For Musicians: A Useful Collection of Free WordPress Themes

Moleskine notebook with Wordpress Sticker

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 And a lot of the themes are absolute crap, or outdated, or both.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.

Twenty Ten

Twenty Ten WordPress theme

Demo

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 WordPress theme

Demo
Free Download

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 WordPress theme

Demo
Free Download

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

Lead WordPress theme

Free Download

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

Newspress WordPress theme

Demo
Free Download

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 WordPress theme

Demo
Free Download

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.

Oulipo

Oulipo WordPress theme

Demo
Free Download

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

Rostar WordPress theme

Demo
Free Download

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.

Sight

Sight WordPress theme

Demo
Free Download

Sight is a free WordPress theme by WPSHOWER, boasting incredible functionality and user experience. Out of the box, this is my pick for the best free WordPress theme. It elegantly utilizes AJAX and Javascript to make website navigation faster and more intuitive. The theme provides a myriad of features, like multiple views (list and grid), jQuery dropdown menus, a featured content slider, AJAX pagination, custom backgrounds and logos, Google Analytics integration, and much more.

The Unstandard

The Unstandard WordPress Theme

Demo
Free Download

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

City Dreams WordPress theme

Free Download

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

Cutline WordPress theme

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

Lysa WordPress theme

Demo
Download

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]

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  • http://colortheory.com Brian Hazard

    I know you know I use Thesis, a paid theme. It’s worth it to me just for the support forum! That said, the ones you’ve featured here look miles ahead of the free themes available when I designed my sites.

  • Mike

    Thanks for the shout out to Circus Envy, Chris. This post has inspired us to move from Twenty Ten to one of the child themes, 2010 Weaver, so thanks for inspiring us!

  • Mike

    Thanks for the shout out to Circus Envy, Chris. This post has inspired us to move from Twenty Ten to one of the child themes, 2010 Weaver, so thanks for inspiring us!

  • http://tightmixblog.com Chris B.

    Yep, Thesis is a great paid option with an amazing community. You did a great job customizing it to match your vibe!

  • http://tightmixblog.com Chris B.

    Anytime, Mike! Glad to help.

  • Anonymous

    did a search in wordpress for newspress, sight and cutline and WP couldn’t find them.  I had to go directly to the download sites and then upload the files.

  • Anonymous

    did a search in wordpress for newspress, sight and cutline and WP couldn’t find them.  I had to go directly to the download sites and then upload the files.

  • http://tightmixblog.com Chris B.

    Yes, they probably were not uploaded to wordpress’ theme directory. Also, it’s important to note that those themes are for self-hosted WordPress.org installations, not WordPress.com.

  • Anonymous

    Yes I did know they’re for self hosted sites, which is why I was surprised they weren’t available through the search feature

  • http://1001-tricks.blogspot.com Hafis

    great collection…

  • guest

    superb list – thank you…

  • adil

    hi this might be a stupid question but do i need to have the upgraded worpress to do this or can i do it with the free wordpress online?

  • http://tightmixblog.com Chris B.

    Yes, these themes are for the self-hosted version of wordpress, found at http://wordpress.org

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  • Brad Kozak

    Great post – very helpful. I’ve downloaded most of these to evaluate them. But I have to tell you, that City Dreams post doesn’t belong on your list. If it were written as even a moderately-customizable theme, it would be a real find. But it’s obviously written to make it as difficult as possible for anyone to customize it. You’d be better off starting from scratch and trying to reverse-engineer what they’ve got. Frankly, modifying their theme is just not worth the time and trouble. At least with a legit theme, you’d start with a framework conducive to things like custom menus. FAIL. 

  • http://wordpressthemes.eu.com/ free wp themes

    Thanks, all the music themes are super.

  • siknight

    I appreciate your list but in putting together ‘themes for musicians’ or even music fans I would have thought that you could have said something (anything!) about how the themes handle playback or video. I mean, what validates themes as fit for musicians?

  • http://twitter.com/jocuridedesenat Jocuri De Desenat

    These are not for musicians and even so they don’t look that bright. But this does not mean your article is not good, it’s just not my cup of tea.No offence, best regards!