Why, as a musician, DJ or producer, you definitely need your own band website – introduction
In this era of all-powerful social media, many bands, musicians, DJs and producers today may well ask themselves whether they even need a band website.
The short answer is: “Yes!”, and below I explain why.
Tip: Lots of the information in this article also applies to authors considering whether they need their own website.
Many musicians today no longer think it necessary to have their own band website
From around the mid-1990s to about a decade later, it was taken as self-evident that musicians, bands, DJs and producers should have their own band website.
But 2003 saw the launch of Myspace, and gradually, lots of musicians set up a profile there. Without needing to know anything about websites, they were now able to present their fans with news and music, and no longer had to pay anyone to design and maintain a website for them.
Although it’s hard to believe today, between 2005 and 2008, Myspace was the largest social network in the world. But gradually, the competitor Facebook became more popular. As a result, musicians and bands also set up a profile there. They gradually came to neglect their Myspace profiles, with the result that they often remained online untouched for some years after.
Today however, it’s seen as essential that musicians and bands maintain profiles on Facebook and various other social networks. But few ask themselves whether they need their own band website.
Your own band website – the benefits
Despite some time outlay and financial expenditure, there’s a lot to be said for not only bands, but also DJs and producers to set up and run their own website.
Having your own band website makes you look more professional
One of the main benefits, and one which can hardly be overstated, is that having your own website makes you appear more professional.
Anyone can set up profiles on Facebook, SoundCloud and all the rest, in order to present their music and communicate with fans free of charge. And indeed, they do!
So with your own band website, you would already be standing out from the crowd.
You would be demonstrating that making music isn’t just your hobby, but that you take it seriously. And if you take yourself seriously, then you signal to others – such as promoters, journalists and labels – that they too should also take you and your music seriously.
Without your own band website, you grant control to third parties
These days, if you want to become known and sell your music or play gigs and DJ sets, profiles on Facebook and SoundCloud and the rest are essential.
And it’s great that these platforms provide you with such a wide range of tools to use. These enable you to not only keep your fans informed, but also allow them to hear, and ideally buy, your music, and to get in touch with you.
But guess who has control of it all?
Precisely! Facebook controls your Facebook page. Twitter retains control over your Twitter feed. SoundCloud has the last word regarding your SoundCloud profile. And so on.
So if these platforms want to promote conspiracy theorists or dubious diets in your profile, then they will do exactly that!
Your own band website is not subject to others’ algorithms
Whether as a band/musician or purely as a private user, you may well have noticed that people who follow certain pages or users don’t necessarily see every message from these pages or profiles. The respective social media platform’s algorithms decide who gets to see which message.
For this reason, profile owners sometimes ask their fans/followers to dig deep into the platform’s settings to tick a box so that in theory, they will in future receive all posts from that profile in their timeline. And how many people actually do that? Exactly.
Even worse is when platforms change their algorithms. At a stroke, certain types of content can be downgraded, meaning that it is shown to fewer followers. If you earn money from such types of content, whether directly or indirectly, then you will suddenly earn less.
Different laws and standards apply abroad
Many of these large corporations are based in the USA: a country in which laws and cultural norms are sometimes different to those here in Europe. Sometimes these laws and norms are stricter (nakedness!), but when it comes to data protection, they’re definitely more relaxed.
The online landscape is constantly changing
Even though today it seems barely imaginable that Facebook, for example, will permanently go offline at some point, online companies do not always exist for ever, or remain as popular as they once were. Sometimes, a new top dog establishes itself. If the bands and musicians who so carefully maintained their Myspace profiles in 2005–2008 hadn’t found new online homes, they would have gone bankrupt long ago.
And who searches Yahoo!, Lycos or AltaVista these days when they want to find something out?
With your own band website, YOU have control
Another important reason for having your own band website (or DJ website, or musician’s website) is that you or your band retain the control over your online presence.
Your band website serves as your own content hub, that is to say, the central focal point for all your content: bio, news, photos, videos, music and everything else you want to publish.
And you alone are responsible for the design of your band website! You’re no longer restricted by the design and functions provided by the respective social networks.
You’re also the person who decides what information you want to publish, how to structure it and what it should look like.
And if your album cover features a buttock or a female nipple, you’re allowed to show it without having your account blocked or deleted.
The law and your hosting company’s terms and conditions are pretty much the only limits – otherwise, you’re free to publish what you like.
A single URL for everywhere
A smaller, but no less important reason for having your own band website is that you only ever have to state one single URL anywhere. Whether on your vinyl records, CDs, flyers, concert posters, business cards or anywhere else, you have just one short, memorable URL.
It takes up much less space than a row of long and often ugly social media URLs. And people visiting your website can see for themselves which platforms you have profiles on, because they’re all clearly linked. So if you ever decide to no longer maintain a profile on a particular social platform, the information (ie the URL) printed on your record sleeve remains up to date.
Draw your fans closer with your own mailing list
Email was declared dead a long time ago, and as a means of personal communication, this is to all intent and purposes true.
But email newsletters remain the most effective marketing channel of all when it comes to communicating with your fans and encouraging them to buy things. Although of course, the outcome obviously depends on the emails themselves and your own particular audience.
As with a band website itself, you retain control over your mailing list. There are no algorithms deciding in whose inboxes the marketing mails will ultimately land in and in whose they won’t. This is in contrast to for example Facebook, where only a proportion of your followers will actually be able to receive and read your posts.
(Hmm… the spam folder algorithms, perhaps. But if you configure and use the mailing list system properly, you can keep such problems to a minimum.)
Your band website grows with your fame
Your own website can easily be scaled up. If you’re only at the start of your musical career, a small band website is all you need. For DJs, for example, a one-page website could well be enough.
But after a while, you’ll hopefully become better known, and perhaps even famous.
If you’ve got your own band website, you can easily add new functions and features later. Perhaps a shop, so you can sell your records, CDs and merchandise (although you will need to comply with laws governing tax and business in your country), or maybe even a members’ area, where you offer your most loyal fans exclusive content. There are scarcely any limits, apart from the capacity of your wallet or purse.
Your own band website – the disadvantages
I’ve listed some of the benefits of having your own website, but of course there are also some downsides.
You’ll need to spend money
Today it’s easier than ever to set up a website – even for people with only average computer/technical skills. And you don’t necessarily have to dig deep into your pockets, either – you only need a few euros/pounds/dollars or equivalent per month for hosting, and maybe a modest two to three-figure amount per year for any premium plugins you may require.
(Yes, there are services that enable you to set up a website completely free of charge. But what’s free isn’t necessarily good. And such platforms bring restrictions with them. In short, you don’t have much control over your online presence.)
Your band website requires regular maintenance
Even though websites today are easier than ever to set up, they’ve become more complicated to maintain. 20 years ago, many websites simply comprised a pile of static HTML files, but websites today typically use a CMS (content management system). Today’s websites are ‘living organisms’, in which lots of factors interact with each other: the CMS itself, the database and things such as the PHP version, CMS updates, plugins and plugin updates. The website layout also adapts according to the size of the screen it is being viewed on.
Added to this, the website’s content needs to be regularly updated. Neither search engines nor visitors like it if a website hasn’t been updated for a long time.
The legal situation is stricter
There’s also more effort involved. Although websites are meanwhile easier to set up, in recent years in Europe, and especially in Germany and some other countries, the legal situation surrounding them has become more strict. As a result, you need to ensure you know which cookies are being set and for what purpose, whether information is transferred to third parties in for example the USA, and what you need to do if someone gets in touch to ask what personal data of theirs you are storing and processing. On the basis of this information, a data protection page has to be created. And in Germany and other countries, there is also a legal requirement for a site legal notice page. Even with the help of online legal text generators, this can easily take a few days to get in place.
You need to take care of the security aspects
This perhaps sounds offputting, as even large corporations don’t always succeed in 100% protecting themselves against hackers. But even as someone running your own website, there are measures that can prevent a lot of attacks. One such measure is also really easy – keeping your CMS and its plugins up to date. By doing this, you can quickly close any security vulnerabilities before malicious people can exploit them. So with a bit of common sense and the right procedures in place, you can keep risks to a minimum.
“Facebook and the others provide everything I need!”
At first glance, this may seem true, but as I’ve already explained in this article, social media brings with it various disadvantages in respect of the level of control you have over it. (Notwithstanding how they like collecting users’ personal data and monetising it.)
It’s true that your own band website is bound up with some time expenditure, and perhaps some financial expenditure too. But in my opinion, for bands, musicians, DJs and producers who take themselves and their music seriously, the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.
On your band website you only need a short bio, a contact form and/or a clickable email address, a blog for your news and some professional photos. If you regularly play gigs (when we’re not in the midst of a pandemic), then an events calendar would be a good idea. But only if you have regular live appearances, as an empty calendar doesn’t convey a good impression.
Erwähnenswert dabei ist aber, dass es ein Unterschied zwischen „einer Website“ und einer gut ausgedachten, SEO-optimisierten Website besteht. Wer als Laie ohne Vorkenntnisse eine Band-Website online stellt kommt nur so weit. Unter Umständen kann es sich also lohnen, sich weiter zu informieren oder jemanden an Bord zu holen.
You don’t necessarily have to spend much money on your own band website. Even including the annoying legal requirements, you can have ‘a website’ online in just a few days. With such a website you have your own URL, which you can state on your releases etc. Visitors can find not just information about you and your music, but also links to your social channels. And you retain complete control over it.
For people for whom this is not enough, and who want to attract new fans, I recommend spending a bit more money. You would need a well-thought-out, well-planned, search engine-optimised website that can be found for the relevant keywords. Depending on scope and the provider, spending a four-figure sum is perfectly conceivable, although of course the sky’s the limit!
Picture sources: The imaginary websites and music packaging I designed for the imaginary artists I also made up, Lena Musterfrau and Goat Botherer, © Paul Jackson. ‘Lena Musterfrau’ photos © Florin1605/istockphoto.com. ‘Lena Musterfrau’ light show © Dominic Hampton at Unsplash. iMac photo © T.Q. at Unsplash. iPhone photo © NeONBRAND at Unsplash. ‘Goat Botherer’ background image is a collage of photos © Takis Politis and © M Wrona at Unsplash. Other collages, photos and graphics © Paul Jackson.