What’s the key to creating websites for musicians?
You’re musician website doesn’t need to be rocket science (in fact, getting setup is pretty easy).
Depending on how comfortable you are with technology, building an artist website can seem very intimidating at first, especially if you’ve never built one before.
If this is the case, I am here to tell you that building a website as a musician isn’t as difficult as you might think.
In fact there are a number of tools available to help you have your website up and running in less than an hour.
Since knowing exactly where to start might be a challenge for you, Music With Flavor is here to identify and explain exactly what your options are, so you can make the best decision for your music career.
Let’s get started!
Websites For Musicians: Third Party Website Builders vs. WordPress.org
Now when we talk about the options you have for building your artist website, you will more than likely end up taking one of the following routes. These routes consist of either Third Party Website Builders or a WordPress.org website.
So what exactly am I referring to here?
Third Party Website Builders
Third party website builders are essentially “plug-and-play” website templates that let you create a website almost at the click of a button.
While this is the easiest way to get you up and running, it should be noted that easy doesn’t always equate to being the best for your overall needs. Especially as a musician. Some examples of third party website builders are.
The majority of these options are platforms you’ll have to pay for and will all offer slightly different features.
Each website builder usually runs on their own tiered pricing systems that allow you to obtain more features and functionality if you’re willing to pay more.
However, they all run on the same concept that you use their generic website templates and simply insert your content and visuals.
This plug and play approach makes the process of getting a website up and running in very little time, easy for artists who aren’t very technically inclined or good with coding.
There are a lot of different third party website builders on the market and the simplicity that they offer can make them seem very tempting.
With that said, there is one other option that is very important to consider as this option will not only cost you essentially the same if not less, but it will also offer you a lot more flexibility and functionality moving forward.
Something that is very important if you are looking at your music career from a business perspective.
One of the reasons that functionality is limited on website builders is because these platforms do not give you access to what is called a “Content Management System” or CMS for short.
Website builders provide you with a website that is hosted on their platforms which gives them more control over what you can do and customize on your website. Essentially limiting the amount of freedom and control you have over the site.
Without getting too technical, just know that having access to a CMS platform allows you a ton of flexibility and freedom to do whatever you feel like when you feel like it.
WordPress is very user friendly and easily the most popular CMS platform on the market, for building your website.
If you’re new to WordPress, then there is one thing I need to clarify because there are two very different versions of WordPress. One is called WordPress.com and the other is WordPress.org.
Long story short, WordPress.com would fall under the same umbrella as the other third party website builders we previously mentioned.
However, WordPress.org on the other hand is a bit different due to the fact that you host your own website instead of relying on the website builder to do it for you.
It is also important to note that you will also need to download the WordPress.org software and download it on your website.
Now I know this may seem super technical and complicated, but not to worry as there are companies out there that make this whole process very easy to complete in a matter of seconds.
You don’t need to become a computer science wizard on top of perfecting your craft as an artist. With that said though, this route allows you the extra freedom and control we were talking about.
What path is right for you when building your musician website?
When building your artist website there are a few things that you will need to consider and I recommend that you think about your goals as an artist and how this website will help you to achieve those goals.
Will you plan to sell merchandise on your website?
What type of content do you want to display on your website and how will your fans be able to access it?
Will you be tracking or measuring how people interact with your website so that you can better market to them?
Are there features you’ve seen on other artist websites that you want to incorporate on your own website?
All of these things are important questions and will play a role in helping you to decide which path is right for you.
While your first instinct might be to gravitate towards the easiest solution possible, I caution you to consider your goals and understand that your website is more than just a thing you “should have because everyone else seems to have one.”
Your website is a business tool and one that will grow with you as your music career grows. With that said, you want something that is able to adapt and pivot as quickly as your career might need to.
Using a simple website builder has its place, but should not be considered as a long term solution.
If you are a first time website builder, I can see why it may be tempting to turn to a third party website builder but in my opinion you are better off opting for a CMS platform for a number of reasons.
Here are some reasons why:
A third party website builder doesn’t actually save you money In a number of instances the third party website builder will hook you with a free trial offer and you soon realize that you will need to upgrade your subscription in order to leverage more functionality and features.
While these subscriptions are not extremely expensive, they are similar in price to that of hosting your own website yourself (more on hosting shortly) and in a lot of cases might even end up being more expensive.
You will soon realize that you are very limited when it comes to all that you can do with a third party website builder in comparison to a WordPress.org website.
When it comes to making customizations that are unique to your music career you may run into challenges if it doesn’t fit into what the third party website builder allows.
While integrations to other external tools is starting to get better on website builders, WordPress will still trump these companies by a mile in this area.
Not to mention if there is something you can’t do on your website because it is too advanced and requires some coding, WordPress is an open source platform that you can easily hire someone for very cheap to come in and make the required changes for you.
The amount of changes that same person could do on a website builder would be limited and a lot more challenging due to some of the restrictions and limitations website builders impose on their users.
Lastly, I want this process to be as easy as possible for you and there is no reason for it not to be. Both options have come a long way and have made it exceptionally easy for the end user, specifically internet newbies, to have success with little to no technical know how at all.
While the third party website builder will be promoted as the much easier option, I truly believe that getting started with either platform is no harder than the other.
Regardless of which option you choose, we will give you some guidance on how to get your artist website up and running regardless of which path you choose.
Option 1 - Build your musician website with a website builder
Step 1 - Choose the right third party website builder for you
During my stint at a digital marketing firm we used to snicker when we saw someone using a Wix website. That was more than 4 years ago now and since then Wix has done a lot to strengthen the overall perception about their platform.
With stiff competition from competitors, Wix has adapted and is now one of the stronger website builders on the market. This is due to the number of features they provide and all at an affordable price point.
Creating a website with Wix is simple and easy to do. They give you hundreds of templates to choose from and even have options for you to submit some info about yourself and the type of site you are trying to create and they will auto generate a site that relates to the info you provide.
Wix is very well rounded when it comes to website builders and even has features that cater specifically to musicians such as their “Wix Music” component. With Wix, you get a website builder, reliable web hosting, top security, and a dedicated Support Team.
When it comes to SquareSpace the biggest thing you will notice is how professional, modern and contemporary their designs and templates look.
I remember this company coming on to the scene and I was skeptical at first but actually ended up giving them a try. I got my artist site up in no time and was very thrilled with how it looked.
While there are definitely some limitations to what you can do with the templates, SquareSpace is a very strong option when it comes to website builders.
While these amazing designs and templates come at a bit of a higher cost, you also get a ton of features that will help you make your artist website look as professional and functional as possible where website builders are concerned.
With that said, SquareSpace is slightly more hands on than Wix, but the learning curve is nothing you can’t handle.
Weebly is all about simplicity and their drag and drop functionality helps beginners get up and running in no time. While they’ve been around for a while, they used to have a similar reputation as Wix when it came to the negative perception of having a Weebly website.
With increased competition this has forced them to step their game up and improve upon their offering which is why you now have a company with better templates and more features that can help you do more than just build a mediocre artist website.
While striving for simplicity is great for the end user it can also create some problems for you as well.
For one, Weebly has significantly less templates and design options to choose from and furthermore there are a lot of limitations on how custom you can make these templates.
Weebly does have an option for a free site but this will not do you any good as an artist as you will want to access the features that only come with their premium plans.
Although this wouldn’t be our first choice when it comes to website builders, if you want something that is very hands off because technology scares you then this might be the best route for you.
If you’re an artists then you’ve probably heard of Bandzoogle. I know when I first heard the name I had no idea what they did but I was curious to find out.
Back then I already had an artist website so I didn’t have a need for their services but I thought that their concept was very cool.
As you may have noticed, a lot of the other website builders are starting to see the importance of catering to artists with templates and features specific to their needs.
The special thing about Bandzoogle is that this is a platform that was developed by musicians so you know that they may know a thing or two about what is important to you as an artist and how that translates into a website.
The other added benefit about Bandzoogle is that they cater primarily to musicians.
While I wouldn’t say that Bandzoogle has the best designs or templates they do have some solid features that would be of interest to musicians.
Features that focus on growing email lists, selling merch and analytics just to name a few. While this is all available elsewhere they do bring a music centric approach to these features that might make you more comfortable in choosing them.
There pricing model sees restrictions to the amount of features you get at the lower tiers but even their highest paid level caps out at $17 which is very reasonable.
While this is great, there is a bit of concern when it comes to any customizations that you might want to make on the site as well as outside integrations to any other tools you may be using.
Friends of Music With Flavor can start a 30-day Free Trial and get 15% off your first year of any Bandzoogle subscription.
Use promo code “musicwithflavor” to tap into the discount.
Click here to get started.
Step 2 - Sign up for the right plan
Once you have decided on the right website builder to build your artist website on, you will want to further explore their plans and pricing options.
Some of these sites will offer you a free trial which I highly suggest you take advantage of so you can make sure that you have made the right decision. Furthermore, this allows you to defer your purchase saving you both time and money.
When it comes to choosing the right plan, you will want to keep your goals in mind and ensure that you will be able to execute all that you plan to do with the option you have chosen.
Most website builders will not break the bank by any means but if money is an issue then you should be more cautious of what each plan includes and see if you can get the job done with a plan at a lower price point.
Step 3 - Choose a domain name
For a lot of people starting a website, choosing a domain name can be one of the more challenging tasks.
However, chances are you already have a unique stage name that will make life a bit easier on you when trying to choose your domain name.
While a lot of people overlook the importance of this small detail it is critical that you choose a domain name that has some of the following characteristics:
1. Keep it simple, make it short and easy to type
Nothing will be more frustrating for your fans than always struggling to remember the correct spelling of your domain or having to type out a long winded phrase just to get to your website.
You need to keep it simple and memorable so that fans don’t even flinch when they are trying to get to your website.
2. Avoid numbers and hyphens
Trust me these may seem like a good idea, especially if these may already be included in your band name but they can be easily misunderstood when someone has to type in your specific domain name.
Try to avoid them at all costs and only use them as a last resort.
3. Be memorable
Remember that people have a lot on there plate and if they need to take a semester abroad just to be able to remember your domain name you might be in for a surprise when no one can find your website.
With that said it doesn’t hurt to be a bit creative and come up with something that happens to be a bit catchy.
One big thing that I encourage artists to do if they can, is to make sure that their domain name is the same as all of their social media handles if possible.
This will make it easier for your fans to find you and remember your name no matter where they are looking for you.
4. Act fast
Don’t rush when it comes to picking the right domain name but don’t take too long either. Especially if the name you are looking at is somewhat common.
If it happens to be available at the moment it may not be available tomorrow so keep this in mind. If your name is very unique this may not be a huge issue for you but it is always better to be safe than sorry.
The website builders we suggested above all have options for you to purchase a domain directly through them so you can do everything all on their platform.
However if you don’t want to put all of your eggs in one basket you are free to use a hosting platform like Namecheap.
If this is the route you decide to take or if you already have a domain from before, all website builders provide you guidance on how to migrate this domain onto their platforms for use.
Step 4 - Pick your template
Now that you have chosen a website builder and have your domain name, it is time to get to the fun stuff and start designing your artist website. Like we said, website builders make what would typically be a difficult and time consuming process rather simple and effortless.
Luckily for you, you will not need to be a pro at graphic design or coding in order to have a professional looking website up and running very shortly. In order to do so you will need to choose a template that best suits the look and feel that you are going for.
Regardless of how you are building your website your branding is always extremely important and should be in the back of your mind when it comes to choosing the right template.
A lot of these companies offer a number of templates, all categorized for specific business types. As mentioned before, more and more of these website builders are catering to musicians and have designated categories with templates and designs specifically for artists.
With that said you do not have to stick with these options by any means and can choose any template that you feel fits your needs as an artist.
With the exception of Wix, the majority of website builders will also allow you to change your template after your site has gone live, so not to worry as none of your decisions are set in stone.
Step 5 - Customize your template
One thing you’ll find with website builders is that since everyone is choosing from the same templates, you will find (especially among musicians) that there will be a lot of other artists using the exact same template as you. While I for one don’t love this fact, it happens to come with the territory of using a website builder.
With that said you do have the ability to make your website unique within that given template by adding your own content and utilizing the various features offered to you.
This is your chance to really make your website standout and in order to do so you’ll need to do a bit of customization to get things to look the way you want it to.
Again, not to worry because this is all made very easy with drag and drop features that allow you to add images, videos, link your socials, add products for sale, and much more all at the click of a button.
Luckily for you, website builders are becoming much more accommodating and flexible especially when it comes to the needs of musicians. Some of the key things you may want to consider adding to your website are:
A lot of this stuff may seem complicated to do at first but again I must reassure you that all of the website builders listed make this very easy for you and have documentation to help walk you through the process if need be.
I will note that if you are going through this process and realize that you are coming across limitations in how you can customize your template then you may want to consider moving to another website builder or a WordPress.org website as this will allow you to do a lot more with almost no restrictions.
More on WordPress.org shortly.
Step 6 - Preview and test your website
Now you are almost at the finish line and as you will notice with most website builders they not only market how easy it is to make a website on their platforms, but also how fast you can be up and live on the internet in nearly no time at all.
While that is great and all, please do me a favour and don’t rush to publish your site and start spreading the word about it to your fans before doing a few things first.
You don’t want to send people to a site that is incomplete, riddled with bad grammar and has links that don’t work correctly.
Before you celebrate the launch of your new website, make sure that you take the time to thoroughly go through it and look for the following things:
Going live can be very exciting but make sure that you do not do so prematurely. After-all your website is an important part of your branding and marketing so making sure that you are putting your best foot forward is crucial.
Step 7 - Publish
Now before we hit that publish button lets quickly recap all of the steps we went through to get your artist website up and running with your third party website builder:
That wasn’t so bad now was it? No prestigious degree required in coding or graphic design. No need for hour long YouTube tutorials either.
Using a website builder is rather simple, easy and to the point. If you’ve checked over your work and made sure that you’re happy with everything then it’s time to spread the word and make your fans aware that you have a website. Exciting times I’m sure!
While this is great especially if this is your first time ever building a website, let alone an artist website, do keep in mind the limitations that these website builders pose when it comes to having full control of your website and the ability for unique customizations.
With that said, this brings us to the section on WordPress.org, which gives you the control we speak of allowing you to do more with your website and grow with your music career while adapting to your specific needs.
Option 2 - Build your artist website with WordPress.org
Step 1 - Determine your hosting provider & Domain Name
Now I know we discussed the simplicity of using a website builder but I want you to know that using WordPress.org is really just as easy.
Especially because there are hosting companies out there that are helping users to simplify the whole setup process which is a huge plus.
When it comes to building your website with WordPress.org, the most important first step is to determine a hosting provider for your website.
This comes before you even think about focusing on the more glamorous things like templates, designs or what you plan to put on your website.
While hosting might be foriegn to you, please know that it’s nothing to be too concerned about. Essentially you can think of hosting as the house where your website lives and every website needs a home.
While there are a lot of hosting providers out there, you’ll want to go with one that helps you get your site up and running in little to no time.
The one company I have always used is Bluehost who has a one-click install process that makes everything simple and easy, leaving you with little to no work to do when it comes to setting up your hosting and installing WordPress for your website.
Bluehost is one of the most popular hosting platforms available. Not to mention they are very inexpensive and also offer a free domain name for first time users.
Here’s how you can get both your hosting and domain setup with Bluehost:
Step 2 - Determine the plan that is right for you
Once you click on the “Get Started” button you will be presented with 4 options.
In my personal opinion the “Choice Plus” plan is the best value but if you are not expecting a lot of traffic on your site and want to keep it simple for the time being, the “Basic” plan is more than enough for your needs as an artist at the moment.
However if those needs change you can always upgrade or downgrade to one of the other tiers at any time.
Step 3 - Choose a domain name
Next you will be prompted to determine your new domain name or you can enter a domain name that you already own.
If you are without a domain at the moment and are still trying to nail one down, you can refer to our previous suggestions on choosing a Domain name above or you can skip this step for now and come back to it later.
Step 4 - Fill in your account details
Here you will need to enter your personal information or, if you’re setup as a business you can use your company information instead.
Keep in mind that the email you use here will be where your receipts and invoices will be sent, as well as any other important reminders and information about your website. This is also where you will be entering your payment information.
Step 5 - Determine any add-ons and finalize your registration
Bluehost has a number of extra options like added security and protection for your website.
You will also have the option to save some money by paying for a longer term with your hosting.
A lot of these things may not be necessary but you should keep in mind that if you’ll be taking information from your fans on your website, especially in the form of payment information, then the more security you have the better. Below are some descriptions of what these add-ons are:
Domain Privacy Protection
This will keep your personal information, e.g. your name and address, private. You may not know this but you can search up any website and find out information on the owner. If you don’t want random people to have access to this information then you will need to opt for this add-on.
This add-on verifies your email address, physical address, and phone number. If you plan to sell a product or service on your site, this feature might be helpful for proving your credibility to customers.
This provides extra security to your website. WordPress is very secure, but this extra feature allows you to backup your site regularly. If anything happens, or if you make a mistake, it will be easy to turn back the time and revert to one of the previous backups of the site.
Bluehost SEO Tools Start
Bluehost claims that this tool can help you get search engine rankings.
Office 365 Email Essentials
A safe and reliable email platform powered by Microsoft, with online access to email and calendars from any device or web browsers.
Step 6 - Create your log-in and password information
Now you’re all set and ready to get to the best part which is setting up and designing your artist website. All that is left to do from a hosting standpoint is to create your password and make a note of your log-in information for future reference.
Step 2 - Install your WordPress site
There are two ways to install your WordPress site. One way is very technically and would probably cause you to lose some sleep due to all the steps it includes.
Trust me, I was an idiot and decided to do it once and although I got through it, it took me nearly a week just to get my site installed so I could begin designing it.
At the time, I wasn’t aware of the easy solutions out there like I am about to show you with Bluehost and their one click install solution. Which is why when people say that website builders are so much easier to setup than a WordPress.org site I tend to disagree.
With that said watch this great video on installing your WordPress site with Bluehost. This walks you through exactly how to get your WordPress site installed and ready for you to start customizing and designing your artist website.
Step 3 - Choose your theme
Now you have a couple of different options when it comes to choosing a WordPress theme for your website. If you want to go with the free option, you can simply head to the “Appearance > Themes” section of your WordPress dashboard and sort through the options there.
You can search through these options and filter by “popular “or by “category” to help you narrow down your search. They also allow you to see a preview of how the site will look and if you like it you can click “install” or simply exit out of the preview if the theme isn’t to your liking.
While these are amazing themes and are able to get the job done you may want to spring for something that is more aesthetically pleasing or that fits more with your overall branding.
In most cases this will mean you may need to purchase a Theme from a third party platform like Themeforest. This is a marketplace that offers you a wide range of options to purchase themes anywhere from $30 – $60.
These are what you would call premium themes and I highly recommend that you grab one of these because of how professional and modern they will look.
You will even have a selection of themes geared specifically towards artist which is a huge plus and you’ll also notice that you have a lot more to choose from than what is on the WordPress platform.
These themes are a one time fee so you do not have to worry about recurring fees and can enjoy their extended customer support from the developer of the theme for a number of years after your purchase.
Watch the video below if you need help installing a theme from Themeforest on your artist website.
Step 4 - Customize your theme, add content and pages
With your theme now installed and activated you can begin to put the finishing touches on it by adding any and all content related to you and your music career.
If you are looking for suggestions on what to add to your website here are the examples we mentioned earlier:
As always be sure that your branding is front of mind and the decisions you make when it comes to what goes on your site are all going to help you with your marketing efforts moving forward.
One other thing to mention is that you can add some further functionality to your WordPress website that I personally use due to the time it saves and how much easier it will make your life when it comes to customizing and updating your website.
What I am referring to is a Page Builder. Similar to how Website Builders allow you to drag and drop your content a page builder will offer this exact functionality but on steroids.
Aside from the drag and drop features, a page builder will offer you much more flexibility and ensure that your website looks and operates exactly how you want it too.
With page builders you are able to see your updates in real time and how they will look on your site before you go live. Page builders also help you to get very detailed with your specific customizations with out the need for complicated coding and you can also layout your site the way you want it with ease.
While page builders are not necessary once you start using one you will never want to work on your website without it. I highly recommend Elementor if you are interested in adding a page builder to your website.
Step 5 - Install plugins
Now I know you may still be trying to understand why I am suggesting WordPress.org when you can get away with a simple website builder.
Well here is where a website builder just simply cannot compete and that is with WordPress’ amazing ability to allow you to use plugins on your website.
“Plugins” are extensions that are built to expand WordPress’ capabilities, adding features and functions to your site that don’t come built-in.
They’re shortcuts to getting your site to do what you want it to, without having to build the features from scratch.
You can use plugins to do everything from adding photo galleries and submission forms to optimizing your website and creating an online store.
To start installing plugins, go to “Plugins -> Add New” and simply start searching. WordPress has over 39,000 plugins in its library which is quite amazing. Installation is easy and once you find a plugin you like, just click “Install”.
However, be sure to only install plugins that you absolutely need or else this can slow down your site and create security risks.
With that said do your research and read the reviews on these plugins to make sure they can be trusted and will actually help you accomplish your goals.
Here is a list of some WordPress plugins that are great for musicians and can be searched from the WordPress plugins section:
Step 6 - Review & Publish
No different than step 6 of building your website with a website builder, you will want to review your site thoroughly to make sure that you are ready to go live. You can click here to review that section.
Once you are confident in your site you are free to launch.
Congratulations! See I told you that wouldn’t be so bad.
As we recap everything we have discussed today you might still be going back and forth on which option is best for your music career. With that said I want to leave you with a few things.
For starters here is a review of things to consider when choosing between third party website builders and WordPreess.org
Website builders are the easy and convenient way to get up and running with your artist website in no time.
While they lack some freedom and customization capabilities, you still can get a pretty solid artist website setup to help you with your marketing efforts.
This option will grant you total freedom and customization capabilities. Website builders are great but if you really want to take your website to the next level as an artist, this is your best bet.
Not only in the short term but the long term as well as your WordPress site will be able to adapt and grow as your music career does the same.
Ultimately, if you are absolutely terrified of technology or are just looking for a very simplified solution then go with a website builder for now.
However, if you are a bit more comfortable with technology then I highly recommend giving WordPress.org a try.
Lastly, don’t stress too much about this whole process. If this is your first website and technology is a bit of a challenge for you then you will come across some roadblocks no matter what path you choose.
The best thing you can do is to take your time and take a break from creating your website. While all of these platforms will stress how quickly you can be up and running, remember that building your artist website is not a race by any means.
You want to make sure that you put your best foot forward and that your website is functioning to help further your career instead of hurting it.
We really hope that our guides have helped shed some light on the whole process but there are also a number of resources out there to help you find the answers you need regarding any of the topics we discussed if you need further clarification.
Whether it be through the FAQ and help sections on the website of any of the companies we mentioned here today or by utilizing YouTube, there is a ton of information out there to help make this process super easy on you.
Alternatively if you have any pressing questions that you need answered with regards to building your artist website feel free to email me and I will be more than happy to guide you in the right direction.
Till next time!