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It's important to get your band's website right. This list of website essentials was put together by Robert Lantern of Hidden Home Records

I recently bought a domain name, solidifying the officiality of my record label’s website. I had to do some research and read some articles about how to properly build a website, as well as promote it.

Maybe you’re in the same place I am though, and, now that you have a website, you’re in need of some instruction as to the semantics.

I’ve tried to think of every essential you and I might need for our music websites, and thus I’ve been analyzing other musician and label sites to make sure I have all the necessary details. Of course I’m not expecting you or I to get on some crazy “best designed websites ever” list, but I think we can be professional enough to not make a “worst websites” list, right? We can be good without going too fancy.

Here, from what I can tell, are the 6 essentials for a music website.

1. News

I don’t know if you need to have a “news” page specifically, but a spot where the news is shared is important.

For me, this is just on my home page. “Well I just post my news on social media” you may retort. The sad truth is that social media, for pages like yours and mine, blocks out news from people who follow our pages unless you pay them. This is commonly known as a “supported post” on Facebook.

On top of that, however, you need a space where news is neatly organized, and your website is the most obvious place for that.

One more thing: while social media is your public persona, - your “spokesperson” so to speak - your website is more of a public profile. So everything that you talk about on your social media should be explained better on your website - hence, share your news on the former and detail it on the latter.

2. Store

If this isn’t obvious to you, then I’m not sure why you got the website in the first place.

People need to know where to get items from you, and honestly, selling merch (shirts, CDs, vinyl, etc.) is going to be the main source of profit for a lot of artists and music professionals. If people want to promote or support you by buying and wearing your brand, why not make it easy for them?

As far as what kind of store you use, be it Limited Run, Storenvy, Big Cartel or others, most website templates allow you to make a header that links directly to it. To be clear, it absolutely should be linked to directly from your home page. A header, one of the subheadings people can go to from your home page using a kind of site navigation system.

3. Social Media

Keep in mind that your social media presence and your website presence are different, though the former is important.

Now, I know that I use social media to keep up with artists I like, even if sites like Facebook keep some of the important news away from me (see above). Simply though, it’s a way to be seen by people who will like your band.

Young people especially spend an unhealthy amount of time on social media sites (especially Facebook). Thus, you should go where your market resides - don’t expect them to keep up with you.

Like linking to your website from social media, the reverse operation is a pretty necessary feature. Promoters, other bands, labels, and more sometimes measure the strength or validity of your “brand” based on your social media following and your presence in those formats. Being aware of that has helped me some in booking tours.

4. Your Music (and How to Listen to It)

This is the most important thing, I reckon: How can people hear your music?

Not giving this option on your website is one of the stupidest things I can think of, and yet I see it prioritized pretty low by a lot of artists.

Music is what you’re there to tell people about and to sell, so not giving an option to listen to it doesn’t make much sense now, does it?

For me, I make money off of Spotify when people stream my music, so I leave the Spotify player up on my discography page for people to listen to. If you don’t want to do that, or you’d rather give people a more direct “listen and buy” option, use a Bandcamp widget!

Regardless - just make it easy to hear what you’re selling.

5. Contact

I like getting demos. I haven’t found anyone I’m willing to work with yet (I thought I received a really good one once, but it turned out I was listening to Rocket From The Crypt and the album I received was nothing special).

I also like getting trade requests and getting encouraging emails. If you send me hate mail as well I’d probably frame it! Also, if someone has a problem with a mail order or a stream or they want to inform you of anything important, they should be able to. P.O. Boxes may be a thing of the past, so I would say an e-mail address suffices.

6. Shows and Tours

Oops! I don’t have this up on my website yet. Looking at other label sites (for instance, Fat Wreck Chords, one of the best run indie labels on the planet) a date with all of your or your artists’ tour dates seems to be common and pretty mandatory.

People need to know where to see your bands and be aware, and they should be provided with that information wherever possible. Some bands only have tour dates and social media/music links on their webpage, or maybe they’ll have a “click here to enter” introductory page with the tour dates included front and center.

Let’s both promise to set something up for this, yeah? Live music is the primary way bands sell merch or get heard now days. Don’t leave it out!

What did I miss? Let me know on Twitter @Robolitious.



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