With my experience in music, and also my current profession building software (that includes websites) — I’m asked fairly frequently how to build a website for a band or musician.
One of the hardest things to understand before you have that “ah-ha” moment is that there are a number of ways to go about building a website, and it’s not always clear what you should or shouldn’t be paying for.
The one thing you absolutely need to pay for is a domain name, which is the name of your website. For example, this website’s domain name is AudioAssemble.com.
Step 1 – Purchase a Domain Name
Do you already own your domain name? Skip this step. If you need some help generating a band name, we have a band name generator coming soon (subscribe to be notified).
If you already have a domain name in mind, check out instantdomainsearch.com to see if the name is available. Many word combinations that would make a perfect domain are already claimed and may be in use.
That being said, a .com may seem like your only common option, however more and more brands/bands are using different TLDs (top-level domains) — for instance, thekills.tv. Even a .band is now readily available, making yourbandname.band potentially available to purchase.
Once you have a domain name that works for your band, you’ll need to register it. You’ve more than likely seen a GoDaddy commercial at some point and they are a good option, just try to avoid their mostly unnecessary upsells.
Here are some options you can register a domain with for your band online:
- GoDaddy – I use this, avoid the upsells
- NameCheap – Branded as an affordable option
- HostGator – Can be paired with hosting quite easily
- WordPress.com – Buy a domain & utilize WordPress
It’s important to note that you can certainly use any website builder, CMS, software plugin, or email provider regardless of which registrar you use to purchase your domain. This is often overlooked or confusing for beginners that are looking to create a website.
Step 2 – Choose Your CMS
A CMS is a faster way to say content management system. Content management systems allow you to easily publish content without having to read or write code so that visitors to your website can seamlessly read and click through your pages.
A CMS can be as complex as or simple as you need it to be. Many of them offer a very similar suite of tools to accomplish the same task.
One key differentiator is that some CMS providers codebase is proprietary to that organization. For instance, WordPress is an open-sourced platform, while WIX keeps their code under wraps.
Most of the time this doesn’t matter, especially for a band website. However, if you are looking to eventually have complete control over your website’s code (you may want to transition it later on if you use something like WIX), avoid cookie-cutter website builders. Instead, use something like WordPress, which is free to use, but may have a bit more of a technical learning curve.
Here are some good options for open-source CMS options:
- WordPress.org – In my opinion the best, and the most popular
- Drupal – Another popular option & one that has made major advancements in the past few years
- Joomla – My personal least favorite, but still has a large user base
- Ghost – Popular with technical users
It’s important to note that even though these are not your typical “website builders” — there are still thousands of themes available to choose from with these CMS providers. Check out these WordPress themes available for musicians on ThemeForest.
If the thought having to overcome any technical challenge makes you quiver, perhaps a traditional website builder that comes with a reasonable monthly fee is a better option.
Here are some good website builders that would work for musicians & bands:
- WIX – One of the most popular, cost-effective options
- Squarespace – I’m hard-pressed to see one without solid aesthetics
- WordPress.com – Same WordPress ease, now utilized as a website builder
These types of platforms are subscription-based, which can be fine, especially considering you’ll always need to pay for hosting — and these have hosting built-in.
Step 3 – Marketing Is Essential
Now that we’re in 2020 and roaring, setting and forgetting a band website can leave you essentially invisible online. Add content to your band website that is important to your audience.
Upcoming shows or events should be a prioritized focus. Your main focus in regards to your website should allow users to easily find you on the music streaming service of their preference.
With that in mind, when you’re choosing a route toward your new band website, be sure to consider plugins or add ons that with things like Spotify song previews. This allows users to find you, boost your streams, and bring those coveted reach-outs to your camp.
For instance, on WordPress, adding a Spotify song is as easy as copying and pasting the song URL.
This site is on WordPress and to showcase the ease of this, here is my current song playing on Spotify.
Consider what you want to showcase, and which platforms allow you to do what you need.
My Ideal Setup
Use WordPress, if you’re picking a theme and installing it yourself or if you’re using WordPress.com as a site builder, they are both excellent and easy options utilizing the same CMS.
Note: Hosting providers like HostGator or BlueHost allow for one-click installs of the “Free” version of WordPress.org
Host With BlueHost or WPEngine. Both very good options when using WordPress and have dedicated support to help you through any issues that may arise. If you decide to go with the paid version of WordPress, then WordPress.com is the better (and required) option.
Opt-in for a premium theme. Themes like the ones I linked to above are very affordable considering what you might spend to hire a web developer. They often have more advanced functionality built right in that simplify the process of features like form building, or listing events automatically.