Ready to create a music website?
If so, this is post for you.
In it, I’ll show you how to create a music website for yourself or your band. I break the process down into 8 steps…and I list each tool that I use.
I’ll add to this page over time, so make sure you bookmark this page and check back regularly.
I actually gave an overview of some of this information in Episode #4 of the Internet Musician podcast…but this page is more detailed. It will also be more up-to-date because I continue to update it.
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means I will earn a commission if you purchase after clicking one of my links. There is no extra cost to you—you get the same price as everyone else. I only recommend products that I use and like. In fact, none of these companies approached me, I approached them. Purchasing through my links helps the show, but please don’t buy anything you don’t need. Save your extra money…you may need guitar strings soon!
The Process of Creating Your Music Website
The following table lists the 8 stages involved in creating your music website. Each of these stages in described in detail below.
|Stage||Description||Tools to use|
|1||Choose a band name.|
|2||Choose a domain name.||BlueHost|
|3||Get website hosting.||BlueHost|
|4||Create a website with a squeeze page. Get an email service.||WordPress (available in BlueHost control panel)Aweber|
|5||Choose a channel (audio, video, text).||Various–depends on the channel you choose.|
|6||Produce regular content about your niche, publishing it in the channel you chose.||Depends on the channel|
|7||Drive traffic to the channel.||Read my post on tools.|
|8||Set up tracking and testing.||Google Analytics
Google Website Optimizer
After you complete these eight steps, you’ll have a website that is set up to succeed.
While I can’t provide all the details you need, I’ll at least describe each stage in this process.
Tools needed: Google
Before you take any steps to create a website, take a close look at your band name. It is this name that will be how people remember how to find you. It’ll be what they use to tell their friends about you. It will probably also be your website name…or (at least) it will be contained within your website name…and it will be one of the ways people find you on the Internet. In fact, it will be the primary way people who already know who you are will find you on the Internet. It’s therefore VERY important that you ask yourself the following questions as you are choosing your band name:
- Is it memorable?
- Is it easy to spell?
- Does it help convey what my music is about?
- How unique is it? Is it available as a .com or .net?
You want to make sure your band name is memorable, easy to spell, and jives with what your music is about. However, that is not enough. Your band name should also be fairly unique—that is, unique in Internet searching terms. Here’s what I mean:
ADD VIDEO HERE
Stage 2: Choose a Domain Name
Tools needed: BlueHost
Now that you have your band name, and you’ve done the research to prove it’s going to be at least somewhat easy to rank in Google, it’s time to purchase a domain name.
The domain name is the name of your website that appears after the “www”. For example, in http://www.bobdylan.com, the domain name is “bobdylan.com“. This name must be unique on the internet. You can’t buy one that’s already in use, unless you buy it from the person who currently owns it.
To be clear, you are not actually buying the domain. You are renting it by the year. When you stop paying your annual bill, it becomes available again.
How to find an available domain
- Locate their domain name search box. (At BlueHost, this is currently available after you click “Sign up Now”. At GoDaddy, it’s right on the home page and very obvious.)
- Enter the domain name you want. (e.g. bobdylan.com)
- Click Go or Submit. The company will let you know if the domain is available. If it’s available, buy it! If not, perform the steps that I describe on this video:
VIDEO OF HOW TO RESEARCH A BAND NAME
Where to purchase a domain
If you don’t yet have hosting (i.e. a place where your web files will be stored), I’d recommend buying the domain and hosting (Stage 3 of this process) from BlueHost as a package. When you purchase the domain and hosting at the same time from BlueHost, you actually get the domain for free for the first year. (Normally it costs about $10/year.) Sure, you could buy your domain from one company and your hosting from another–but if you need both, just get them both from BlueHost.
Stage 3: Get Website Hosting
Tools needed: BlueHost
Now that you have a domain (or name) for your music website, it’s time to find a computer to store your site on.
The process of renting a computer to store your website on is called “hosting”. The hosting fees for your website are billed to your credit card, and they are assessed monthly. (Note: With most hosting companies, you can pay for a year or two in advance and get a discount.)
I recommend the following hosting company:
The fees are very reasonable; the technical support is top-notch; and the control panel they provide is very easy to use. They provide a way to install WordPress with a click of a button. I have several websites hosted with BlueHost.com, and I can say I highly recommend them.
Stage 4: Create A Website With A Squeeze Page
Now that you have a domain and a hosting company, it’s time to build your website.
While websites come in all kinds of designs and colors, here are some guidelines for setting up your music website:
- Log into your hosting company’s account, and install WordPress. If you use BlueHost.com, you can install WordPress right from the control panel with a couple of clicks. (WordPress makes website creation super easy…you don’t need to know how to code to create a really nice looking website with lost of high-tech features. This website (www.theinternetmusician.com) was created using WordPress.
- Set up your nameservers. This is just technospeak for pointing your domain name (e.g. bandname.com) to your hosting company’s computers. Refer to the online help provided on your hosting company’s website for specific instructions on how to do this. If you have trouble, call your hosting company’s technical support.
- After you have set up your name servers and WordPress, you should be able to test your site to see if it works. To do so, type in your website address in your brower (Internet Explorer or Firefox). The default WordPress page for your site should appear.
- Now it’s time to customize the look of your WordPress website. The fastest and easiest way to do this is to choose a theme. A theme is a set of files that work with WordPress to provide a specific design to your site—including fonts, colors, text size, and some functionality. Basically, your site will go from bland to nearly finished looking after you install (and configure) your theme.
There are lots of free themes available from within WordPress, but I like to use a paid theme called Thesis. (This site was created using the Thesis theme.) The following links provide a way to get WordPress themes:
- WordPress themes (free–in WordPress’s Admin panel, click Themes under the Appearance menu in the left column.)
- Thesis Theme for WordPress (paid theme) I love the way Thesis looks, and the way it’s laid out. If you have the money to buy a paid theme, Thesis is the one I’d recommend.
5. Install plugins to add extra functionality to your WordPress site. Plugins are little applications that run on WordPress websites that perform specific tasks like blocking spammers from commenting on your site, showing facebook friends, allowing people to share your content, etc. Basically, there are plugins for just about anything you dream up. Believe it or not, most of them are free! I recommend that you install the following plugins:
- All in One SEO Pack Importer WP plugin
- Google XML sitemaps WP plugin
- WP-DB-Backup WP plugin
- Broken Link Checker WP plugin
- Super Cache (for speed)
- Akismet WP plugin
- Add to Any: Subscribe Button WP plugin
- Sociable WP plugin
6. Next, it’s time to configure WordPress. You’ll at least want to configure the following WordPress settings:
- Set Title.
- Set Tagline.
- Set WP Address to URL www.mysite.com (where mysite.com is your domain name.)
- Set Site Address to URL www.mysite.com (where mysite.com is your domain name.)
- Set permalinks to be:/%category%/%post-name%/
Create your squeeze page.
This is the MOST IMPORTANT page on your website. It is the page you want every visitor to see. A squeeze page is a page you create on your site where you offer people something for free (i.e. a free track or two) in exchange for their email address. The page should have very few options other than the signup form.
You can have multiple squeeze pages on your site, but start with one. Here’s an example of a couple of my squeeze pages.
(Feel free to sign up to my mailing list to see how it works…as a bonus, you get to check out my funk and roll!)
You’ll notice that the sign up process is very professional. That’s because I use a mailing list service to manage my email list and follow up emails.
I recommend using Aweber to manage your email list. They provide very good training, the most respected email service, good stats, web forms, autoresponders, and everything you need to build and manage a huge fan base of email addresses. After you sign up for Aweber, you can log in to create a signup form for your website. After you get it designed, you just copy the code they provide and paste it into your squeeze page. Voila! You now have a professional email list. This is great because, you now have an automatic process to add fans and manage your emails to them. If you’ve ever tried to manage email lists manually (including the rejected emails, spam blocker issues, sending limits, etc.), you’ll definitely see the value of having a mailing list service like Aweber.
Build out the rest of your website content, including:
- Squeeze page (you did build it already, right?)
- Booking or Contact page
- Music page
- Sales page
- Gig calendar
- Bio page
Note: This stage may take you a few days. That’s ok. You can add to the site a little at the time. Remember the goal of your site is to get potential fans to sign up on your email list. You can then develop a relationship with them, before asking them to buy.
Note: You can get by just fine with a single page site–if that page is a squeeze page. Most of your sales will come from your emails anyway. In your emails, you can refer your fans to CDBaby or Amazon to buy your CD.
Stage 5: Choose a channel (audio, video, photos, or text)
Tools needed: Depends on the channel you choose
Now that your website is fleshed out, you need to pick out a content channel. A content channel is the medium in which you will publish regular content. You see, you must publish regular content to increase your online reach so that more people can find your site. Google likes sites that are updated frequently. Social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc.) like people who post new content regularly. So basically, one part of promoting your music on the internet is to (you guessed it) publish new content regularly.
So, now’s the time when you need to choose which medium you will work in. Do you prefer video? Have you always secretly wanted to be a dj? Do you love taking pictures? Or do you prefer journaling and writing down stories? Everyone is different…so you’ll need to do a little soul-searching to determine what medium you want to work in.
Here are some things to consider:
- Do you work in this medium already? (If you already take tons of pictures, maybe photography will be your medium.)
- Do you have all the equipment you need to work in this medium? If you already have a recording setup and you like to talk, then choosing audio may be the place for you. If you want do work in video, but don’t have a camera or a video editor, maybe you should start with another medium until you get some gear.
- After you choose a medium, try to create a few pieces of content in that medium to see if it’s right for you.
Stage 6: Produce regular content about your niche, publishing it in the channel you chose
Tools needed: Depends on the channel you choose
After you’ve chosen a channel, it’s time to start creating content. The following table describes how to publish the content in your chosen medium.
- Video—You will be creating a Youtube channel, and maybe a videocast. You can publish the videos you create on your blog.
- Audio—You will be creating a podcast to distribute on iTunes and on your blog.
- Photos—You will be distributing your photos on social networks, on photo sharing sites (like Flickr), and on your blog.
- Text—You will be writing blog posts (and maybe articles) to be distributed on social networks, on article directories, and on your blog.
Basically, this is the stage where you continue to publish content on a regular basis.
Stage 7: Drive traffic to the channel
After you have chosen a channel and have started producing content, its time to start driving traffic to your content.
The goal is to find out where your potential audience is, engage them with your content, and provide an easy way to get to your squeeze page. Once there, your squeeze page will entice them to sign up to your email list. On your email list, you can get them to further know, like, and trust you…and that’s when you ask them for the sale.
There are lots of ways to drive traffic to your website…and lots of ways to drive traffic to your channel. My recommendation is to spend your time getting people to see your channel…not to spend tons of time trying to drive traffic to your website. For example, if you channel is video, try to get people to see your content on youtube—like by subscribing to their channel and sending them messages…if you reach out to them, they will check you out. If you provide links under each video to your squeeze page, some of them will become subscribers (and fans) of yours.
If you have a specific question on driving traffic, make sure you post a comment. Also, join The Internet Musician email list so that I can let you know when I publish any videos about sending traffic to your music website.
Lots of musicians have music websites. However, very, very few of musicians complete this stage (tracking and testing). This is the most important part of running a website. If you don’t track where your visitors are coming from and what they are doing on your site, you will not know where your site is going wrong…or where it is working well.
Google provides a tool that makes tracking very easy. It’s called Google Analytics and it’s free. Also, if you use Aweber to run your email list, they have great stats about your email subscribers. You should use tracking to determine where visitors are leaving your site. Then, you should use testing to determine how to fix that part of your site so they don’t leave.
For example, if everyone is leaving your site after hearing your music clips, maybe your music page is too complicated…or maybe there’s no button for them to subscribe to your email list on that page…or maybe there’s a broken link…or maybe the button is the wrong color and no one looks at it. Or maybe they are just not your crowd…they’re rockers and you’re a rapper.
Now that that you are tracking what visitors are doing on your site, it’s time to set up a test to see if you can improve that page. Google provides a tool that makes testing very easy. It’s called Google Website Optimizer.
While tracking, testing, and improving conversions may seem like an advanced topic, it’s important to start taking a look at it from the beginning. The better you are at understanding what happens on your site, the closer you are to building a huge online fan base.
I hope this article helps. I know it may raise as many questions as it answers. That’s where the podcast comes in. Make sure you subscribe so you can get all your questions answered.
Also, sign up to the mailing list where I will provide additional tips, tricks, and tool suggestions.
You see, I want every musician who goes to the trouble of setting up a website to at least understand the basic process to follow. And sure, this massive article cannot give all the details about each stage of the process…but my hope is that it will point you in the right direction…and it will get you further down the road to having a music website that really works!
I will continue to add more detail about the steps of this process that you struggle with, so make sure to join the mailing list to get the latest information.
If you are struggling with a particular stage in this process, please post a comment to let me know what you are stuck, and I’ll try to help.