Five Mistakes Band & Label Sites Make

Justin French, December 2004

Here’s the quick summary:

  1. Too much Flash
  2. Crappy or non-existent MP3 data
  3. Interface and navigation is interface too obscure and arty
  4. No search engine provided
  5. Difficult for fans to communicate or interact

There’s no doubt that this list is spot-on. I couldn’t have said it better myself, and there’s some absolute gold in the comments, but when it comes to pointing the finger and placing blame, Merlin seems to think it’s the web designer who made all the mistakes. Here’s two quotes from his post:

Okay, I get it. You’re creative. Awesome. But you’re totally wasting my morning as I helplessly wait for your designer’s dancing sausages to finish loading. Perhaps worst of all, most all-Flash sites prohibit your fans from creating deep links to artist, album or song pages. Your fans are trying to drive people to the cash register, but you insist on making them watch a puppet show before they can even enter the damned store.

Don’t let your web designer build a portfolio piece on the back of your fans and your business.

In my years experience working with bands, record labels and managers, I can testify that it’s usually the band who…

  1. wants the whole site done in Flash, regardless of all logic and reason
  2. comes up with an idea for an obscure and arty interface which doesn’t make sense
  3. doesn’t check their email, neglects the forums, and other wise forgets how important the fans are

I mean no disrespect to my existing bands/clients when I say this, but it’s the absolute truth. I have worked with a few bands and managers who trusted me to do the right thing, and the results are great… But in most cases I’ve had to work very hard to steer them away from these bad decisions, and in some cases, I had to walk away from the job.

And don’t get me started on label executives!

I have no doubt there are plenty of web designers giving bad advice and making bad websites for bands, but really, there are bad web designers everywhere – it’s no just a problem with band websites.

If you see a crappy all-Flash website with obscure navigation, awful content and poor communication, I’d make a bet that the band/artist had a lot to do with it more often than not.

The solution is education. Just like any other client, the band needs to be informed about what’s really important. They may not like to think of their band as a business, but it is, and they need to hear compelling business reasons against things like Flash. They need to see good examples of non-flash, non-obscure band sites that still look great and work well.

Over time, the trends will shift, and some new tools will probably come along to make things easier.