So I spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen. Maybe you do too? A good portion of that time is spent checking out bands online and recently I am finding that more new bands aren't bothering to create a website, instead opting to use profile-driven Myspace or sites like Purevolume to create instant band pages with out of the box solutions for showcasing music, photographs and video easily and the ability to plug into vast networks of existing users -- their friends, their friends' friends and so on and so forth.
Sounds great, right? Built-in eyeballs on your page, easily accessed new people to market your band to, plus cool features like the ability to see how many people listened to your song. And indeed it all is great for a new band, with no budget to spend on a snazzy tricked-out site of their own, to have an instant presence on the web. But it's also kind of cheap -- metaphorically akin to slapping your band's sticker on the wall of a club as opposed to performing on its stage.
There's a lot that can be learned from a band's site. One can gauge the members' commitment to their craft and their collective sensibilities. When was the last time the upcoming show page was updated -- does it include any upcoming shows or just vague info on some party they played in a friend's warehouse last summer? That reveals how serious a band is about performing. Does their website feature snazzy design or is it animated? Then it's likely that someone in the band is either a graphic or web designer by day (honestly, not so uncommon). Do they offer full song downloads or only streams; or, better (meaning worse) yet, only 30-second snippet streams? That betrays the band's concerned about fans getting their music for free and not buying it legitimately. It also may reveal how many "All You Need To Know About The Music Business"-type books they've read. Is the website the band's name plus a "dot net, "dot org" or "dot com"? If not, it may mean that they're not the first band to use the name or it bears a strong resemblance to a common product or service. Typing in "Thekiller.net" and "Thekillers.org" took me to an extermination business' website. It was only when I tried "thekillersmusic.com" that I was taken to the site of the band, The Killers.
One of my favorite band sites is for San Francisco's self-described "HammJamm" band, Still Flyin'. I don't know that HammJamm has taken off as a new musical genre but to my ears, Still Flyin' are an original and irreverent reggae-flavored indie mini-orchestra with a few dozen real and honorary members. Songs like "Broken Rake Burn" and "M'stery Tent" are unselfconscious and playful with island rhythms and melodies performed with indie rock and pop sensibilities.
Their website URL is www.nevergonnatouchit.tk. The "dot tk" is attributable to the island of Tokelau's offer of free domain registration with that suffix. Accordingly, Still Flyin' thanks Tokelau for their domain name gift. The site is only one page with non-existent design. It has a plug for the band's new full length Time Wrinkle out now on Antenna Farm Records plus some priceless ramblings, a couple of odd images and links to the band's Myspace profile for music samples, photos and upcoming show information. Still Flyin's site is hilariously minimal and somehow without music or photos and because of its Spartan composition captures the spirit of the band in the way that their own customized Myspace profile can't.
I invite you to do some band site analysis yourself and see what can be surmised from a visit to a band's home on the web. Myspace is great as an index card catalog of performing artists but despite all the easy features, that's about it. And if more of us visit bands' sites, more new bands will make sure to make and maintain them.