Who is your music web site for?

I’m current booking two tours, so I’ve been pouring over our Electronic Press Kit to make sure it’s up to date and ready to receive customers. It occurred to me last night that I should also do a quick check of our Bev Barnett & Greg Newlon Web site. Guess what I discovered?

Nowhere on our Web site was there a place one could actually purchase one of our CDs. Seriously. I posted my gaff on Facebook and my fellow music marketing blogger Michael Brandvold commented that I must have had my band member hat on at the time, LOL. Kind of.

No One Man Bands

The take away here, is that none of us are effective alone – we all need someone else to check our work. WE are not our audience, after all. A little bit of market research goes a long way.

So, who is the audience for your web site, and what do you want them to do once they arrive?

This conversation popped up on one of the music list serves recently, and radio expert Sonnie Brown and I chatted about it on the phone this week. One of the things Sonnie is great at, is being an outside sounding board. If you’re not in the position to hire a consultant to help you, she suggests asking a fan or friend to look at your Web site while you look over their shoulder. Just keep your mouth shut and watch what they do, where they go, how long they stay on each section. It really can be eye opening.

How someone looks at your Web site depends, of course, on why and how they’ve arrived there and what they want to get out of it. Bookers will typically go right to your calendar page to see where you’re playing, or look immediately for the audio or video link to hear you…. and while they want to be able to find the music player easily, by and large they frown on sites that launch music players automatically. And if there’s no obvious way to turn it off, the page gets closed pretty quickly.

Fans on a mission will probably gravitate to the same two places – calendar and music player, while the casual wanderer by may not be sure why he or she is there so its up to you to give them a reason and guide them to your call to action.

Bottom line: Its not about YOU. If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll recognize this as a recurring theme.

Who is Doing it Right?

San Francisco band Blame Sally has an inviting presence that immediately guides the visitor, at this point in time at least, to buy tickets to their CD Release Concert and sign up for their email list to get a free preview download from the new CD. There’s also a music player widget right on the home page from one of their live concerts.

Celtic fusion band Molly’s Revenge does a nice job as well, especially in balancing fan and booker/promoter content.

Singer Songwriter Erica Wheeler remains my number one heroine in the online music world. She has artfully blended her music career with her passion for connecting with nature, creating a way to connect with new, like minded fans.

What are the Pitfalls?

Conversely, there are several singer songwriters and bands that I personally love, who do not do such a great job with their sites. I love them, so I won’t call them out. I know some of them are working on re-designs, anyway.

Here’s a list of what frustrates me about most music web sites.

1. I can tell its a template, and so can everyone else. Differentiate yourself.

2. Black backgrounds are so 1999.

3. Script isn’t readable. It’s just never a good idea beyond an accent.

4. Music players should not be automatic, and it should be clear how to turn the music off.

5. Too much text confuses me about what you want me to do. Even if you have a 40 year history you’d love to tell me about, pick a direction and send me there.

6. Don’t make me work so hard – make ACTIVE links to ticket/venue information for your shows.

7. Once you have me, please don’t send me away to view photos hosted somewhere else, unless, I suppose, you make a point of telling me first.

8. Keep it up to date. You’d think this would be obvious, but apparently it is not.

9. Many people are looking at your site on phones and iPads – make sure you know how it translates there, and understand that iPad users can’t view flash.

10. Spelling does matter.  Get someone to check yours.

And one last comment…”I’m not worried about it, my fans love me anyway” is not an appropriate response. It indicates lack of respect for the fan base that has supported you – not to mention those who are attempting to promote you to their audiences. The “cute, helpless artist” persona only goes so far.

This may seem severe, but aren’t we all trying to put our best foot forward? Isn’t our goal to build and nurture our fan base?

Do you have pet peeves to add to the list?