Band and artist websites are still relevant in 2020 despite what you might hear.
Many argue that you only need active social accounts. While a substantial amount of your following may frequent your Twitter or Instagram more than your website, it’s still essential to have.
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Your band website is in your control. It helps you build a coherent image and brand. Having a website for your band looks professional as well.
There are a couple schools of thought when it comes to band websites.
You can use a website builder, like Bandzoogle, which is by far the easiest platform for beginners and is most-suited to us as musicians in bands. Bandzoogle is currently offering a free 30-day trial with 15% off the first year, as well.
The other option is to create the website yourself and learn a content management system, HTML, CSS, and more that will detract from what we all love doing most: creating music.
For the sake of this article though, we will cover both ways to create an artist website.
TL;DR: Sign up for Bandzoogle and follow the website wizard.
So how do we build a website with no experience and on a budget?
Today I’ll be walking you through the process, step by step.
Essentials for Starting Your Artist Website
Before we begin, the average cost of running your artist website will be somewhere in the neighborhood of $15/m. Web services, depending on if they are essential to you, can alter this number up or down.
There are free options, but I would highly suggest staying away if you’re serious about your career.
Quick tangent: when we were first starting, we were hesitant to afford the monthly cost of a website. We launched on a Tumblr blog and had a nightmare transferring all the information over later on.
Bandzoogle – Best Website Builder For Artists
Bandzoogle is by far the best website creator for musicians. Users do not need to know how to code and can launch a website in just a few minutes. The company has been around for fifteen years and powers more than 37,000 artist websites.
Prices range from around $8/m to $17/m. Bandzoogle’s platform is very affordable and even includes a free domain name.
Readers of Drumming Review can get a free 30-day trial and 15% off the first year to Bandzoogle by using this link.
Why Use a Website Builder Like Bandzoogle?
Simplicity and ease.
Using a website builder like Bandzoogle is perfect for anyone with limited experience in web design. The platform streamlines the process of learning and using HTML, CSS, PHP, and other scripts. You should be focused on your music, not learning code.
Bandzoogle also recently announced that the platform has added commission-free crowdfunding, similar to that of GoFundMe. The payments go directly to the artists. Good on you, Bandzoogle!
The website creator is mobile-friendly which can often be a big issue with other page-builders and those new to creating websites. The majority of traffic today comes from mobile phones, so it’s in your best interest to start off on the right foot.
How to Create Your Band’s Website With Bandzoogle
1) Sign up
The signup process is quick and painless. Click ‘Try it Free’ at after clicking the link here. Enter your band/project/artist name and click the orange arrow.
At the next prompt, enter your project or band’s email address.
I’d recommend creating a separate Gmail or Yahoo account just for band administrative and automated emails.
Next, you’ll be prompted to enter a password for your account. Standard stuff. Click create your site and you’ll be good to go!
2) Choose a theme
Bandzoogle comes loaded with tons of pre-made templates that look fantastic. I’m more of a minimalist when it comes to design, so the template ‘BILLBOARD’ caught my attention instantly.
When you click ‘Apply’ on a given theme, you’ll have the chance to preview it before you activate it.
3) Edit the content
This will arguably be the biggest time-sink while making your website, but it should be too difficult. Gather up all relevant photos, videos, logos, bios, etc you want to include on your website.
Click the ‘Edit Content’ button at the top left when you’re ready. You can now scroll through your site in ‘Edit mode,’ making changes by clicking on various sections. Bandzoogle is a visual page builder, so you’ll become familiar with the concept at you scroll around and begin editing.
For example, if you highlight over an image, you’ll see a prompt that reads ‘Edit Image.’ Clicking the image will allow you to import an image of your own. A sidebar will show up on the left-hand side giving you options to make changes.
Note: when using images on websites, it’s important to keep the size down! I advise using images no bigger than 200kb to keep your pages running fast!
What sections to use for an artist website?
For your band website, I’d suggest using the following sections.
- Top header image
- Mailing list
Some of the themes from Bandzoogle have a blog section. I would convert that into a ‘Videos’ section unless you plan on actively blogging on your artist page. We never actively blogged as a band, but some artists do.
Once your content is edited, your site will be good to go! You can now begin to promote it to your fans.
Before we get started, I’d just like to say that building a website with WordPress is far more difficult than using Bandzoogle. Be prepared for hours of learning and some frustration. I’d also argue that WordPress is suited far more for websites like mine: blogs.
The second option for creating an artist website is with a content management system known as WordPress.
WordPress has quite a big learning curve, so be patient with the process.
Here’s a look inside the dashboard. WordPress has a straightforward user interface, and websites can be customized endlessly, depending on knowledge.
“27% of the internet is powered by WordPress.”
In 2018, Who Is Hosting This estimates 75 million websites are using WordPress. W3techs claims it has 58% of the entire CMS market share. It’s safe to say that users like the platform.
Things you’ll need to make a band website with WordPress
Band and artist websites are multifaceted. There are two essential pieces to assemble before beginning “the build” of your site.
- Domain Name – $16/yr (free with Bandzoogle)
- Web Hosting – $5/m
- Theme – $10-$50 (one-time)
If you are to choose Bandzoogle, you don’t have to worry about any of this. All three of these are included with your subscription.
Domain name, aka the .com
Domain names are labels that identify websites. For example, sweetwater.com is a domain name. You’ll need to re-purchase your domain name every year, else it will expire.
Along with domain names comes web hosting. A web host is a company that will store your website’s data and fetches that data when someone visits your page.
I should mention that you can buy domain names and web hosting from separate companies, but I find that to be over complicating things.
It’s much easier to stick with one company.
My host for Drumming Review is WP Engine. I wanted faster speed after transferring from a company called Host Color. My band’s website’s host is Siteground. I have lots of experience with both companies now.
WP Engine is a bit more expensive than Siteground, and you cannot register domain names with them. For simplicities sake, we will walk you through the process of using Siteground (though most are relatively similar).
Let’s get onto the steps of setting up your artist website.
1) Choose a Hosting Plan
For a new band website, you’re safe to choose the StartUp plan. SiteGround is running a special price of $3.95/month currently. Unless you’re in a gigantic touring act, I don’t believe you’ll need more than 10,000 monthly visits.
If you decide you need more space or visitors per month, upgrading down the road is simple.
The StartUp Plan
The StartUp plan comes with everything you’ll need: an SSL certificate, email, Cloudflare CDN, a daily backup (massive plus), 24/7 support, and a 30 days money-back guarantee.
If none of those terms make sense to you, that’s okay. We’ll take everything slowly.
Notice the little lock at the top of the URL address bar? It means the site is secure. If you ever plan to sell merchandise with your band’s website, you’ll need your site to have SSL.
Branded email is underrated, in my opinion. When conducting outreach, emails look far more professional from firstname.lastname@example.org rather than email@example.com. Be sure to keep that in mind.
Cloudflare is what’s known as a content delivery network. CDNs deliver webpages to users based on geographical location.
They make the user experience better by loading your site faster.
CDNs also protect against DDOS (distributed denial of service) attacks; this is when an attacker floods a website with insane amounts of fake traffic, causing a site to crash.
I wish I had known about daily backups when I first began building websites. My web host has saved me numerous times.
Also, because I’m paranoid, I also use an extremely affordable service called ManageWP that keeps a second backup of the website, just in case.
2) Pick Your Domain Name
For this step, you’ll need to tick the circle that says, “Register a New Domain Name.”
Here you can enter your act’s name. If it’s already in use, you may have to get creative by adding ‘music’ or ‘band’ to the end.
If possible, secure a name in the same format as your social media URLs. For example:
You’ll also want to avoid strange or regional TLDs (top-level domains) like .us, .ca, or .uk. Just stick with .com.
3) Review and Complete Order
Siteground is unique in that their discounted rate applies to any of the service durations chosen on this page. Other hosting companies only offer a discount when purchasing a subscription for the most extended period, say five years.
If you’re a new band, I’d suggest 12 months of service, giving you a year to establish your website as your following grows and you can resubscribe later on if the band is still active.
Feel free to ignore Website File Transfer and SG Site Scanner, as there are free options available in the form of free WordPress plugins.
4) Enter cPanel and Install WordPress
Once your order is complete, you should be able to login to the Siteground user area. Upon arrival on the home page, click ‘My Accounts.’
On the next page, you should see your new domain name under My Accounts. Click ‘Manage Account.’
Underneath ‘MANAGE ACCOUNT: YOURBAND.COM,’ you should see a red button labeled ‘Go to cPanel.’ Click the button.
The website will prompt you if you’d like to access cPanel securely. Keep ‘Access cPanel Securely’ checked and click ‘Proceed.’
Once inside of cPanel, you will see lots of shortcuts to different applications. Under the ‘AUTOINSTALLERS’ category, there is a WordPress application. Click it.
You should now be inside the Softaculous WordPress Installer. Near the center of the page is a blue button labeled ‘Install.’ Don’t click it just yet.
Click the little arrow next to install and choose ‘Custom.’ There are a few settings to tweak.
Under Software Setup, make the following changes:
Choose the version you want to install: highest number
Choose Protocol: https:// (if for some reason https doesn’t work, you’ll need to contact SiteGround to enable your free SSL certificate)
Choose Domain: should already be selected
In Directory: leave blank
Under Site Settings, you can change these either now or later. The Site Name should be your band or artist name, and description should be a short blurb about you.
Under Admin Account settings, be sure to set a username and password you will remember, but to make sure it’s strong enough to keep your site secure.
Be sure to write this information down! You do not want to lose your WordPress user and password; resetting it requires you to return to this page, which can be annoying.
At the bottom, uncheck WordPress Starter, unless you’d like to try some of the starter themes and plugins.
After the install is complete, you should now be able to login to your website. Navigate to https://yourwebsite.com/wp-admin and enter the login information you just created.
5) Log in to your new website
Congratulations! You’ve successfully launched your first website!
The left section of the page contains a sidebar which enables you to navigate to different parts of WordPress.
There’s the Dashboard, posts, pages, media, comments, appearance, plugins, users, tools, and settings.
Hovering the mouse over certain links on the sidebar reveals more menus of options. For example, hovering over Settings reveals General, Writing, Reading, Discussion, Media, Permalinks, and Privacy.
First, let’s click ‘Permalinks’ under Settings.
By default, WordPress uses the setting ‘Plain’ for what are known as Permalinks. Permalinks are simply the URL structure of your website. The best option to choose is ‘Post Name.’ Choose that, scroll down, and click ‘Save Changes.’
6) Themes and plugins for your artist website
Now, onto the nitty gritty of themes and plugins. On the left-hand sidebar, navigate to Appearance -> Themes.
Themes are basically ‘skins’ that your WordPress website wears. They change how everything feels and looks. Remember MySpace layouts? The concept is similar.
There are several free themes you can try out for your artist website, but I’d strongly suggest taking a look at a premium theme.
Premium themes for your band website
ThemeForest is the largest marketplace for WordPress themes. I’ve bought several over the years and have had no issues.
Many designers develop themes exclusively for music, band, or artist websites. Additional features included are music players, tour schedules, and more.
One theme, in particular, Lucille, is incredible for building your artist website.
Lucille features a one-click demo install that makes it very easy to change things to your liking. There are a total of five different pre-made designs included with the theme to fit any style or genre of music.
The theme looks and feels modern, as well. Artist websites today need to look sleek and have excellent performance.
Lucille also utilizes WPBakery (formerly Visual Composer), a drag-and-drop page builder that makes designing your artist website very easy, especially for first-timers.
If you decide to buy a premium theme, you will get a zip file to download from Themeforest. In most cases, you can upload this zip file directly to your website.
Import your theme file
On the Appearance -> Themes page, near the top is a button that reads ‘Add New.’ Click the button, press ‘Upload Theme’ and select the zip file you just downloaded.
Once uploaded, choose ‘Activate.’ WordPress will prompt you to install the following required plugins: Lucille Music Core, Slider Revolution, and WPBakery Page Builder.
Click ‘Begin installing plugins’ and activate all. We will now import Lucille’s demo content.
On the left-hand sidebar, navigate to Appearance -> Lucille Import Demos. From this page, we have a choice of five different options: Creative, Classic, White, Rocks, and Artist.
Before importing, I’d suggest taking another look at all the different styles before choosing any demo.
Choosing a demo will import dummy content into your website, populating it with various pages and layouts.
From here, it’s as simple as editing each page and uploading your content: pictures, album art, music, flyers, tour dates, etc.
Every theme is a little different, so be sure to read through the theme’s documentation to understand it better. WordPress is powerful, but there is a little bit of a learning curve. Take it slow and remember, YouTube is your best friend.
One guide, in particular, helped me understand WPBakery page builder a little better. It may help you, as well.
7) Selling band merchandise from your site
Up until now, there hasn’t been an easy way to sell our merchandise online. In the past, we’ve had to hold physical inventory and send it out when it’s bought (ourselves!).
Unless you’re big enough to be working with a distributor, chances are it’s you rolling down to the post office once a week.
With WordPress and a free plugin called WooCommerce, we now can integrate on-demand print services with our website.
Rather than buying 500 t-shirts up front, you now have the ability to print a shirt only when a fan orders one. It’s revolutionized our web store over the past few years.
I wrote a guide about on-demand printing last year, detailing the process and how to set it up for yourself. Be sure to give it a read!
Good luck on making your artist website! I hope this guide has helped you get a great start! If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them down below in the comments! Thanks for reading.