Home  I CSO StoreContact 

CSO Radio - Reviews/Features - Indie Artist Spotlight - Interviews - Artist Sites - Links


The ABC's of Artist Website Design
by Jim Weaver
Country Radio Programmer and Air Personality
CountryStarsOnline.com - Webmaster

This article was originally written on 09/02/2002 and was last updated on 10/04/2010

Being 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.

I guess if you look at it from a marketing perspective, that would be the "fan" and the "potential fan", which brings us to…

  1. Ease 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 broadband access.
    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; 
    - www.sherrieaustin.com 

  2. Don't 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? Does Pop 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.

  3. Reciprocal Links
    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.

  4. Message Boards/Chat Rooms
    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.

  5. Notes For Newbies!
    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.

  6. "Singing" Websites
    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.

  7. Site Navigation
    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.

  8. Popups... 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.

  9. More 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. 

  10. Website Must-Haves:
    1. Photo Album
    2. Discography
    3. Latest News
    4. Biography
    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

  11. Website Should-Haves:
    1. Music clips
    2. E-mail form for fans to e-mail you
    3. Videos
    4. Merchandise
    5. Wallpaper (for fans to download)

Having 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!
I 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 Outstanding! Click here and check it out!

Reviews/Features I Indie Artist Spotlight I Interviews I Artist Sites I Links I News I CSO StoreContact 
Copyright 2000 - 2010 CountryStarsOnline.com - All Rights Reserved - Site Designed by Jim Weaver Productions