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Last week, I found a client that is a Hawaiian local artist. His music is really good and I would love to design his site.

The problem is, I don't really know what to design. I have all of these ideas in my head, on paper and also created some mockups in Photoshop, but I still get stuck.

Questions that I keep asking my self:

  • Should his music be on the front page?
  • Should there be a blog?
  • His music is on iTunes, should there be a buy on iTunes button?

I don't know what should the main object of the artist site should be. Can anyone help with experienced designing for local music artists?

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6 Answers 6

up vote 5 down vote accepted

As a musician and a developer, I have a slightly different perspective than Jawa.

I think it is very important to let visitors have access to an artist's music as quickly as possible - fast acquisition is (to me) a critical consideration with content. Of course, I don't mean blasting the artist's songs as soon as the page is opened, but it should be very easy to stream the music or build a playlist.

The other side to that is a business goal - now that they have heard the music quickly, they should be able to purchase it as easily as possible. If the artist is distributed via iTunes, having a buy link certainly doesn't hurt, and promotes sales.

There shouldn't be a blog if it won't be regularly updated. Some other things that are commonly on musician websites are contact and booking information, upcoming concerts or events, discography, etc.

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I agree especially about the blog: if it is not regularly updated (extra time and/or money) it makes the site appear abandoned. –  horatio Sep 24 '11 at 16:59

This brings one question to my mind - have you had any discussion with your client?

If he doesn't know the answer to your problems (e.g. to whom the site will mainly be directed to or what's the general purpose of the site) I think you should do a relatively simple and easily modifiable version, launch and learn from the usage where to take the design from there. Maybe you could show him some of your mockups and gather feedback before proceeding further?

As for the individual problems, I personally recommend not having any music playing on the front page, but I'm sure you weren't suggesting that. I'd say that for any web-awareness gathering artist the possibility for visitors to listen to their music online is really important so I can't see any downsides with having the iTunes button. Whether to keep a blog is more a question of artist's time and will to keep updating it, more than a design decision.

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I agree with @melee. The core thing about a musicians site is the music - everything else is secondary. Puchasing the music is also critical - that is what is paying you. You need to ensure that these are simple and straightforward to achieve.

So links clearly doen from the home page - do not play music on the main page, because I tend to leave noisy main pages immediately.

Provide links to other information - latest news, history. And use the home page for latest news - and keep it changing. So make sure that your client can update the information, load new music up, etc.

But, at the end of the day, focus on the music.

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Should a web site that is selling a product highlight said product and make it easy to purchase?

Of course it should.

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You mention that the artist is a local artist. Is it important to communicate the feel of that local community on the site? I know some musicians who find this to be a crucial aspect of their art. To help answer this question, it would be helpful to consider what the main audience of the site will be. Will it be primarily local?

Regarding the main objective of the site, I think it's important to present a concise portrait of the artist to visitors, which should capture their personality. I think this could be a good objective for the site. The content that is included on (and omitted from) the site can be guided by this objective. Content should be designed and organized in way that allows the users to accomplish their goals with as little effort as possible.

I agree with @melee that visitors should have quick access to music. I personally find it useful to have access to an iTunes Store button when visiting musicians' sites.

I agree with @Jawa that music should not automatically play when visiting the site. Including a music player on the main page could improve the ease of accessing the artist's music, but I would suggest setting the default state of the player to "stopped" or "paused".

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Talk with your potential users! I guess you're doing that by posting here.

As a user, things I go to a musician's website for:

  • Who is this person? I want to know more about them.
  • Lyrics for songs, samples of other music (e.g. Peter Mayer does a good job of making his lyrics and music accessible)
  • I can get their music on iTunes or Amazon or whatever, but a link might help. O r if they sell their own CDs I'll buy direct since it means more money for them.
  • Are they doing concerts in my area?
  • Sheet music for their stuff? I am a rare exception in this area, I suspect.
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