OR: Are music websites dead?
Trolling around on Facebook and other social media accounts as I do, I often come across questions or debates about the usefulness or need for a website. It’s not only musicians, in fact, that tend to debate this. Usually, the commentary around the subject strikes me as misguided. Things like “websites are dead!” or “you need a website or you’re nobody” are the basic extremes that are both – well, too extreme.
Just ten minutes ago, in fact, a fellow musician asked this question in a group, and I was in a terrible rush to answer with some thought before the deluge of incomplete and extremist responses sent this person reeling. Let’s look at what I said (I reserve the right to make this better as I go):
Do I Need a Website – or – Are Websites Dead?
A website can be an important tool, depending on your strategy. However, it’s also a tool that is super duper misunderstood, and in many cases completely unnecessary.
You’ve touched on the truth of it when you say no one has found your site so far. I like to use this analogy:
People often think of a website like a TV commercial. Put it out there and a captive audience will be sure to see your message. This is false. A website is more like a storefront. But it’s a storefront hidden in a back alley in a dark part of town with no sign.
Clearly, no one will ever find the site buried in the back alley, hidden along with literally 1.9 billion other websites – so it is not, as some people imagine, a promotional tool.
In fact, a website can be a powerful tool – either for sales or some other purpose. But the website itself must be promoted in order for it to be seen. It’s actually the opposite of a promotional tool. It’s the thing you need to promote.
For some businesses, the website is really only a digital brochure. That is indeed useful for some businesses. After all, it’s cheaper and cooler to give someone a simple URL and have them read all about your services or products, with the added bonus of being able to dynamically change information and have them call you. Even Web 1.0 style sites are useful this way.
For some businesses (ahem Amazon), a website is the entire business. We have a term for that now, um let’s see, what is it – oh yeah – “e-commerce”. 😉
For some businesses or individuals, a website may serve to communicate authority and professionalism – and indeed, if you purport to be a business and your card or email signature points me to a Facebook page, you look like an amateur. A website provides a more professional look – the most important part of this may actually be the dedicated domain and email address, though!
Do you trust email@example.com more or less than firstname.lastname@example.org ? (Please don’t lie to me just to be argumentative…)
For a musician, this depends on strategy. Someone who’s entire strategy is to push traffic to Spotify does not need to waste time or money on a website. There’s zero need – why? Because you’d have to drive traffic to the website via some channel – probably social media. Then you’d have to point them from there to Spotify. You’ll lose half your traffic that way. It’s dumb. It would be dumb to maintain a website if your entire goal was Spotify (that goal is also dumb – usually – but that’s another post).
Similarly, a website isn’t necessarily the first priority for a dedicated sync artist. It can house audio samples and information, but the more important tool for a dedicated sync artist in this time period is a Disco account. Why? Because in the sync world, the culture is to use Disco. That platform is more likely to successfully stream audio to the recipient, it allows a host of features that would be hard to build on your site, and so on. Is a website a bad idea for a sync artist? No! It communicates professionalism and you can certainly point people there to find out more about you! Is it necessary? No.
However, some artists (myself included) maintain a website for very different purposes. For a digital direct marketing business model, the website, tied to an email autoresponder service, is the key infrastructure tool for building sales funnels, which is the basis of the model. So, in that case, the website is mission-critical. But the most important part of that infrastructure isn’t the front page, about page, audio page, video page, etc. It’s the backend infrastructure, cart and funnel software, and landing page system – all of which would be invisible to anyone visiting “soandso.com”.
Also, in my case, I maintain a pretty extensive blog. Do I need to do this? No. But I happen to be a writer for my “day job”. I write about things musicians would be interested in, so the crossover makes sense. And content marketing is a known entity – a powerful tool for businesses. What is the point of my blog? To help you, of course, silly!
Oh and also, from a business point of view: to establish industry authority and build relationships, maintain a powerful portfolio, and leverage revenue generators like affiliate linking and ads. This is not a vanity blog, kids, it’s part of the business. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t do it.
(I love you guys and all, but kitty needs a new pair of kick toys.)
The point: the website is a tool. It should have a purpose. If it doesn’t, you don’t need it.
At the End of the Day
In summation, the question “Should I have a website” isn’t a question that can be answered generically. It’s like asking “Should I own a hammer?”. Well, maybe. Do you need to drive nails regularly?
So, if someone says to you “Websites are dead!” or “All you need is a Facebook account” OR “You have to have a website or you’re nobody!” they’re wrong – maybe. It all depends on what your goals are and how you plan on getting there.
I hope this diatribe has been helpful! 🙂 If you need help building a website, determining what kind of website you need, or consulting on your overall internet presence, I just happen to be opening my doors as a web developer and consultant once more – email me at aaron @ recordinglikemacgyver.com to find out more, talk about your project, or book a free initial consult!