Your website is your home base. As much as a strong social media presence is important, you need to have a central spot where fans and industry can go to find everything from your bio to your press photos to your upcoming shows. People don’t want to have to put in a ton of work trying to figure out who you are or what you’re all about—a website allows them the luxury of finding all that info in one place.
Whenever possible, I strongly suggest hiring a website designer to take care of this—unless you’re already tech savvy or have the time to create a stunning website, it’s probably going to be more trouble than it’s worth. That being said, regardless of if you’re hiring out or DIY-ing it, these are a few definite Dos and Don’ts for artist websites.
Do: Display your social media
Personally, I’m a fan of displaying this somewhere that you’ll notice it immediately, but that isn’t intrusive, like the upper right corner of your website or in the center just below your header. You want people to be able to get to it quickly and easily, without having to go too far.
Don’t: Overcrowd your front page
Sometimes bands try to cram 25 things onto their front page, and that’s an understandable reaction but a definite mistake. When it comes to your front page, you want to keep it clean, concise, and easy to navigate. Place whatever is most important to you first. If you just released a new album or music video, that should be front and center. If you have a blog you update regularly, make it visible right away. Make sure the first things your fans are seeing are the most recent and relevant to you.
Do: Have a press kit
One of your tabs should absolutely lead to your press kit. This is where you’ll keep a shortened bio, hi-res press photos, links to previous press coverage, and some of your music. If you’re using this press kit as an EPK to send unreleased music to press, make sure to password protect it.
Don’t: Get lazy about updating your tour dates
I always recommend using something like SongKick to automatically update your tour dates. While it might look a little more custom and creative to just have the dates listed out on your website, remembering to consistently add new ones and take old ones down as soon as they happen is a burden that you just don’t have to bear if you use an automated app.
Do: Have an overall color scheme
This can change with your album’s color scheme, or it can be the same colors that are in your logo, but your website should definitely have an overall theme happening, and that should start with the colors. Don’t go crazy with too many—pick two or three and stick with those.
Don’t: Forget to showcase your music
While there should definitely be a designated space to sample and buy your music, having it out on the front page will encourage people to listen on the spot, as well as spruce up an otherwise mundane space. The invited interaction will get people more invested, and more likely to continue exploring what you have to offer.
Do: Have a call to action
While it may seem obvious that you want your fans to buy your new album or join your mailing list, giving them a specific call to action that tells them what you want is an important piece of the puzzle. Just don’t go crazy—one ask is usually enough, maybe two, but any more than that and it’s going to start to lose its meaning as well as overwhelm them.
Don’t: Forget a contact page
Having a contact page is crucial, but in addition to the usual contact form, I suggest listing your actual email address. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to use those forms to contact an artist about an opportunity only to have them fail. And with no alternative method of contact listed, they end up missing out.
Side note: While you’re sprucing up your contact info, don’t forget to include your email on your Facebook “About” section. People should be able to find your contact email without having to turn into J Edgar Hoover.
Do: Have a newsletter sign up
First, if you don’t actually have a newsletter, you’re going to want to get one of those going. In the age of social media algorithms, having a mailing list that you know is getting your content delivered to fans every single time is crucial. Once you have that going, launch a mailing list sign up—I recommend one that pops up when you first visit the site. I know that seems annoying but they are actually proven to drive 1375% subscribers. Worth it? I think so.