Is your website doing its job? Do you even know what its job is? Hold on, do you even HAVE a website? And no, Facebook does NOT count as your personal website. There are three main goals that you want your website to accomplish and if they're not doing these, you're setting yourself up for failure.
Websites are the number one tool an artist has in their arsenal. Sure, ReverbNation, Facebook, Sonicbids and Youtube are great, and they definitely have their place, but they cannot take the place of your very own website. Websites speak volumes about an artist. For one, they automatically give you a level of credibility that your peers who are still convinced they can get by on social media only, don't have. Additionally, a website gives you the ability to meet all of your needs and your fans' needs, in one place.
When you're building your website and thinking about your fan's interaction on the page, what is it that you are trying to get them to do? Read your bio? Thumb through your photos? Peruse the latest news? Sadly, most artists' websites put more emphasis on the non-income producing portions of their site then on the ones that will produce revenue, grow the business and create the kind of traction that will substantiate a long term career.
The three keys to a successful website lie in its ability to get the person to:
1. Buy your music- You need to have music easily available to listen to and purchase on the site. Don't make the mistake of putting the full length tracks on your site, you want to give a teaser (20-30 seconds) of each song to whet the listeners appetite and encourage them to buy the full length track. Don't feel the need to put every single recording you've ever done on your site either, only make the songs that have been fully produced and are part of an EP or album available. It will keep the content focused and organized and eliminates the problem of overwhelming the buyer with too many options. Lastly, be careful to ensure that the music available for purchase is of the utmost quality. If you have more than one album/EP recorded, do not list them all unless they are all consistent in quality.
2. Book you for a gig- Every artist needs to have a menu tab entitled "Booking", or some obvious variation thereof. You want potential bookers to have ease of access to this page. It should include a few simple text fields where booking inquiries can fill in their name, contact information and some simple information about the gig they are requesting you for. You want to specifically avoid asking for too much info up front for two reasons: 1. Its less work on the person placing the inquiry. Quick and easy is always best when it comes to the web; and 2. This gives you an opportunity to reach out to them personally to discuss the details. Any time you can get a face to face or voice to voice meeting with a person who can book you, take it! This will allow you to network, sell yourself and develop a relationship with the person who can book not just one show, but multiple shows over the life of your career. Remember, relationships are key in this industry!
3. Sign up for your e-mail newsletter- If you aren't incredibly well-versed in internet marketing, you may not be aware of the importance of a newsletter and email list, but this is just as important as the other 2 keys. Growing a database of your fans' contact information is a valuable asset to your career. This allows you the ability to not only keep fans informed of news in a more personal way, but it also allows you to increase your earning potential. Build simple promotional offers into your newsletter updates: discounts on merch, free downloads, buy one get one offers, win free tickets offers, the list could go on. The point is, with an email newsletter you have the ability to speak directly to your fans on a regular basis with a specific call to action, thereby increasing your earning potential month after month. Additionally, labels and other music business professionals often judge an artists' success on the size of their online fan base. Having a database of emails is an easy, measurable way to prove you have a substantial fan base, a wide reach and a substantial draw.
If your website is more pictures than purchases and more blogs than bookings, you may need to re-think your web strategy; and if the web isn't your thing, there are always plenty of eager marketing students graduating every year that are web-savvy and ready to take on new projects. Contact your local college or university for recommendations on students who do good work and don't yet have the ability to charge an arm and a leg. This is an area where you shouldn't feel guilty about spending a little money on the help; with the correct keys in place, your site will bring it back to you two fold.