The Ins and Outs of Building Your Official Band Website

For an indie musician, having your own official website is the single most important online marketing tool in today’s music industry. While Social Networking sites provide benefits like pre-existing pools of targeted fans to connect with, they are also unreliable. Social Networking Sites have the right to delete your profile for almost any reason they choose under their terms of agreement.

For instance if your band name is the same as a major movie they are promoting on their site, they can delete your site. If for instance, they interpret your promotional efforts as spam, if they or other profiles have reason to believer your profile is assumed under a false identity they can delete your site. The thousands of fans and connections you have built can instantly be deleted. In addition, Social networking sites are subject to changing user trends. First Friendster was the place to be, then MySpace, now Facebook and Twitter. However, the best Social Networking Site should be your own!

Having your own official website offers a steady and centralized location for your fans to go to. A good tactic is using it in conjunction with the latest Social Networking Sites and the all important Mailing List. You can filter your profiles to your new website and collect their contact information. Having them on the mailing list provides a form of insurance in case any of your sites go down, as well as an aggregate collection of all your fans gathered which you can then create demographic reports from. And by continuously filtering them to your official site you acclimate your fans to going there as the de facto source for all information.

There are many different ways to set up your own website.
First, you need to pick a domain name likeĀ  Make sure it’s something memorable and intuitive. A shorter name is better because your fan can type less and recall it. Having it be intuitive is important as well. If YOURBANDNAME.COM is taken then another option could be something along the lines of YOURBANDNAMEMUSIC.COM because it will show up in Google search for people looking for your music that might type something like: search: “yourband name + music” or you could also go with YOURBANDNAMEOFFICIAL.COM for someone searching for your official site instead of the dozens of others you are associated with and other definitions your band name may take. It’s also good to choose a recognizable extension.

Right now .COM is universally known and accepted. But every band is unique. If you live in Germany or if your target demographic is German it might be beneficial to use the .DE extension. If the .COM is taken and you don’t want to add a bunch of extra words to your site name, you could always get the .NET version. Some bands are choosing .TV as their extension of choice because it’s recognizable, forward thinking, and suggests an enriched multimedia experience. Taking the time to choose the right domain name and extension can increase your online visibility especially within search engines. Not to mention it’s a great way to express what your band’s unique style.

So how do I get a domain name?
You can purchase your domain name at Domain Registrars. There are hundreds of registrars out there. And names cost from a range of around $7(for .coms and .nets) – $40 (.tvs) a year. Some offer discounts for multi-year deals or buying it along with other services they offer like hosting and site builders all in one shot. In some cases if the name you want is already taken by someone else they can sell it to you through the registrar or through a domain name aftermarket. But keep in mind some of these people have been sitting on these names in the hopes an end user like you might want them and they often charge a lot of money for it- sometimes in the thousands. Godaddy.com is an excellent place to buy a domain name. They are the most recognizable registrar and offer 24 hour customer service:

Ok, I have a domain name. Now what? How do I get my content up on there? From here there are many different ways to build a website. Here are some ways in no particular order:

-Hire a Graphic Designer to build you a website. A graphic designer can charge anywhere from a few hundred to thousands of dollars depending on the complexity of the site you want to build. Or if you luck out and know someone they can do it for free! It is important to do your research before hiring a graphic designer. Do they have experience making band websites? Do you like their design style and aesthetic. Do they have working examples and testimonials from clients?

You should be able to articulate what you want on your website as well. Look through other bands websites that you would like to emulate. Do they have flash (moving) graphics, a mailing list form, a music player, a store, a video player, a personal logo, a blog, a live tour schedule, a photo album, fancy backgrounds and headers? Having a list ready should make it easier to get a realistic pricing estimate. You should also have your content ready like your bio, content copy, and have some basic idea of how you want your fans to navigate through your page menu.

Next, you’ll definitely need a hosting account dedicated to your domain name. Your domain name is simply that- a name you bought. It doesn’t come with much else besides the ability to change its server location and where it will be forward to. A hosting account is necessary because allows your domain name to host the files that your graphic designer made for your website. A cheap place for hosting is HOSTAGATOR. Godaddy provides hosting as well. Often times, graphic designers have a deal with a particular hosting company. They may offer you a cheap rate or even offer hosting as part of their services along with domain name registrations too.

It’s good to inquire and talk to as many graphic designers as you can before committing. It’s also best to find a graphic designer who will allow you to manage your own website after it’s built through some kind of CMS (Content Management System). This way you don’t have to rely on them for updates and you don’t have to keep paying them. However, they may charge for support after they’ve built your site- when you have further tech questions on updating it yourself. Also make sure you are clear on the terms of your contract. It’s always good to have complete ownership rights and to read the fine print.

If you’d rather take another route you can also go with..

-Online Site Website Builders. For those of you that want more control over your website, without having to go through a graphic designer and transferring files, Online Website Builders might be a good option. They allow you to choose from different design templates and just upload the content you want through their Content Management System. There are so many builders to choose from like Homestead, Band Vista,Host Baby, Godaddy Website Tonight..etc. Some you can buy in a package along with your domain names and often times hosting is a part of the builder so you don’t have to worry about it.

Take a look at the templates and musician related features they offer. See which ones work best for you. The PROS of going with a website builder are: You have control over building your website and you don’t have to pay for a graphic designer. The Cons are: You still pay a monthly fee to use the builder, and you have a set number of templates and customization options to choose from. Some of these builders let you try it out free for a while with option to buy. That may be a good way to see if it’s for you.

If you like the idea of building your own, but want even more customization options then..

-Building on a Software builder like iWeb (for Mac) might be a good way to go. But keep in mind there is a learning curve for going this route. You can find basic guides on how to do this online or at your local bookstore. You will still need a domain name and hosting.

iWeb software program for Mac comes with a bunch of different templates as well but the difference is that you can customize most parts of it or you can build one from a blank page. You can mix and match their pre-existing design elements or make your own shapes. You can even drag and drop your own pics and media you have stored on your computer to incorporate into the content and design framework.

Once you’re ready in the case of iWeb for Mac, you don’t need to know how to do FTP (File Transfer Protocoll). You just type in your hosting destination and password and iWeb will connect and upload for you when you choose to update your site. iWeb is just one type of software builder. There are so many out there to choose from for both PC and Mac like dreamweaver and frontpage, etc.

If you don’t want to have to buy software but like the control of more detailed customization you can always:

-Build your website on an online blog platform. A lot of people are now choosing to build their websites on WordPress.com from novices all the way to professional graphic designers. You can build on here and point your domain name or servers to these as well. WordPress is not limited certain styles and themes. You have the ability to change the code and even build a website generally “from scratch” but within the framework of the blog.

Again there is a bit of a learning curve involved. If you don’t want to do that, there’s a huge amount of free WordPress Template codes to choose from online that you would just install. There’s a large community of people online you can hire at affordable rates (sometimes as low as $25-$50) who are dedicated to building custom wordpress sites or altering a template you have chosen. This could be a cheaper alternative to hiring a graphic designer.

Lastly Tumblr.com is a newer blog platform that more and more musicians and artists have been using as of late. You can work with html codes and choose templates in a similar fashion to wordpress but the difference is that it’s easier to use, looks a lot cleaner and sleeker, but most importantly it’s beter equipped to handle web 2.0 applications and. You can seamlessly integrate video, links, social bookmarks, audio, photos, and even upload your content from mobile devices!

Conclusion:
As you’ve read, you have so many options for building a great looking official band website on any skill level and budget! Take complete control of your online presence today and share your music with new fans from around the world!