Music on the Blog or Blog on the Music Site?

(Originally published in March 2012 on my old website, which was hosted on the musician-focused website-building platform, Bandzoogle).

I’ve been struggling with the question of what kind of website to use to represent myself – you know, the one that you get to when you search on my name, Solveig Whittle (this one). I am currently using the service Bandzoogle, but in the past six months I have begun to really delve into the world of social media and music marketing. Along with that exercise, Stevie and I have been creating some music with primarily just the two of us, so I’m thinking it’s time to revamp my website(s) before I really launch into promoting the new music. After all, it should probably have a different brand and a different look, and this is my opportunity to “do it right” from the start.

Complicating this is the fact that I want my personal website to be home to several distinct personal projects – but preferably all under one coherent brand:

  • a blog (with the flexibility of being able to embed audio and video)
  • a place to showcase my music
  • a place to describe my music marketing philosophy and hopefully, someday offer my services to other musicians to help them market their music
  • a  home for other possible music-related ventures like an Eastside of Seattle House Concert series I’d love to get going

Intimately entwined in this discussion is also the technical and philosophical question of whether to use packaged (Hostbaby, Bandzoogle, ReverbNation, Facebook) vs. standalone or “self-hosted” tools (WordPress, various other tools). While doing my research, I read this article by Kelly Carpenter, another local blogger and musician (and fellow techie), which led me to think perhaps I should reconsider my current strategy of using Bandzoogle as my “landing” or homepage. Kelly uses his WordPress blog for his personal website’s landing page, which gives him a a lot of flexibility in how to represent his personal brand. His music site (which is a Bandzoogle site, albeit customized from their pre-packaged templates with some HTML and CSS code he added) is a completely separate (but linked) site, reachable from his landing page.

So, that’s certainly one way to go.

I also found this table of Website Builders for Music Bands and Artists feature comparisons from SocialCompare, which I found helpful, and which confirmed at least my decision to stick with Bandzoogle vs. moving to HostBaby (of course, it was last updated in August of 2011). However, I also just spoke to another local artist, Jennifer Cadence, and she uses and likes HostBaby. What to do… And that doesn’t even start to address the graphic design and visuals issues. So much to think about.

I guess for now, I’m going to continue to use my Bandzoogle music site as my home site, modifying it, maybe trying some customizations – but we’ll see how my thinking evolves.

[Update July 8, 2012: I began a WordPress.com hosted blog, solveigwhittle.wordpress.com as part of a Social Media class I’ve been taking to get a professional certificate at the University of Washington. It’s also become more apparent to me since I wrote the original post that blogging is an essential part of promoting one’s self as an indie musician. To be honest, I enjoy the writing process more than I really feel blogging has increased my visibility or credibility as a musician, but I have met some like-minded individuals, primarily through Twitter, and it helps to have a blog to express myself more fully. I find I cannot say everything I want to say in 140 characters, and even keeping my blogs to 500 words is difficult : ) In June, I finally decided to bite the bullet and redesign and self-host my entire website WordPress, which is what you see here. Well, truthfully, I hired someone else to design the site, after I created my hosting account at BlueHost, installed WordPress, and hit a wall with my technical capabilities. I’ve encountered some minor migration issues, and the fact that WordPress.org does not support email subscriptions to my blog, only RSS feeds, but overall I am very happy with the transition. Would love to hear what you think of it!]

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9 comments

  1. Thanks so much for your post, and also for referring people to mine about website platform options for music artists. Your thoughts further propel me down the path of a set of changes I am considering.

    As you know, I have been on the Bandzoogle platform for the past two years, but there have been a few things that I wish were better or more flexible. I have never liked the way my site looks (and this after three or four makeovers), and although I take the brunt of blame due to my lack of graphic design skills, there are layout limitations in Bandzoogle that ties my hands, and I am someone who knows HTML and CSS.

    And then there is the issue of traffic. I only average about 5 site visits a day. My personal blog, on the other hand, averages 25-30. People apparently are more interested in what I have to say about life than they are about my music. So, I am planning to convert my music site (kellycarpentermusic.com) to wordpress and dovetail it seamlessly with my personal blog. I will also do the same with my much-neglected songwriting site kelsongs.com, which is already on wordpress. And by “dovetail seamlessly” I mean using the same WP template on all three sites, so it seems like they are all part of the same blogging experience.

    But first, I need to work on brand, as I still struggle to clearly articulate who I am as a music artist. The adventure continues!

    And, nice design on your site!!

    1. Kelly –

      What a great reply! Thank you. I am glad my blog was helpful in “propelling” you to further action! Your comments about having seen greater blog traffic versus music website traffic only confirms both my own experience and what I have heard from the music marketing “gurus” – blogging is such an important way to share who you are as a person. I think music consumers are definitely looking for more than just the music, they want the “360” package of the artist, to get to know them in a deeper way and see them as a person. Being found by search engines certainly seems more set up for blogging sites than music sites, so that doesn’t hurt either! Besides YouTube, blogging seems to me to be one of the best ways get yourself known on the interwebs, and hopefully to get your music heard.

      And… LOL – The reason I hired someone to help me with my website was exactly the same reason you did – to better articulate my brand as a music artist. I took some time to look at a lot of other artists’ websites, and then basically handed it off to someone to choose a theme and do the graphic design. Glad you like mine! Brian Thompson of The DIY Daily did it, I’m sure he would be interested in providing a bid if you are interested. He is very reasonable and very talented. Cheers and best of luck! Solveig

  2. We used a self-hosted install for our Band WordPress install, it’s great to have all of that flexibility. Bandzoogle certainly looks like it is worth checking out for anyone who find WordPress to be too much for them.

  3. Good day,

    The issue with Music websites is not cosmetic, it is strictly mechanical.

    Modular design is the direction to go. See the following:

    http://www.trot1.info

    Doesn’t matter if you’re on a Desktop, Laptop, Mobile-Phone, or Tablet. View it, turn it Horizontal/Vertical and scratch your head.

    This bypasses digital-distribution (i.e. particularly the requirement to send someone to a third party right off the bat. F*ck that, just capture them on whatever device they own, right then).

    It bypasses the need to have 3rd party Apps developed as well etc.

    But hej, who the f*ck am I?

    Respectfully,

    – Ss

    1. Good feedback. Thank you, Sekrett! My question was also a philosophical one as much as a website design question. I think some of the dilemma for me is about whether to commit to music as the main focus of the site. It’s something I still wrestle with – blogger or musician? Or marketer?

    1. Sandeep – Thanks for your comment. There are many good options for musicians for websites. It depends more on the person who will doing the website maintenance to decide what is the best choice. If you are more technical and can update the website yourself and you want more flexibility then WordPress is a good choice. If you are not very technical, then the easier more visual platforms like Bandzoogle or Hostbaby are much better. I recommend chasing a platform where you can do the work to update your own website so you don’t have to rely on paying someone else for basic updates like a blog post or event pictures or new music.

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