In an age of Instagram domination, the need for a website has become debatable. After all, content on your website won’t get shared, right? Wrong.
We caught up with Stephen O’Reilly and Tom Burris, Director and Head of Digital respectively at ie:music (the music management masterminds behind artists including Robbie Williams and Cher Lloyd) to find out why it’s still necessary to have a website on top of your social media output, and that's whether you’re just starting out or a fully developed artist.
Keep control of your brand
“A website can be a key core part of the artist’s online brand and identity,” explains Stephen. “I think it’s important to have your own domain that you own and you control and it’s also an important destination for fans to explore your world if they want to explore your world.”
Having all your events, merch, content, new releases, socials and updates will mean it’s easier for fans and those wanting to work with you to find what they’re looking for.
Being in charge of your own website also means that you’re in control when things go awry.
“Having your own website for the long term, registering your own domain, and being in the driving seat with it is incredibly important because we’ve had all sorts of issues in the past where agencies, labels (sometimes ex-boyfriends) bought the original domain,” Tom tells us.
“When they don’t transfer ownership of the domain, you lose the website, the domain expires and then you lose it entirely. Then you have to register a brand new domain and tell fans what your new website is, so we’d always advise the artist gets that domain from the very beginning.”
“There’s no excuses your website can’t be kept up to date,” Stephen is quick to acknowledge the simplicity of building your own site these days.
“You can plugin your Instagram for images and Songkick for gig dates, you can use widgets that keep it up to date and I think websites start at no cost to fifty to a hundred quid a year for a beautiful template on Squarespace or other basic template platforms.” If you get stuck, you can always hire a developer or friend to help but generally, they also build from templates.
Tom agrees, explaining that having less on your website is truly more. “I’m not a big fan of the massively overdone website unless you’re a heritage artist like Robbie Williams or something like that, where you’ve got this fanbase that you’ve nurtured for decades and may kind of expect that bigger experience but generally, keep it visual and to the point, you probably want only 3 or 4 pages max.”
From a creative's perspective, when it comes to those legacy and headline artists, Tristan of Tristan Palmer Studio, who combines art direction, brand identity design, and website development for music industry clients said:
"A great website can really help elevate an artist (or label) by creating an immersive experiential digital home for fans to engage with content, history, and inspiration. The kind of content which is not available anywhere else is what really creates value for any fan."
"From a marketing standpoint, that value can be leveraged to drive longer-term fan engagement, increase merchandise sales, and help labels and management to really understand their audiences through data collected."