I’ve written a great deal in the past surrounding your artist website, and my opinion (in both my premium courses) on whether you need one has always been yes. That was until the past year or two, and I’ve started seeing the rise of one-page websites that just list links. Linktree is a good example (and one of the more commonly used ones) – but I imagine you’ll be familiar with them, since they’re generally a page with a title, followed by a list of links out to whatever content is deemed necessary. Usually social media sites or a recent mix or release.
Now, far from being a full-fledged artist website, I think these are getting more and more popular. They solve the problem of having somewhere to collect all your social links, and they are far easier to set up than a proper website, for the many artists who are not (and shouldn’t necessarily need to be) tech savvy.
The downside to most of these link tree websites is the inability to bring in anything special, for example an email signup or a large bio section, booking info or even a tour schedule. Yes, no doubt the services that provide these sites will message me asking to mention their premium versions where you can pay a monthly fee for the addition of custom branding, email signup forms and suchlike, but generally people don’t seem to be paying for these benefits, since artists already have enough in the way of outgoings, and many don’t want to prioritise a website that nobody is visiting anyway.
I think this hits on the crux of the matter as it happens. How many people are really, actively (or passively, I suppose) visiting an official artist’s website?
From those I spoke to over the past week, none.
I asked people what their typical behaviour was when they discover a new artist they like, for example in a mix, on the radio or mentioned by a friend.
None of them said they look for or visit an artist’s website. None of them even mentioned doing a Google search for the artist (which might be the way they’d find such a site).
Some of the answers I got reflected my own behaviour, which was to find the artist on my platform of choice (in my case, Spotify) – check out their profile/bio and music there, and then explore links to socials from that point. Always focussing on the social platforms which I use most often, however. Generally my journey goes:
A number of people told me they go to Wikipedia for a bit of history or background on the artist, and any connections that artist might have.
Some go straight to Bandcamp to find out what’s available (although as an artist I worry that they don’t get a full picture here).
A good number of people go straight to YouTube, since they see it as a good way to find common tracks and singles.
Some also go to sites like Discogs, to explore the artists catalogue.
The interesting thing here is people have many habits where they explore sites they are already familiar with that are NOT an artist’s website. They explore sites that have design patterns which won’t surprise them, where they know how to get the information they want.
But that’s not to say that you don’t need an official, separate artist website – but here’s where I think priorities have changed.
What I think is a good idea these days is to consider your artist website to be a convenient, and more customisable replacement for a linktree type website, and to allow your presence to permeate across whatever social networks you’re happy keeping up to date.
I think design should be kept simple, and should be fully compatible with mobile devices (many people discover new music on the move) as well as being able to hold all the links you need.
Artists these days seem to need to meet fans on whatever platform their listeners are comfortable with. We don’t have the luxury of assuming fans will come to us if we only use Twitter, for example. There’s a danger of spreading yourself too thing, but if you can manage multiple social media profiles, and keep them active enough to keep engagement high, then you should be able to capitalise on new listeners and fans finding your work.
The two things to take away from this are that firstly, nobody is visiting an official website unless it’s to grab a link to find whatever social media profile or latest content they need (a “link in bio” type situation from Instagram, or a “find my socials at xyz.com type setup). It’s an intermediary step to a platform they’re comfortable with.
The second take away is that social sites, profiles, bios and links on as many platforms as possible, all need to be up to date and pointing to each other. We’re talking everything from Spotify bio page, to twitter header image. Soundcloud bio to Instagram links. Even better if you have a Wikipedia page, but that’s a luxury not everybody can enjoy.
I’d also suggest looking at your website seriously and deciding if you can either rework it into a linktree type format to handle the behaviour of fans these days, or look at replacing it with a linktree type solution which allows you to collect emails as well as link out to all the relevant places.
I hope this gives you some food for thought, and if you’ve got any insight on either your own behaviour or the behaviour of your fans when they find your music, I’d love to hear.
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