WordPress for Musicians and Bands of 2020

If you make music, you know that exposure is everything. You must use every tool at your disposal to spread the word of your latest release or upcoming event, and your toolbox needs to include a WordPress website. Let’s explore a few ways to optimize WordPress for musicians and bands.

You’ll need a WordPress website of your own in order to take full advantage of our guide. Our free guide walks readers through the process of setting up WordPress and installing the themes and plugins we’ll discuss ahead.

WordPress Themes for Musicians and Bands

While most WordPress themes will work fine for musicians and bands, a few are custom built for their specific needs. These themes offer features that allow you to share music and display upcoming events more effectively.

Typical music WordPress themes range in price from completely free to upwards of $75 or $80. You’ll find that pricier themes usually offer more features than free alternatives. That being said, designers of most free themes will allow you to unlock additional features after the purchase of an optional upgrade.

The following themes were handpicked to provide solid options for artists of all genres. And all of the themes offer advanced customization options, allowing you to create a WordPress website that appeals to your unique audience.

Audioman

Audioman Music Theme

Audioman is one of the most popular free music themes in the WordPress repository. It was built by Catch Themes, and the team has a reputation for creating stylish, well-reviewed themes. Audioman is no exception.

The theme’s signature hero section is the focal point of the homepage. It features a full-width still image by default, but you can easily replace this with a video or another photo of your choosing. Likewise, you are free to replace the section’s logo, placeholder text, and call to action button as needed.

Audioman and its basic features are free, but the theme’s pro features are locked behind a $55 upgrade. The upgrade will introduce improved WooCommerce support, font options, and color customizations. Musicians who haven’t upgraded will be stuck with the default pinks that are applied to prominent theme elements like buttons and links.

Musico

Musico Theme

Themes like Musico serve as a great example of how to adapt WordPress for musicians and bands the right way. It includes eight homepage templates, and each was designed with a different genre in mind. The country and R&B options in particular are well worth a look.

In addition to the eight homepage templates, Musico offers templates for a handful of essential WordPress pages. Use these to highlight upcoming shows and to display photos or videos from recent events.

Musico Blog Template

You are by no means restricted to the default layout of your chosen templates. They are all highly customizable, and each was built with the free Elementor page builder plugin. As a result, you’ll be able to replace template photos, swap fonts, and reposition template elements from the comfort of a drag-and-drop editor.

Musico is available exclusively through the massive ThemeForest marketplace. $64 is the price of admission, making Musico this list’s least expensive ThemeForest pick.

My Music Band

My Music Band Theme for Musicians

The free My Music Band WordPress theme was created by Catch Themes, the same team behind Audioman. But unlike Audioman, it makes use of a light color palette and a more traditional serif typeface.

Out of the box, My Music Band’s default design would make the theme a fantastic choice for classical, folk, and jazz musicians. That’s assuming that you haven’t upgraded to the theme’s pro version. If you have, you can further tweak color and font options to adapt My Music Band for other genres. Changes like these can have a dramatic impact on the look and feel of a WordPress website.

My Music Band’s free and premium features are very similar to those of Audioman. The impressive video hero section and a few basic customization tools are offered at no cost, while the aforementioned font and color options are exclusive to the premium version.

Music Freak

Music Freak WordPress Theme

Music Freak by Theme Palace bucks the trend of splitting color schemes into separate offerings. Among the free theme’s many customization options, you’ll find both light and dark color schemes. Pair these with the free background color picker, and the result is a WordPress theme for musicians and bands of any genre.

Music Freak includes its fair share of music-focused features. You’ll find audio playlist, video, and call to action sections in the WordPress Customizer after activating Music Freak. You’ll just need to assign a static front page to your WordPress website in order to display them.

Not surprisingly, Theme Palace offers a number of extra features to those willing to pay for a premium upgrade. Additional font, color, and layout options are all part of Music Freak’s $50 pro version.

Shuffle

Shuffle Theme

Coming in at $69, Shuffle is another ThemeForest offering without a free alternative. But if you’ve got the funds to spare, you’ll receive a flexible music theme with 18 unique homepage templates and several interior page templates to complement them.

Like Musico’s homepage templates, each was designed with a specific genre of music in mind. The A$AP template combines a heavy typeface with full-screen black and white photos, while Enya leverages a light typeface and a cool, inviting color palette.

Shuffle Enya Template

Shuffle’s templates were built with WPBakery Page Builder. Although WPBakery’s editor is a premium plugin, Shuffle’s design team has bundled it with their theme at no extra cost. Likewise, the popular Slider Revolution plugin is included with your purchase.

Productive musicians can apply either a light or dark color palette to the theme’s album pages, while traveling bands can do the same to their event pages. Shuffle also provides several templates for gallery, blog, and shop pages, but you won’t find a lot of variation between them.

Mozo

Mozo Fullscreen Navigation Menu

Mozo is one of the best WordPress themes for bands and musicians who prefer to build with Beaver Builder. That’s because the theme’s various page templates were all laid out using the popular free editor.

Among Mozo’s many offerings, you’ll find free stock photos, video tutorials, and deep support for WooCommerce and the WordPress Customizer. The theme’s $69 asking price includes a copy of Slider Revolution as well.

Mozo Tour Dates

Unlike previous ThemeForest picks, Mozo’s template variety is somewhat lacking. Customers will receive one template for each of several interior pages and just two homepage templates. Fortunately, Beaver Builder is regarded as one of the more user-friendly page builders available. Webmasters are encouraged to use the free editor and the building blocks of a chosen template to craft pages that better appeal to fans.

What you will receive with Mozo is multiple header layouts and a customizable full-screen navigation menu. The menu in particular is very compelling and unlike anything seen in themes showcased up to this point.

Plugin Recommendations

Now that you’ve settled on a site design, it’s time to focus on functionality. The platform is plenty powerful on its own, but in order to extend WordPress for musicians and bands, you’ll need to install a plugin or two.

None of the plugins that follow were built for the music industry specifically. WordPress provides great support for audio and video content out of the box, and there’s little room to expand on that support. Instead, these plugins allow bands and solo artists alike to sell merchandise, publish tour dates, and to reach new listeners.

The Events Calendar

The Events Calendar in the Repository

In a world of smart speakers and streaming services, live shows are still very important. Performing in front of an audience forces you to develop your craft and allows you to network with fans and other musicians.

But what good is a live show if no one is in attendance? Experienced performers use plugins like The Events Calendar to display upcoming event dates in a user-friendly format.

You can display your shows in a list view or in a standard monthly calendar view with the plugin’s free version. Upgrade to the pro version and you’ll unlock a map view and a location search box. Both features are especially useful for acts that travel nationally or globally.

The pro upgrade will set musicians back $90, but it offers many extras that were not listed here. For those on a budget, the free version is plenty capable.

Flow-Flow Social Stream

Flow-Flow Social Stream CodeCanyon Listing

Social networks can be a goldmine of content for musicians. Perform at your best and passionate fans will take to social media to engage with you and to sing your praises.

With Flow-Flow Social Stream, you can bring all of your favorite social media posts to your WordPress website. After connecting your preferred networks and applying your own filters, you can add a stream to any of your site’s pages.

Flow-Flow Masonry Demo

Streams can include public posts from multiple networks. Those posts can originate from any account (including your own) and can be filtered by mentions or keywords. Flow-Flow even supports pre-moderation, so bands and musicians can review posts before pushing them to their WordPress website’s stream. This way, you can bury negative content and highlight passionate posts from your truest fans.

Flow-Flow’s free version supports four social networks (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest) as well as basic post filters. The pro version costs $40 and supports more than a dozen networks, advanced post filters, and the handy pre-moderation tool.

AddToAny Share Buttons

AddToAny Share Buttons Plugin

While Flow-Flow allows you to bring social media posts to your website, AddToAny provides visitors with the means to quickly push your website’s content back to social media. It does so by adding share buttons for all of the popular networks to your WordPress pages and posts.

As the site owner, you can reposition your share buttons, recolor them, and hide or show them on a per-page or per-network basis. You can even anchor buttons to the sides of a page so that they’re always visible. AddToAny is free to download and install, and its best features are made available at no cost.

Social media is awesome for shortform content, but your WordPress website should be your home for unabridged live event and album announcements. Encourage your visitors to share those announcements with a tool like AddToAny Share Buttons.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce Physical Digital Ecommerce Plugin

You’re probably well aware of the fact that most music is streamed now. The RIAA recently revealed that roughly 80% of all music is consumed with a streaming service. In spite of these figures, musicians and bands are still making good money on physical product sales.

If you’re using WordPress and you have physical goods to sell, WooCommerce is the plugin for you. It’s free, it’s well-supported, and it’s easier to use than ever before. You can use it to sell autographed albums, merchandise, event tickets, and more.

WooCommerce supports the sale and automatic delivery of digital downloads as well. These could include MP3 albums, singles, and videos of your live performances.

WordPress Paid Member Subscriptions Plugin

If the concept of a digital WooCommerce storefront piques your interest, you might want to consider paid memberships too. The Paid Member Subscriptions plugin will allow fans to pay recurring fees in exchange for access to members-only areas of your website.

The idea of charging fans a monthly fee for digital content might sound far-fetched, but a number of popular musicians are doing just that. You’ll find a few examples ahead.

In order to justify the fee, you’ll want to fill your members-only area with value. It’s not uncommon to see other musicians providing their members with behind-the-scenes content, exclusive album previews, and more.

You can even offer members a discount on physical and digital purchases when you create a subscription website with WordPress. You’ll need to pair Paid Member Subscriptions with WooCommerce in order to achieve this.

Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin for Schools

Yoast SEO is a staple among plugin lists like these. That’s because everyone with a website hopes to rank well in search engines, and musicians are no exception. And Yoast is absolutely one of the best search engine optimization plugins for WordPress.

Here’s how the plugin works: you’ll create a blank page or post from the WordPress admin area as you normally would. Before you start writing, you’ll enter a target keyword like “Tenacious D cover band” into the Yoast SEO panel. As you craft your page, Yoast will rate your content based on its potential to rank for that keyword.

The majority of Yoast’s best features are free. If you need to create URL redirects or want to track SEO scores for multiple keywords from a single page, you’ll need to pay $90 for Yoast SEO Premium. The extras are nice but they’re not necessary for musicians who want to apply basic optimizations with WordPress.

Smart Slider 3

Smart Slider 3 in Plugin Repository

You might have noticed that all of the music themes showcased above incorporate some sort of hero section. Hero images or videos draw attention to your website’s newest or most important content, whether that’s a page for your latest release or a show announcement.

If your current theme doesn’t offer native support for a hero section but you’d like to add one to your website, turn to a WordPress plugin like Smart Slider 3. With it, you can lay out full-width hero sections with one slide, 100 slides, or any number in between. Those slides can contain images, text, buttons, and more.

Themes like Audioman and My Music Band will let you apply a video background to your hero section. If you want to do the same with Smart Slider 3, you’ll need to upgrade to the $35 pro version. Otherwise, the free version of the popular plugin should get the job done.

WordPress Tips and Tricks for Musicians

The perfect theme and plugins won’t be of much use if you’re not following best practices as a musician on WordPress. In order to build an effective website, it’s important to understand what visitors might be after and how to prioritize content.

  • Publish your music with services like DistroKid then link to all of your artist pages
  • Create merchandise with services like Printful and sell it with WooCommerce
  • Add album release dates and behind-the-scenes content to your blog
  • Get social on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Bandcamp
  • Create a newsletter and add an opt-in form to your WordPress website

Your music should be easy to find and even easier to share. Likewise, your website should constantly remind fans where to go in order to receive updates or to browse upcoming shows.

The digital music landscape is dominated by four or five massive companies. Listeners will turn to services like Spotify or Apple Music when streaming or companies like Amazon on the off chance they want to buy. To give yourself or your band a fighting chance, you need to be on all of them.

Services like DistroKid act as distributors for musicians that aren’t represented by big labels. In exchange for a small annual fee, they’ll push your latest album to all of the top marketplaces for music. Once you’re in, fans can stream your music or buy it from their favorite online store. More importantly, DistroKid lets you keep all of your earnings, while alternatives like CD Baby do not.

DistroKid Music Distribution

After your music has been distributed, you’ll want to link to your artist page on all of the services. Each of your fans will have their own personal preference, so let them choose. Services like Spotify and Apple Music will even let you embed players for your albums directly into your WordPress website. That way, visitors can stream your latest release without leaving your site or launching a separate app.

Offer some merchandise

Your biggest fans will be eager to support you and your music. Why not give them something to show for it by putting some band merch up for sale? As mentioned earlier, WooCommerce will add ecommerce support to your WordPress website, but it won’t print your merchandise for you. You’ll need a service like Printful for that.

Printful Print-on-Demand Homepage

Printful is an on-demand printing and fulfillment company. Upload your band logo and the company can place it on shirts, hats, stickers, pillows, and more. And because it’s an on-demand service, Printful will print your products only after you’ve received an order. Orders of any size – from one shirt to 100 – are accepted.

Printful will even handle the distribution of your merchandise as well as the calculation of sales tax and shipping costs. There aren’t any upfront fees, either. Instead, Printful will take a cut of your sales in order to cover their printing and product costs. Any profit that’s left over is yours to keep.

You’ll want to install the Printful plugin for WordPress in order to get the most out of their services. Once installed and activated, their plugin will import your custom products so that your fans can browse and buy.

Make good use of your blog

Powerful blogging tools are baked right into the WordPress platform. Take advantage of these tools by publishing event announcements and exclusive content for your website’s loyal visitors.

Content opportunities are constant for bands and musicians. Before you release a single, your blog should be the first place you post about it. Bands that are actively touring will often push new stops and behind-the-scenes content to their blogs as well. Just remember that any event date that has been set in stone should be added to your website’s calendar or tour page too.

You can even repurpose your blog posts for social media. After publishing a new post, simply link to it from Facebook or Twitter to drive more traffic to your WordPress website. Be sure to preface links with a little context in order to provide some value to your social media followers.

Get social

Speaking of social media, your fans will inevitably look for you there. You don’t need to be on every social network by any means, but you should probably hop on one or two that are most deserving of your time and attention.

Facebook and Instagram are ideal for shortform content like photos and quick videos. On the other hand, platforms like SoundCloud and Bandcamp were built specifically for music. Their users are checking in to discover musicians just like you.

Don’t overlook YouTube, either. While it’s tempting to write the network off as a video platform, YouTube is a preferred destination for many listeners.

Build a mailing list

Even today, email serves as on of the most cost-effective forms of marketing. By creating an email list and accruing subscribers, you’re building direct lines of communication to your most loyal fans. These fans are among those that will be most likely to buy your merch or tickets to your next show.

MailChimp is one of the most popular email marketing solutions. With it, you can build mailing lists of 2,000 subscribers or fewer for free. After you’ve created a list or “audience” with the platform, you can add mailing list opt-in forms to your WordPress website. Plugins like MC4WP can speed the process up dramatically.

Mailchimp 2020 Homepage

MailChimp offers paid plans to users with lots of subscribers and to those who need access to advanced features. Among those features is the ability to send emails to subscribers near a specific location. This might just be the most effective way to announce an upcoming show to nearby fans.

This tip and the two before it share a common goal: to allow you to better connect with your listeners. The bottom line is bands can no longer afford to perform and then disappear from fans. Your competitors are interacting with followers between album releases and shows, so you must do the same.

Popular Musicians and Bands on WordPress

While WordPress is great for up-and-coming musicians, plenty of global names use the platform too. Now that you possess a better understanding of how to improve WordPress for musicians and bands, why not explore a few acts that have employed similar techniques with great success?

You’ll find a handful of Grammy Award-winning examples ahead. Perhaps you can find inspiration in one or more of them as you build out your own music website.

Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys Homepage

Singer and pianist Alicia Keys uses her WordPress website to market her autobiography, her latest album, a world tour, and more. Like all of the musicians ahead, she’s using a custom-built theme, but her website runs plugins that are readily available.

Alicia and many of her peers are using Yoast SEO to optimize for search engines. The very same plugin can be used to preview search engine and social media snippets. You can use these features to craft infinitely shareable content for your own music website.

The Vault, a members-only area of her website, leverages a plugin very similar to Paid Member Subscriptions. It is here that she provides her biggest fans with unreleased tracks, exclusive photos, and more.

Alicia’s website is hosted with WP Engine, a managed hosting provider that specializes in WordPress. Their premium hosting plans are on the pricey side but include access to a vast collection of stylish StudioPress themes.

Rush

Rush Website Tour Archive

If you need further proof that the work of Canadian rock band Rush is timeless, this would be it. Their first studio album was released nearly fifty years ago, yet here they are marketing with WordPress in the modern day.

Their custom WordPress theme proudly features the band’s iconic logo and strong calls to action. Rush stopped touring years ago, but their Tour page serves as a striking archive of their past shows. Subpages include photos, dates, and setlists from the archive’s 20+ entries.

Every single page of the website is topped off with a mailing list opt-in form. The form is made up of raw HTML that points to the band’s MailChimp account, but you can achieve the same effect with a plugin like MC4WP.

Weird Al

Weird Al WordPress Website

Endorsements don’t get much bigger than this. Five time Grammy-winner “Weird Al” Yankovic uses WordPress to promote his music, his books, and even his custom Chia Pet.

With its wide range of offerings, Al’s website still manages to make it easy to find what you’re after. News, tour info, and his infamous music videos receive navigation menu prominence, while everything else is relegated to the website’s archives.

Weird Al’s photo gallery is one of the site’s many tucked-away items, but it was built with NextGen Gallery. NextGen’s basic features are available to all WordPress users free of charge, while upgrades start at $79. And like Alicia Keys, Weird Al is hosting his WordPress website with WP Engine.

Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey Website

American singer and songwriter Lana Del Rey released her first studio album in 2010. Since then, she has received several Grammy nominations as well as a Golden Globe nomination.

The homepage of her WordPress website wastes little time plugging the musician’s latest album, music video, and upcoming shows. Navigate away from the homepage and you’ll find links for her complete discography, photos, a video gallery, and her newsletter. Links to her social media and streaming profiles are readily available too.

Behind the scenes, Lana Del Rey’s website is running the popular Yoast SEO and Google Tag Manager for WordPress plugins. Additionally, Lana and a couple of her fellow musicians are running push notification plugins. Have a look at at OneSignal’s WordPress plugin if you’d like to send browser push notifications to your fans as well.

Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood WordPress Website

While Carrie Underwood’s WordPress website won’t be winning any usability awards, the country musician has plenty of her own awards. These include multiple Grammy Awards, Billboard Music Awards, and many CMT Music Awards.

Underwood is far more than a country music artist, and her website reflects this. The full-screen slider on her homepage offers quick access to her fitness app, book, and her CALIA line of fitness apparel. You may even find a link or two for her music up there as well.

Look closer at the homepage slider and you’ll see that it’s powered by Slider Revolution. The popular CodeCanyon plugin isn’t free, but it is feature-packed. Alternatively, you’ll receive many of the same features from the free version of Smart Slider 3.

Underwood’s website makes use of a few free WordPress plugins as well. Among them is Flow-Flow Social Stream, a social media feed plugin that was referenced earlier. Other active plugins include Yoast SEO, Google Tag Manager for WordPress, and WP-PageNavi.

Dreamville Records

Dreamville Records Video Hero

The label of Dreamville Records is home to hip-hop greats like J. Cole, Bas, and many others. The label’s website, which was designed by New York City agency Hugo & Marie, is flashy, snappy, and a pleasure to navigate. And as you might have guessed, it was built with WordPress.

Visit the site’s homepage and you’ll be greeted immediately with a full-screen video hero slider. The clips are no more than a couple seconds in length a piece and they loop indefinitely. On top of the slider’s videos backgrounds, you’ll find clear calls to action that are hard to resist.

The slider itself appears to be custom built, but you could create something similar with Slider Revolution or with Smart Slider 3 Pro. Both premium solutions will allow you to place videos in the backgrounds of your slides.

Take a minute to browse the label’s website if the music’s explicit content doesn’t bother you. The website’s four or five top-level pages have solid design ideas to offer musicians and bands of any genre.

Mumford & Sons

Mumford & Sons Music Website

From hip hop to folk rock, the WordPress platform knows no musical limits. With nearly fifteen years of experience and the major awards to back them up, Mumford & Sons is one of the more successful bands using WordPress.

The website’s plugin selection includes no real surprises. The guys are optimizing with Yoast, tracking with Google Tag Manager, and sending push notifications with a plugin like OneSignal’s. They’re embedding music videos from YouTube and are using the WordPress platform’s blogging tools to announce tour and release dates.

If you visit the website without checking out another page, at least pay the Music page a visit. The design that the band has used to display their complete discography is unlike anything else. If you’d like the same look for your music website, the WordPress block editor and a plugin like Advanced WordPress Backgrounds will get you there.

Conclusion

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to optimize WordPress for musicians and bands. The platform is plenty capable in its own right, with native support for audio upload and playback as well as embeds from your favorite streaming services. If you do decide to upgrade your music website with a premium theme or plugin, you have plenty of inexpensive options.

So what’s your game plan? Will you be building a basic site on the cheap, or will your music website require more advanced features? There’s no wrong answer as long as the final product delivers real value to your listeners.

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