It goes without saying that all bands should have some sort of online presence such as an online profile on MySpace or a Facebook fan page. Bands or artists looking to have a more personalised and controlled online presence opt for their own website. The success of these websites depend largely on the content and amount of interactivity available. If you have the same content, pictures and information as your online profiles, users don’t exactly have an incentive to make those few extra clicks to your own place on the web.
Having a media rich website with interactive content is vital in today’s web 2.0 world, which can be a tricky thing for unsigned bands or artists trying to create their own web presence. There are many content management websites available such as Drupal, but the WordPress blogging platform has worldwide popularity and rightly so. You can get your website up and running with minimal programming/designing experience, however the more you delve into customising your website, the more likely you are to get bogged down in CSS, HTML or PHP code.
What’s great about WordPress, is the ease of which you can install ‘plugins’ – additional add-ons that provide the media rich and interactive content you need to have a successful and easy to manage website. If you’re running a website for a band, artist or musician, check out our list of top WordPress plugins that will make a huge difference to your online presence.
GigPress provides an interface for managing your list of gigs which you can display on an individual page or as a widget, or both. Over time your database builds up a list of venues you have played at, so if you play at the same venue twice you won’t have to input the venue address and other details again. You can also categorise gigs under a particular tour and also display a list of your past gigs if you want to.
The address you enter for the venue automatically links to Google Maps helping your fans to find out exactly where you are playing. They can also subscribe to the RSS feed of your gigs or synchronise your dates with iCal. GigPress is a great way of managing gigs and makes the experience very helpful for fans too.
The NextGen WordPress gallery is a great interface for managing photos and organising them into galleries. Think of having a Flickr account built into your website. You can arrange different galleries and albums, give photos captions and names and all photos can be uploaded with ease. You can display your photos on an individual page or as a widget. A number of thumbnails will be displayed and photos appear in a pop-up lightbox. Bear in mind though, you will be uploading images to your own server space! Make sure you have enough space to handle all the photos you want to display!
Much like the NextGen gallery, TubePress is a gallery for videos. However, instead of uploading content to your own server, TubePress displays videos from your YouTube and/or Vimeo account. You can display this on an individual page with your latest video showing at the top. Below this, thumbnails and titles of the other videos on your account are displayed. This is great as it saves you having to upload videos to multiple places. TubePress comes with some customising features too allowing you to integrate this into your website.
Facebook Comments for WordPress
As the popularity of Facebook continues to soar, it’s worth considering letting your websites’ visitors leave comments with their Facebook account. There are many advantages to this but the main benefits have to be ease of use plus the improved aesthetic it can provide. Depending on the users privacy settings, a thumbnail of their profile picture will display next to each of their comments which is much more pleasing on the eye than the generic avatars that are displayed with WordPress comments. There are some additional settings to that allow you to hide WordPress’s built in comments and a colour scheme that suits darker websites. If visitors don’t have a Facebook account, that’s not a problem – they can simply enter their name and e-mail address to leave a comment.
Contact Form 7
Contact Form 7 provides an easy way for visitors to contact you, rather than leave your e-mail address on the website which makes you more open to receiving Spam mail. You can create whatever fields you like such as Name, E-mail, Message, Favourite Colour etc… and provides different ways of entering information e.g. dropdown box, text areas, input fields etc… The contents of this form are then e-mailed to you so you can reply to the message.