A captivating online presence is paramount these days, regardless of whether you’re a local doctor, an international law firm, or a global news outlet. The music industry is no exception to this rule. In fact, with CD and digital download sales continuing to decline in the wake of free music streaming services, a compelling online presence is a mandate for musicians.
Luckily, musicians have WordPress at their disposal. WordPress has made it possible for even the least tech-savvy of musicians to create a website that shows off their talents and opens up a whole new online audience.
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The standard toolkit that a WordPress install provides is more than enough to get any musician off to a flying start. But, to really make your website sing (pun intended!), to create a website that makes people want to stay longer, buy your music, go to your gigs, and leave glowing reviews, these WordPress plugins could be your new best friend.
WordPress Plugins For Managing Tour Dates
The bread and butter of any musician is live performance. It is often one of the main reasons that musicians become musicians — for the love of the stage, and performing to a crowd. So, it should be no surprise that we start our list with WordPress plugins designed to help manage tour dates and events.
While this is a broader event management plugin, not specifically designed for bands and musicians, it can still be used for gig management. It is a highly comprehensive event management tool, which enables users to create and maintain events. It operates by using the in-built ‘custom post type’ in WordPress, which gives events the same functionality as posts, but with additional features. By using this plugin, you can repeat events (using complex custom schedules), assign venues to events, sync with iCal, add discount codes, and more.
There is also Event Organiser Pro, a paid premium add-on, which offers booking management functionality, payment gateways via PayPal, event search shortcode, venue custom fields and more. Prices start from £40 per site.
If it’s the numbers that you’re into, then this the Event Organiser plugin for you — over half a million downloads in its lifetime, 30,000 of which are currently active. And, it has a 4.7 star rating from more than 80 reviews. Not a bad hit rate there.
If you tour regularly or play gigs, you should really look at adding GigPress to your WordPress repertoire. Launched in 2007, GigPress allows you to manage upcoming and past performances from within the WordPress admin panel, and display them live on your website using the GigPress website, PHP template tags, or simple shortcodes.
This plugin is incredibly easy to use and you can create the look you want using HTML or CSS. You can manage multiple artists within GigPress, and display them either as a combined listing, or grouped by artist — great if you operate a live menu venue. The plugin even includes iCalendar feeds, as well as downloadable Google Calendar and iCal links for individual shows. If you’re a touring muso, your website definitely needs to include all the details or your concerts or tour dates, and this is an easy way to set one up.
With over 260,000 downloads (20,000+ currently active) and a 4.7 star rating, this is definitely the most popular tour management plugin.
This is quite a simple event calendar, which was initially created by a musician, with musicians in mind. A New York based jazz pianist, Matthew Fries (that’s where the MF in MF Gig Calendar comes from) developed the plugin because he was after a flexible calendar for his own music website.
It’s features include support for multiple-day events, the ability to include styled text, images, links, and a range of other media within event listings, a super easy to use event duplicate function, and shortcode variables so that users can customize the output. Plus, it enables you to place an event calendar on any page or post that you like, in multiple locations. It’s stats aren’t quite as impressive as GigPress though — 20,000 downloads (3,000 active).
This plugin is a little more advanced than MF Gig Calendar (which admits that it is meant to be simple and flexible). It is aimed at musicians and bands who want to be able to include a calendar of their live performances on their WordPress website.
It’s designed to be as easy as to use for both musician and fan alike. It can even manage venue data, including location mapping and links to purchase tickets. It’s had a few more downloads at 70,000 for all-time, and 3,000 currently active.
WordPress Plugins For Managing Band Photos
At some point you’re likely want to show of photos of yourself, or your entire your band. Perhaps you had some great publicity shots done, or maybe you’ve got a batch of great photos from your latest gig. Whatever the case may be, your fans will want to scroll thorugh your shots in the easiest, most engaging way possible. These image plugins should help with exactly that.
The NextGEN image gallery is, according to its creators, the most comprehensive WordPress image gallery plugin available today. This Plugin comes in a free and pro version. The pro version will set you back $39 and it’s probably only worth forking out the money if you are the type of band that uploads a lot of photos. The pro version gives you the option of getting a bit more creative with your photos — you can even create full-width photos and slideshows.
There are also loads of extensions that add every type of functionality imaginable. If your photos are a crucial part of your marketing, then NextGen is a great option for you. With over 14 million downloads ever, 1 million of which are still active, it’s safe to say this is a reliable image management tool.
If this image plugin doesn’t tickle your fancy, then take a look at out recent article on 8 WordPress Plugins to Create Awe-Inspiring Image Effects.
WordPress Plugins For Playing Music on Your Site
If you want to offer fans a sneak peak into your music, what better way than to include live previews on your website? There are plenty of plugins that enable you to do this easily, and with a minimum of fuss.
This is probably the best option out there if you’re looking to add a quality music plugin to your WordPress site. With this plugin you can upload songs and allow your audience to listen to them whenever they feel like it. It is mobile friendly, meaning they can also listen on the go.
The best part about this plugin is that you can place it anywhere you like throughout a page. You can include it on your shop page and with the pro version you can even include ‘buy now’ buttons next to each track. Your site has to show off your music, and this is the best way to do it.
It works quite well on both pages and pages and can be inserted via a widget or shortcode. Plus, it’s fully mobile responsive. Its stats aren’t too bad (given the age of Spotify) — it’s had over 27,000 downloads.
Alternatively, if you’re a SoundCloud user (instead of Spotify), you can opt for this plugin. Similar to the plugin above, and made by the same people (TechGasp) — this just supports the SoundCloud platform instead! It’s had 59,000 downloads, with over 5,000 still active.
WordPress Plugins to Help Connect with Your Fans
For any musician, the more successful you become, the less time you’ll have to connect with your fans one-on-one. Chances are, you won’t have time to respond to every email, to every blog post comment, to every tweet. Luckily, there are a couple of WordPress plugin that can help you automate these processes. They might not replace the truly personalized response, but at least they’re better than no response at all.
This is the best way to ensure you reach out to your fans and well wishers without having to spend all day glued to your computer. You can create an automated response that is posted at a designated time after a visitor has left a comment on your website.
So, you can set it to post a reply 5 minutes, an hour, or even immediately after your fans comment. Your fans will really appreciate the personal touch, and you can spend more time composing your next masterpiece. The stats: 164,000 downloads, 7,000 of which are still active.
This is a more automated way of connecting with your fans than the approach offered by ‘Thank Me Later’. Instead of posting a reply, this plugin redirects your visitor to a page of your choice as soon as they leave a comment.
You can direct them to your ‘music’ page and leave a note saying something like, ‘Thanks so much for your comment. Check out our free music samples here’. Alternatively, you could direct them to your ‘tour’ page to let them know where and when your next show is.
Connecting with fans and other musicians is the best way to build up your profile and create a network. Your website is often the key way that fans and fellow musos will try and connect with you so you need to make it as easy as possible. There are plenty of free contact form plugins around but if you want something a little more impressive, you should consider Gravity Forms.
There you have it, a round-up of some of the most important WordPress plugins for a band or musician. If you have any suggestions of your own, feel free to pop them in the comments section below.