On several episodes of the Jazz Spotlight Podcast my guests and I have talked about the importance of having a good website as foundation of your online music marketing.
Simply put, a ‘good’ website is a website that informs visitors about who you are and what you do, it allows you to build newsletter with tools like AWeber and it features up-to-date content.
It still quite surprising, how many artists, venues and festival are still ignoring the importance of having a website and opt for only having a Facebook page instead. As Bobby Owsinski said on the podcast, “You can’t rely only on social media, because they are unpredictable and you can’t control them”.
He mentioned the case of MySpace, which, after a change of ownership underwent a complete redesign. People who had thousands of followers on the platform woke up one day to find out that MySpace had been “reset” and everyone started with a brand new design and, more importantly, with ZERO followers. All the fans gathered during the years were simply lost and there was no way to get them back.
This article talks about all those artists, music venues and festivals that do have websites, but are making some big mistakes. Writing about venues and festivals around the world I see a lot of websites. This is why, I decided to write this article about the top 5 mistakes artists, clubs and festivals do on their websites.
1. Old Website
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with retro and vintage. But things are a bit different when it comes to websites.
If your website is looking awfully old, you are probably missing out on potential visitors and fans. Aesthetics are becoming more and more of a factor, particularly online. This means that the more appealing your website looks, the more people are likely to spend time on it.
If your design is appealing, you have more chances to make fans. Always keep in mind that not every user that ends up on your site knows about your music, your venue or your festival. You want to make sure to provide them with a pleasant experience, that will make them browse through your website and come back over and over again.
Do you know the say “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? Ok, forget it. When it comes to music marketing, design does matter. I am not saying that you have to pay through the nose to get a decent design.
If you are a Do-It-Yourself person you can turn to tools like WordPress, SquareSpace or Weebly that let you create websites without the need of particular programming skills. In alternative, you can hire freelancers on places like Freelancer.com and Elance or, if you are on a budget, Fiverr.
Take a moment to critically look at your site and try to be honest. If you were a user that just ended up on your site, but didn’t know much about you, would you take time to explore the site? Remember, be honest.
A good way to benchmark your website would be to do some research online to see what kinds of websites your competitors or people in your niche have. This also helps you to see what sections are featured on their sites.
2. “Don’t Miss My Show, Tonight!” (dated October 2010)
Design is the first thing that may attract users to your site or turn them away for good. However, after you have made sure that your design is good, you should check to have updated content.
It is kind of a paradox to think that nobody who want to promote themselves online will forget about their website…but guess what?
It happens more often than you think, that artists, venues and festivals stop uploading new content to their website. A reason for this is because they turn to social media and focus on spreading their messages on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Don’t get me wrong: constantly using social media is a great, and in most cases free, way to promote oneself. If you want to promote yourself online, you must use social media. That’s a fact. Raw, simple, cold…call it whatever you want, but make sure to include Facebook, Twitter and all the other social networking sites in your online promotion plan (in case you haven’t yet, make sure to download our free Online Promotion Toolbox).
However, whatever you do, make sure to have updated content on your site. It’s fine that the list of your upcoming shows still includes the concert you had yesterday and the day before yesterday…but you might want to get rid of that show you played last summer.
People that visit your website want to know what you are doing today and in the upcoming days and weeks. This is what should be well-displayed somewhere on your site. Leave the list of past gigs for another part of your site (perhaps you can create a page called ‘Archive’?)
3. “I’m on Social Media!”
You want people who visit your website to have the best user experience possible. Simply put, you want to make sure that, if they are looking for something specific on your website, they are going to find it.
As you probably remember from Soundcloud Mastering, one of the biggest mistakes artists make on the online distribution platform is forgetting to link their Soundcloud profile to their social media pages.
Guess what? That’s exactly what some musicians, jazz clubs and festivals do on their websites. They forget to have links to their social media profiles or they have broken links (note: to detect and fix broken links there is a free WordPress plugin called Broken Link Checker).
While it’s true that if someone really needs to find your Facebook and Twitter pages he/she will look for it on Google, it’s also true that Internet users don’t like to make too much effort and may decide to leave your website rather than carry out the search.
4. Are You Selling Your Music?
This is direct, straight to the point: are you selling your music?
Don’t get this the wrong way. I am not saying that you should fill your homepage and newsletter with links of places that sell your music. Perhaps you want to have the link to the 2-3 most recent records on your homepage and newsletter and the links to the remaining sites on a specific page of your website (e.g. called ‘Music’).
This is similar to mistake #3, in the sense that you want to make sure that, if people are looking for something on your site, they will find. To a certain level, this mistake is even worse than mistake #3, because by leaving out links to Amazon, iTunes, etc. you miss out on potential earnings opportunities.
5. Missing Pages in English
Ok English-speakers, you can stop holding your breath. This mistake is probably the one you are not making.
It is great to read and write about jazz clubs and festivals from around the world and listen to artists from a bunch of different countries.
Here comes the problem.
It happens quite often, that websites that are not in English seem to forget about their potential English-speaking fans by not having a single page in English.
Spoiler alert: HUGE mistake!
Let’s not kid ourselves, even though there are ways to translate content into English, 99.9% of the people wouldn’t waste their time translating their entire site. Would you?
Before you continue, ask yourself this: what is the first thing you do when you visit a website that is about something (or someone) you don’t know much about? You check the About page. What’s the thing you do on a website, when you want to know more about the band, club or event the site is about? You check the About page.
If your website is not in English, make sure that it features at least an English version of the About page. This should talk about who you are, what you do and how people can contact you. If your translating skills are not the best, you can turn to services like Fiverr where you can find people who will translate your pages for just a couple of bucks.
It’s true that if most of your visitors are non-English speakers you shouldn’t necessarily have your whole website in English. However, by having the ‘About’ page in English (and making sure the page is title ‘About’ or ‘In English’), you won’t miss out on the potential followers or collaborators who might be interested in what you do, but who leave your website because they don’t understand what’s written there.
These are some of the most common mistakes I see artists, music venues and festivals make online all the time. Are there other mistakes that you see them make? Leave your comments in the comment box below