Choosing a musician website platform should start with knowing your goals. (Image by Peace, love, happiness from Pixabay)
Choosing a website platform should start with knowing your goals.
To help you choose a platform for your musician website, I offer this shortlist of my preferred platforms. This list includes WordPress (.org and .com), Bandzoogle, Wix and Squarespace. Each of these platforms features a content management system (CMS) that makes building a musician website easier than ever. There are a few other popular options, so you’re by no means limited to my shortlist.
Choosing a website platform should start with knowing your goals, so consider writing them down. You probably want to have a blog section, photo gallery, store for selling merch, contact page, an email signup form, music section and an electronic press kit (EPK). With this in mind, your goals may be to promote your brand, grow your email list, sell your music and merch, up your professional image and/or to promote upcoming performances. This is the stuff you want to think about before you begin setting up your website.
Ease of use
You definitely want site visitors to easily find what they’re looking for, whether it’s your latest music or upcoming performances. Your site should be both easy to build and easy to use. The platforms discussed in this episode excel in these areas. As the site designer, you’ll need to consider how much time you want to invest in learning how to customize your musician website. So ease of use applies to both you (the site designer) and your visitors.
Most musicians I know are on a budget. Even if you’re rocking it, so to speak, you surely have a budget of some sort. All the mentioned featured in this episode are affordable, some a bit more than others.
Design & features
Whichever platform you choose, make sure it supports your goals.
There will come a time when you need help, either because you’re learning or because something has gone wrong. Choose a platform that’s known for quality customer support.
Ownership & portability
You may choose a platform and then one day decide you want to switch to another. Maybe you initially chose WordPress, because you were attracted to the idea of learning the world of website design therein. But then maybe you realize you bit of more than you can chew and now you want to switch to a platform that requires less time to learn. There are several reasons that might warrant switching platforms, therefore it’s important to make sure that you can and that you can do so without restrictions. Check the terms that dictate taking your website content elsewhere.
The pros and cons
WordPress is considered by many to be the best website builder software to start a website without hiring a developer or coding from scratch.
It’s considered to be a self-hosted option and you can choose from a plethora of website hosts.
It’s a free open source website builder that gives you full ownership of your website without any third-party control, and it gives you maximum privacy.
Gives you complete control on every aspect of your website and online presence.
It can be used to build any kind of website.
There are thousands of high quality pre-made WordPress themes (templates) that you can use for your website’s design.
Provides drag-and-drop page builder options, which allow you to easily create your own custom website (no coding needed).
Gives you access to more than 59,000 free WordPress plugins. Plugins are like apps for WordPress that let you add additional features and functionality to your website such as a shopping cart, contact forms, Google Analytics, photo gallery, social media tools, live chat, etc. Plugins make it easy for you to integrate your website with popular business tools, so you can automate and streamline various recurring operations.
Website builder is fully translated in over 75+ languages, and it allows you easily create multilingual websites.
Comes with robust SEO tools that search engines love, which ensures your website will do better with rankings in search engines.
You will have to manage your own website, which means you will need to familiarize yourself with a new system, although this can be automated. This learning curve is easily overcome by most users, but it can feel a bit difficult in the beginning.
You will also have to keep up with WordPress updates, plugin updates, and create website backups. This too can be automated by your WordPress hosting provider.
Built by musicians, for musicians, there are no coding skills required here. Bandzoogle has drag and drop visual editor for customizing layouts, editing and rearrange your website content on the fly. Add images, text, and other features to your page in one or two clicks.
Easy template switching
Change website templates at any time without affecting content, and save your custom designs for later.
Bandzoogle and other platforms of its kind have taken the approach of limiting options, which can be a good thing in that it can keep you from getting overwhelmed. This can also keep you from mucking up your site.
But wait… there’s more.
EPK preset layouts
Easily create a professional electronic press kit to share with media and industry.
Connects with musician services you already use to make building and managing your website easier.
Features selling tools made to help you earn more revenue as an artist. These tools enable you to sell music, merch, tickets, subscriptions and crowdfunding directly to fans, commission free.
Bandzoogle has built in promotional and marketing features for email, SEO and socials.
Performance and Speed
Bandzoogle has a cloud infrastructure and is built to provide high performance for heavy design websites. It has the ability to quickly render video and graphics.
The basic plan supports most of the rudimentary features required for a music website. All the plans have support for e-commerce.
Built-in mailing list
Supports a mailing list for up to 100 fan subscribers with the basic plan. You can quickly connect with your fans using their mailing list feature.
I’m not crazy about mailing list features that are built-in. They are convenient, but more advanced email marketers will want to include a service such as my favorite ConvertKit or something like MailChimp. But if you want to keep it simple, this built-in feature is fine.
Press kits and more
Each plan supports Electronic press kits and has SSL security. The more advanced plan has loads of additional features.
Some of the features included are video headers, inventory tracking, sound scan reporting, album pre-orders and many more.
Every plan comes with a 30-day free trial.
Provides a lot of data insights with effective reporting which can render interactive data analysis. The system also provides location targeting, with which you can target fans in specific locations with customized email.
Custom email inboxes are not part of the plans. Email hosting has a separate pricing of $14.95/year.
None of the plans support multi websites. Multi-site has a separate pricing for which you need to get in touch with their account specialist.
Not as flexible for design due to a small (ish) number of template options.
Wix (just the cons)
Mobile loading speeds
Although they’ve made huge strides in improving loading speeds (something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by Google), mobile speeds still need a bit of work as of this episode. Many of their templates rely on graphics and media to look good, hence there’s sometimes a compromise between aesthetics and performance.
Templates can’t be changed easily
Once you have chosen your initial Wix template, you can’t switch to a completely new one. While you can certainly change the design within the template, it’s not possible to pick an entirely new one.
Squarespace (just the cons)
No phone support
Upgrading from Squarespace version 7.0 to 7.1 requires a site rebuild. This will surely be resolved with future version updates.
No free plan available
WordPress.com (just the cons)
You are NOT allowed to sell ads on your website. High traffic sites can apply for their advertising program called WordAds, which requires a revenue share with WordPress.com. Premium and Business plan users can use WordAds right away.
You cannot upload plugins. Business plan users can install from a selection of compatible plugins ($300 / year). WordPress.com VIP program lets you install plugins, but starts at $5000 per month.
You cannot upload custom themes. Free plan users can only install from the limited free themes collection. Premium and business plan users can also select premium themes. There are limited customization options with the free version. Premium and Business plan users can use custom CSS.
You are restricted to their stats. You cannot add Google Analytics or install any other powerful tracking platform. Business plan users can install Google Analytics.
You cannot build membership websites on WordPress.com.
I hope you find this episode helpful in choosing the right platform for your musician website. Last, but not lease, shout out to these site for providing most of the information used in this episode.
WP Beginner – How to Choose the Best Website Builder
Bandzoogle – Features & design
HostingPill – Hosting Reviews (Bandzoogle)
ToolTester – Pros and Cons of the Wix Website Builder
Forbes.com – Squarespace review
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Mentions and Related Episodes
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Why Do I Need A Musician Website? (Ep 237)
Free vs Paid Hosting For Musician Websites (Ep 239)
Choosing A Domain For Your Musician Website (Ep 241)
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