Musicians: why you need a website in 2021
by James Burt
For several years now, there have been countless instances of musicians becoming ‘internet famous’ before becoming bona fide music mega stars. Whether it’s Soundcloud rapper/singers like the late XXXTentacion and Post Malone or YouTube-originating pop sensations like Justin Bieber and Ed Sheeran, you’d be forgiven for thinking that as long as you have a strong social media and streaming presence, there’s no real need to have an actual website in 2021. But you’d be wrong.
Whilst social media and streaming sites are an integral aspect of a successful band or musician’s online presence, even the megastars who found fame without having their own website, get one once they become a success.
There are numerous reasons for this, and most of them apply and carry benefits for those who are just starting out on their musical journey, as well as those who have incredibly successful. The primary reason, and the one that most of the others follow on from, is that your website is entirely your own platform , and one that you own outright (if you have a Band Theme site, that is. With subscription models such as Wix and Squarespace, you’re essentially renting your site). Your website is your command centre and control tower. You control exactly what’s on it, and sometimes more crucially, what isn’t.
You control the aesthetic, the level of interactivity, the way it’s linked with the rest of the music industry and the wider digital world. For one person, it might present crucial opportunities to make money from music sales and merchandise, whilst for others it might be a purely artistic endeavour; cryptic in nature, an online manifestation or extension of a concept album, with little or nothing in the way of traditional or contemporary music marketing.
It’s a space that you control and one that you will continue to control. You’re not at the mercy of a 3rd party platform’s whims or corporate development. You won’t suddenly find that the user interface has changed without warning and your page is now being used to push other artists you have nothing to do with, or selling something else entirely.
Another reason why it’s wise to have a website as a musician is that, just because The Weeknd, Shawn Mendes and 5 Seconds of Summer found fame via YouTube and Vine, doesn’t mean that everyone with any talent will be discovered in a similar way. That’s not to say you shouldn’t also upload music to YouTube, Soundcloud and the like, but that, by having one central HQ that people can search for or click on from your social and streaming channels will help labels, managers and agents find our more about you (all the stuff you want them to know!), find live appearance and tour date details and, of course, find more music.
Furthermore, a decent website demonstrates to industry professionals that you are serious about your music and your career. And guess what? People who work hard in the music industry like to work with artists that also like to work hard! Promoting an upcoming band or musician that has a website makes life a whole lot easier for publicists, managers and agents. Similarly, a website is the perfect place to host an EPK (electronic press kit), making things much easier for journalists also, and the easier you make it for journalists to do a feature on you, guess what? That’s right. The more you likely you are to feature in their publication.
Websites are also fantastic for cultivating, growing and keeping your fanbase informed, both by the site itself and by a newsletter email once you’ve captured their contact details (through your website!).
So, whilst streaming and social media platforms that artists sometimes put lots of time and energy into fall in and out of favour (Myspace, anyone?), a website and domain that is yours and yours alone will stay with you, grow with you and adapt with you, even if your sound evolves from underground hip hop to bubblegum pop. Then to country. Then back to hip hop again.