May 2nd, 2009 by Dave Piersall

How to Build Your First Music Website

daves-picture-for-websiteSo You Want to Build a Website to Sell Your Music?

There is a lot that goes into that and content, and traffic are key components to making it all work.  Today we will cover the mechanics to building a site.  If you want to learn more about driving traffic see this post.  “Build it And They Will Come”, and read this post and decide right now if you have the time and the drive to make this all happen,  “Marketing Your Music Online”

artist-starting-out-picture3

So How Do You Get Started?

When I started my site it was trial and error, learning the hard way and it turned out OK too.  If I had it to do over the first thing I would do is write an outline of what I wanted to accomplish with the site and how I felt I could do that.  There is a wealth of music related internet sites to help you research and weigh your options before you leap like Artists House.    You can also talk to your fellow musicians and find out what they think you should do too.  Not all will have great ideas but a little feedback never hurts .

conceptPick Your Domain Name

Next you’ll need to pick your domain name and be original in your choice.    Think about names that are not what everyone would call a site like “Music Production” as remember you are building a brand name.  The more unique the name the better you will rank in page searches.   If you search for “Music Productions” 10.000 pages come up.  If you search for a less traveled name like “Euphony Productions” only a few results will be there because you were unique with your choice.   That is what you want to go after not the same old boring get lost in the internet sea of site names.   Domain names will cost you $9.99 per year and you will want to buy it for at least 2 years.  If you have a band buy that domain name as well as your own name while you are at it too.   They should be .com no .net or .org options as they will not be found as easily as a . com site as that is what everyone will search for by default.

wordpressPick Your Website Theme

Then you will need to go pick a theme for your site if you don’t have the resources and money to have a custom site built.  You can buy a theme on WordPress for between $50.00 and $100.00 then you will need get hosting for it.  Godaddy can help you get that all in one place but keep in mind that eventually you will have to get a more robust hosting solution as if your traffic really starts blazing you will crash the GoDaddy server and your site will be dead.  This will not be something you will need to worry about right away because it will take time to get that kind of traffic.   If you are not real HTML code savvy and you need help with Widgets, plugins, music players, or anything you can hire Steve Johnson at Sawtooth, He is reasonable and is easy to work with.

paypalSign Up For a Payment and Song Download Service

Next you’ll need a shopping cart to sell your songs and accept credit card payments.  I recommend using e-Junkie as your song download service as you can upload your songs on their server and the MP3’s automatically get emailed to the buyer when your song is sold.  It also takes the payment for you without your intervention and can be set to send the money right to your bank account.  To use e-Junkie you will need to be signed up for a credit card payment service like Paypal.  Paypal is a great start up music site option as there are no monthly fees just a minimum .30 transaction fee.  Once you start selling enough songs you can switch to a service with a low monthly fee and much lower transaction fees.   Providing your music is recorded professionally or at least sounds that way if you are using a home studio solution like Pro Tools by Digidesign you should be in good shape with this part of the process.    Remember to ALWAYS put your best foot forward and NEVER put up low quality recordings as you will kill your chances before they start.

whats-in-a-namePicking your Blog Names

If your going to have a Blog and you need to have one to successfully drive traffic you will need to pick out what your Blog categories will be called.  Mine are “Songwriters Studio”, “The Rock Singer”, “In the Mix”, and “The Chicago Beat”.   You decide what makes sense for your site but pick broad scope options as you don’t want to pin yourself in too narrow a scope and run out of material.  Also if you cannot find writers then you may want to pick just one category as writing once a week will be harder than you think it will.   For ideas on how to find good writers read this post.  “Build it And They Will Come”

computerWriting Your First Blog

Now you are ready to write your first Blog.  Write it by hand and really give it some thought as your return traffic depends on it.   I always go for an outline of what I am going to write about and then do any research that is needed.  A good research depot is Artists House as you will find great videos and direction when you are lost for ideas here.  Google is another place to go for research and Flicr is a great resource for photos to put that professional touch to your posts.   You will need to write once a week and post to the Blog the same day every week as your readers will get used to seeing them so plan a schedule for writing ahead of time and stick to it like gospel.

songs-pageBuilding Your Songs Page

You will need to make this really pop and you will want to ask yourself these questions.  1. How will I make it clear I am selling music to anyone who comes to my site?   2. Why will they buy my songs?  3. Are the song files of professional quality? (If not STOP time to fix this)   On my site the songs page is Euphony Productions Presents Wiesbrook Road and there will be more bands to come very soon.  I am currently working with two artists right now but you need to focus on what your objective are.  You will want to find a music player that will play in the Sidebar. (The side bar is the section to the right of all your pages)   This is needed as without it believe me people will not know you are selling songs most of the time.   I use flash MP3 player, and this was one heck of a search for one that would work correctly in the sidebar.  I have my HTML code guru write me a widget that would allow me to enter new songs in easily on the side bar player.  If you want his help you can hire him too, his name is Steve Johnson at Sawtooth. I also use PodPress for the songs page which has a nice player that will play in the parent window and is easy to use.  This player will not play in the sidebar however.

about-usWriting your Bio for Your “About Us” Page

You will need an “about us” page next.   When writing your bio for your “About us” page the more you share into who you are the more your readers will connect with you.  Tell what your organization is about, what your mission is, and anything else you feel will pertain to the story.  If you have other writers involved tell their story too and have pictures of everyone to give that polished look.

money1Affiliate Programs

Affiliate programs will be how you will make the bulk of your money, your song sales will be secondary to these type of programs .   Linkshare, and Commission Junction are two programs you can join that can connect you with companies that have affiliate programs.   You won’t need ads right away as unfortunately traffic will be scarce at first and Commission Junction and Linkshare vendors will normally not approve brand new untested sites without a following.   You concentrate on one goal and that is getting more traffic for now.

web-traffic-picture1How Do I Drive Traffic To My Site?

Traffic is what makes the wheels turn and the way to get it is to have great content and give value to your readers.  Value will be offered through your Blogs and how much you put into them will directly feed to your return traffic.  Networking and Link Campaigns will also be a big part of getting traffic.  If you want the ins and outs to getting traffic and every other part of this marketing program  read these posts. “Build it and They Will Come”,   “Marketing Your Music Online”,  And  “How Do I Get Discovered?”

Launch Your Site

Now that you have all this done you are ready to launch your site.   There will be plenty of tweaks along the way and some things will not work the way you want at first.  Don’t worry too much about it as more than likely until you get some successes not many people will see the site any way.   Once you get it just the way you want you need to be the squeakiest wheel in town.   Never lose site that what you should be squeaking about is all the great value your site brings to readers not trying to force feed them your songs downloads and products.  If you come off shallow and don’t care about your readers you will sink this ship in weeks and once under water it is very hard to change the first impressions you gave.

Until next time keep your head up and feel free to leave me a comment if you need help with any of this.

Contact Dave


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