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5 updates independent music artists should consider on their websites

I spend a great deal of my time on the unexplored highways of the web searching for and visiting artist’s music websites. Sometimes during the week, I might visit hundreds in a single day. It is just part of what I do here at Gighive.

internet highway

internet highway

So you can say, I maybe more of an authority on exploring the web for new and interesting artists than most who only travel the major interstates from one major city to the next. I for one think life is more interesting on the lanes less traveled than hitting the 6 to 8 lane congested highways.

So I decided to write a report on my findings and give the locals some tips on how to improve there site experience so visitors will return more often. Note* there are always exceptions to the rules!

Tip 1 – Ancient website design and web 1.0 type styling.

Old towns may have a certain charm with their rich heritage and unique architecture, but in my opinion do not translate in the online world.

There is no charm in blinking stars, colorful jpegs, animated gifs and flashing links; coupled with a confusing link structure all on the same page.

With all the new tools available to artists (that are in most cases free), there is no reason not to update your site every couple of years. But sadly this is not the case with many of the sites I visit.

It’s a fact; the older and more outdated your site is, the more untrustworthy it becomes to new visitors. With spam, spyware and viruses lurking in every corner of the web, why wouldn’t you want to give web browsers more of an incentive to stick around and explore your part of town, opposed to having them take the first available exit off of your site?

Tip 2 – Full flash site designs

carnival ridesCarnival and amusement parks are a great side distraction when you are on the road. But when every other town has one on the corner, it loses its luster. It’s the same with site designed only in flash.

Flash sites are pretty popular with many artists and I can see why. The animation makes your site stand out or offers users an interactive  experience and some of the intros are entertaining and on the cutting edge.

The problem with flash is it’s not part of the normal flow of web html. Its technology is dependent is on a plug-in that needs to be installed and regularly updated to work in your current browser.

Though I use the latest browsers and keep my plug-ins up to date, the majority of sites I visit still require me to install something to get the whole experience. In my case, the benefits of seeing your latest design animation or intro isn’t worth the risk of installing some unknown software upgrade. I might get the upgrade, or I might get something else.

Also, in many cases flash sites take more time to load (especially intros), are seo unfriendly and at times are more difficult to navigate. I think over the years the novelty of having a full flash site has faded, especially with new and improved technologies such as JavaScript(libraries) having moved to the forefront with none of the drawbacks.

Tip 3 – Social Media and Social Networking Sites

Small towns and cities that are closely connected to buzzing metropolitan areas have the advantage of both worlds. They offer quiet getaways and peaceful scenery, but are still a stones throw away from the excitement a city offers.

Most artists websites are not updated very often and at times can seem too quiet. I sometimes get the feeling no ones home or has been for a while. Social media changes this and give your site the aura that things are happening here. It leaves me feeling like I should check back more often for new updates.

Face it, social media is part of the fabric of the web and for those of you who do not regularly blog or have memberships on social media destinations; then your site might as well be in some remote getaway with no access roads. You might get some visitors, but not many… and those who do visit, won’t stick around if no one is home.

Tip 4 – Contact Forms

The one drawback to technology is, in certain areas it doesn’t always work. If you break down in some remote town, there might be times when your once reliable device will fail you.

Contact forms are convenient and easy to use but are often unreliable. Sometimes they work and sometime they don’t. It could be an update in code that was overlooked, issues with a certain browser or many of the thing that can go wrong with servers.

If you rely on people contacting you, I suggest you make use of both the contact form and a backup email address,  just in case your form fails. Create a public email just for that purpose and format the @ to [at] to avoid email harvesters.

Tip 5 – Bio, Intro, About, Me Biography

Often times I will come upon a town that is a complete mystery, with no story; past, present or future. In many cases I don’t stick around, I just drive right through.

Congratulations! You took the first step and now you have a website. Here is your chance to tell your story to the rest of the world.

Aspiring artists who have spent the last 15-50 years on this earth living their story, will often neglect what I think is the most important part of the artist’s profile.

Many times I will stumble upon a beautifully designed website with magnificent images, embedded music and videos but no about me section, intro or bio in site(pun intended). In other cases  there is a page that reads coming soon or my work tells the story or a half ass attempt to pull something off. Sigh….

Personally, if I happen upon a page such as this – without first knowing something about the artist, then the page is a waste of space. You have to understand, when a new fans connects to an artist, it’s so much more than just the music or the art. It’s also about who you are as person, where you are from, why you do what you do, what drives you, your passions, how can I be like you or where you are going from here? It’s about the connection. Sometimes who you appear to be can be more important than the art/music.

I get it… It’s not easy (bios) summing up your entire life in a few paragraphs, but being a full time artist isn’t either…

So when you decide to update your website, think about it from your visitors point of view. They shouldn’t have to figure things out, or find another source to connect the dots. Your site should become a destination to return to again and again. Not some pit-stop to fill up to get to the next website.

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