by Glen Brown
Many people claim that Facebook, Twitter or (in the olden days) MySpace are the best way to connect with your fans, giving you quick and relatively easy ways to connect and get your news out to tons of people, making a dedicated website for you band redundant and too expensive. But don’t throw out the idea of a website so fast. Here are three very good reasons for making a website the focal point of your on-line presence.
1. Control. When you manage your own web site, it will always be in your control. Your domain name, your files, and your information are completely kept by you, and updated by you. We sometimes forget that while the “free” social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter are providing us with their vast networking and communications resources at no monetary cost to us, we are taking on extra risk.
After all, Facebook has been known to inexplicably shut pages down, and in at least one instance, a musician with about 80,000 friends found his page hijacked, his administrator permissions removed and his fans getting spammed. (http://youtu.be/UX3A8CGtBDc)
Not only that, but trends change. Twitter may be in today, but who knows what new social networking system will be with us in two years? We all remember that MySpace, although far from dead, is not the major force it used to be.
2. Design. With your domain comes complete design control. You choose how everything looks, reads, and behaves. You choose how your fans will interact with your content. Most likely, there will be no ads to distract your audience. You own all the design elements of your store, video clips, sound clips, information kit downloads, response pages, sign-up forms, and everything else. Find a web designer who knows the current methods. It’s money well spent.
Special “landing pages” for marketing purposes can be easily added to your web domain, so that as you feature different products through email offers or newsletters, your fans can be directed to any web page you design yourself that is under your domain.
3. You get the best bang for your buck. A professionally designed website, with the cost being equally shared by the members of a five piece band, can be set up and maintained for only a few dollars per person per month.
Jason Silver, a Kingston web designer, has been building web sites since 1995. He says, “Domains go on sale sometimes, but the average cost is about $15 a year. Hosting can be as low as $4 or $5 a month — but stay away from the super cheap hosting options. You’re getting a good deal if you pay about $80 a year.” So, $100 a year will give you a web site with your custom domain name and a place to host your content. That’s just pennies a day per band member.
Silver says your web site “is your opportunity to put your band in as good a light as possible, and you might only get one chance to inspire someone to hire you.” Don’t skimp on the original design and layout, which for a simple site would cost between $500 and $1000. Use a professional photographer to get the best possible images.
“Before you settle on a price with the developer, think through what you want your site to do. It should be more than just an over-priced business card! It should allow interaction. Maybe let people “Like” the sample songs you’re streaming, let fans comment on photos, download desktop backgrounds, or get to know other fans. Consider creative things that will cause people to ‘share’ your site. What if they could mix their own version of your songs– cranking up the bass part, or muting the drums?” That advice is from a web designer who also happens to be a musician! Silver says the more complex stuff as suggested above will be $1000 to $3000.
Considering the potential exposure and fan connection you can achieve through a well designed, interactive web site, it’s money well spent. Jason can be reached at crookedbush.com.