Making a living as a musician is no easy task. But just like for many other professions, personal connections can make a huge difference. Sometimes life is helpful and brings you people with contacts and venues and gigs. Other times, life seems busy with somebody else and you have to go it alone. In times like this, an easily accessible place to display your talent and experience might be what you need to seal the deal. An electronic press kit (EPK) with an oomph. In other words, you need a website!
Of course, you are a musician, not a programmer. Most of your friends are musicians as well, and you have no money to hire somebody. What now? No biggie, read below for a game plan that will have your personal musician's website up and running in no time.
Step 1: Content
Before getting started, think about what you want your website to display. You will need to include a short bio and lots of visuals. Things like photos of yourself playing and recordings of past gigs are a good place to start gathering your content. Look through your own files and ask friends or colleagues. Consider adding a list of past and upcoming gigs (be sure to keep this up to date!), song lists, certifications, degrees, and other relevant experience. If you use social media or have tunes uploaded on Soundcloud, you may want to gather all the links in one place. To help you, we’ve built a spreadsheet you can download and use by clicking here.
Step 2: Visuals
During Step 1 you’ve selected photos and videos of yourself. Make sure these are great ones! Here are a few hints to help you figure out if you've made the right choices:
We can see you properly and we can see your surroundings clearly —it’s not blurry, it’s not too dark, there are no bright lights shining straight into the camera and there is nothing obstructing the view of you playing.
If it’s a close-up, you are well groomed, your eyes are open and the right color —no red pupils.
You are portrayed in a positive way —especially for cruise ship gigs, we don’t want to see you drinking shots, getting into a fight, or anything like that. We want to see you at your best and we want to see you —and hear you!— playing music.
For videos, sound quality is just as important as image quality is for photos. We need to hear you play (and perhaps interact with your audience, if applicable).
In all instances, it has to be so good, you are very proud to show it. So good, our clients will know they need you on their cruise ships. So good, any venue owner will want to offer you a gig.
You may benefit from cropping, resizing or adjusting some of your images. There are a ton of free photo editing tools out there and your computer may even come with one, already!
Tip: Pixir is a good tool for the savvier amongst you, but requires Flash Player, while I suggest you give Pic Mokey a go if you want to keep it simple. Otherwise, some of the website building platforms I mention below offer basic photo editing options within their basic tool kit.
Step 3: Choose a Platform
There are several platforms offering free and paid website options. Free versions are often good enough if you don’t mind having the platform’s name and logo visible on your site at all times. Otherwise, costs start at about $12USD a month for the site and you might add an extra for your domain name (for example, if you want your website address to be joesmith.com). Domain name prices vary wildly so if your choice seems out of range, think of alternatives. Most platforms have templates ready to go, for which you don’t even need to make design choices. You can simply replace texts, photos, and videos for your own. There are even templates already designed especially for musicians, like these ones.
Tip: keep your domain short, easy to remember and intuitive. Examples: use your name, or combinations of your name with words like music, musician or the instrument you play.
Step 4: Test
Do you have more than one electronic device? Perhaps you own both a computer and a smart phone? Check out your website on both! You may need to adjust details to make sure everything is visible and accessible from any kind of device. Invite your friends and family over for a beer and ask them to look at your site. Have them test for errors and tell you what they think of what they see. Make adjustments and fix typos or glitches as necessary.
Step 5 (optional): Social Media
Your website is beautiful, now you need to let the world know! Take the time to personally email people on your address book or hand out business cards to new acquaintances. Call or email your Proship Agent to show off. If you are ready to bring it up a notch, join social media platform. But beware, results will require effort. You don’t need to be on every single platform, in fact, I would argue against that. My advice is to select the platform you are most comfortable with and be awesome at it.
Questions? Comments? Leave a note below.
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