CASH Music’s 3 Essential Best Practices for Artists’ Websites

By George Howard
(Follow George on Twitter)

In this video I interview Jesse Von Doom. Jesse is the Co-Executive Director of CASH Music. From their site: “CASH Music is a nonprofit organization that builds open source digital tools for musicians and labels. Our mission is to help educate and empower artists and their fans to foster a more viable and sustainable future for music.”  You can learn more about their services via this fantastic piece in the New York Times.

Jesse knows his stuff, and I was lucky to pry him away from building tools to help artists so that he could offer some advice on essential best practices for artists’ websites.  In short, it’s about control.  Throughout the video, Jesse returns to the theme of being careful to avoid putting your artistic destiny in the hands of others—whether that’s a third-party marketing site, or a web-hosting service. This doesn’t mean that web hosts or third-party sites are necessarily bad and to be avoided, but rather that you, the artist, should be in control, and direct people where you want them from your own/owned site.

To summarize Jesse’s main points:

1. Be the Central Hub of your online identity.  Even if you don’t want to build your own website, at least buy your own domain, and then have it redirect to whatever site you desire (e.g. Tumblr, Bandcamp, etc.).

2. HTML is your friend. Know enough so that you can put together a site that—as above—directs people to your online presence, but also informs people of what you’re up to (tour dates, etc.).  A simple HTML site can look elegant, and provide all the links and info necessary for you to own your own identity.  This way, if some site that you’ve built assets atop of goes dark (ahem, MySpace), you simply stop directing people to that site.  This owned site also helps with Search Engine Optimization, and will increase the chances of people finding you when they look for your band on Google.

3. Be the hub of your commerce. Use TuneCore to get your music everywhere, but use your own/owned site to inform people of where they should go to buy your music. This way, if you have, for instance, a promo running with iTunes, you can highlight it on your site, and direct people there.

So, as above, the overarching theme, with respect to your site, is one of control. We at TuneCore encourage everyone to take control and responsibility, and to use the tools out there in the best way possible to grow your career on your terms.  The alternative—ceding control—puts you in a position of weakness, not strength; of passivity, not action.

Enjoy the video, and watch this space for more great commentary.

[Editor’s note: Make sure your music is available in digital stores worldwide so you can direct people there from your website!]

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George Howard is the Executive Vice President of Wolfgang’s Vault. Wolfgang’s Vault is the parent company of Concert Vault, Paste Magazine, and Daytrotter. Mr. Howard is an Associate Professor of Management at Berklee College of Music