Monthly Archives: June 2009

Music Website Design

I’m redesigning my website (www.robroper.com). So I looked at other websites and made a list of things I like, and things I don’t like, about other music websites.

Things I don’t like:

1. Homepages that take 40 days and 40 nights to load. This is usually due to videos on the homepage, music players, and/or excessive high-resolution photos.

2. A homepage that’s not a homepage; you have to click something to enter. Why can you just bring me to your homepage.

3. Pathetic begging for money and support. Buy my CD! Come to my show! Get on my email list! Now!

4. A cluttered page. Too much stuff on one page.

5. Small fonts that are hard to read. I’m not going to read it if it hurts my eyes.

#5 and #6 frequently go together.

6. Music players that auto-play a song on the homepage.

7. 4 billion cookies. There’s no justification for more than one cookie.

What are the characteristics of a good music website?

The homepage should be simple, uncluttered, readable and fast loading. It should have the most important info up front. There should be links to other pages for everything else.

Music, video players and most photos should be on other pages linked to the homepage.

The site should express your personality. If you are humble and personable, then the site should convey that; it shouldn’t make you out to be self-centered and pretentious. On the other hand, if you are self-centered and pretentious… hey, a lot of fans like that in their heroes. :)

For me, I like color and shape, so I like a nice background and a nice color scheme.

And last, but definitely not least, the site code for the site should meet web standards, and you should test your site with 2 or 3 common browsers.

Of course, those are just my personal preferences. I’d be interested in hearing what others like and don’t like about music websites. And I’d love to get feedback on my work-in-progress, www.robroper.com. I’m just an amateur web designer at this point, but it’s fun.

-Rob

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Minor Key

I only have one song written in a minor key (When They Go). I need to write more.

That’s all.

-rr

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Art and Commerce, or No One Owes You Anything

If you put your heart and soul into creating a work of art, whether it be a song or a painting, do you have the right to demand that people appreciate it, take the time to admire it, maybe even spend money on it?

No.

Nobody owes you anything.

You can create whatever kind of music you want. Nobody’s stopping you. But as soon as you want other people to spend their time and/or money on your work, you’ve now entered the world of commerce. And the rules of commerce now apply.

If I want someone to spend money, or perhaps more valuable, their time listening to my music, I have to offer them something in return. My music must do something for them. Make them laugh, make them cry, make them think, or perhaps just be beautiful and allow them to appreciate beauty.

As common sense as that sounds, it took me awhile to figure that out.

If you’re a performer and/or songwriter, put on your music consumer hat for a minute. If I come to you and say, “Dude! You should buy my CD! You should take time out of your evening and pay the cover charge to come see me play!” What are you thinking? What if my music doesn’t do anything for you? Would you spend your time and money on me just because I’m a nice guy? Just because I spent hundreds of hours, much introspection and soul-searching, to write these songs? Maybe. But that means you’re doing it out of sympathy. Or even worse, pity.

Nobody owes me anything. It’s my–and your–job to figure out how our music can serve people. Then people will spend their time and money on us because they benefit from listening to it. And that’s how it should be.

-Rob

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Friends and Fans

It’s been about 3 years since I started playing out as a solo acoustic performer playing my own songs. I’ve noticed an interesting phenomena, which probably applies to bands also (none of the bands I was in before I starting songwriting lasted long enough for me to notice this phenomena).

At your first gig, or rather your first few gigs, of course you have no fans yet, so you invite your friends, family members and co-workers. You have a good turnout, because of the curiosity factor– the “I didn’t know you played music!” factor. But then once their curiosity is satisfied, they stop coming to shows, unless they really like your music; that is, they have become fans. Your closest friends may continue to come to shows for awhile longer, just to support you, but eventually unless they also become fans, you’ll see less and less of them.

This can be discouraging. At your first shows you’ve got 10 or 15 people, now a year later, even though you’re a better songwriter, a better singer, a better performer overall, only one or two people are showing up.

So once you’ve passed Stage 1; that is, after you’ve exhausted the pool of friends, family members and co-workers, the question becomes: how to you get actual fans? People who come not to “support” you, but because they love seeing you perform and hearing your music.

Ah, if I only knew the answer to that problem. I’d be interested in hearing how other singer-songwriters and bands have made this transition.

-Rob

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