I have had the privilege of working with close friends updating their website as they were working on a new album. The husband approached me, asking my opinion about a couple different hosted website solutions. After talking with him about what they’d like to do, I found that their biggest desire was getting a good-looking website together for the new album, but also finding something easy to maintain and update in the future. I suggested WordPress.
A week after our conversation, I began playing with WordPress on my own webserver and started putting together a website mock up with a template from WooThemes and content from their existing site. It was fairly easy and I like playing around with websites like that. Wordpress worked pretty well for the basic site.
WordPress also provided them with an easy way to keep the website up-to-date from the road or from their iPhones as they traveled and snapped photos. Wordpress is supported and updated as security problems were found and should help them stay secure in the future.
Useful Plugins for Musicians
After putting their existing information into the site, I started looking at what else would be good on the site. I located the fantastic website of developer Dan Coulter, http://blogsforbands.com/. He had developed several WordPress plug-ins for bands, including a gig calendar and discography. I added the discography plug-in to a new install of WordPress and began adding songs from the past album that I had. It worked wondefully — allowing me to post each album, the songs, words to the songs and links to buy the songs from iTunes, Napster or Amazon’s MP3 store. It also allowed a link to buy a physical copy… but from where?
Enter another plug-in – Tips & Tricks HQ – developers of the WordPress eStore. I had used WP E-Commerce in the past, but it didn’t want to install on my musician’s web host and it didn’t easily offer digital downloads, but WordPress eStore did… We added the plugin and began populating it items, like T-Shirts and CD’s.
Our musician friends utilize ReverbNation heavily and so I was able to find their widgets (which our friends were already using on their original site) and place those into text widgets on the sidebar. The cool thing about this approach is that it allows them to update their music players, gig calendar and mailing list all within ReverbNation and have it feed their website. Likewise, their website is feeding ReverbNation new mailing list addresses for future mailings and it is collecting stats of who is listening to their music. ReverbNation is a free service, but offers enhanced and additional pay-for services.
As we were going live and testing everything, I found a couple things – like emails being sent from the eStore were sending from “WordPress”, but Tips & Tricks HQ had another plugin to allow us to customize the friendly name of the sender.
If any other bands or musicians are looking for a solution, I’ll be the first to recommend WordPress!