If you’re a musician using WordPress (and you should be), then you know that a great WordPress theme can basically save your life.
However, finding a great theme for free is no easy task. Sure, there are tons of WordPress theme lists floating around the web, some of which are focused on musicians, but they don’t seem to be very well thought out. They are just mindless, regurgitated lists of the same 100 or so themes. And a lot of the themes are absolute crap, or outdated, or both.
In an effort to save you rock stars some time and money, I’ve put together a collection of the best, free WordPress themes to use for your website.
The Twenty Ten theme is the default theme that ships with every WordPress install, and honestly, I think it does a great job out of the box for musicians. It provides you with all the essentials, support for every WordPress function, and the ability to customize the header image and background from the WordPress backend, without ever touching any code.
For a great example, check out Circus Envy’s website. They are currently using the WordPress Twenty Ten theme, and it seems to work quite nicely for them.
Also, there are a lot of free child themes available for the Twenty Ten theme in case you wanted to spice it up a bit more.
Berlin by Graph Paper Press
Berlin is a unique, minimal theme for WordPress that looks pretty great right out of the box. It’s magazine-style layout with a prominent content slider on the home page is great for showcasing your latest promotions, blog posts, etc. Also, this theme supports post thumbnail images, widgets (in the sidebar and footer), custom page templates, menus, and is compatible with the all the popular web browsers: IE 7 & 8, Opera, Safari, Google Chrome, and Firefox.
Berlin is a great theme choice for musicians that have a bit of coding knowledge, and are looking for a good starting point. The design is minimal and focuses on the content, which is the most important element to your website!
Inuit Types (Starter Edition)
Inuit Types is a paid, premium theme over at BizzTypes, but they offer a “Starter Edition” free download if you don’t want to spend the money for all the bells and whistles. This is one of those themes that attempts to provide total design control from the WordPress backend, without having to touch any code. You start out with a pretty basic, barebones theme but you can customize it however you see fit. A great option for musicians who are deathly afraid of code.
Lead is another barebones WordPress theme that focuses heavily on blogging. According to the crazy people over at AMY&PINK, “You don’t need big bangs, an overkill of colors or sexy bitches for getting attention. Just you and your wonderful words are enough to rule the world.” Also, the theme requires the Pagebar plug-in in order for the pagination to work correctly.
This theme is ideal for musicians who that want a simple and flexible starting point, but aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty with some code to take it to the next level.
Newspress is a free premium theme from WPCRUNCHY, and one of the best free WordPress themes I’ve ever seen. Out of the gate, this theme provides full theme customization from the WordPress backend, allowing you to select your desired layouts, background images, SEO preferences, color schemes, and much more.
Verbage by Organic Themes
Verbage is free premium theme from Organic Themes that also provides convenient customization options in the WordPress backend. You can customize the header and background images without having to leave WordPress, which is great for quick branding.
The theme supports all WordPress 3.0+ features, is widget ready, and comes with a professional design that looks great in all the popular browsers. A great choice for musicians, in my opinion.
Although somewhat dated, Oulipo is a clean and classy theme that provides a nice base for any musician brave enough to tinker with WordPress theme code (XHTML/CSS/PHP). One feature of this theme that I really like is the floating menu on the left side. As you scroll down, the menu stays fixed and follows you down the page.
Rostar is a freebie theme over at Beatheme that provides several color schemes, a “featured” section for you to highlight your most important posts, Google Analytics integration, automatic post thumbnails, and built-in optimization for search engines.
Unfortunately, beyond the color schemes, the only other way to customize the look and feel of the theme is to edit the code directly. With some basic HTML/CSS knowledge, though, it would be fairly easy to manipulate.
The Unstandard theme was created by Derek of 5thirtyone, and boasts some really great features like multiple sidebars, footer widgets, automatic image thumbnails (using timthumb.php), several color schemes, and support for custom header images.
City Dreams is another great theme by AMY&PINK, and provides a different approach to website layout, straying from the typical “header-content-sidebar-footer” formula. You’ll probably want to use a large background image for this theme to look nice. Like AM&PINK’s other theme, though, you will need some coding knowledge in order to customize the design and layout.
Cutline is one of the most popular WordPress themes out there, with an incredible support community behind it. The forums are filled with active theme users asking and answering each other’s questions, so if you ever get stuck with something, you have a place to go where someone can answer your questions and help you fix any issues.
For inspiration, check out the showcase page on the Cutline website that highlights some awesome websites currently using the theme. Or, just head on over to bass virtuoso Steve Lawson’s website, and you can see it in action there as well.
Lysa is another free theme by the boys and girls over at Beatheme, and comes preloaded with great customization options. This theme is ideal if you’re crunched for time and need to get something up quick, but still want something that looks great.
With this theme, you can change the color schemes, the header image, toggle post thumbnails, manage social bookmarks, and use six different widget areas. The code is fully valid, too, which is a nice added benefit.
Check out the Escape Director’s website to see the Lysa theme in action.
Phew! Okay, that’s all I could muster up for right now. And don’t worry, I won’t let this post become outdated with broken links and crap like that.
And, as always, feel free to share any of your favorite themes in the comments section below. If I like it, I’ll update the post and credit you for giving me the heads up!
[Image credit: Click here]