ABC's of Artist Website Design
by Jim Weaver
Country Radio Programmer and
CountryStarsOnline.com - Webmaster
article was originally written on 09/02/2002 and was last updated on 10/04/2010
a longtime country radio jock and a country site webmaster, I've been
looking at artist websites for as long as they've existed, and there are a
few things that consistently befuddle me. I decided to make this list of the
ABC's of Country Artist Website Design just to remind the artists themselves
of who the site is for... the fan.
guess if you look at it from a marketing perspective, that would be the
"fan" and the "potential fan", which brings us to…
Up On FLASH Designs
(This section is not as relevant today as it was when originally
written simply because a much larger percentage of the population has
Your webmasters are going to despise me for even bringing this up.
Something that most of us who have Broadband Internet connections at home
and work seem to forget is that the overwhelming majority of folks (a.k.a.
fans) using the Internet connect to it at transmission speeds of 56K or
slower. If you start your website with a honkin' huge FLASH file that
takes someone who's connected at 28.8 three hours to download, would you
find it hard to believe that they may never see your site? I sure
wouldn't. I don't have anything against FLASH sites, they look great and
allow for wonderful creativity, but you should offer a plain old HTML site
as an alternative... so that most of your fans and
potential fans actually get into your site.
For excellent examples of what I’m talking about check out these sites;
Restrict Your Fans From Downloading Your Pictures
At least not all of them anyway. Your fans love you. They want you on
their computer desktop, they want you as a screensaver, they want to
create fansites in tribute to you and share you with their friends... for Heaven's
sake let them. It's free advertising! Let's be realistic here... in
10 or 20 years, when your musical career is sliding into Branson, those
fans might be the only ones left buying your CD's. Country artists have
always been very good to the fans. How many rock stars do you know of hang out and sign autographs after a show until 4:00 AM?
Music have a Fan Fair? I don't think so. Lets keep the artist/fan
relationship going in country music, and give them what they want on the
World Wide Web, it doesn't cost you anything.
This may seem a little self-serving, and it is to a point, but it is just
good "Web Etiquette" to link back to sites that are promoting
yours. It's a nice way of saying thanks to people who advertise you for
FREE. It also gives you the chance to showcase your sponsors, management
companies, and anyone else that deserves a big thank you. Another great
reason to have a links page is search
engines like Google and Yahoo, the two most popular, rank you by how many sites are linked to yours. In other words
by linking back to the sites that link to you, you're helping everyone
drive up their rankings which just ends up bringing more traffic to your
site. It's good for everyone.
This should be a no-brainer, but there are a lot of artist sites that
don't have these features. Message Boards and Chat Rooms are places where
your fans can get together and chat with each other about you. This also
gives you the opportunity to post messages or jump in and chat from time
to time, scheduled or not. It's just another great way to stay in touch
with the fans.
If you're just starting out in your career and you're thinking, "I
can't afford to pay someone to do all this," settle down. Just a bio
page with a picture of you and an e-mail address is as good a start as
any. Make sure whatever you have out there is quality work and any
pictures you have of yourself are done by a pro. Speaking of which...
here's a subject that sticks in my craw: If you pay a photographer to take
pictures of you, make sure you own the rights to those pictures when
you're done. In other words, get the negatives and don't sign anything. If
that means you have to find a photographer who is just starting out and
he/she is starving and just needs the work, so be it. The days of
photographers owning the rights to the photographs which YOU paid for need
to go away... in my opinion anyway.
Music clips of your latest single are a great thing to have on your
website but they should not play automatically when your site opens. Let's
face it, even though your fans are not supposed to serf the web at work
and look at their favorite country singer's website, they do. However if
they open your site and your latest single comes blaring out of their
desktop speakers at full volume then chances are they won't be back
because they just got in trouble at work. It's also extremely irritating
when you have to return to the main page to click on other links within
the site and "that song" starts playing again each time you do.
Make your music clips clickable not automatic.
Make sure you have complete navigation links on
every page in your site. Some webmasters may argue that forcing your
viewers/fans to return to the main page to select another link drives up
your hits and that's true, but are you in some kind of contest to see how
many hits you get per month? What's important is your visitors have a
great experience when they stop by your site, not a frustrating one.
Are You NUTS!
Let's give this a little thought. Why would you want to put something on
your website that is so irritating to your visitors that software
developers have actually created programs that kill them? I'm talking
about POPUP ADS! If you need something to stand out,
do it with artwork or highlights, bold text or banner ads. I realize in
free outsourcing situations (polls, message boards, chat rooms, etc.) it
is unavoidable, but you should try your best to never be responsible for
opening multiple browser windows with ads in them.
Notes for NEWBIES: If your site is hosted by one of the freebie sites
like Geocities or Angelfire, stop it, stop it now! It's tacky and shows a
lack of commitment to yourself. Having your site hosted by a company that
doesn't place popup ads or banners on your site isn't near as expensive as
you might think. Go to www.search.com
and search for "Web Hosting." You'll see many hosting companies
for around $100 per year that should give you plenty of webspace and
bandwidth to start out with.
1. Photo Album
3. Latest News
5. Tour Dates
6. E-mailing List/Street Team for direct marketing to your fans
8. Links Page
9. Message Board / Chat Room or both
1. Music clips
2. E-mail form for fans to e-mail you
5. Wallpaper (for fans to download)
a website is great for so many reasons but the main reason is to be
accessible to your fans, to your customers. You want them to buy your CD’s?
You want them to come to your concerts? You want them to be a fan for a
long, long time? Give them what they want, a great website.
Want to link to us? Click the Banner!
John Michael Montgomery Update!
received a very nice e-mail the other day from JMM's Web-Design company
regarding my article about Artist Website Design. While they feel that FLASH
is the style of the future (and I agree), they also agree that at this time
a simpler HTML site is a good idea until more people have broadband
connections... so they added one! Good job guys!
I've changed my rating to
here and check it out!