Musician Website Mistakes Killing Fan Engagement

Common Musician Website Mistakes You Should Avoid

A well designed website with digital download capabilities are a must have component for the success of any professional music artist today. If you want to take  your music career to the next level, you will need a professional website to go with this new direction. It is essential to have your own web presence, with a simple way to integrate a storefront, fan capture, and connections to social media. Potential fans want to download your music as single tracks to add to their playlist rather than whole albums.

Lukewarm attempts of getting your music brand online; if not willing to invest in a professional website will turn people off from your brand and most likely they will not visit you online again wherever your are.

While you can always choose to just promote your music on social networking sites, these kinds of sites should only really be used for driving traffic to your online headquarters.  Social media websites tend to have a life cycle. They start out, they grow, mature and decline. A lot of them flame out early, some stay big for a while and then they fade away never to be seen again. How many of us still use MySpace or Hi5?

If you’ve managed to create a slick new website and a visitor has landed on it you’ve probably spent time and effort to get them there. Maybe you’ve announced it at a gig, optimized it for the search engines, done some promoting on Facebook or your YouTube channel and they arrived on your home page ready to interact with you and your music.

“Don’t’ lose a potential fan before you have a chance to engage them.”

However, generating traffic to your music site is just part of being successful online today. If you want a potential fan or music industry professional to stay on your site for more than 10 seconds and buy you and your product you need to engage them and deliver on the promise of what ever got them there.

If you have a website with any of these issues; little or outdated content, lacks video, hard to read (small or weird fonts), dark fonts on a dark content background, confusing navigation, expect visitors to click the back button in less than the time you can say “Good Bye!”

To help you keep visitors on your site and engaged I put together some common musician website mistakes you should avoid.

1. Music Player and Videos Set to Auto-Play
There is nothing worse than having music or a video leap out and start blaring at you, — many people find it very annoying and it’s understandable. People may have their PC, smart phone or other mobile device’s volume cranked up all the way; they might be in a place where it’s annoying to others or they might not want to hear your song or watch your video in the first place! Fortunately most mobile devices today where the user may be on a cellular data plan; preload and auto plays are disabled.

Playing audio or video automatically when a visitor lands on your website page may also affect that person’s ability to find the control to turn it off and that’s a sure invitation for them leave. Content in general should not play unless initiated by the website visitor.

2. Little or Outdated Content
Was your last website post or gig update more than a month? Have you uploaded any recent videos? Be sure to keep the tour info accurate and up to date. Nothing worse than seeing an artist that does not have a gig listed for the last year with nothing coming up. It’s a sure indication that your website has been abandoned.

Engage your fans and deliver on the promise that got them there.

If you’ve quit updating your site, don’t expect visitors to stick around for long. Not having videos is a big one. If a potential fan is even considering going to see you play at a gig they want to know what to expect. They want to not only hear you, but also see you and interact with you. This also goes for music industry professionals; they want to know what to expect if they are going to book you. Even more disappointing than having no videos is having poorly done ones. You don’t want to scare people away before they even get interested. Remember videos aren’t just for fans; they’re also for booking agents, promoters, managers, etc. Consider videos as part of your resumé.

If you don’t have a lot of content to begin with, just be sure to put the important stuff front-and-center, and then get busy recording more songs, writing more content, shooting more videos, etc.

3. Unclear, Incomplete Bio and Description
Oh, so you’re a “singer song writer” from Nashville with a completely unique sound? Great now what! Put some real thought into your Bio, kind of music you play (not who you sound like) and description. You need to capture your visitors attention with clear easy to read content before they’ll take a minute to listen to your music or watch your video.

And when it comes to the basics of a singer song writer Bio, don’t forget where you call home, be sure you have taken an inventory of your background, accomplishments, goBasics of a Musician BIOals, and objectives as a musician and remember who you are writing the Bio for: Your Fans, Reps at Record Labels, Media Contacts, Booking Agents, Management Contacts, etc.

Music industry professionals are presented with lots of “wanna be stars” every week, so your Bio content should be informative, positive, confident, and chock full of useful information and descriptions that will motivate them to listen to your music or watch your video. If you are not a professional writer, then I recommend hiring one to write your Bio (look at professional publicists and PR people). If you can’t afford a professional (many artist can’t), then have a professional writer look at what you wrote before you put it on your site. Most visitors can tolerate a few crappy sentences before they make an exit to something else.

Most of all make your Bio to the point and basic enough for a 7th grader to read and understand. If you have a great Bio page that says it all then you can fore-go the EPK (Electronic Press Kit) which is usually a downloadable PDF file with the same information.

4. No Call-to-Action
An effective call to action is a must have for a music artist website or any site. A call to action is a purpose or goal you want your visitor to do whether it is opting-in on your contact form, signing up for your newsletter, listening to your music or watching your latest video. A call to action should clearly tell users what you want them to do. They should include active words such as, Buy, Register or Subscribe.

Example: “Wanna Hear Me?” Click here…

Some form of a call to action should be on every page of your site guiding them to the end goal. Your call to action does not need to be identical on each page. Instead you can use different actions that lead the visitor towards where you want them land and do.

For example a good call to action idea would be to place in the footer of each of your pages and post clearly defined links to your gigs and newsletter sign up.

5. No Online Store on Your Site
If you don’t give people the ability to buy your music when they’re visiting your website, when do you think they will buy your music? Probably never. So don’t miss out on opportunities to promote and sale your music on your main site.

It’s really easy to set up e-commerce on a website today using PayPal as a payment processor. It’s not as hard as you think and there are plenty of free e-commerce plugins for WordPress to get you started like WooCommerce and Market Press.

6. Opt-In Pop-Up Shoved In Your Face Immediately Upon Arrival
Do not include an Opt-In Pop-Up or Slide-In window right out of the gate asking a visitor to subscribe to your newsletter before allowing them to view your site and information.

While it’s true that some fans will find a Pop-Up form annoying, the result of implementing it and creating a fan base in digital form will be well worth it. At a minimum you should collect a first name and email from your website visitors. I recommend an Opt-In Pop-Up box set at a delay of between 10 – 15 seconds for capturing your traffic on a music artist site.

7. Share Buttons Every Where
Websites that are cluttered with share and follow buttons, like us on Facebook, follow us on twitter, don’t forget to like our Facebook page, share on Google+, Facebook etc. are annoying, clutter up your pages, confuse your users and cause layout issues.

I am a fan of including social media icons on your website like Facebook, ReverbNation, Bandcamp, iTunes and CDBaby, etc. Most artists want to share some or all of those links with their fans.

However unobtrusive and skillfully placed social media buttons create the right balance between your content and the promotion of your music. You don’t want to draw too much attention to them, but locate them where they are simple to find.

8. Profanity @$^($?
Keep it Clean. Lots of people are uncomfortable about cursing on websites, and there are real reasons it might not be a great idea. The biggest one; it might limit your audience! Consider your subject matter and fan base. Will cursing work against you or make visitors less likely to come back?

Every page of your website, from your logo to your theme represents you and your brand. Your site serves as a professional location for fans and others to interact with you and your music. It’s also your online resume and using profanity probably is not the first foot you want to put forward.

9. Not Mobile Friendly
If your website theme is not currently optimized fully for all mobile devices, you will lose with your fans and the search engines. Google will be very reluctant to display your website to users on their smart phones if it’s not responsive (mobile optimized), so it is of the utmost importance to start making the necessary changes now.

As of writing this, more than 50% of all online web traffic is coming from users on their smart phones or tablets. The mobile Google algorithm update is a substantial change in their search formula and you should get your music site in order. You can find out more about the Google update here.