By Andrew Scherer
6 Tips for an Effective Indie Music Website
To get ahead as an indie musician, it is essential to have a website. It will allow you to communicate with your fans, inform them about upcoming events, and connect with people. Without the support of a record label, a website allows you to brand yourself and create your community.
Here are six tips for creating an effective indie music website.
1. Use a Slick and Professional Design
One of the most important things about your website is its design. A sleek, professional design will leave a lasting positive first impression. People judge websites they land on within milliseconds, and the design you use is one of the top factors that will shape that first impression.
Regardless of which content management system you are using, choose a premium theme that is either designed for music artists or otherwise fits your needs. While there will always be plenty of free themes for content management systems like WordPress, a premium theme will usually give you a more professional design, with better features and more functionality.
Premium themes help you stand out more — fewer people use them as opposed to free themes. Even though you can customize many free themes, premium themes still enhance your uniqueness.
Since your website represents your personal brand, the impression people get when landing on your website will be reflected in their opinions of you.
The theme must be mobile-responsive and adapt to any device type and size. It should also be lightweight and not slow down your site. Both of these factors are important for SEO rankings and the user experience. Slow-loading sites not only tend to rank poorly but also cause visitors to leave quickly.
2. Include All Relevant Information About You (Bios, Social Media Profiles, Tour Dates, Etc.)
Once you’ve taken care of the foundation (a beautiful, modern design), it’s time to add some meat to your website. Include all relevant information about you, so people can use your website as a centralized source of information.
Start by adding a bio. If you’ve chosen a theme designed for artists, you may be able to add a bio that stands out prominently on the homepage. Your bio shouldn’t be too long or too short. If it’s very long, consider creating a shortened version of it for the homepage and including the longer version further down on the front page or on your about page.
Add your social media profiles to your site. You can do that by adding a few icons in the header or footer that link to your profiles. Alternatively, you can use a plugin to add a live widget to the sidebar or footer that updates with your latest posts. There are many such plugins for WordPress, such as Smash Balloon.
A calendar would be a good idea. Add upcoming tour dates to the calendar, or create a separate page where people can read about upcoming tours and concerts.
Add any other information you think is relevant. If you have a YouTube or Spotify channel, make sure to feature that as well. If you have a Patreon, so people can donate and support your work, link to it from your website. Make sure to update your site with new information periodically.
3. Add a Mailing List Signup Form
How many people will bookmark your website or remember to visit it often enough? Your most devoted fans will, but most won’t. That’s why you need to set up an email list, so people can subscribe to updates about events, tours, and other news.
Add a signup form to your website and encourage people to subscribe. You can add this form to the sidebar, embed it into pages, or include it in a pop-up. Another option is to use a floating header or footer bar that allows people to sign up from anywhere on your site.
To encourage people to subscribe, consider offering some sort of incentive. For example, you can let them download a track for free or give them an exclusive discount on tickets for an upcoming event. Play around with different incentives and see which ones motivate your fans the most.
4. Write a Blog and Optimize for Search Engines
A website is a good place to send fans who are already following you on social media. You can also promote your site at concerts or events. However, if you don’t have a blog, you’re missing out on the chance to reach a whole new host of people who are interested in indie artists in your genre and who would love your music.
A blog allows you to start ranking in the search engines for high-volume keywords. You can blog about anything you think is appropriate — news related to your genre or the indie music industry in general, thoughts and musings, and more. If you are interviewed, provide a transcript of the interview in a blog post.
Most blog posts should target at least one keyword, so you maximize the amount of traffic you get from them.
Make sure to add images to your blog posts, as they will help them rank. Break up your blog posts into paragraphs to make them more readable, and use subheadings to divide content into sections.
A good way to increase engagement on your site and improve your rankings is to allow commenting on blog posts. Content management systems like WordPress often have native support for commenting, but you can also use a system like Disqus.
At the end of each post, ask people to share their thoughts. Respond to comments to show people you are listening. If you use WordPress, install an anti-spam plugin like Akismet to block spam comments from appearing on your site.
5. Use the Website to Distribute and Sell Your Music and Merchandise
Your website isn’t just useful for increasing brand awareness, getting people to subscribe to your email list, and driving traffic to your social media profiles. Once you’ve built a beautiful website and are getting organic traffic from the search engines, it’s time to start monetizing it.
Selling music and merchandise on your website gives you control. Sure, you can sell merch on a third-party marketplace like Teespring or Redbubble, but you never have full control. You may continue selling on such platforms if you are already doing so, but sell on your website too.
Selling both music and merchandise allows you to make the most out of your traffic. Most people will be interested in your music, but your diehard fans will want your merch. You can sell t-shirts, pins, buttons, caps, stickers, keychains, or anything else you think people will enjoy. For music, you can sell singles or entire albums.
Not everything needs to be sold. You can give away some tracks and albums for free. Your website is yours — you get to decide what to sell and how much to charge. You don’t need to pay any commissions (except for payment processing fees), but you do need to send your own traffic.
6. Remember That the Website Is Not the Only Way to Build an Online Presence
Having a website is critical, but you don’t want to focus all your efforts on it and forget about other ways to build your online presence. There are so many channels and platforms you can use, and you should use all of them to maximize brand awareness.
These platforms often complement each other. For example, you can use your email newsletters to promote your social media channels and get more followers. On your website, you can promote your SoundCloud account and get more followers there.
Social media, YouTube, and streaming sites like Spotify will usually be the best ways to build an online presence other than your website. As an indie artist, you may not be able to get on Spotify, and that’s okay. Consider using SoundCloud instead — indie music fans know that they can find unique, niche music on it and often prefer it over Spotify.
A YouTube channel can complement your website very well. You can upload tracks so people can listen to your music — people who have the YouTube Music app will thank you. Also, consider uploading videos or clips from events, concerts, interviews, and backstage production peeks. A YouTube channel can provide you with a way to connect with fans and allow them to get to know you as a person.
Make sure you are on the major social platforms, like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Post regularly and consistently, and encourage followers to like, share, and comment. Consider creating a Snapchat or TikTok as well, especially if your audience is somewhat on the younger side.
If you don’t yet have a website and blog, now’s the time to start. Factors such a website age and how much content you have on the site influence your rankings, so the sooner you start, the better. Remember, user experience should be your top priority, and that starts with a clean, professional theme that makes your site easy to navigate.