When it comes to building your artist website, there are countless options out there. You can take the DIY route and use one of the many platforms out there that allow you to do it yourself, or you can hire a professional, Electric Kiwi.
There are pros and cons to both approaches. Doing it all yourself is certainly appealing from a cost-saving perspective, and the results are largely dependent on the time and skills you have available. Hiring a designer (especially the right designer!) can make the process easier, give you more time to focus on the music – and it should elevate the final result into something that helps you stand out, and does your music justice.
For the purposes of this article, I'm just going to talk about why working with a designer on your musician or band website is the best approach. But I will say that taking the DIY approach can make a lot of sense, especially in the very early stages of your career. I often think of the DIY sites as a stepping stone. Not always the case, of course – but it's definitely a path I've seen many artists as they develop their careers.
Why do I need a website anyway?
This is a question that could be a separate article altogether, but here are my main thoughts on this!
• It enables you to build a direct connection with your audience by growing your mailing list. Too many artists still pin all of their hopes on social media, and invest a lot of time in growing their audiences there. But the sad reality is, that these audiences are still connected with a platform that YOU have no control over. So if that platform falls out of favour, or closes down, you've lost those hundreds, thousands, or in some cases, millions of followers, with no way of keeping in touch with them. Your website is one of the main places that you can gather email addresses, so you can keep in touch with your audience by sending out regular newsletters.
• You have more control over how you present yourself, which will make you make the strongest first impression possible. You're not as restricted to the template Facebook wants us to use, for example – you can be as visual or as minimal and mysterious as you like. Plus, there are less distractions since people aren't being pulled away by various ads and notifications.
• Having your own website (especially one that looks professional) instantly shows that you take yourself and your career seriously, and shows a level of dedication and professionalism that is valued by the industry contacts you want to connect with. Think of it as an investment in yourself and your career.
• It's a hub for everything related to you and your music online – a one-stop-shop. Rather than people having to visit a dozen different social platforms to learn about you, to buy your merch, to listen to your music, to watch your latest video, they can do it all in one place.
Now you're clear on why you need a website, how do you find a designer to collaborate with?
There are many talented and experienced designers out there, but one of the questions I would ask before hiring one is whether they have knowledge of the music industry – as websites for musicians really need to communicate the artist's brand immediately and have to serve both their audience and others within the music industry. It can be a fine balance, so collaborating with someone who has experience of combining all of this can make a huge difference.
If you're working with a designer who specialises in websites for the music industry, you're not just benefitting from their design skills – you're also going to benefit from the knowledge and insight they've gained by working with other artists.
They'll be able to advise you on design elements, structure and content that has worked well for their other clients. They will have a clearer understanding of what an artist needs on their website, compared to what a business needs for example.
Perhaps most importantly, they may also be able to advise more clearly on what independent artists need, rather than simply trying to emulate what the major artists do (because in many cases, the websites of independent artists actually serve a different purpose to those of a major artist).
Finding the right person can be a bit of a process – but I believe it's important to vet potential collaborators carefully and make informed decisions.
A good starting point can be browsing websites of other artists who are at a similar level or stage in their career as you. Find the ones you like, and see if you can find who designed them (there will often be a credit at the bottom of the site). Also search online for web designers who specialise in musician websites, and check out their work. Ask friends and fellow artists for recommendations, too – people who do good work are often going to be mentioned if you put out a call like this!
Once you've found a few whose work you like, check their testimonials or references. Contact artists they have worked with to see what they say about working with them. By this point, you'll likely have narrowed your choices to 3 or 4 designers, so it would be time to reach out and start the conversation about potentially collaborating… and hopefully you'll find the one who checks all your boxes!
Written by Ross Barber, myself, I hope this article helps you get on the right track with your artist website. As mentioned at the start of the article, there are of course many DIY approaches available, but I would always advocate working with a professional on your website where possible.