When the first steps in the promotion of an artist are presented, the importance of a website cannot be ignored. In fact, the website provides fertile ground for the purpose of illustrating a roadmap, implementation and the role of reaction. As with money, promotion can be divided into active and passive sections. Promotion has two important tasks – inform the artist’s affiliations and to present the artist’s story to be appealing to the audience. The wider audience this reaches, the more effective the artist’s promotion is.
In the case of a new artist, the audience rarely has previous knowledge of them, therefore all information about the artist’s existence is at that moment extremely important. When consciousness about the artist and their activity begins to grow, a two-way role for the website is developed. For followers who already know the artist and existence of the homepage, the main focus is on the artist’s affiliations and future plans. This part of tactical promotion is the active part. For others, the people who are not yet aware of the artist, or who visit the site for the first time – attention is paid to other things. They are generally interested in what it’s all about. This side of promotion could be considered the passive part of promotion, with the website already containing the interesting information. Unlike the already existing fans where awareness of the artist is achieved from somewhere else than the artist’s website, interest may have been achieved as a result of successful artist promotion through other contexts and means. That piquing of interest resulted in a need to know more about the artist, and what better way to do it through internet search engines, which usually offer the artist’s own homepage first. The homepage is also a source of information where an artist can best influence the content of stories.
When considering the promotional content, one must take into account the different levels of needs. In the same way television series must have parts that attract new viewers even if they haven’t followed a series from the beginning, but also be able to retain older fans that are interested in new episodes; an artist’s future and the ability to follow their activities should be available, as well as giving new followers the opportunity to find out the artist’s history and origin. Thus it is a good idea to have metadata information such as biographies and discography, as well as photos and videos along the way. News in turn, plays an important role for fans as it shows the artist being active.
Both the artist’s products – product catalogs should be easy to find – and information should be readily available and discoverable. Information acts like a product description. Unlike products which can be bought in a couple of clicks, information works differently. It requires effort from the recipient and this requires clarity on the artist’s website, in its content and layout. The artist cannot be confident that a new visitor will be patient or want to find information behind a thousand links. This may in fact cause a counter reaction, thus it is a good idea to keep the homepage simple, but also thoughtful and spectacular – pleasing to the eye. The career information should be initially guided by the artist’s action plan, not so much a massive awareness of the artist’s existence. On the tactical side, it is important that the artist is ready to respond to the chorus, if the reception requires. If the artist is unable to answer this call, it is not worth acting the opposite.
What every artist wants at the beginning of their career is to have contacts, so for this reason contact info must be very easy to find. The same applies to other things that the artist wants to emphasize. Products should also be easily accessible and links to distributors should be avoided where products are difficult to obtain – regardless of whether the distributor in question is the most prominent actor in the distribution network. This of course requires on-call time. If this situation changes in the future, availability placement can be made to match the prevailing situation. This is one example of why homepage matching reality is more important than impressive appearance. If a potential buyer cannot get the product they want, or worse, not even find a link, the visit will surely leave a sour taste.
This will be the next thing – the links and their use. It is perfectly normal and even advisable to use links to services and improve availability. They must not hinder the acquisition of information or mislead people, which may happen by accident. Ensure links actually lead where you wanted to steer people. It is not uncommon for something to go wrong when setting up links, or updates be applied to links. The artist is therefore not linking their homepages to mere sales aspirations. Links also have other uses: They can lead people to interviews or chart positions of the artist. It is good to note that such a links are not constrained. They may, and often change, as well as their locations. Someone else’s interview may be found behind a particular link. It is good to be aware that the content of these links is not self-controllable.
If you’ve shared that one of your songs or albums is #6 on some chart and half a week later someone interested in the subject clicks on the link and you’re in position 28, the positive message you’re trying to convey may have the opposite effect. A 22 position drop does not necessarily result in harmony with other positive messages on your homepage. Fast-changing information is better placed elsewhere in the social media environment than on a homepage designed for solid structured information.
Restrictions can also be seen in copyrights and their disposals. Some distribution networks have divided this so there are regional distribution points around the world. By granting an organization’s umbrella organization the right to sell your copyrighted products, the content of the license does not necessarily apply to worldwide distribution through all distribution outlets. It is therefore not wise to advertise on the website the availability of the umbrella organization’s German Unit, even if the product would be at the top of the German Charts at the time. Purchases can be made from the geographical area that the respective license covers, not outside. Purchasing efforts from other parts of the world will lead to transaction being unavailable due to copyrights. For this reason, it is best to use an organizational unit with global rights to distribute products with a general link to the distributor. If the artist has a fan site in Germany, then it is more natural to use German distribution links.
Otherwise in most cases the less information, the better. Browsing pages may become challenging if the artist’s homepage is a salad, filled with all kinds of information from here and there. Different sections of websites hold different weights and thus it is always better if the more delicious and most representative points of one’s career are presented first. In doing this, the visitor gets a better idea of what the artist really entails.
Particular attention should be paid to sections of the site that do not change very often, but are of great focus. It is a good idea to strongly invest in the content, structure and layout of biography and contact info. It is also good to post artist-related communications elsewhere in social media, rather than just on the artist’s home page. Some news is just better linked to the artist’s Facebook page, where it disappears with the news stream. Visitors usually tend to pay attention to the issues that the artist raises. If an artist’s current plan calls for more sales, then there is no need to talk about the new album and its associated pre-production as this topic is premature and takes away from the visitors’ attention of other things than what the artist really needs.
Information requirements in the active stage are generally important and favor regularity. It is highly recommended to build a communication plan to enable coherence. Fans who regularly visit the artist’s ‘premises’ are surprisingly aware of where all the information about the artist and truths can be checked. More lightweight and otherwise interesting news is better placed in faster media sharing locations such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, if the artist feels it necessary. This allows the artist to react quickly to situations where the artist is expected to respond. Bigger news and more time-tolerant stories are more worthy of a place on their own home page in addition to quick-response media platforms.
All in all, communication on the homepage and its relation to the artist’s other information channels is a matter of choice. No single truth exists. Rather it is about where the artist’s career is at the moment and this factor should prescribe the contents of the artist’s homepage. In any case, it is always wise to plan in advance how different situations and through which media platform different things will happen. At the beginning of one’s career when knowledge of an artist is limited, information clarity is especially strategic to all progress.
© Mika Karhumaa 2018