The music industry is changing. While not long ago many musicians made a living playing at local venues, today musicians must navigate the digital age. It isn’t always easy for creative people to navigate the world of website design, web marketing, and streaming services, but it will become increasingly necessary as the music industry continues to move in this tech-forward direction.
Adapting to this new digital reality is especially difficult for many musicians who follow in the footsteps of their idols. So many musicians historically have regarded marketing their music as uncool, choosing to prioritize the more creative and flashy aspects of the profession. In some sense, it’s natural that musicians are more passionate than the songs they write
Historically, this worked for many musicians that could develop a local following by playing live shows, sign a deal with a record label or other entity and go on the road to play venues around the country. The progression of many up-and-coming musicians today, however, is quite different. Listeners are increasingly discovering music online, and using streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play Music to listen to it.
This cultural shift in music discovery is unlikely to change and, in fact, will probably continue to intensify in coming years. That’s why it’s crucial for musicians to learn to put on their business hat and become more tech-savvy. The first step in that process is often to build and optimize their website to establish and grow their online presence.
Let’s go over five ways musicians can optimize their websites to adapt to this rapidly changing digital age of music and reach a broader audience of fans.
1. Prioritize Design and Website Content
The first step a musician should take when optimizing his or her website is to make sure the design and content of the website reflects their message and is of the highest quality. There is no use showcasing a website that is not in line with what the musician wants to convey to their audience, both in terms of its appearance and content.
In terms of the site’s appearance, it could be worth having a conversation with a web designer about the design aesthetic you’d like to convey in the site and how best to accomplish that practically. For musicians that are non-technical, a web designer could give more clarity on what kinds of design implementations are easy to accomplish and which are more labor intensive. Musicians that are interested in taking on the challenge of building or redesigning their own website should explore premade design templates that are available when using most major web building softwares.
Good design encompasses many important elements including color palettes, fonts, graphics, and much more, as explained by this article by the New York Times.
After getting a handle on the design aesthetic of the website, a musician should consider the copy of the site and what they’d like to convey to their audience through the written word. Musicians should focus on telling their story, distilling what motivates them to produce their music, and what their music represents.
2. Optimize the Site for Search Engines
After adjusting the design and copy on their websites, a musician should optimize the website for search engines to make it more easily discoverable. A good first step is to register the site with Google Search Console. This tool will allow you to confirm your ownership of the site and signify to Google that the site is legitimate and trustworthy.
It will also allow you to track important metrics of the site related to its performance on Google. Google Search Console will display helpful errors or tips that suggest how the search engine ranking position of the site could be improved. If a particular page on the site isn’t loading correctly, Google Search Console will often identify this and encourage you to fix the problem so that it doesn’t affect its search rankings.
Improving the search engine ranking position of their website is more important than ever for musicians as it will offer a way for new listeners to discover their music and eventually create a potential stream of revenue. Making money is harder than ever due to musicians’ difficulty adapting to the pervasiveness of the internet, as explored by this article by the Washington Post. It’s important for musicians to generate online streams of revenue as other streams die out.
A good next step is to insert relevant meta titles and meta descriptions on each page of the website. These meta tags will indicate to Google’s crawlers what sorts of keywords each web page relates to so that it will be more likely to be returned to users searching for those keywords. It will also make the site more easily shareable on social media as preview thumbnails generated will be relevant to the web page being shared.
3. Link the Site to Social Profiles and Online Content
Musicians that are active on social media should link the site to their social media profiles. This way, users of the site will be able to see their content, follow their progress, and potentially even listen to their music if it’s available on social media.
Musicians can also embed other forms of content they’ve produced such as music videos they’ve produced onto their site to give users a more interactive experience.
If there is other relevant content on the web that pertains to the musician such as magazine features or interviews, links to those articles can also be incorporated onto the site.
4. Optimize Navigation and Internal Linking
Musicians should ensure that the navigation on their site is intuitive and easy to use. Users should be able to seamlessly flow through different web pages on the site and be able to find everything they’re looking for. The site should follow the principles of good information architecture, by making the experience of exploring the site into one intuitive journey.
Different web pages should be linked together when it makes sense to lead users along the journey of discovering the site. This kind of internal linking is also part of the process of optimizing the site for search engines.
As this article by the BBC explains, good Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is less about the dark arts and more about providing websites and web content that is genuinely useful to readers. An important part of that process is including strategic but helpful links to users to indicate to Google that a website is trustworthy and authoritative. Internal linking can be an effective and easy way to begin a more comprehensive link building campaign.
5. Consider a Content Marketing Strategy
After the foundations of a good website have been laid using the steps above, musicians should consider blogging on the site as part of a larger content marketing strategy. Blogging is a terrific way to strengthen their relationship with their fans. Blog posts need not just include words, but can also feature music or video from the musicians’ shows or experiences.
Musicians can also read up on some SEO best practices and incorporate them into their blog posts. They can consider guest blogging on other publications to create backlinks to their website and blog posts which will serve to boost their authority score. Guest blogging for another musician or publication can be a great way to build connections in the music industry as well as make your website and your music more discoverable online.
Keeping your finger on the pulse of recent trends in the music industry with a good music-related publication can be a great way to find ideas for new blog posts.
Adapting to this fast-paced digital world isn’t easy for any musician, but hopefully these tips can provide some pointers to help do just that. Remember that building a fan base online is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time, but optimizing your website is likely a good place to start.
Marina Turea works as content manager at Digital Authority Partners