OK, so you’ve asked yourself whether you really need a band website or not, and have decided you do. You’ve also chosen a content management system (which will almost certainly be WordPress), hosting provider and the perfect domain name for your band website. Now what?
Band website themes/templates
After installing WordPress, you’ll have noticed that it’s pretty ugly to begin with.
You therefore need to find and install a theme. WordPress themes are the templates that govern how your website looks. (Other content management systems have other names for them. For instance, in Joomla, they’re templates.)
“Aha!”, you say, “Where do I find WordPress templates for bands?”
That’s a question a lot of people ask, and is understandable, but it’s also the wrong question. Why’s that?
A WordPress theme is a just a way of controlling how your WordPress content is presented. And all websites share common elements. People have come to expect a logo and a navigation system (menu) at the top, the content in the main area below that and a footer area at the bottom. This applies to websites for bands or DJs as much as it does to websites for insurance companies or anything else.
Plus, if following the logic of having a ‘template for bands’, all band websites would be identical! And that would be no good, as not all bands are identical. The sheer variety of different types of music is enormous.
A website that looks perfect for a Scandinavian extreme metal band wouldn’t look right for a boyband marketed at preteen girls, or vice versa.
The same applies regarding ‘templates for DJs’. There’s a big difference between a DJ playing cheesy 90s hits at weddings, a DJ playing identikit ‘EDM’ (aargh, how I loathe that term. It’s just dance music, FFS!) in a massive arena and a DJ playing banging underground techno to a couple of hundred saucer-eyed crusties in an abandoned warehouse.
So although there are themes specifically designed for bands and DJs, you just need to find a good general purpose theme.
Choosing a theme for your band website – what to look out for
You can search for free themes directly from your WordPress installation’s admin area. You can also find paid-for WordPress themes online, and there are various marketplaces which specialise in offering a range of these. There are also hybrid variants, where a free version contains standard (or sometimes, just basic) features, with a paid-for option offering more options or advanced features.
Here are some factors to bear in mind when choosing a WordPress theme (or a template for Joomla or others):
- Has it been updated recently?
- Is it updated regularly? (Look for a changelog)
- What support options are available? (Forum only, or email too?)
- If there’s a support forum, how quickly, and helpfully, does support respond? How many unresolved/unanswered posts are there?
- Check that it’s compatible with any third-party plugins you plan to use. For instance, if your band website will be multilingual, is the theme compatible with any of the options for making WordPress sites multilingual? Or if you can imagine it featuring a shop, whether for selling physical goods such as records and CDs or for selling music downloads, is it compatible with the various WordPress shop and download systems?
- A website’s loading speed is also really important. Nobody likes a slow-loading website. Some themes are designed with fast loading in mind, and their developers tend to advertise this fact. On the other hand, some general purpose themes are overloaded with all sorts of bells and whistles that you likely won’t need, and which just slow things down.
What your band website needs
Nearly there – now you just need to add the content to your band website. What does it need? It depends, but generally speaking:
- A short bio
- A contact form and/or a clickable email address
- A newsletter sign-up form (you will need a third-party mailing list system for this)
- A blog function for your news – WordPress and most other common systems includes this as standard
- Some professional photos
- An events calendar – but only if you regularly play live, as an empty calendar doesn’t convey a good impression! You will also need a third-party plugin for this.
- Links to your social media profiles
- Music players from SoundCloud, Bandcamp or similar.
- Video from your YouTube channel, Vimeo or similar
Important note for people in Europe, or any other country where data protection regulations apply
Although WordPress makes it easy for you to link to social media profiles and for people to share your content there, and to embed music players and video, and to set up and run an email newsletter, you will need to take additional action to make sure you comply with the GDPR (or equivalent in your country)! Otherwise, your website visitors’ personal data will be transferred to the USA without their consent! And you could get in trouble for it.
For instance, some popular newsletter systems are out of the equation even before you start, and embedding audio and video from other platforms requires additional work on your part.
GDPR compliance is potentially complicated and time-consuming, even for people who know what they’re doing. You will need to either do a lot of reading and researching, or get someone to help you!
Congratulations! Nothing much now stands in the way of your band website!
But a website is a bit like a car, in that it’s a complex organism involving different elements that interact with each other and need to work in harmony. You can’t just leave it and hope that it will still be working OK in a year’s time. If this is the first time you’ve set up a website, you still have some learning to do – or get someone who can help you maintain it.
Has this post inspired you to create a website for your band? Or does it sound like too much hard work and hassle? Let me know in the comments below.
Photo: artwork for fictitious band Goat Botherer © Paul Jackson. Photo of iPad © Kelly Sikkema at Unsplash.