If you’re self designing your online presence there are some simple mistakes that artists, bands and labels make when they first start to build their website, MySpace, Facebook or other social media pages that turns away potential new fans and stops potential sales of their music. After visiting many artist websites, I found 4-5 of the following easy to rectify issues on at least 90% of pages we visited.
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So what are the top 10 things that you can do to your online music web presence to make sure you avoid falling into the same trap?
#1 Where is the music?
Have you considered why anyone visits your site? It’s for your music right? OK so where is your music, is it buried on a sub page of your website or is it center stage with a widget on your home page? At the very least get a free ReverbNation widget and put it “above the fold” (at the top of your website where visitors can see it without scrolling down). Make sure that it is not set to auto play as visitors may also have other music playing when they land on your page, and there is nothing worse than a cacophony of different songs all playing at once on your PC. At the very least the visitor will switch their sound off, or close your site immediately.Developing Web Widget with HTML, CSS, JSON and AJAX: A Complete Guide to Web Widget
#2 Error 404 Not Found
Broken and mistyped links are the best way of telling visitors you are too busy to attend to your web presence and sending them elsewhere. They’ll probably think that you’ve given up music and will move on. Don’t rush the construction of your blog or website, MySpace, Facebook or other online pages. Make sure you take the time to test links carefully, and ask friends to do it too. One of the most common areas that links errors occur is in mail outs or newsletters. Ask a friend to check the links in your newsletter or mail shot BEFORE you send it out, as there is nothing worse than delivering your newsletter twice. At best it looks unprofessional, at worst you’ll get marked as spam by your fans…
#3 How can I contact you?
Do you want to hear from fans, the media, labels, licensing companies, and other opportunities that could further your career? Are you short on people contacting you about your music? Do you have a contact form on your website? No? Aha, so that’s why no-one is getting in touch. You may be a shy creative type that spends too much time locked away in the studio, but not putting a contact page on your website you are losing out on potential opportunities for your music every single day.
For some strange reason when people get in touch, they usually favor using a contact form over an email address, one of the best free form services is http://www.emailmeform.com/ so if you haven’t got a contact page on your website get over there now and set it up. Using a contact form on your website is also preferable to using an email link as it avoids spam robots hoovering up your mail address and adding it to mailing lists without your consent.
#4 Are you hiding your beauty, and whats up with the bathroom camera shot?
Humans are funny things. We are a visual race, and the speed of light still outstrips the speed of sound. Our eyes pick up on things way before our ears do, so want to make an impression? Get some photos of you on your website! I can’t tell you how many artists hide behind their music. When a fan comes to your website they want to see YOU. Take the time to invest in some good photographs for your website and make sure that they are well shot, composed and retouched. If you can’t do this yourself either get a friend who’s interested in photography to do it or hire a local professional to do it for you.
Don’t put pictures up from the family album that include your bathroom shot with toilet paper in the background or your moms curling iron, it looks plain silly, and besides people don’t come to your website to see your bathroom. The point I am making here though seriously is don’t overlook the photos on your website, make them part of your image. If your playing live, get someone to use a decent camera at the gig, don’t take pictures from a fans phone, they look terrible…
#5 Who needs a website anyway?
Most artists, bands or labels are quite content using their MySpace page as their main web presence which is a great way to start (especially as it very easy for visitors to hear your music using the integrated player – see #1). However laying out a MySpace page is both restrictive and tricky, and whilst you can achieve a lot using a professional designer or MySpace profile design tool, if you want to be taken seriously by the music industry register your own web domain and get a well designed website.
Also have you ever wondered why only people on MySpace contact you on MySpace? That’s because you have to sign in to contact someone on the social network, and not everyone has a MySpace login. So you are cutting out potential contacts if you don’t have an alternative to your MySpace. Don’t get blinkered, get a website. If you want to get an easy to use content management system for your band’s website, check out a fully hosted solution SubHub membership websites, where you can set up a great VIP website for your band at very low yearly costs (Oh and don’t forget the contact page!)
#6 Information Overload
Keep your website, MySpace, Facebook and other online social media sites to the point. I can’t tell you how many MySpace sites I have seen that post a LONG block of hard to read text all in one place, expecting people to be able to consume the information easily. Keep Bio’s brief and to the point, make sure it only includes relevant information. Make sure you filter only the best reviews, content, pictures, music and other assets for your website, don’t paste everything just to make it look like you have more background than you have. Less is more, and posting every tenuous piece of information on your web presence will make your page look cluttered, desperate and unprofessional. Keep it clean, and keep it high quality (Extra tip, if you are dyslexic or just can’t plain spell get someone from Elance to proof read your website – lots of typos make your website look totally unprofessional).
#7 Why do I care if you are in the local “Young Farmers” association?
Keep your music website on topic. Whilst background information in your Bio may be useful if you are targeting a certain type of fan and want them to feel an affinity with you, it is not helpful to post the latest updates on Swine Flu, or other non music related information on your website. Visitors will have probably found your website from another online source and are expecting it to deliver what they came there for – your music, so make sure the content of your bands website contains relevant information that serves the visitor’s expectations.
#8 I’ve got an ego and I’m gonna use it.
There is nothing that turns off fans and potential sales than a misplaced ego. Whilst it’s important to be confident, getting high and mighty about how great your music is, when you haven’t even mixed, mastered or fixed that dodgy vocal makes you look silly – period. Make sure that everything about your music really lives up to how you present it online, otherwise the world will take Dionne Warwick’s advice and just “Walk On By”.
#9 Your mail could not be delivered.
Are you short on responses from that newsletter you send out every month? Not had anyone contact you for months about your music? Does no one love me or my music? Check your email is actually working. The amount of bounce backs that we receive when contacting bands is amazing. If you set up a website and get an email address for your band, make sure it is active, and set it up in Outlook or Outlook Express. Check it regularly, and also send yourself regular test email to check your mail server is working, especially just before important mail outs or newsletters. This is especially important if you don’t normally use the band email every day. Quick extra tip here, don’t use a hotmail or free provider address for your band, it looks naff and shows a total lack of professionalism.
iTunes Gift Card
iTunes Gift Card
#10 If you’d like to come to the cash desk sir…
Have you ever tried to buy your own music from your website? About 90% of all online music sales are lost simply because there is no option to buy on your web presence when visitors like your music. “But it’s obvious it’s on iTunes” says the band, but it’s not. If I have to fire up iTunes search for your tracks, before I even get my credit card out then the likelihood of me purchasing your music is pretty slim. Make it uber easy for people to buy your music by putting clear links (with store logos for brand trust affirmation) directly to the purchase page on the online stores.
Make sure you link to a number of different stores, such as iTunes, Amazon, CDBaby, and other options if they are available to you. Try out sites such as Nimbit, Website Music Player, Reverbnation shop widgets, or other online storefronts too which could help drive sales. At the end of the day if you don’t have the ability to purchase from your website or other online touch points, you’re leaving money on the table.