Over the past few months, we’ve been going one step at a time through setting up your online music presence. The idea behind this guide was to give you one resource where you can find everything you need. I understand if you don’t go with my suggestions. You’re not going to hurt anything if you go with Wix instead of Squarespace. But I want to give you my professional advice as a person who has been building websites related to music for almost twenty years so that hopefully, you can conserve some creative energy by building your presence on solid platforms that you won’t have to worry about.
I said in the introduction to this guide: “A web presence is the solution to a common problem. As such, there are many technical structures and services already available to solve that problem. We’re going to look at the best-in-class solutions and walk through each step.” That’s what we’ve done from building a website, to setting up social media, to selling your music online, to running an email list. You can find the complete 10 part guide here:
SongCast offers a streamlined and affordable music distribution service where artists and labels can release music into…medium.com
What I wanted to do in this last chapter is take you through how I’m doing it myself.
A new project
I have a new personal music project. For the past several years, I could be loosely categorized in the singer/songwriter genre. I schlepped from coffee house to deli to wine bar with an acoustic guitar and sang quirky pop songs about superheroes and nerdy pursuits. I’m still going to do pretty much that exact thing but I wanted a “band name” so that I could also play with friends. And I wanted a band name that sounded like the line-up might change.
I decided on Ink & Paint. And I set up my online presence just as I described it to you.
If you visit the site, you’ll notice that it is incredibly spare. Instead of using the built-in Bandsintown show listings that Squarespace offers or even the calendar they have for listing events, I decided that because I play irregularly, I will announce the show in the huge banner space at the top of the page.
Below that banner, I have a section for music. Right now, it shows only one video and one album embed. In the future, I think I will use that space solely for videos and put the albums somewhere else. That’s the beauty of your website — it’s never finished. Don’t get married to it. Appreciate that you’ll be shifting things around to give your visitors the best experience. That’s also the beauty of Squarespace: it makes moving elements on a page around really easy.
That’s it. I actually created a songs page that has set lists on it but I won’t launch it until I have a show. That’s all I need: to tell people when I’m playing next, to let them hear some music, and let them follow me on social media.
I don’t have a lot of science behind this. I only have the information of what I like to use. I like following musicians on Instagram. I don’t like following musicians on Twitter. I don’t like following musicians on Facebook. So I set up an Instagram account for this project.
I tried out several apps to use to create flyers and liked PicLab the best. My goal is to post short music videos, shots from shows, set lists, and fliers on Instagram. What I like about Instagram is that a few posts stand out better than they do on Facebook or Twitter where they’re lost in a flood. I don’t need to be super active to keep my friends and fans informed.
I also set up a YouTube page because I wanted to be able to post full songs there. I don’t have any strategy behind the YouTube content sharing. But I’m using the service to host videos so I might as well direct people there.
When I was writing the chapter about setting up an email list, I did go through all the steps to set one up for Ink & Paint. But later, I decided to use the email list I already use for my creative projects. Why start that whole process over?
I added a MailChimp “group” to my main list so that I can segment my audience into people who only care about my music projects and those interested in all my creative projects. That way I can send music updates to a smaller section of my list but also wrap them in to news about other projects.
The big secret to a web presence
We all see really cool websites that perfectly represent a band or a project. It’s tempting to think those artists have it all together and they just made the perfect thing. This can lead to an endless quest to build your perfect thing. Don’t fall for that. Most of those perfectly-curated web presences have a lot of money behind them and…are basically temporary.
Artists with label money and resources can relaunch their website with every new album to match the design and branding. They can fill galleries with their perfect photographs.
But that’s not you. You’re an indie artist with a limited budget. What you need to do is accept some constraints, build on the best platform available, and spent your energy making music.