There are many styles of music and types of bands with varying aspirations. Whether you have a Gospel quartet or a heavy metal band, whether you are just starting out or have several cds, whether you want to be the next Steven Curtis Chapman or are satisfied with being a local sensation, your band should have a website and there are certain things that every band website needs.
Sure every band needs to have music, but so does your website. Whether you want to have full songs or just 30 second clips, your band’s website should have at least some sample of their music for visitors to listen to. You will have visitors who have not heard your music and you may also have fans who want to quickly share your music with a friend. So, having a song clip page on your website is a must. You may also want to consider having music play when visitors first come to your website. Having music play in the background on your website can enhance your visitors’ web experience and more quickly engross them in your website. But do your visitors and me a favor; if you have music playing in the background of your site, give us the controls to stop the music if we want to. Sometimes your visitors will not be a situation where it’s appropriate to have music playing and there’s only so many times a person can listen to the same song while reading through the band Bios and news.
2. Meet the Band
This one’s a no-brainer. If you are going to have a band website, you should have info about your band. This includes band member Bios. The bios can vary in content, but it’s usually a good idea to give have a brief history of each band member and maybe a short note from each band member as well. Other possible topics are: likes and dislikes, influences, musical history, etc. And don’t forget photos.
3. History of the Band
Whether your band just started or you’ve been around for years, you have a history. When people come to your website they want to learn about you and band. Tell them about those late nights jammin’ or that time you and your buddies were just messing around, someone heard you and said, “You should make cd.” or how the first time you played a gig you forgot the words and ended up improving the rest of the song. I’m sure you have some good stories and your fans want to hear them too.
4. Contact Us
How are you supposed to get gigs if no one knows how to get a hold of you? Make it as easy as possible for people to contact you, not only so Mac Powell of Third Day (who used to go to church with my wife) can ask you to tour with them, but so your fans can say, “Hi.” and the Christian book store down the street can ask you to play in their coffee shop area on Friday night.
Always a good standard for a band website. People want to know if in the third verse of your most recent release your saying “The Lord the God of my life” or “A gourd and hog for my wife.” And, of course, there are the folks who want to play your music and need the lyrics to do so. Speaking of which, if you want to be really nice, you can also include chords with your lyrics. You know someone else is going to put the “correct” chords online somewhere anyway, so why not give your fans the actual chords you used. Another good idea is to include the stories behind the songs.
6. Schedule (Tour Dates)
Whether you are touring the American East coast this month and then off for your European tour next month, or you are playing at Bob’s coffee shop on Friday and the First Baptist Church the week after that, it’s important to let people know where and when you are playing. How will you have tens of thousands of screaming fans at your concert, if you don’t tell them when or where the concert is? You also don’t have to limit yourself to concerts. If your band leads worship at your church or you are going to be playing at a youth retreat, let folks know that too. It’s another place people can go see you and it tells people about your experience as a band.
7. Shopping Cart
Speaking of tours, why not let folks order tickets online right from your website. If your band has shirts, stickers and bobble heads, what better place to offer them then on your website. And don’t forget your music. Music stores aren’t the only place people buy music, and the fact is that the amount of music purchased online is only going to increase. Plus, selling music online has very little overhead. There are plenty of software options out there that allow anyone to offer paid music downloads from their website. A quick Google search for “Selling music online” can produce several options. You can also contact OurChurch.Com about installing and customizing a pay-per-download system for your site.
8. Band News
Again, the more info about the band and its members the better. Let folks know about the upcoming projects, the tour your planning, the new record deal you just got, etc. Not only can you put the news on your website, but you should also send out newsletters to keep your fans up to date. An e-newsletter is vital, because most people are too busy to remember to return to your website on a regular basis.
Kinda like the Band News, except you can tell your fans the much less important stuff and the personal things. Let them know how the lead guitarist likes to have mustard on his eggs. Tell stories about the tour your on or the gigs you do. This is a great way to let your fans get to know you. Also, the blog doesn’t have to exclusively deal with band stuff. Talk about what you are learning in your daily devotions, review the movie you watched last week, or right an article on the hermeneutical exposition of transubstantiation in the 1600s and how it effected the common parishioner (though that topic is a bit over-done these days).
10. Fan Forum
Give you fans a chance to offer up their opinions, talk about the concert last night or the new cd, and discuss how you hair looked better before you cut it. Fan forums are a great way to get feedback from the oh-so-important fans and communicate with them. It’s also a great way for them to get to meet each other.
11. Photo Gallary
People love to look at pictures. What else can I say?
Do you know who the group of people most likely to buy your music is? People who have already bought your music in the past. Old fans will come back looking for your latest cd and new fans will want to purchase your earlier releases. Putting a discography on your site helps people know what else you have available. Even if you only have 1 cd and you recorded it in your parent’s basement, have a list of the band’s cd and dvds. You may want to combine this with your music clips; however, if you have several cds, you will want to have a general discography from which visitors can access the various pages for the individual cds and dvds.
I came across a couple of other things some bands had on their websites, which I didn’t think were essential, but might be a good idea depending on your band’s situation.
A subscriber side of your website with special content
This is probably not something for a band just starting out, but definitely something to consider for more established bands. You could offer several things, including unreleased songs, more personal contact, and additional info. Be creative and make it fun. Everyone likes to be on the inside or part of a club and this gives fans the chance to do that in a special way.
These could be links to sites important to you, organizations you’re involved in, etc. You can also exchange links with other bands. An “if you like our music, here are some other Christian bands you may like…” suggestion page. People are always looking for more music groups, so you visitors will appreciate the suggestions. Plus both you and the other bands can increase your fan base as their fans discover you and vice-versa.
Groups to support
Maybe your band has a particular mission field you feel called to. You may feel a strong desire to work with the homeless, fight AIDS in Africa, feed the hungry, or evangelize the world. A “Groups to Support” page would be a place that you can promote organizations working towards those goals and can help your fans get involved in a common ministry.
In case you don’t know, wallpapers are graphics that people can use for their computer’s desktop. Both fun and promotional, wallpapers can be a cool addition to your website.
Well it looks like you’ve got your work cut out for you, so get to work. Actually, most of these things can be done relatively simply and without too much time. And remember, if you are going to have a website, which you should, KEEP IT UP TO DATE!! Spend an hour a week on it so when people visit your website, they don’t read about how great your Millennial New Year’s Eve concert is going to be.
Do you agree that every band site needs these 12 things? Are there any other things you think every band site must have? Add your $0.02 to the conversation by posting a comment.