You’ve been told a website is important, and you want yours to be good.
There are 4 things a good music website must include. And in this article, I’m going to break them down for you.
Let’s get started.
What makes a good music website (and why it’s not what you think)
You’re probably here because of a lie. Or, at the least, a half-truth. You’ve been told you need a professional music website…
But that’s not the full story.
DuctTapeMarketing is a leader in marketing and design. According to them, most websites fail because businesses take a design-driven approach from the beginning.
In other words, they focus on “pretty” instead of on strategy.
And it’s the same with music.
Ross from Electric Kiwi is a leading music website designer and co-host of the Bridge the Atlantic podcast, shared a similar point with me during a recent interview on MusicianMonster. When designing a music website “the first step is to know the purpose of the site”
And that’s just it.
Just as you wouldn’t paint a house before the walls are up. You should NOT worry about making your site “look good” before you’re clear on the role it plays in growing your music business.
That means to design your music site around a clear strategy. Measure the success of your site based on if accomplishes that strategy. Not solely on the way that it looks.
The good news is, if you flip this focus, you can have a music website that looks great and it’ll also be an asset the makes your life as a musician easier.
And in this article, I’m going to show you how to do that. Using a billboard charting, independent music artist as our case study.
Let’s get started.
Your website needs to look good. But more importantly, it needs to serve your goals.
This first part is critical.
According to Forbes [source], one of the two primary reasons websites fail, is because they’re too complicated and/or generic. Meaning, the person creating it (you) doesn’t know the role the website plays in the growth of the music business. Instead of designing the band website to do one or two things very well, they design it as a “cover-all”.
This causes two big problems.
- It makes the website ineffective for the musician.
- And downright aggravating for the person trying to use it.
So, before you do anything with your website, you want to first determine the purpose. Specifically, you want to answer this question:
How will this website help the music business grow?
How will it make your life or the life of the musician or band easier? Will it be used to grow a mailing list or sell merchandise and music? Or do you want people to use it to contact you for a gig?
For example, Manafest, want’s his music site to grow his mailing list and sell digital products (music, merch, etc). We showed him how to design his band website to accomplish that goal.
So before you do any work, define the purpose of the site. After that, you can design every page to help you get there.
2. Foundational Pages
Once the purpose is clear, the next step is to make it easy to accomplish that objective. That’s where your Foundational Pages come in.
There are four fundamental pages. They are…
- Music (or “Store”)
Every band website or music website should include a version of them. Let’s briefly talk about each of these pages in more detail and why they’re important.
Your Home page should do two things.
- Make your site easy to use
- Position your brand
In his seminal book on website usability, Don’t Make Me Think, Steve Krug compares great website design to a grocery store.
Like a grocery store, you come in, see the checkout, the isles are categorized. When you get lost, you can go to the front of the store to find your bearings. Same with your band website.
In the digital world, you’re limited only to what’s on the screen in front of you. It’s easy to get lost.
That’s why the Homepage of your band website is so important.
Like the front of a grocery store leads to the isles, your Home page is a place people can always go to find what they’re looking for—which is the purpose of your site.
And you want every page to be accessible through it.
Here’s how we showed Manafest to do that on his website.
Each section summarizes the page it links to. Each section summarizes the purpose of each page that is linked to in the top navigation.
The purpose of your about page is simple: To tell people your story, get them interested, and position yourself as a unique music artist.
Your about page should contain your 3-part music story. Just like we did on Manafest’s site. It serves the one-two punch of helping you stand out and strengthen your brand.
Music (or “Store”)
The purpose of your Music (or “Store”) page is simple: Monetization.
If you’ve done a good job with your branding and have merch or music your fans want to buy, then your store page makes it easy to do that.
That’s why it’s important as a foundational music site page.
Ever needed to get in touch with someone but can’t? Don’t be that guy (or gal).
Your Contact page solves that problem.
Social channels, email, phone number—it all goes on this page.
For Manafest, Chris just wanted to offer a contact email for product support and booking inquiries.
You want to be easy to get hold of. That’s the purpose of your Contact page.
3. A “Fan Grabber”
A FanGrabber is the thing that acts as a catalyst to bring a “normal person” into your fanbase.
It’s a critical step in the music fan/artist relationship and the key to sustainable growth as a musician and a good music website design.
There are many versions of the FanGrabber.
The most common (and least effective) is the “Join my newsletter”. It can also be a “Book Our Band” form on your contact page.
For example, Manafest has multiple FanGrabbers that are featured in the design. The purpose of his site is to grow his mailing list and sell digital products (music merchandise).
The website is designed to make the FanGrabber easy to find. Here’s how:
This is important because a FanGrabber usually places new fans into a music marketing funnel after they sign up.
For example, a Manafest fan will sign up for the FanGrabber and receive emails that tell the bands story and provide the opportunity to purchase merch, music, tickets, etc.
A FanGrabber that works is a critical component of a good music website design (you can’t have a successful band website without one).
And that’s why you need to know the role your site plays in the growth of your music business.
Which brings me to the final component of a good music site.
4. Position Your Music Brand
(Miss this and you’re in trouble)
After you have defined the purpose of your music website and crafted your foundational pages and Fan Grabber around it, you’re ready to for the final step.
And pretty pictures, colors, and a logo are not how this is done. A strong message is synonymous with a cohesive visual design. Your message comes first, and you design around it.
This last bit is critical. And can be easy to dismiss because most musicians, incorrectly, assume they’ve heard it before. Not true.
It would be helpful to demonstrate the “message” strategy and how it specifically applies to a good music website design.
Let’s use Manafest again as an example.
Music Brand “Triggers”
On manafest.com we added, what I call, music branding “triggers”.
To explain, a “trigger” is a phrase, name, or title that is frequently used to define or represent an established and mutually understood belief.
The reason these are important for a music website is that it creates an identity for real fans and reminds them of that identity. And that’s a critical component of a music brand.
I talk about this in my course MusicBrand, and the free music branding cheatsheet, but to quickly explain, here’s how this is applied on Manafest’s music website:
You want the message and brand to be prominent.
The story on the About page, the titles and headlines, pictures, everything. Everything comes together and inspires the fans to stick around, use the website and believe in the music and brand.
And that’s why adding a clear message and brand is the fourth critical component of a good music website.
Remember, it does no good to have a pretty site if it doesn’t serve your music business and grow it. Take a cue from Manafest and others. Build a site that grows your music business. I’ve shown you ways to do it, get it done.