A lot of artists — including many of the biggest artists in the world — get their website wrong. Here are three big things you need to know about building an effective artist website.
1) The vast majority of people going to your artist website already know who you are.
Let's break this down a little bit. For starters, almost all of your organic traffic (meaning people clicking on your website without being prompted by an ad) comes from people who have already heard of you.
If somebody is on your website, it's probably because they went looking for it. Or let's put it this way: if you're a funk/hip hop artist, how many people do you think google "funky hip hop music" and then end up on *your* website because of it? (Spoiler: with Google Analytics we can actually see how and why people end up on your website, and we'll just let you know that basically zero of your site's traffic comes from generic searches like that).
Instead, people on your site have probably already discovered your song, or read about you on a blog, or seen a social media post from you. A lot of them likely already consider themselves fans, or are at least on the path to becoming a fan.
Because most people on your website know how to find your site, immediately trying to send them off your site and to some place else (like your Instagram profile, for instance) isn't helpful. Honestly it's kind of insulting. Like, they are on your official page and you're already trying to send them to a social media profile?
So many artists make the mistake of immediately throwing out all the places you can find them on their home page — like their social media links, their YouTube page, their merch store etc. This is not the first thing you should show people when they land on your website. Because if they know how to find your official website, there's a really good chance they already know how to find you on YouTube. It's totally cool to have that information on your site, but it shouldn't be the primary thing you're showing fans when your artist website first loads up.
2) You need to prioritize one main goal for your site's home page.
If we think about interactions from our fans, getting them on your artist website is a considerably more valuable action than something like a social media like. So when you've got somebody on your site, don't scare them off with a billion different pieces of information and "calls to action."
Instead, your primary focus should be on getting them to do one big thing that you think will strengthen your relationship. Your first thought might be, "Cool, I want them to listen to my new song or watch my new video."
We see why that would be the first thing you think of. But change your perspective a bit. If they're on your site, they probably already know about the song. If they don't know about the song and they just happened to end up on your site when you were promoting it, ask yourself this: how repeatable is this promotion method?
Is hoping a user comes across your website when a new song is out the most reliable and repeatable way to tell somebody about new music? We're inclined to say, uh, no.
So here — we'll make it easy on you. The first thing people should see when they land on your website is almost always going to be some sort of email capture form and an incentive to do it. You want to get them further down your funnel and getting an organic email sign up is a natural next step after somebody ended up on your website.
Plus, email lists are much more reliable ways to communicate with people. So you can be much more confident they know about your new song (but we'll talk about that more in a later Learn Stuff article).
3) A good website can fund your entire career
This is critical to understand. When done right, your website can be your primary source of consistent and measurable income. Touring schedules fluctuate. Song and album cycles can be inconsistent.
A good website can help you create trackable, reliable income. From capturing "leads" (fan emails) to offering fan clubs, virtual concerts via livestreams, merchandise, and otherwise exclusive opportunities, your website can truly become one of your greatest assets.
Right now the music industry does a pretty abysmal job of understanding the point and value of a website. But spend an hour studying websites from some of your favorite brands and services and compare them to artist sites. You'll immediately see a difference.
Look into what makes a good product site enjoyable to browse. Research how they talk to their customers. How being sold something doesn't feel "gross." These are all the things you want to focus on when you start building your site. Because when done right, you'll care way more about 10,000 unique monthly visits to your site than 10,000 Instagram followers. We promise.