How To Build Your Band's Wordpress Website

You’re getting serious about music now, and you realize that it’s time to get a website for your band built. There are quite a few considerations to make if you aren’t already web-savvy, the first and most important being:

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If you want to take marketing your music to another level, then I can't recommend enough John Oszajca's music marketing manifesto. My favorite aspect of his complete program was his stance on email marketing, where he really leverages the that "1000 true fans" philosophy.

His website is a bit hokey (Flaming guitars? Seriously?), but his program really shows independant artists how to get a leg-up on signed artists.

Should you design your own website, or hire someone else to do it for you?

If you aren’t sure which route you want to take, then follow that link and read the article I’ve prepared for you. The main conclusion is that if you:

  • have the time (20+ hours MINIMUM)
  • have energy to spare
  • you are a naturally tech-savvy person with...
  • a good eye for good design

...then you can probably handle building your website yourself.

In case you decide that you DO want to build your own site, here’s my basic guide for building a Wordpress site for your band.

This is not a technical guide, but will help you make executive decisions such as “which host should I use?”. I *will* link to technical guides throughout the article though, so you’ll be able to do everything you need to do to set up your site.

To Give Fair Warning Up Front:

- things often go wrong when developing a site; it’s just the nature of the beast. There’s at least an 80% chance that you are going to face a technical issue during the process.

Maybe a theme won’t install for no particular reason, or your social icons just won’t appear. This can lead to frustrating situations, where you’re talking to support (if you’re smart enough to get a theme that has great support) or searching through Google to find out why a piece of code has broken. Often there will be answers, but you need to be willing to search for them.

This is all just part of the website game. If you aren’t prepared to do some hard work when things go wrong, you may find yourself with a half completed website that you’ve already paid hosting for.

With the risks all set in place, let’s begin!

Wordpress.com or Wordpress.org?

When I first started developing Wordpress sites, I made the mistake of not knowing the difference between Wordpress.COM, and Wordpress.ORG. This lead to a bunch of headaches for me, and knowing the difference is PERTINENT.

I’ll start off with the conclusion, which is that you should be using Wordpress.ORG. 

Wordpress.ORG allows you to :

  • install custom themes
  • use your own hosting
  • install any Wordpress plugin. 
  • and more

It is completely required for many of the steps that I’ll show in this guide, and is the appropriate choice for a band website that wants to host videos, music, and other media with expandability.

Wordpress.COM is more of a contained, all-in-one solution that includes their own hosting. There is a very limited amount of themes available, and custom plugins are not able to be installed. Although you COULD do a band website with it, I would consider it an inappropriate option.

Wordpress.COM is for people who just want to start a blog, and don’t really care as much about having a custom look. It is easier to use, but comes at a great hit to customizability. There is a great chart comparison that shows the differences between these two products here.

The Wordpress developers have a great way to explain the differences here. To quote:

“Having a blog or website here on WordPress.com is a bit like renting an apartment in a complex. You don’t have to worry about the pipes freezing in winter, you don’t have to mow the backyard, and you don’t have to fix the dishwasher if it breaks — all of that is your landlord’s job.

But on the other hand, you can’t install skylights, knock down a wall to combine two rooms, or rent out your spare bedroom without the landlord’s permission.”

Bottom line? Choose Wordpress.org for your band's website!

If you take my hosting suggestions below, then you shouldn’t even have to think about this at all, as the 1-click installation we use installs Wordpress.org’s version of Wordpress, without ever having to download anything yourself.

Hosting Your Wordpress.org Website

If you own a website online, you’ll need someone to host it for you. The amount of choices that you have on the net are absolutely overwhelming, so I’ll make it plain and simple for you.

Choose Hostgator. I’ve used them for dozens of sites, and they are an incredible hosting company with great rates. 

Get the “baby” package too. It has a fair amount of bandwidth, and should meet your needs for quite a while, especially if you’re just starting out; you may never need to upgrade your hosting plan depending on how much traffic your site gets.

It should cost around $8/month (or just under $120 per year, including your domain name). You could try and get a cheaper plan, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Anyone who sells hosting for ludicrously low prices like $3-4/month is going to have a slow service and slow loading times. 

I’ve even gone ahead and arranged for any readers of TheRealMusician (that’s you!) to get a percentage off of your hosting costs whenever you buy with HostGator. Simply put in either of these coupon codes at the checkout, and you should receive a discount on your purchase:

  • 25% off - Code: THEREALMUSICIAN25
  • $9.94 off - Code: THEREALMUSICIAN 

The 25% off will obviously be more useful for you if you spend more on Hosting. 

Just ignore the reseller hosting, VPS hosting, or dedicated servers. Those are more professional options that you don't need to worry about right now.

If either of these codes gives you a problem, please make sure you contact me and let me know. I’ll reach out to HostGator and get an up-to-date code that you can use (the codes I listed should work though).

For a more in-depth view on hosting for your band’s website, check out my article “which hosting should you get for your band’s website?

Domain Name

If you're too stupid to figure it out, your band's domain name should be your band's name. So if your band is called "The Nutbusters", it should read:

  • www.thenutbusters.com

If that domain is already taken, you could try something like:

  • www.thenutbustersband.com
  • www.thenutbustersmusic.com

And if even that is taken, you could try some variations of the ".com":

  • www.thenutbusters.net
  • www.thenutbusters.org

1-Click Installation Of Wordpress

Once you’ve purchased a hosting plan, you should receive an email with login information to your billing, as well as to your Control Panel (cPanel).

cPanel is where you can manage the backend of your website, but you’ll only need to go here once, just to install Wordpress. Once Wordpress is installed on your server, you should be able to completely manage your website without ever visiting cPanel again!

I’ll be giving more specific instructions for Hostgator below, but most other hosts should have very similar instructions. If you can’t find the one-click installation on your host, first check to make sure your host offers it, and then check for tutorials online. You would want to search something like “Hostgator one-click installation tutorial”.

To start, login to your cPanel, and scroll down to “QuickInstall”. Click on it, and then click “Wordpress” on the left column. From there, just follow the instructions to install Wordpress on your site.

Once it’s installed, you should receive a web URL, and a password and login info. Write that URL down. It should be something like www.YOURDOMAIN.com/wp-admin (wp stands for “Wordpress” - easy to remember!)

It may take up to 48 hours for your website to go live, so you might not be able to access your Wordpress setup for almost 2 days. In case you’re worried about something going wrong (if it’s not working for you), just give it a few days and come back to it. If it’s still not working, then make sure you contact your hosting support and they should be able to help relatively quickly. 

Hostgator has very quick chat support (as well as phone support, but I usually use the chat), and you can usually be getting answers within 10 minutes. I’m sure other hosts have similarly good support, so just contact them if you have problems! 

As a note, I can't provide support for technical hosting issue's like this. It shouldn't bother you though, as any host worth their salt will provide top-notch support.

Using The Wordpress Dashboard

Once you’re logged in, you’re going to see a fair amount of options that might initially confuse you. Don’t worry though, as you don’t need to understand everything you see to make your site work. 

The main buttons you’ll be using, and should focus on, are:

  • Posts
  • Pages
  • Appearance
  • Plugins

There are many technical guides of Wordpress online, so I’m not going to do a big walkthrough with you. Much of Wordpress can be figured out by simply exploring the interface and clicking around. You can try creating some pages and posts to see how their work, and even start working with widgets (appearance > widgets).

If you absolutely need a technical guide for Wordpress, there are a few resources you can use:

BlueHost (another hosting company) has actually created an excellent series of videos on YouTube to show how to use Wordpress. I’ve linked you here to the 1st video (out of 7) that you can watch to educate yourself on using Wordpress.

Lynda.com has an excellent series of Wordpress videos. Lynda is a paid service though, so you’ll have to cough up some dough for the course, but if you’re looking for something accessible, easy to understand, and comprehensive, this is the video guide for you.

If you’re tech-savvy, you’ll likely only need a tutorial when you run into a specific issue, and just exploring will be all the education you need to get this working.

Band Website Theme's

You will absolutely want to buy a custom theme for your band website. Although Wordpress comes with a few free themes installed (that are great for using as a playground to get yourself familiar), the custom themes available on the internet are where the value of Wordpress is really shown.

Themes cost anywhere from FREE, to about $100. I typically end up paying around $50 for most themes though. I feel it’s well worth my time to pay $50 for the thousands of dollars worth of programming that went into that theme.

As well, a premium (paid) theme will often have support that can help you with any technical issues that you might have with your theme. It also is far more likely to be a responsive theme.

What’s Responsive?

Getting a responsive Wordpress theme means that it’s optimized for both mobile devices (such as your iPhone or Android Tablet) and your desktop compute. Just look to see if the developer claims their theme to be responsive or not. You can also check the website with your phone to see if it’s mobile-optimized. 

How can you tell if it’s mobile-friendly? The website should fill the screen of your phone, and you should NOT have to “pinch” to zoom in; the text should be very easily legible.  A responsive site will not allow you to zoom in any more (because it’s already resized to fill your screen). 

If you need help with this, try visiting AM I RESPONSIVE and type in the URL http://www.georgemullerauto.com

With this service, you can easily see that there are 4 completely different versions of the site, all optimized for each mobile device. You can enter any website into AM I RESPONSIVE to see what it looks like on different devices.

Bottom-line? Get a responsive theme! It might cost more, but it’s well worth it!

Where Should You Buy A Theme?

I would highly recommend looking through what ThemeForest has to offer. It’s a massive marketplace where all the best Wordpress developers show off their themes and plugins.

You can also just search Google for something like “Wordpress musician themes responsive” to find more themes.

Once you’ve chosen and purchased a theme, to install the theme, follow this video from YouTube that outlines the process. The video is by Bluehost, which is a decent hosting company (though not my top choice). Their tutorial is great though, so follow along:

Your specific theme should also have it’s own in-depth documentation that will guide you through installing it, and using all the options. How good the documentation is depends on which theme you’ve purchased, but as long as you’ve chosen a reliable theme developer, they should be providing good support for you to help you through the process.

Not sure if you've found a reliable theme developer?

First, check to see whether they even claim to have it, and then check their ratings on ThemeForest.net to see if other users found their theme support to be good. You should also just use your consumer's intuition to see if your gut sits right with you one it. 

Once your theme is all set up, then it’s just a process of putting your content on your website. 

I've compiled a list of my 10 top responsive Wordpress themes for bands & musicians - ordered simplest to complex…est for your convenience. You should be able to find a theme in there if you don't know where to start. There's also a few tips in the for picking your theme as well.

What Should You Put On Your Website?

There are a variety of things that you might put on your website. As a band, some of these are essential, and some are optional.

You’ll want to start by reading "9 elements you MUST HAVE for your band’s website (a site audit)". That will give you an overview on everything you need for your band's site to be remotely effective.

Just as important as what you put ON your website, you'll also want to pay attention to what you DON'T put on your site. Here are 9 mistakes you don't want to make on your band's website.

To help you stretch your boundaries in making your website more artsy, read 23 artsy band websites that will stretch your creative boundaries.

From there, you might consider having a blog. Recommended reading: why bands should blog.

If you want a blog, you’ll need to decide whether or not you actually have the time to blog (I recommend 1 hour per week minimum), and then stick to it. It’s a great way to allow fans to get to know your band better, which increases your engagement. It also increases your searchability on Google. 

Things To Avoid In Your Band’s Website

Just as important as what you SHOULD put on your website, is what you SHOULD NOT put on your website.

Some things to avoid include not having ridiculously black background on your website (there are occasional exceptions), avoiding flash animations, and having good linking on your website.

The main goal? Have an easy-to-use website that communicates your band clearly. 

Some bigger bands like The Weeknd, Grizzly Bear, Vampire Weekend, The Killers have some pretty fancy sites that would take a bit of a budget to think up, and Tennis Small Sound has one of the most incredible band sites I’ve ever seen. 

You might not be able to get all of the artsy stuff that they’re able to think up, simply because you don’t have the budget or skills for it.

If you’d like to go in a completely artsy direction with your site, I’m definitely not discouraging it! But I am encouraging you to be realistic about what you might be able to accomplish if you’re not already quite far in your musical career. Building a simple, functional site should be your top priority; making it artsy comes later after you’ve gained some experience.

The final long term goal should definitely be to make your website an artistic expression of your band's message, but start with functional.

Here are some more mistakes that you'll want to avoid on your band's website.

Plugins

The premium Wordpress theme that you’ve purchased will often come with many different plugins. There may be :

  • audio players
  • video players
  • sliders
  • storefronts
  • photo galleries
  • discographies
  • tour dates
  • contact forms
  • social sharing
  • seo
  • font managers
  • and tons of other plugins that might be useful to you as a musician.

For themes that don’t come with these plugins (or are missing some of them), you may need to do some Googling to find plugins to fit your needs. First though, you'll want to read 11 Wordpress plugins your band's website is incomplete without.

Here are some places you can find individual plugins, either for free or for purchase:

  • Wordpress.org has a large site with over 28,000 plugins from a ton of different developers.
  • Themeforest has over 2,100 plugins. I recommend you use their search feature.
  • The SEO plugin from Yoast is the only SEO plugin you'll ever need.
  • WPMU has some fantastic upper-level plugins with a ton of features. Each plugin is $19 unless you're subscribed to their membership, which I would not recommend for band websites, as it's much more suited for businesses and the lot.

Just think about what features that you'd want on your site, and you can probably find a plugin for it.

The Musicians Definitive Guide To SEO

As you go through your web development phases, you may eventually run into the term "SEO". It has to do with getting your website ranked on Google.

So how do you "do" SEO, and what does it mean to you as a musician?

It's questions like those that have caused me to write the musician's definitive guide to SEO. If you want an in-depth look at SEO, this guide will tell you what you need to focus on (and what COSTLY mistakes to avoid!)

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.

More Website Articles For Musicians:

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Learn To Build Your Band's Website

My free 48-page guide to building your band's website will take you from start-to-finish in setting up a professional website for your band. It covers:

  • choosing a web host & installing wordpress
  • choosing a theme
  • essential elements to include on your site
  • why blog, and what about
  • much more

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About The Writer

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.