Whether you’re trying to get people out to your band’s first show or trying to sell tickets for a major festival after 20 years in the industry, you may have the same thought going through your mind: Is anyone going to come to my party? You can’t make people go to your show or become a fan, but there’s plenty you can do to connect your music to people who are going to love it. Marketing is a big part of what separates successful bands from bands that play to empty rooms.
In this series, we discuss three of the most popular aspects of marketing your band – email, social media, and your website.
In short, your website is the online hub for your band. The temptation to just have all your information on Facebook or Bandcamp is tempting, but eventually you’ll want a platform that you can have more control over. Here are a few benefits of having your own website over using an out-of-the-box platform like Facebook or Bandcamp:
- More creative control. Using a Bandcamp of Facebook, you’re extremely restricted on overall design of your online hub as well as functionality. With your own website, you can build out pages, like your press page or blog posts, exactly how you want them.
- Direct line to your fanbase. This is especially a big deal on Facebook, which throttles organic reach to your fans because they want you to pay to reach people on their platform.
- More effective email list building. You can use a free tool like Sumo to include email list embeds or pop ups on your website, which will help you build your email list more effectively than a “sign up” button on your Facebook page or a link on your Basecamp.
A custom website from a developer isn’t cheap (about $2,500 on the low end), but you can save money and do it yourself with themes you can customize. Website platforms that are easy to use without a ton of experience include WordPress, SquareSpace, and Shopify.
If you plan on selling a lot of music and merch through your website, Shopify is a user-friendly option that has free and affordable “themes” or designs that you can apply with a few clicks. You can customize most themes with the colors, logos, images, and fonts you want. Even if you’re not selling merch right now, it’s a great idea to think ahead for when you might be. Otherwise, you might be looking at more complicated integrations farther down the line.
You can even register your domain name directly through Shopify. And if you decide Shopify isn’t for you, after two months you’ll be able to take that domain with you to another hosting provider like WordPress.com, or a custom web host like WebHostingHub.com.
When building the different pages on your website, keep in mind why anyone would visit your website—that’s called “user goals.” People are going to come to your website to listen to your music, look at your upcoming shows, check out some pictures or videos, buy your merch, and maybe read your press kit, so make sure those things are easy to find. Anything else you might want to add, like a blog, is great, but shouldn’t come before those main things.
Your website is the online hub for your band, so make sure it’s connected to the other online mediums you use. Depending on your web host, popular integrations could be as easy as a joint login or inputing a confirmation code or API into a designated box in your “backend,” the section of your site that isn’t visible to the public where you make changes to the theme, add pages and posts, and more.
Here are a few things you’ll want to integrate with your website:
Just make sure you don’t add too much — people enjoy sleek websites that are easy to navigate. Just because your website is your online hub doesn’t mean it needs to have everything. Feel free to avoid embedding your Facebook or Twitter feed, and you don’t need a blog or news section if you don’t want to maintain it.
Seatte’s The Black Tones have a great example of a sleek, easy to navigate website. They have a simple homepage that promotes their single, email list, and most recent news items, and a navigation bar that has everything a website visitor could be looking for.
Neko Case’s website takes a slightly different route. Her homepage features more promotional content, including buy links for new new album from different web stores, links to her videos, tour dates, email list sign-up, as well as social icons. Those looking for more can click on her “about” section for a bio and press information, but that’s the gist of her website. She doesn’t bother with a news section, which is absolutely fine — her site still gives most visitors exactly what they’re looking for: information on her new album, upcoming shows, and her story.
The best marketing follows the idea of “what would you want to see?”
Think about what brings you to follow another band on social, join their email list, go to their website, and buy tickets for a show. Do your best to adhere to that.
At its core, marketing is about connecting people with things they genuinely need and want. Your goal shouldn’t be to make people care about your art, but to connect with the people who want and need to hear your music.