As an independent artist, to have your own website is an easy way to make you look more professional and enhance your credibility when linked to on social media and streaming sites profiles. It should be a place where you gather and display all important info, but also a place that reflects your (or your band’s) personality.
In this article we will talk about:
• How to start your website: tools and advice
• A list of the things you must have and what you can have on your site
• The mistakes not to make
Creating your website
Starting your own site has never been easier. There are many tools out there that will enable you to create a simple, yet effective site for free or that offer different pricing plans to suit anyone’s budget.
Wix is a free site builder that has hundreds of templates to choose from. They are categorised according to the type of content you want to optimise such as photos, blogs, events etc.
This is great for musicians as in the music category, you can choose from ‘solo artist’, ‘band’, ‘DJ & producer’ and ‘music promotion’. Obviously, these designs are optimised for musicians but you can choose any template you like and change it to make it your own.
You will be able to change texts, fonts, colours, pictures and more. You can move everything around to adjust to your needs.
You will also have to opportunity to add design tools and features to your site: videos, photo galleries, maps & contact box. Wix has an ‘app market’ with plenty of tools to grow your site as you grow your career such as store pages, blogs etc.
Once your site is created you can choose a pricing plan to fit your needs. You can choose not to pay anything at all, but your site will display Wix adds. Their plans range from €4.5 to €24.5 per month. You get unlimited bandwidth with the €12.5 plan, which means unlimited visitors on your site.
Some plans will give you a free domain name some will connect to Google Analytics, it all depends on what you need.
Squarespace is a similar tool. You will be able to do all the things you can do on Wix. The main difference is that it is more design oriented: it is slightly harder to use but the templates are more modern with a greater flexibility.
Squarespace is great for building a website that will be very responsive and therefore look great on desktop, tablet and mobile – something that is harder to achieve with Wix. Also, if you happen to change your mind and want to use a different template after a while; Squarespace will automatically transfer your content onto that new template.
On the other hand, they don’t offer free plans and pricing starts at £10 per month (billed annually). But the upside is all their plans include unlimited bandwidth.
These two tools achieve very professional results at affordable prices. Whatever builder you choose, unless you’re a web developing pro we advise you to stay simple and have a clear layout.
What you must have on your site
These tools are so great because they give you endless possibilities of features to add to your site. But you should know that a good artist site requires basic things that must come before you start thinking about adding extra features.
Every site should have:
The most important thing is to include links to your music. It can be embedded Spotify players and a subscription button or plain links that will open a streaming or download platform page. What is good with embedded players is that it won’t draw away the visitors’ attention by opening another page.
Swedish duo Vaz implemented two Spotify players in their main page that allow visitors to listen directly to their latest releases.
You also have to add links to your social media, this is crucial, as it will allow visitors who enjoy your music to follow you and not forget you. You should also link your website in your social media bios.
Visitors might be put off by a huge paragraph right away but will quickly appreciate your message and personality with high resolution, professional photos of you, your band and cover art. You can have an image as your background or a couple images: be creative but stay simple, one really great image can have more impact than many okay ones.
Your website should include your professional email address or a contact form for press enquiries or any questions about your work.
UK country boys Holloway Road’s website has a clear menu with contact form easily accessible.
Now that you’ve got the basics covered, let’s talk about things that are a good idea to improve your site.
A good yet concise bio will allow you to introduce yourself. Read our advice on how to write the perfect artist bio.
It’s always a good idea to add more photos. These can be photos of live shows, in the studio, artworks or dedicated photo shoots.
AE MAK’s gorgeous image gallery is simply their Instagram feed embedded in the website.
You can always add a music video or live performance video on your main page, or if you want to feature a few you could have a dedicated page for videos.
If you are touring often or if you plan to in the near future; adding a ‘tour dates’ page with ticket links can become the go-to place for your fans to check if you’ll be on the road soon and to buy tickets.
It’s a good idea to remind people of you! With a mailing list, you can notify them of your releases, upcoming shows and any other relevant/exciting news.
The Flavians have successfully included a mailing list item on their main page.
This can give a more personal touch to your site so if you have enough time to look after a blog in your tight independent artist schedule go for it. A blog page on your website will allow you to share meaningful stories about your project, your life, touring, writing, …
This can be another attractive thing about your site: selling things. If you sell merch or CD/vinyls, you could add a store page that will give yet another reason for people to visit your site (and earn you more money!)
Take German artist Ahzumjot as an example who has a great looking merch page on his site.
Mistakes not to make
Not making your website mobile friendly
Your site will probably be visited more times on mobile than on desktop so not having your designs adapted to mobile could put off a great number of visitors.
There’s nothing worse than a site that indicates live dates from 3 years back. Keep updating it with new pictures and videos and make sure to delete outdated content.
Not being able to find a contact
Your email or contact form should be easy to find and not buried under a ton of content. No one is going to take ages to look for it and this could result in missed opportunities.
In the meantime, we get that you have a busy schedule and that creating the perfect artist website takes a little time so you can always use your Spinnup artist profile as a mini website. It gathers all the essential features you can add to an artist website: a bio, artist image, videos, your social media links and contact information all in one place! Read our advice on how to make the most out of your profile.