As a jazz musician, your website is your home on the web.
Facebook, Twitter and whatever else may come and go – just like MySpace did – but assuming you have bought the domain name, your website is yours forever.
And, despite the rise of social media, it is still the #1 place that most people – especially promoters and journalists – will go first to learn about you.
So, it needs to give them what they are looking for, without too much messing about. A musician website doesn’t need to be expensive or flashy, but it needs to be effective.
As a jazz musician, there are pretty much two groups of people who are visiting your website:
- Potential fans, promoters & other industry who still have to find out about you: they need a smooth experience to be drawn into the site and discover your music. Hopefully, that will mean they hop over into this next group:
- Existing fans, promoters & other industry. People who already know or book you: they want information and need to be able to find it quickly and easily.
Your website: an online hub
The best musician websites I have seen – speaking as an agent or a manager – have acted as a hub, clearly displaying all their best content from around the internet and beyond in one place.
For the fans (or potential fans) you should:
- Pull in videos from Youtube and onto a videos page.
- Have some way of streaming your music
- Embed a gig plugin so your gigs appear on a dates page
- Give people a link directly to where they can buy your music
- Show icons for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Spotify on every page
When it comes to the industry people who are visiting your website, what do they need?
- A way to listen to your music
- To see the videos that they will use to promote you
- Access to high resolution downloads of your photos
- Short and long biographies
- Press quotes
- Even riders and technical requirements (see SUPER PRO BONUS under the infographic)
All of this can be achieved very simply with a clear design (no fancy graphics required) and you should be able to to keep it up-to-date very quickly and easily once it is set up.
The 'Perfect' Musician Website
The infographic below brings together everything I think should be present on a professional musician’s website. Note that almost half of these are simply links on the site to take visitors to the other platform directly. [Make sure that these are always set to open in a new tab so people don’t leave your website right away!]
SUPER PRO BONUS: include a password protected page with your tech rider and other info that you just want to give out to industry people. No more long emails with attachments, just send them the URL and password.
7 THINGS TO AVOID ON YOUR WEBSITE
Assuming you have all the good stuff on your website, you want people to spend as much time as possible there.
This means avoiding clunky, out-of-date designs.
Whether you are building your own site or paying someone else to do it for you, make a quick run through this list to make sure to avoid these common errors:
- …landing pages requiring “click to enter” – we have to assume that if someone comes to your website, they want to see or hear more!
- …autoplay music which starts when someone lands on the site
- …contact Forms – give people an email address. Gmail is OK but it’s super low cost to have a professional looking email address
- …short clips of music– building a career involves playing the long game. For now, let people discover your music properly and become a real fan. Once you have them on board you can sell them your albums and gig tickets.
- …out-of-date gig listings– it looks lazy and unprofessional. As an agent, I can’t help thinking that if a musician can’t keep their gig listings up to date, they might be a bit tricky to work with in general. There are plenty of tools like Songkick or Reverbnation where you can manage your dates remotely and which will automatically remove old shows.
- …too much homepage content so you need to scroll down to see it all. The goal here is clear and concise. Attention is short so make sure that people are only getting the best of what you have to give.
- …outdated advertising or banners for records that came out ages ago and bio’s which mention things ‘coming soon’ that have already happened. You can produce banners and e-flyers for free online (see Resources page) so there is no reason not to update regularly.
Need a new website?
There are a range of options available. It’s not a quick project, by any means, but it is one of the most important tools you have in growing your fanbase and reaching more festivals, concert halls, journalists and record labels.
I’m no tech guru – something I’m reminded of on a daily basis by the computer wizards that work with me. But, as a booking agent, I do have a good idea of exactly what should be included in a website to get promoters, managers & journalists to stick around and check out your project.
So, I got together a small team of website designers and built a template for a great musician website. We’ve been replicating this design with some great jazz musicians from around the world and are making it available to you, the career-building jazz musician.
Aside from this, you have pretty much 2 other options for getting your website into shape…
There are plenty of web designers out there who pair their talent for tech with a love of jazz. These are the guys or gals you want to find because, hopefully, they will not only know a lot of the music-specific things you need on your site, they will also have a decent rate.
It’s not a cheap option, but it should make for a nice finished product. There are a few of recommendations at the end of this article.
Before I discovered WordPress, I played around with musician website builders like Wix and Bandzoogle, where you build your site with a very simple drag and drop interface. In theory, you could end up with a great and functional website at a relatively low cost using one of these.
The only problem which I have come across – often – is that the person doing the designing is not so hot on what is required. So, whilst it works technically, there are big awkward spaces, counter-intuitive navigation and unappetising colour schemes. Also, make sure you upgrade so you don’t have the branding of the website builder on your page.
If you are using either a designer or the drag & drop method, it’s important that you make sure the key bits are included and that the ‘things to avoid’ are, well, avoided. I’ve put the main points from this article into a simple PDF checklist which you can download for free here.
Simple But Effective: Real Life Examples!
Here are just a handful of websites that I have come across online that do a great job at presenting the artist effectively and clearly.
Youn Sun Nah – Nice plugin pulling her best videos from Youtube plus photos available for “high res download”
Anthony Strong – Clean design, comprehensive contact page and downloadable reviews.
Kenny Garrett – Dates and music – arguably the two most important things – right there on the homepage.
Dave Douglas – remarkably clean and concise given his many professional areas of work!
Recommended Website Designers
Below there are a couple of personal recommendations for web designers that I have come across over the years, but would love to add to this.
Got tips? If you have suggestions, send me a note to their website and an example of a jazz website they have designed and I’ll add it to the list.