There was a time when it was pretty much a given that every music artist needed a website. In the early to mid 2000s, having your own domain was one of the only ways to secure a legitimate web presence, and artists went to great lengths -- and often great expense -- to make sure they owned their own corner of the web.
Things began to change in earnest when MySpace became such a big presence in the music community. The site required no knowledge of coding or web design at all. It included all the requisite fields needed to convey the most important information about a music career to fans: bio, tour dates, even a song player.
Since that time, MySpace itself has essentially died and has been reborn, but in the interim numerous other sites have become legitimate alternatives to having your own website. Even some of the biggest bands have their “official” websites hosted on free blog platforms and/or social media sites (Blogspot, Facebook, etc.)
Which brings us to an important question in today’s music industry: does an artist even need a website any more? The answer really comes down to your specific online needs; some artists can do more without a website, while others find having their own domain to be an effective online marketing tool. Here we’ll look at the good and bad of having (and not having) a website.
Since at this point it is no longer seen as integral to have your own website (particularly in the early stages of your career), the main advantages of having a site is the control that it offers. Unlike any blogging platforms or social media sites, you are not bound by any constraints to the predetermined design or feature sets. Instead, you can make the site anything you want, including any content you deem important and structure it all in the way that makes the most sense to your vision (and your career).
Perhaps even more importantly, you can track the users to your site down to each individual user to figure out the demographic that is attracted to your website as well as how they navigating through your site and what webpages are visited most often. Today’s analytic tools, Google Analytics, are extremely powerful and can determine not only how users are using your site, but how you can best optimize the site to better cater to those users and attract more visitors in the future. This can be a great part of observing and catering your online marketing campaigns to gain more long-term fans and revenue, both online and off. By having your own website connected to social media and other outlets you will then have a large fan base and seem more credible to the average consumer. This can also become another source of revenue by using this website to broaden your horizons and not only selling your music but also selling merchandise like hats, t-shirts, etc. The merchandise you sell would have your bands logo and name on it and in return the consumer is promoting you to the world.
The primary disadvantage of having a site is the time it takes to develop the site. If you have no design or coding experience, the time problem becomes a money problem. This money problem is associated with the costs involved to have an outside party design and develop the site to your satisfaction. These costs can become extremely high for a well-designed site, and depending on your needs and where you are in your career, this may not be a cost (in terms of time and/or money) that is beneficial to your career.
Additionally, we’re big fans here of promoting your music via social media, and nearly all social media platforms you can use are free and, like MySpace so many years ago, offer easy and quick design and implementation.
So really, the decision to build a website or not comes down to a benefit analysis of how much it will help you versus how much time and money it will cost to build. Certainly sites are great to have, but in today’s music industry, you can also do nearly as much promotion on free online platforms as you can on a site -- and sometimes you can do even more, particularly as large as many social media sites are today.