a domain name and link it to the blog. In this way you have free hosting and a free platform where to build the website itself. You only have to pay the domain name.
the second one, much more professional than the first one: you buy a domain name, then you buy a web hosting service, then you install the Wordpress.org platform on it.
Going 100% free with a free blog is not recommended, since your website’s URL will be something like http://www.yourbrandname.chosenplatform.com. Not very professional, you‘ve got to admit.
You will surely do a good link building job, but lots of people will still type your website into their URL bar. So, you should keep it simple and memorable.
Your domain name should be your brand name with a .com at the end of it. .com is the most common domain and people are used to type it by default.
If “yourbrandname.com” is already taken, you have to figure something out. Here are some general suggestions:
unless it is already in your brand name, no funky spellings (no one is going to remember that “for” in your brand name is “4” in your URL);
add something, but don’t make the URL become too long. “Music” is a good addition, “namesurnamemusic.com” or “bandnamemusic.com” are good domain names. Your instrument is good as well (namesurnameinstrument.com). Or a dash between the words that make up your brand name;
think about your fans, not about yourself. If you specialty is to play the didgeridoo, “namesurnamedidgeridoo.com” may be a bad choice. Do you know how much people don’t know how ‘didgeridoo’ is spelled?
Make sure that http://yourwebsite.com point to http://www.yourwebsite.com, and write it on your business cards, email signature, social media accounts and wherever possible like this: http://YourWebsite.com, or http://NameSurname.com. People will more likely visualize what the website is about.
As soon as you register your domain, create at least info@YourWebsite.com, or contact@YourWebsite.com, even something like press@YourWebsite.com. It will help to distribute future enquiries.
If you are 100% committed to doing things professionally, buy your hosting. Most of them, if you choose 2-3-5 years programs, will cost you $3-4 per month.
Choosing the hosting service is not easy for someone who is not in the IT business. I chose Bluehost mostly because I browsed some IT, online business and web marketing forums and noticed that people who seemed to have a good reputation spoke of Bluehost like a reliable company, with a good customer service, a user-friendly interface and good protection towards hackers. I don’t think you are going to need more.
Once you have bought your hosting, you should install the platform. My platform of choice is Wordpress.org. Again, I’m talking about Wordpress.org because it’s my platform of choice, but I am sure there are other platforms that deserve your trust.
This is what usually scares people. Good news: most of the time, you don’t need to go mad with HTML/CSS code strings or with fancy graphic elements (beyond your logo and, usually, a cover, or header, that could contain a picture of yourself). Platforms like Blogger and WordPress have their own themes, layouts, templates, wizard-based systems, so you just need to know where you want to place elements through your page, and some very basic HTML strings for linking and pics (nothing that can’t be found googling).
Remember to use colours and fonts that belong to your corporate image. No tough-to-read fonts, no shocking colours.
A good musician’s website should have:
a name and a description. This is how the website will appear on the Google SERPs. If you are a music teacher / solo artist, use this structure in the name field: “Name Surname: who you are (guitar player? songwriter?);
a cover, also known as header. It’s a picture, usually 940 x 198 pixels great by default. Most of the time, is a picture of yourself, or your instrument, with your logo;
a favicon. A favicon is a small icon, usually 16 x 16 pixels, associated with a website, so that the user can recognize the website among his bookmarks, or on the tabs of his browser. Use your logo;
a well structured and easy to read ‘about me/us’ page. Keep it short. If you are a single musician, just write where you have studied or learnt what you play, who you have worked with and what are you doing now. If you are a band, talk about the band, and if the band is newly born, talk about the musicians and balance their stories with what is in progress;
a ‘media/audiovideo’ page for solo artists and bands, a ‘portfolio/curriculum’ page for freelance composers and session musicians, and a ‘lessons’ page for music teachers. Youtube and Soundcloud are your best friends;
social icons: search the web, it’s full of nice matching set of social icons to point the user to your social media pages;
a subscribing form for the mailing list (and possibly a call-to-action with a giveaway downloadable item or streaming audio/video file to encourage people to subscribe: an mp3 for bands and musicians, a free lessons for music teachers);
a blog. If you are a band or a solo artist, you may experience what is known as the “musician’s block”, and a blog is the most effective way to stay connected with your followers even when you don’t have fresh music to present them. If you are a music teacher, the blog is the best way to establish yourself as an expert. As a side note, learn everything about the Google Authorship Markup to make your Google Plus profile and your blog posts be linked on the SERPs;
a ‘store’ page. Selling products is one of the most important sides of your activity. You can send your fans to where they can buy your albums, CDs, DVDs, merchandising, sometimes even scores, et cetera, or selling them directly through your site, both by digital downloading and by physical distribution. At this purpose, you have to learn how to accept money on the web (with Paypal, taking credit and debit cards directly and/or looking for a proper ecommerce solution);
an electronic press kit;
a ‘contact me’ page, with a contact form or email addresses.
Hope it helps. I would be more than happy if you comment this article and share it on your social walls. I look forward to reading your thoughts!