Who makes websites for musicians?

An image of a professional service for musicians started taking shape in my mind after successful accomplishment of several websites for finest musicians associated with jazz and free improv scene.

Recently I've done a mini investigation of, so to speak, "web design for music" market segment. I won't pretend that results surprised me a lot. Here is what I found. There are several types of developers who build music websites:

  1. individuals, freelancers;
  2. small firms;
  3. large web design agencies;
  4. automated (semi-automated) systems;
  5. design4music.org

Let's have a closer look at each type.

Individuals

In terms of skills such "one-man-bands" can range a great deal from enthusiastic web design newbies (in most cases) to quite experienced freelance developers. The common issue with an individual webmaster is limited area of expertise. No matter how well trained is our webmaster - he belongs to one of 2 skill groups that dominate website development; he is either an "artist" or "technician". In other words he is hardly capable to cover all requirements of the modern web.

There is a chance to get a good-looking page but very basic in functionality.

Small, unknown firms

When it comes to business any idealistic motives should go. It's all about efficiency measured in terms of money vs. time spent working on a particular project. An ability to maintain the "correct ratio" is a matter of survival for a small firm. As we know, non-commercial music has little to attract businesses and receive quality service.

In some cases small web design firms take low budget musical projects. However the solutions offered to musicians are usually poor in quality. You get what you have paid for.

Most likely a small firm will create a website based on a free template, boxy "one-fit-all" design and untidy code. Sadly enough I see a lot of such websites on the web.

Successful web design agencies

The situation is much the same as in case of small firms. Even less idealism and sentiments can be found here. It's a business. That means: if artists - fine! Big names (known to masses, publicity) welcome. Big budgets wanted. They care about each customer would it be an artist or a real estate agency. I doubt there's a single web design agency out there that specializes on music, free jazz particularly.

You are not going to be serviced by a large, successful web design agency.

Automated content publishing systems

There are so many different systems, platforms, services, social networks, etc that I find it difficult to categorize them. Not in this post. Most commonly you can (and know how to) set up free accounts with MySpace, Facebook, etc. These websites provide publishing space and quite convenient interfaces for updating your information. One thing they lack is individuality. Also profiles in social networks are not intended as stand alone websites; they do not allow building a multi-page presentation with in-depth structure.

These are great starters for younger, less accomplished musicians or supplementary resources linked with your personal websites!

design4music.org

Originally I didn't have an intention to cover our initiative design4music in this post but it is only fair to include us as one more possible solution. Because we exist, we work, we are on scene. We are a "2 +" team; a team of two people plus an award winning content management system MODX, responsible for most of "heavy weight" programming.

  • Differently from individuals we possess a wide range of skills including good orientation in online music requirements and marketing needs.
  • We are not a "business" in pure sense. Profits are not the only (and major) motivation behind our initiative. Also we don't carry additional expenses that every company does.
  • Each project is a challenge to reveal the individuality of our client - the musician, and reflect it in design (as opposed to automated solutions). We study each our client, his art... each design is based on a certain concept.
  • Ourselves are closely involved with music. Max is active as a journalist (interviews can be found on bagatellen.com, allaboutjazz.com, in Russian magazine Jazz.Ru). He participates in Lithuanian jazz label NoBusiness Records.
  • We care a lot and respect our clients - the musicians! We consider it a great honer offering our help to You!

As a conclusion: this little observation shows that definetely there's space for another music dedicated service. It is also easy to understand why such initiatives (like design4music) are so infrequent in this huge world. Those who have mastered their trade (various aspects of web design in our case) - look to sell their work; make a good living through their labor, which is a valid attitude of course. We are not entirely different... it's just that not everything can be measured by cash. Our mission is about doing meaningful design.

A summary of our skills includes experience in music websites planning and architecture, graphic design, XHTML/CSS coding, JS (jQuery) programming, PHP/MySQL programming, search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing (SEM).

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About this blog

We are planning to provide updates on design4music initiative - our projects and possibly plans too. There will be a designer2musician advice column. The concept should gradually mature as it develops. There's a massive interaction with the musicians' community and thus a lot of invaluable information coming from first hands. Some of the news, exerts from interviews and selected posts from other blogs will appear on this pages. You can sign up for our RSS channel.