Not too long ago, we did a name dissection of Black Queen Speaks. As we prepared for the article, we did something we rarely do anymore, and that's go to the band's actual Web site rather than just sampling them on Facebook or (ugh) MySpace. For some reason, we decided to go straight to the official source this time, and we have to say that we firmly believe that Black Queen Speaks is currently hosting the perfect band Web page.
When MySpace showed up, Rocks Off postulated that regular band Web sites would soon become obsolete in favor of the user-friendly, effective and free new format. We did not know that several years later MySpace would basically become a bigger virus farm than that monkey from Outbreak, and a den of hustlers and thieves.
Facebook remains a very viable alternative for bands, but it can only be a matter of time before the public moves on again. Therefore, it is important for bands to relearn the art of an effective Web site. In the spirit of our guide to common social media mistakes musicians make, here is our walkthrough on why www.blackqueenspeaks.com is the site other bands should emulate.
1. Right off the bat, you can see the site is designed to be easy on the eyes. The text is white on black, reducing eyestrain without sacrificing legibility.
2. A player begins immediately without any kind of action needed on your part as you enter the website, allowing you to instantly get the full effect of the band. This is very important if people have only heard about you without actually hearing you. There is never a reason for your band to be hosted anywhere without the ability for fans to hear music.
Just as importantly, the most prominent feature on the player is the pause button. You never know where someone is going to be when he or she first discovers you. They may be at work cheating the man by visiting band sites, or they may be perusing the internet while someone is asleep in the room. You want people to hear you, but always make sure they can shut if off quickly and easily.
3. The absolute first thing you get besides the music is a nice little banner across the top with the band's name, and below that links to the band's MySpace, Facebook, etc. You have to remember, some people just want to stay locked into the social-media site they prefer.
Those people are going to say, "Oh, they're on Facebook! I'll go there instead." You don't want to make those people hunt around on a link page. Just send them on their merry way. The rest will just scroll down.
4. Next to the player is a nice little philosophical diatribe on what the band feels their music represents, their own self-image illustrated with a striking painting. Sometimes, more than even the music, what people are looking for is a new kind of personality to be interested in. More importantly, it's short. This is very much the age of tl:dr. Don't run at the mouth about how awesome you are.
5. It should be noted that rather than a string of pages, every little section is enclosed in a neatly laid out series of quadrangles. There's no real clicking needed to get around the site, although there are other pages besides the first one. Mostly, it's all right there for you.
6. Next we see the band's bio. Again, short and to the point is essential. You had better have a damn interesting life if you're gonna go on about. And if they want to hear more about who you are, then there's a link to the band's Blogspot blog right next to the bio header. There's no sense in running a blog through your own website when Blogspot is so easy to use.
7. Want to know what the elite think about the band? Next to the bio are three links to press stories, including credits for the writers, which, by the way, we love! No sense peppering your page with quotes from the stories when you can send people directly over to the stories themselves. That means page hits, and page hits keeps reporters wanting to report on you in order to get more page hits. Simple economics. Also, three is a good number of press stories to link to. We can't imagine a whole lot of people reading more than that.
There's also a link to the band's lyrics here, and we can't stress enough how nice that is. It boggles the mind that bands seem to not put their lyrics up anywhere. There is honestly no better look into the soul of the music than that.
8. Next on our tour is your pretty standard link to a photo gallery, a list of upcoming shows, and something for their fan club. Note that even though there's not anything actually there for the fan club, they've at least got a sign saying it's coming soon. You should never have something on a Web page that looks like it leads somewhere without it actually doing so without at least a disclaimer that it's still under construction.
9. Almost near the bottom of the page is something that so few bands seem to do. The next section has contact information, with the email clearly visible. Don't you want fan mail? What if a reporter wants to talk to you, or a venue? Yes, you're going to get spam and hate mail, it's the Internet after all, but you'll also be accessible. Always make sure there is a way to get ahold of you or your representatives.
10. Next to the contact we find links to buy the band's merch at various online locations like iTunes and Amazon. Like with the blog, just let the big boys handle selling your stuff. People have accounts already set up with Amazon, iTunes, and the like. You can sell tshirts through Zazzle or Café Press, and everything else through Etsy.
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11. Finally, there's links to the charities the band supports, which we have almost never seen anywhere else. It's nice to see bands using visitors to try and steer people towards good causes, and it helps fill out the picture of whom they are deep inside.
And that, musician friends, is what makes Black Queen Speaks's Web page pretty much perfect.
Jef With One F is the author of The Bible Spelled Backwards Does Not Change the Fact That You Cannot Kill David Arquette and Other Things I Learned In the Black Math Experiment, available now.