Week 3 with Ariel Hyatt’s “Music Success in Nine Weeks”

hand on computer mouse

This week’s topic is something that I can go on about for hours and hours, and have written multiple posts on the subject. I come across way too many band websites that are static, stale, and look like they were designed in 1994. It’s 2010, guys! It’s time to get up to speed.

Week 3: Optimizing Your Website

If it doesn’t already, Ariel suggests that your website needs to serve two main purposes. First, your website must be a vehicle to build your mailing list. E-mails are arguably the most valuable asset to any band or musician, and if you make it hard for a fan to sign up to your mailing list, they simply won’t go through the trouble. Second (and third, really), your website needs to facilitate and encourage two-way conversation between you and your fans, and ultimately make you $$$$$.

6 Sure-Fire Ways to Catch & Hold Your Fan Base

If done wrong, these methods can come off as cheesy, so be creative about how you word and display all of this content on your website. Make sure everything you do is aligned with the image and vibe that you and your music gives off.

1. Add a pitch to your homepage

I don’t think this is necessarily a requirement for all bands, but it can definitely help give casual visitors a quick and easy way to identify with your music. Instead of including a pitch on the splash page of my band’s website, we decided to just put a few defining words about our music, because we liked the way it looked, and how it sounded when pronounced out loud. The brevity of the description also might peak a new visitor’s interest and get them to press the play button, because those are three words that aren’t regularly seen next to each other.

the formatters splash page

2. Your site must load in less than 3.5 seconds

I decided to go with Super Green Hosting for our website, because they have an excellent reputation for being speedy, cheap, and having excellent customer service. An added benefit is that the servers they host websites on are environmentally friendly!

If you have a Flash intro on your website (or a full Flash website), ditch it. Get rid of it. Right now. Delete it from your website forever. They are the most annoying things to sit through, and take way too long to load! Try WordPress instead.

3. No Flash Intros

THEY SUCK! see #2.

4. Have a consistent look and feel and name all over the net

Many social websites allow you to customize the look and feel of your profile. It is important to spread the look and feel of your official website to your other social networks, so it is easy for fans to recognize you, and remember you when they come back and visit for the second time. For my band, I styled our MySpace page & Facebook fan page to reflect the styling of our official website.

5. Give away an exclusive, free mp3/video to satisfy your fans

Every consumer (aka your fans) asks themselves the question, “What’s in it for me?” before deciding to purchase or opt in to anything. People instinctively love free stuff, so offerring up a free mp3 download is a great way to reward somebody for becoming your fan, and to tempt them to consider purchasing your music. We placed a mailing list signup sheet on our splash page, and a super-obvious banner on our home page where people can signup for a free download in a few easy clicks.

6. Make it clear and set them at ease

What good is offerring up a free mp3 if people don’t realize it, or can’t figure out how to sign up for it? On my band’s homepage, I tried to make it painfully evident where fans are supposed to click to receive a free mp3 download. Also, we included a short blurb at the top of the download page that states we will never, EVER send them spam e-mails to help put fans at ease.

[Image credit: Click here]

  • http://twitter.com/musicarmichael stephen carmichael

    great advice hey! but I think the main goal is to take this info and do somehting creative. something no one has done before. visitors are so used to this model being used. “sign up to mailing list = free download.” it's a good incentive. but what's something more exciting we could do?

    Stephen Carmichael

  • http://tightmixblog.com Chris B.

    I mean there are tons of cool stuff that you can do to reward your fans. We decided to go with the basic model to start, since we have not garnered much of a core fan base yet. For bands that already have a core fan base, it could be really cool to have a members section to your site (much like you do, which is awesome by the way) where you can offer up even MORE exclusive downloads, tips on secret shows, contests, giveaways, and more.

    Stephen, I'm going to email you in a bit, I have a question…. :)

  • Christina

    I love the consistency in the formats between MySpace and Facebook…especially the lovely links at the top of the Myspace that directs fans to other online presence. Does anyone want to comment on how to get those links at the top of your MySpace and/or on how to format your facebook page as such? I can't seem to find that information anywhere on the web.

  • http://tightmixblog.com Chris B.

    Do you know any basic HTML/CSS? If you do, then it is fairly easy to do both of those things. I have a few templates and tutorials that I use … I think I might actually write a few blog tutorials and post them here if you stick around in the next few weeks!

  • Christina

    I am sad to say that I do not know any…I have figured out a few of the simplest things and figure that it can't be THAT hard;) If you do write it, I will read it. If you have templates, I will experiment with them! Thanks for replying!

  • JP

    re: #2

    Newsflash! Most WordPress blogs take longer than that to load nowadays. In fact, I'd argue many WordPress blogs are so crammed with crap (ala mySpace) they take LONGER to load than Flash. Don't blame the hammer if the carpenter is no good. (but yes, flash splash pages suck)

    What I like about Flash (& the rare well-constructed flash site) is that you can (gasp) multi-task. Most sites don't let you listen to the music while browsing the artists bio page and such. What's the average time people spend on a website? Like a minute or two?!? If you don't let them do what they want, they'll get board and move on. Gotta capture their attention. If Flash can get that done, then so be it. I don't know how many times I click on audio which gets cut off because I get impatient and want to do something else (on a band's word-press-formatted site).

    re: iPhone & Flash… Doesn't matter for two reasons. 1. 'cause bands should get a simple mobile site up anyway. (text, few photos, and links to media) Phone net bandwidth is pretty slow in all but the big city markets so don't punish people on any phone by trying to get them to download a desktop site. Redirect small screens to a mobile-optimized site.

    2. Most audio and video players are flash-based, so if someone can't view flash, they're dead to me anyway. See previous paragraph.

  • http://tightmixblog.com Chris B.

    Many times with websites, it's not necessarily WordPress that is slowing the website down, but the server that the website is hosted on. Also, if you embed too much crap, and rely on grabbing information from too many external websites, that will slow down your website too (regardless of whether its WordPress-based).

    Check out this article on how to speed up wordpress (if interested): http://mashable.com/2010/07/19/speed-up-wordpress/

  • http://tightmixblog.com Chris B.

    That's okay … I am working on a MySpace tutorial right now … the best way to keep updated about it is probably to subscribe to my rss, or follow me on twitter … I hope it helps!

  • Christina

    Great because I already have your feed in my inbox! My eyes are peeled!

  • JP

    RIght. But the same arguments can apply to Flash. Too high a framerate, overuse of animation and transitions, etc…. those are the real culprits for bad Flash sites… not the Flash technology itself.

    Again, it's the carpenter, not the hammer, which builds the house. Yelling “Avoid Flash at all costs!” is a lazy way of addressing good web design. As you describe, you can build crap sites just as well with WordPress.

  • http://tightmixblog.com Chris B.

    I understand what you're saying, and that's totally a fair standpoint. I guess it really is just my personal opinion and hatred of complex flash designs in general…it can many times be an obstacle between fans and your music if you have something really cool but it's impossible to navigate. If you can get a great Flash design that facilitates navigation, two-way conversation, and purchasing of your music/merch, then go for it!