Music Sites 2.0: Giving Your Fans What They Want, How They Want It

Band websites have long been a crowd pleaser – at least in Internet speak. As we continue to grow into a society contingent on accessing content via various digital platforms, indie bands must expand their Internet presence to include more than just the traditional computer screens.

Most musicians create band pages and fan sites with one objective in mind: quenching the thirst of music fans by providing the latest music news, concert photos, newest merchandise, etc. etc. ad nauseam. But many indie musicians don’t know their screens.

Understanding your target market and the demographic of your listenership can clue you in on the mobile devices used by your fans. In internet speak, this is knowing one’s screens.

Knowing your screens is important for a few reasons. One, there is a heck of a lot of people online; and the amount of users accessing multiple screens is on the rise.  According to eMarketer, there is an estimated  34 million tablet users in the US.  Additionally, about 274.2 million Americans have internet access via traditional computer screens, and about 117.6 million Americans are mobile internet users, according to Nielsen.

Second, not all elements of websites translate well – if at all – to the different screens. With the amount of people consuming music, entertainment and news on a variety of screens, understanding little tricks to creating a mobile site will increase your ability to adapt your music to your listeners’ changing mobile tastes.

Know your screens tip #1 – Less (content) is more; be mindful of screen real estate. Different mobile devices have different screen sizes, different screen resolutions, and engage users differently. For example: Having a ton of content for a regular website is fine if viewed on a computer screen, but the ton of content will get skewed when viewing the same website on a BlackBerry.

Know your screens tip #2 – Reduce bandwidth. This goes along with the previous tip. Having a ton of content will cause mobile browsers to slow to a long, exaggerated speed. Even worse, when a website takes to long to load, the mobile browser will timeout. This is frustrating for you fans, and you could turn away potential fans who are annoyed with your website. This, however, is an easy fix. You can create a mobile version of your website, and you can get rid of big images or unneeded content.

Know your screens tip #3 – Use a sleek, simple layout. Decked out websites are cool, and can definitely convey your band’s personality. However, having too much going on for a mobile site can make your website difficult to follow on smaller screens and can take up too much bandwidth. You can work with website designers and your website host to come up with a unique mobile site design that shows off your band’s personality. Remember, simple doesn’t have to equal boring; but simple will keep your fans from hating you(r mobile site).

Know your screens tip #4 – Know your screens types. Consider whether your fans will be using touchscreen devices, scrollbars, joysticks, and all the rest. This is important when it comes to adding links to your mobile site. If you want your fans to click something on your site, you have to make it clickable. Make links and buttons big enough for a fingertip to press; and the one-size button/link can be used in a site created for both touchscreen and non-touchscreen devices.

Know your screens tip #5 – Keep navigation simple. Do not use up your valuable screen real estate with a million tabs, links, buttons, etc. Make your site easy to use. Again, this will keep your fans from hating you(r mobile site).

Know your screens tip #6 – Consider multiple mobile sites. If you are absolutely adamant about having the coolest, most content packed website, regardless of the device, then create a different mobile site for each mobile device.Customizing sites for the respective device will allow you to create unique, personalized sites. However, this can get pricey and time-consuming. If you have the time and/or money, your fans and your web  designer will love you. If you don’t have the time and/or money, simply following these tips will still help you create a pretty amazing mobile site.

Know your screens tip #7 – Let your  users decide: mobile site or full site. Providing a link to your full site is usually appreciated by fans who choose to navigate the full site. It is better to let your fan decide what he or she likes rather than you deciding for him or her.

Know your screens tip #8 – Be mindful of font size and colors. Small screens do not show small text and light colors well. If you respect your fans, you should also respect their eyesight.

Know your screens tip #9 – Flash – just don’t do it. Period. A lot of cell phones do not support flash. Until flash is widely available on mobile device, just consider other options.

Know your screens tip #10 – Make contact simple: twitter, facebook, youtube, blogs, etc. If you want to connect with your fans via social media, make following you easy. Plus, as a bonus for you, these sites are already dumbed-down for mobile device. Link to them, and let them do the work. Your job is done. Congratulations, your fans love you.

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