There are a lot of musicians who want to artistically stretch people’s minds. They want to make people think and really dive deeply into the meanings of their songs, their name, their image and different underlying elements, thinking that this will add a hip or cool edge to their image. The problem is that this can lead to flat out confusion or, worse, become a deterrent, keeping people away from the music instead of drawing them closer.
Don’t get me wrong: mind stretching and creativity are great things, but think about them as a later step rather than the first. Make it something that fans will have to dig into and avoid confusing the new listener. Wild stories, confusing bios, songs that make no sense or tie into the more experimental side of you can be red lights for many people to not want to dig deeper. For example, if you are a grunge/industrial type band with fast loops, dirty guitars and in-your-face samples with brash harmonies and powerful hooks, the first sample song on your site should reflect that.
Get over yourself.
When new people visit any of your websites, most are only going to be there for a few seconds unless you draw them in further. While every musician wants to think that people are investing the time into listening to every sample, looking at every picture and reading every piece of text, the truth is that the majority are only investing seconds before moving on. People have many options when it comes to music they listen to and purchase, so it is up to you to grab them, wow them, explain and showcase to them and pull them in to want more. It is crucial, just like having a fast pitch for industry professionals, to also have that same fast pitch and grab for the masses.
Good Ideas vs Bad Ideas
Strongly represented bands have webpages that load quickly, and immediately showcase their logo, tagline, image and information easily. If an artist's page takes too long to load, I don't even bother. I go find someone else. And “too long” is, like, five seconds. Not kidding. On the other side of this coin are artists who let their “artistry” get in the way of their presence. For example, there is a website for a band that actually has a small animal that walks around the page for ten seconds before the page opens. And you can't skip it. This may be creative and cute for the band and for fans that know something about the reason behind the path and the creature, but for a new person stopping by, it just comes off as stupid. Quoting a friend of mine who is not a musician, “I want my information now, thanks. This is especially irritating when I'm looking for lyrics. AAHH!! And the sites that I look up, find the specific lyrics page, click the link, only to be REDIRECTED to the intro page. Oh. My. Gawd.” Thanks for running the point home Alyssa. Ha-ha. Another site has a band bio that is very small and very long. The site also has so many applications that it's confusing, and confusion repels potential fans. To top it off, all of these extra applications make the page load very slowly.
These are all things you do not want in your website. The websites or social networking sites that force you to scroll down or wait to fish out information are not helping you to capture the new fans that come across your site. Instead of putting up total songs why not put up samples and a lot more of them? Think about it: just as you should put together a small demo sample for any industry person so they can listen to the bulk of your songs without investing a huge chunk of invaluable time, you can do the same for your fans. This is respectful of the fans' time. Supply 20 to 30 seconds of fade in and fade out samples that are clearly marked as samples. Supply the time in the title. This way, when a new fan sees the player, they know right off the bat that they are getting samples and may just listen to them all. Again, another fun quote from Alyssa “AMEN! If artists list full songs, I don't even bother. I want powerful samples. I want to know right now whether or not I'm going to like the band. Again, time: it is precious. I usually look for new music as a break from writing. I allot myself approximately half an hour for this. I don't have time to listen to full songs.” This also gives you a chance to choose exactly what they hear and allows you to highlight the strongest section of the song instead of them flipping through and just listening to the beginnings of all your tunes, if they even listen that far. Give them a sample of everything and make them want to hear more and dig deeper.
It's fine to go deep and make people think and make people have to search. It's fine to challenge your fans, but first you have to get those fans through the door. You have to get them interested in you and ready to be challenged. Make sure you have created a crystal clear image that demonstrates and sells you; this will entice them to want more. It is a hard thing to sometimes separate how you see something from how the public will see it. Remember, just because you get it or it makes sense to you, it doesn’t mean it will make sense to everyone. You are the artist and you are right smack in the middle of it all. A big part of pulling in and creating the fan base is working on creating the right appearance and marketing to pull them towards you. Make the first presentation easy, fast and simple so that people can get a clear idea of you, your music and what you are about. After you got 'em, then you can start playing with the intricacies and extra details.