How to Set Up a Musicians' Website in 5 Steps
While you'll want your band to have a presence on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, you need to have your own website with your band's name (or some version of it) in the URL. It gives you more control over the content and design and allows you to monetize the site (or not) however you choose. That might include a shopping cart to allow fans to purchase your music or digital ads. If nothing else, having your own website will give your band a home on the Internet, and demonstrate that you're serious about the business side of your music.
First, Decide What You Like
What do you want your site to look like? Check out the sites of bands you like to get some ideas. Are they photo-heavy? Do they have video? How about samples of songs?
A good wish list probably includes a home page with a photo of the band and any upcoming appearances as well as an About page with some biographical information. Links to your social media sites should be prominent, and if you have music on a download site like iTunes, there should be a way for fans to find it. Do you have a newsletter that gives updates about the band? Plan to include an easy-to-find link to allow fans to sign up, as well as an email address where you can be contacted.
Next, Find Your Domain and a Host
Find out whether the URL you want is available. Ideally, it will be nameofband [dot] com. If that is already owned by someone else, you can see about purchasing it from the owner. This could get costly, however. If your resources are limited, you're probably better off trying to find a URL with a variation of the band name that is available, such as nameofbandmusic [dot] com.
You can register your domain name with any one of a number of companies online, called domain registrars, for a nominal fee.
In addition to a domain, you'll need a hosting service. Put simply, your website's files will be stored on the host's server space. A lot of domain registrars also offer hosting services, which can make things a little simpler.
Be sure you know the size limits of your site; the more files you want to include, the greater the amount of space you'll need from your host. Eventually, you may want to have a dedicated server, but when you're just starting out, you can start with a small or medium hosting package, and upgrade later if need be.
Registering your domain and signing up for a basic hosting service should cost less than $50 a year.
Consider Hiring a Pro
If you have the resources to hire a professional web designer, that's the best option for creating your band's website. But good web design that has proper HTML coding and SEO (search engine optimization) tags that look good can be expensive. It's not worth it to have a website that looks amateurish, so if you want to design it yourself, make sure you know what you're doing.
However if funds are limited, and web design is not in your wheelhouse, there are ways to make a good-looking site using a content management system like Wordpress or Squarespace.
Use a Content Management System
Once you've purchased your domain (URL) and signed up for hosting, you'll need to populate your website with content. If you're not going the professional developer/designer route, you can do the next best thing by using a content management system (CMS) like Wordpress or Squarespace.
These services have long been used by bloggers, but are increasingly popular as options for people who want a professional-looking website without a lot of hand-coding. Using Wordpress or Squarespace allows you to choose from a variety of themes, which are coded with cascading style sheets (CSS) so that your website's color scheme, style, and fonts look the same on each of its separate pages.
The Wordpress community, in particular, has many options for customization, with plug-ins created by professional developers to allow add-ons like slideshows and shopping carts, as well as a robust support community for troubleshooting and questions. You'll have to integrate your hosting service with your CMS, but many hosts allow you to do so by following a few simple instructions.
Research, Research, Research
So you've created a website, and now you're done, right? Well, not exactly. In order to ensure the resources you're spending on your website are going to good use, keep the content fresh and updated, and sign up for a service that measures metrics, like Google Analytics. It will help you keep track of your site's visitors, learn how they find your site on the Internet, and give you insights about how to make your site an even better resource for getting your band the audience it needs.