A lot of artists question what the benefits of having a website are when social media allows for so many opportunities to connect with both an audience and others in the industry. While I would agree that social media has changed the game to some extent, there are definitely some important reasons that you should still have a website – and reasons why you should have a GOOD website!
By owning your domain name, you're protecting your brand and you're also showing a level of investment and professionalism. Having your own website shows that you are dedicated to your craft and it looks much more professional than providing a social media link, especially when it comes to connecting with others in the industry. If you think about it, the majority of reputable businesses have a website – and as a musician or band, you are also a business, so showcase that!
It provides an opportunity for strong branding and making the right first impression. Visually, your website presents a great chance to reflect your sound in a visual way, in a way that social platforms don't. Social media absolutely has its place, but your website is where you can showcase your work in a far more focused way, without distractions. Strong photography or artwork will set the tone and should tell people exactly who you are right away.
It's the one place online you have full control over your messaging and content, and you're not relying on pleasing an algorithm to get that content seen. Social media platforms come and go, so it's important that you have a constant presence online that YOU own. And if you are growing a mailing list, you have a consistent way of reaching people if social media platforms fall out of favour, or end up disappearing.
Speaking of mailing lists… the signup form for your list should feature in a prominent location. Collecting email addresses from your audience is so important, especially as reach on social platforms is decreasing unless you're willing to spend on advertising. Having a way of reaching your audience directly is incredibly valuable and should be a part of your overall online marketing strategy. If you can offer some kind of exclusive content as an incentive to sign up, even better! That could be a video only accessible to subscribers, acoustic or alternative takes of your most popular songs or anything that people can't get anywhere else. Your newsletters should help people to get to know you better and become more invested in your story, as well as a tool to promote new releases, tour dates and new merch.
Your website can (and SHOULD) be a hub for all of your activity online. Send people to your website for anything they need, and keep sending them there when you release new music, new videos, or new merch. People in the industry should be able to use your website for all of their professional needs (reaching out for bookings, getting your latest assets for press etc) and your audience should be able to use the website to find out more about you, find your latest releases, join your mailing list and purchase your merch.
Merch is another huge part of any artist's website. Selling merch gives your audience another way to support you and gives you a reason to constantly send people back to your website when you add new products or run special offers. These days you don't need to go down the traditional route of purchasing hundreds of items in advance and hoping they sell – now you can use print-on-demand services such as Printful to reduce the risk of paying a lot upfront, and you can also experiment to see what products are popular.
Some final thoughts…
Your website should look as good as you sound, and since every artist is different, I believe your website should be customised and tailored to reflect who you are as an artist. Perception is a big factor in the music industry, and it's important that you're showcasing yourself as professionally and effectively as possible.
If you're interested in collaborating on a new website for your music, or music-related business, I'd love to hear from you. Get in touch at electrickiwi.co.uk