I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
April 03, 2012 - 10:26 a.m.
I had another wasted day yesterday so it won't do much good to write about that. I'm wasting too many days.
I thought my expectations for my class had sunk so low they could no longer disappoint me. I was wrong. On Thursday I started going over a homework problem. It was hard and it was long and in retrospect I should have not assigned it. Still once I did I wanted the class to see how it was done. I did the hard part and all that was left was lots of algebraic simplification and then using the formula to find the vertex of a parabola. As I was doing the simplification I saw that virtually no one was paying any attention to what I was doing. They weren't trying to follow it. I stopped what I was doing and told them they had to finish the problem for homework and hand it in on Friday. On Friday when I went to collect it some students were totally unprepared to hand it in. One asked "Can I copy it over" They couldn't keep thoughts in their head long enough to realize that if something is going to be collected it has to be written someplace that you can hand in. Given that my expectations were low. I expected them to get things wrong. I wasn't expecting them to not even work on the problem. They just copied over what I got to in class and stopped. They didn't try and finish the problem, the entire point. Only one student actually answered the question. I keep saying I'm going to just give up and stop caring but that seems to be impossible for me.
Jill Sobule asked on Facebook, "What artist or band has a great designed website?" My first reaction was "nobody." You'll often find my praising musicians but rarely their websites. Most are simply adequate. Far too many are bad. So my plan for today is to discuss what makes a musician's website good and what should be avoided.
Why do we go to an artist's website in the first place? Who is the target audience and what do they want? As a music consumer I'm usually going to find where and when they have a gig or to buy or get information about their merchandise. I'm pretty sure that's typical. Most of the time I'm familiar with the artist. I want some information and I want it to be easy to find.
When you land on the website you should find yourself on the website, not some introduction page with some link that says "click hear to enter the website." I'm not there to look at some graphic or watch some animation. I went to the website for a purpose. Even if I loved what you show in the intro I'd get bored with it and click past it as fast as I could after seeing it a few times.
The navigation should be simple and intuitive and the same on every page. Don't come up with fancy names for the sections. People shouldn't have to guess what things mean. They want to find the tour schedule, the merch, the bio, the press kit, etc. Put the links in a prominent place. I love it when the landing page has a list of the next few gigs. The email signup should be there too. Let people take care of business and move on with whatever else they were doing.
When you give gig information give the venue, city, state, date, and time. Always give a link to the venue even if you give the information in more than one place. Don't make people work.
There should be a page with your full tour schedule on it so people can plan ahead. Here's a place where you have options. You can do it simply by date but you can also give it by geography. That's useful. Red Molly has a great tour page.. I love the map on the bottom so you can see if they are coming near you.
Let people hear your music and see you perform. A simple and someone prominent music player on the landing page is great. Autoplay is an abomination. Here you are listening to something or perhaps busy at work and you land on a page and an ad starts playing. You get annoyed right? Same thing happens when somebody lands on your page and the music plays by itself. I might love your music but I don't want to hear it that second. I'm usually busy listening to something else when I visit. I've landed on pages so complex that I can't even see where to turn the music off. Sometimes there are multiple players and videos. That will just make me leave the page unless I'm strongly motivated to find something. People didn't get to your page at random. They aren't going to hear the autoplayed music and say, "That's great I'm going to go see them." If they want to hear what you sound like they'll press the button and play it. If they don't, don't impose your will on them.
A video is good too. The live experience is not the same recorded. Get a good video and post it someplace. It can be on the front page but be careful. You don't want it to be cluttered. Use your judgment. Use a high quality video. You can just embed something from You-Tube. If nobody had recorded one with good sound ask around for someone to do it. You're an artist, you have friends that are filmmaking students or gifted amateurs. Someone will be glad to make a video of you in concert and post it. Even some of my videos shot on my still camera are good enough when the conditions are perfect.
Extras are fine. If you have a blog by all means put it on your website. Let people get to know you. When you link to it just make sure to give it a simple name, "Blog", "Tour Diary." Don't put in a link to something like with a name like "Wise Madness." Nobody will know what that means. You can put the title of the blog on the page, just not the links.
Lyrics are always good to give. They can bring people to your page that don't know you. They heard one of your songs and Google what they remember to find the artist.
Have a page for contact information, both professional and for the fans. Make sure you fans can contact you. You don't have to answer every email but let people feel that connection with you. Sometimes you really want to tell the artist something and don't want to have to send it to management.
Photo pages are good. Don't get fancy with them. I hate when you have to scroll through a set list of photos in a tiny viewer. Why do you want to make the photos small? When people used film they'd pay extra for large prints. Here the size is free? Why use a 400 pixel photo people have to squint out to see? I've seen smaller than that. I never post anything smaller than 800 pixels. I can see 600 but not smaller.
And use thumbnails so people can just go to the photo they want to see. Notice that's how all photo websites work. Don't try and control the viewer's experience. Vistors know what they want better than you do.
Link to your social media unobtrusively, but visibly, preferably right next to the email signup.
Make sure to put your photo on the landing page. That's how people know they are in the right place. Make it a good photo that shows you or the band clearly. Clarity is more important than artistic merit. Ideally of course you have both.
What am I forgetting? What else should a page have? I'd love to see what other people that visit the pages think. Do you want the same things I want?
The thing that people forget is that a website's primary purpose is to give people the information they need to see you. It isn't a place to express yourself. That's what your music is for. If you can express yourself great but never at the cost of making it harder for people to find what they are looking for.
Now I have to run. For the first time in ages I'm going to play with Carey, just the two of us. We used to do this at least once a month. We're going to see Rachel Ries tonight but before that we'll play it by ear. I can pretty much guarantee it will involve chocolate and toys.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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