I’m in the middle of redesigning my website. In the process, I’ve been looking around at other composer and musician websites to get some ideas and inspiration. And I noticed something interesting: film composer’s websites are, by and large, far less impressive and less engaging than those of bands and performing artists. Even those of famous, world-renowned composers look as though they were designed 10 years ago by a graphic design student or they have big “Coming Soon” notices on the home page. In this post I’ll show you some affordable options for improving your own website or creating a new one so it stands out from the crowd and hopefully gets you more work. (Filmmakers, this post focuses on composer websites, but much of the advice will work just as well for your sites.)
I’m a former graphic designer, so I’m perhaps a bit more sensitive to web aesthetics than others, but I strongly believe that an attractive, well-designed website will leave your potential clients feeling more impressed with your professionalism and more confident of your abilities. Conversely, an unattractive or sloppy site may make them think twice about hiring you. It’s a bit like clothing—you certainly wouldn’t wear sweatpants and a ripped t-shirt to an important client meeting. You’ll likely sport an outfit that makes you look and feel hip, successful and confident. Your website should present that same self-image.
Here are a two links to lists of music websites that might inspire you: 30 Mind-Blowing Music Website Designs and 25 of the Best Websites of Bands and Musicians. Yes, many of them are band websites and all of them were professionally designed and probably expensive. But a stylish, good-looking site doesn’t have to cost a lot. This is the era of the design template, and most of the work has already been done for you if you look in the right places:
- Wix.com offers “freemium” Flash websites, meaning that a basic site is free, and if you want more bells and whistles—like your own domain name, extra bandwidth, and no Wix ads—you pay. Their designs are quite good, and seem easy to set up and administer. They’ll also hook you up with a professional designer if you need more customization. One big advantage to Wix: they have their own integrated audio player. WordPress and Squarespace (below), don’t, although there are plenty of free modules out there you can add without much difficulty.
- Another free alternative is WordPress.com. There are thousands of free WordPress themes to choose from and there are numerous designers building even more that you can use for a modest fee. To get you started, here’s a list of 30 great music-focused WordPress themes. Setting up a basic WordPress site isn’t difficult, but customizing it can be a bit more demanding. In that case you may want to enlist the help of a professional. WordPress also gives you the option of hosting a free blog on their site, or using their software to host your blog on your own site with your own domain name (for this, you need to go to Wordpres.org, the platform I used to build this site). Both options are free to use though, and both are extremely flexible.
- Squarespace is another offering, similar to Wix but without the free plan. Like Wix, they have some beautiful designs to choose from. I’ve personally never used Squarespace, but from what I can tell it’s an elegant system with excellent designs and helpful support, and I’ve heard good reports from others. Highly recommended.
- There are many other options out there, so if you don’t like the three above, there’s bound to be something else somewhere with exactly what you need. Try Googling “music website builder” as a start.
For a truly professional-looking site, you’ll probably need to pay a web designer to at least customize one of the above templates, but even that is much cheaper than having a site built from scratch. And remember, you typically get what you pay for, so trying to do everything for free may have downsides, like ads, limited storage, and a less-professional-looking end result. Even so, with any of the above services you should be able to get a hip, well-designed site running for under $20 a month.