If you’ve done the hard job of finding the perfect Wordpress theme for your band’s website, then you’ve probably found a theme with a bunch of shortcodes and plugins that are meant for bands. Good thing, right?
Well, sometimes the theme you purchased can be missing some essential features that you need, such as a concert listing manager or an audio/video player. Here are some features commonly needed by musicians, and how to get them.
This one’s not actually a plugin, but an already built-in feature of Wordpress, if you’re using Wordpress 3.6 or later. You can embed audio and video files easily using the “add media” feature.
Steven Gliebe has written an excellent tutorial showing you how to do this on his site.
Having a solid list of shortcodes is a must if you want to do anything graphical for your site. This includes great little formatting options such as:
My favourite all-in-one solution for shortcodes is Cr3ative Shortcodes by Pixelated Minds. It has a shortcode generator that allows you to insert any of their options. Just download the plugin and install to Wordpress.
You can skip this plugin if you don’t ever tour or play gigs, but if you do, then it’s always neat to have a “concerts” or "tour" section of your website. How do you do it?
Some bands might prefer to have ReverbNation, or some other gig manager do their listings.
If you want more of a custom solution though, then GigPress is what I’d recommend. It allows you to re-use gigs in case you ever play at a venue twice, and you can change the way it looks using your own custom HTML or CSS.
It’s very easy to use too, and you’re in total control!
NextGen is a very customizable gallery plugin that has different options for gallery formatting.
There’s both a free version, and a pro ($39) version. The free version has some basic options that provide you with everything you need, but if you want some even better options (more formatting, slideshows, full-width photos) the pro version is worth it.
Which should you choose?
Are you the type of band that has a LOT of photos that you want to share? Are the photos on your site important to you? Then you might want to get the pro version.
If you just need a basic gallery plugin (that’s not the jetpack gallery that comes with Wordpress, which can sometimes interfere with other plugins) then you should try the free version.
There are two options that you have when you’re getting a contact form. The first one is the free “contact form” plugin. It’s a very basic contact form that sends a visitor's submission to your email.
If you want a more advanced form though, I’d recommend nothing less than Gravity Forms. It’s easily the most advanced form system out there, allowing you to design complex and dynamic forms that change based on your visitor’s preferences. You can still design just a simple contact form too.
It’s a very easy form-builder to use, despite it’s inner complexity. Gravity forms is not free though, so I’d only recommend it if you have a specific need for it.
Have you ever seen one of those fancy sliders that lets you display different slideshows of photos and text, on your homepage or otherwise? Here’s an example of a slider in action. You can also see a screenshot of it above.
If you want one on your band’s site, I’d recommend Revolution Slider. It’s super powerful, and even has an animation editor if you need that kind of thing. I’ve used it on several Wordpress sites myself.
One creative example of using a slider is when I did an this automotive website. If you go to that site, you’ll see that I’ve got some animations that popup on that home page, but there’s no actual slides. Once the website has loaded, there are not multiple pictures to see.
For that website, I realized that multiple slides just wouldn’t be appropriate, so I only put 1 in and just made it as powerful as I could. It worked out very effectively. From the visitor's point of view, there isn't even a slider there, just a compelling header graphic. Feel free to be creative with your own slider, especially when it comes to art (music is art ya dingus).
If you’re comfortable working with a little bit of code, then you might want to use the “latest tweets” plugin. You’ll need to do some CSS work (see the “other notes” tab on that page to get some CSS examples), but it shouldn’t be too difficult.
You’ll also have to work with the Twitter API, but there’s a very easy tutorial under the “installation” tab that should only take you 5 minutes.
It will actually work with basic functionality even if you don’t know CSS, but if you want it to match the styling of your Wordpress theme, you’ll need to edit it. It’s not too hard though, and anyone with even a basic knowledge of CSS could edit the template that they give you. You can always learn some at CodeAcademy (the web fundamentals course) if you're a "go-getter".
I shouldn’t have to even mention this, but in case you didn’t know, Twitter does also have an official widget that you can use. You can access it by going to Twitter here (you'll need to be signed-in) and clicking “create new widget”.
Twitter will give you some HTML code that you can insert anywhere on your website. At the very least you should have a Twitter widget on your site, even if you don't do the custom solution.
Simply Instagram is a simple and beautiful solution for putting your Instagram photos up on your band’s website.
You don’t need to worry about any API or token malarky with this plugin. Once it’s installed, just go to Settings > Simply Instagram. It will get you to log in to your Instagram account, and will automatically retrieve all the API information needed to make the plugin work properly.
From there, just set up how you want the photos to look, and you're good to roll.
Do you want to sell merchandise (t-shirts, pins, hoodies, etc.) on your site? Do you want to manage the physical sale of your albums yourself (instead of using something like Bandcamp)? Then you’ll want an eCommerce plugin for your website.
For a free eCommerce plugin, I’d go with WooCommerce. It’s expandable for advanced users (for a price), but all the basic functionality you’d need to sell your products is on there.
It’s really dang easy to use too.
I’ll be frank with you - setting up a Facebook comments box is a bit of a pain in the butt. The Facebook comments box plugin is no exception either. It’s very easy to set up, but it will likely take you at least a half hour just to get it all up and running. This has nothing to do with the plugin, but with Facebook.
Luckily, there are lots of instructions on how to install this plugin and make it work with Facebook, so as long as you can follow a manual you should be able to handle it. You will need to create an app on Facebook though (that’s in the instructions as well).
If you want to do any SEO on your website, SEO by Yoast is easily your best solution. It’s the simplest, yet most robust SEO plugin that I’ve seen, and the advice they give you on how to optimize your website is legit.
I use it personally on any client sites that I make, so I’m not just blowing farts outta my butt here. In addition to getting this plugin, I would strongly recommend you read the musician’s conclusive guide to SEO.
If you need a website designed for your band, I can always help with that. I've done dozens of websites for clients in the past, and I can do the same for your band. If you'd like to work with me, look here for some more information.
My name is Andrew Muller. I love creative art, music, television shows, movies, video games, and a good story.
If you had to find me somewhere, you would probably find me down at O'neils home cooking eating an organic sweet-potato bun breakfast sandwich with ham.
Among my friends, it's a "Muller Classic Move" to eat Mcdonald's at 2am because it's cheap and open 24/7. The joke here is that I'm an idiot.
I play drums, guitar, piano, and I write & perform music for My Goal Is Telepathy. Take a listen to the latest sound here.