The folks at WebSelf.net asked me to give their web design and hosting platform a look. They feel their product has a lot to offer the modern global independent musician, like you. To prove it, they are offering StaticDive.com readers a 15% discount.
Use the coupon code STATICDIVE for 15% off any Premium Plan at WebSelf.net
So, I set out to see if they were right. My task was to build a musician-relevant website using their tools. Obviously, I already have this blog. So, I called out to the void and asked, “what type of website does every musician need?” The answer that came back was a resounding, “EPK!”
An Electronic Press Kit (EPK) is exactly what it sounds like. Think of it as a press release, but with pictures and sound. Corporations use them all the time to launch products and initiatives, or to introduce important new employees to the press.
EPKs have also become very popular in the music world. Artists, labels, managers, and PR folks use them to announce tours, singles, albums, etc. However, their adoption has been an evolutionary process.
A Little History…
I worked with a number of major and indie record labels back in the early 2000s. The industry was afraid of all things internet back then. Record executives lived in constant fear of their music leaking out to Napster. MP3 files were viewed as the Devil’s work. EPKs existed, but they usually took the form of self contained, password protected files, distributed to a select audience.
Fast forward to our modern day. The digitized music genie has long since escaped the bottle. The record labels that have survived are those whom (eventually) adapted. It is now clear to everyone, music is an online business. The EPK has evolved with that acceptance. The secret PDF files of the past are now public websites. Today, a typical EPK is a simple web page, freely displaying content relevant to the product being promoted.
As you may know, at the beginning of 2019 I embarked on a slightly insane project. As The Static Dive I am releasing a new single every month. So far, most of the tracks have been instrumental Experimental Electronica. The new tune this month is no exception. It is titled, “Forward”.
In previous months, for previous releases, I started my promotions with a blog post. In those posts I would announce the new release, show off some groovy artwork from @50stressballs, and give a little back story on the writing and recording process. But I am not doing that this time. This time, thanks to my friends at WebSelf.net, I have created an EPK for the new single. It will tell you all you need to know about the song. Here, I will tell you about the process of creating the EPK.
As I mentioned earlier, WebSelf is a Quebec-based company. As a result, they support multiple languages. The default is French. However, upon my first visit to the site, it recognized my location and asked if I would like to switch to English.
After I made my language selection I was easily able to set up a login with my Google account, which I always appreciate. That’s one less password to remember.
Once I was in, I was able to start setting up my site. There are two primary user interfaces, The Dashboard and The Editor. The Dashboard is where you can control your account settings, and make configuration changes to your site, or create a new site. Creating a new site it easy. The interface offers oodles of site templates to choose from in a dozen different categories. For my EPK, I chose one of the “Art and Music” templates.
After I chose my template and named my site, I was immediately dropped into the Editor interface. It is a slick and user friendly layout. On that first visit I was greeted by a video tutorial. Honestly, I usually ignore those things, but I watched this time. I was glad I did.
The tutorial clearly explained how the editor works. The entire site design and management process is point and click. I was able to easily update the template with my own content. New site features are added by dragging and dropping little website applets they call “elements”. Managing existing pages or creating new ones is easy via the simple sidebar menu.
I’ve been running websites for a long time. Adding interactivity to a page used to be an arduous process. Even a simple contact form could lead to hours of trial-and-error script hacking. With WebSelf, I added an email form in seconds, and it worked immediately. Similarly, site-wide and page specific settings that affect fonts, colors, and backgrounds can all be managed through the editor with out any coding required. There is no need to dig in to CSS style sheets, or HTML tags.
I was able to add a few other fancy bells and whistles, like an auto-playing MP3 player, and a photo gallery. All with the click of a mouse. Similar platforms, like WordPress, long ago simplified web design and management. But they often have a steep learning curve, and usually require technical knowledge to install and configure new features. The WebSelf program takes the field a step further. All you really need to create and publish a site is an idea, and some general end-user computer skills. IT chops are not required.
Under the Hood
One way or another, you are going to want to have a domain name pointing to your new site. Whether you already own one, or need to register a brand new name, they make it pretty easy. In my case, I was able to point a subdomain of StaticDive.com to my new EPK at WebSelf.net (epk.staticdive.com). It was simple. Setting up a new domain name is even easier.
There are also tools for the technically savvy and SEO minded. In the “Settings” menu you can configure Google and Bing Webmaster tracking, Google Analytics, and Social sharing cards
In the end, I like WebSelf.net a lot. It has a versatile and easy to use user interface. The templates all make sense and are aesthetically pleasing. And there is a ton of customization functionality. If you are a hardcore coder, you may want a bit more hackability. But, if that’s you, you probably already have your own Linux server in your basement hosting blogs and torrents for you gamer friends.
I think the platform is a great match for musicians and other artists who need a website, but would rather spend their time creating than coding.
Check out WebSelf.net and tell them Bob sent you. (use the code STATICDIVE for a 15% discount on any Premium Plan)