Tools: Band Theme
Even in the age of TikTok, Fortnite, and VR fitness, artists need websites, for essential purposes, like owning the relationship with their fans, or promoting current activities – or simply for SEO purposes. But user-friendly tools like Squarespace or Wix are not built specifically for musicians, while using more advanced platforms like WordPress is complicated. What if there was a tool designed for artists’ needs, with the power and flexibility of WordPress – but as simple to use as Squarespace et al.?
That’s the promise of Band Theme, a brand new website builder specifically designed with music in mind. It was developed by the team behind The Creative Corporation, who’ve been offering strategy, design and digital services for clients such as UMG, AWAL, SME and Domino for 20 years.
Dave Stansby of The Creative Corporation thinks that Band Theme solves a long-standing problem: “We looked around the world a couple of years ago and everybody that was in this space has just gotten everything so wrong. And all of these themes within WordPress are just really mega complicated. Basically you will need to be a developer to be able to buy them and edit them for bands. And even on Squarespace and Wix, to create a great artist website you will need to understand the system and have some design knowledge.”
Many artist teams are not willing – or don’t have the resources – to spend a lot of budget on hiring a developer to build a sophisticated artist website. So, drawing from their extensive experience in website building, The Creative Corporation saw the opportunity to build a scalable business with Band Themes by offering an affordable tool to the music industry that is solving all of these problems.
Artists that already jumped on the new platform include Johnny Marr, Emeli Sandé, You Me At Six, and Millie Turner – with many new artists from around the globe using it too.
What does Band Theme offer?
Themes are not just about the look and feel of a website that uses the WordPress platform, they affect the core functionality and what the site offers. Band Theme offers a selection of themes, designed so that artists and their teams can create high-quality artist websites without any coding knowledge required.
The currently available themes have a variety of appearances, styles, formats, and priority functions. They are visual-heavy and designed for certain genres – for instance, Grime is suitably dark and edgy, with Grime or Drill artists in mind – or for specific use-cases: Festival is designed for events, with bold and splashy visuals, and ticket sales pushed to the fore.
It comes with a drag-and-drop content editor, and a design customiser so you can tweak the template. Once you’ve purchased access to one of their themes, Band Theme provides you with a detailed user guide with tips to get the best out of your website, plus clear instructions on how to activate your theme, choose your design, add content, edit elements etc.
The guide also walks users through enabling music-specific use cases such as a Spotify follow button, streaming links, live dates and more.
On top of that, Band Theme has built out different “pockets” – or sections – that they see as being relevant for artist websites. For instance, this includes an Instagram plugin that automatically publishes your latest feed posts to your website, release and video sections, tour dates (integrated via Songkick and BandsInTown, or can be added manually), a newsletter, access to an EPK, a press section, and embedded streaming players or links from major DSPs like Spotify, Apple Music, Soundcloud, Beatport, Tidal and Amazon Music.
Users can add in as many different sections as they want, decide what goes in them, and can be ordered any way they like. Stansby says that this all-in-one approach makes the process easier for artists and teams: “within the WordPress backend you’ve always got a general creative editor but we’ve extended it and simplified it. So you can go in there, change the colours, change the font, put the logo in etc –. and that changes the whole look of the template. It’s all ready for SEO, it’s got the Yoast plug-in built in, so the SEO is really good. We’ve built it so it’s really good for accessibility, really good for Google verification. It’s all there.”
A built-in store, pricing, and support
Perhaps the most interesting of these integrations is the Store functionality: Band Theme comes integrated with its own WooCommerce store – so you don’t need to pay extra for your artist’s store. If artists have an existing one, they can also choose to link through to an existing store provider.
Stansby highlights the benefits of the integrated option: “We set up the basics of your WooCommerce store and there are also instructions – but we’ve done most of the hard work. That means you don’t need to go to a company like Shopify who’s going to take a slice of the income, which WooCommerce isn’t: the only commission you will have is from the payment gateway. But it’s far less than somebody like Shopify takes. We’ve had a lot of people buy the theme for this sort of feature. The good thing with WooCommerce is that it’s completely integrated into your website, whereas if you use something like Shopify it’s obviously like most artist websites – where it lives on a separate URL.”
Besides the ease of creating a great-looking artist website with all the crucial promotional elements, Band Theme’s pricing is very competitive. Access to a theme is £85 / $119 / €99 a year, which includes support. For those who want a fuller service, hosting and installation can be bought too – individually, or as part of packages.
Band Theme will install a theme on a WordPress hosting provider of your choice, with 12 months support & updates, for £130 / $179 / €149; and for those who want the hosting provided too can pay £175 / $239 / €199, plus the price of buying a custom domain name. (Hosting provided by Band Theme is also powered by 100% Green Energy.)
For comparison, Squarespace’s cheapest tier will cost you £120 / $144 / €132 per year for a limited set of features and no e-commerce included – plus you might need to pay someone to design it according to an artist’s specific needs.
It’s clear that Band Theme is a very valuable tool for artists of all sizes who want to have a website that looks great and promotes all of their activities, while being able to simply set up and manage. It could be a great option for artists and teams looking to stay in control, maximise their income and build a fanbase.