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Best Website Builder for Artists: Bandzoogle vs Squarespace vs Wix vs Weebly

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Ari Herstand
Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based musician, the founder and CEO of Ari’s Take and the author of How to Make It in the New Music Business.
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Do you need a musician website? Yes, like a small business, every musician needs a website.

If you’re doing it right, you’re operating your career like you are running a small business. Yes, Facebook is great and you should probably have a Page there. And yes, Instagram is the hottest thing right now. But you own your website. You can track who visits your website. You can target people who visit your website via Facebook ads (wahhhh really?! Yes really!).

Your website is where all official information needs to live. You should have a hidden press page (or EPK) or just a basic page for press with music, videos (live and music videos), press quotes, tour dates, bio, current press releases, social stats and anything else you’d put on a One Sheet.

A musician website lets fans know who you are and what you’re about from the top down.

Most websites these days aren’t as ‘living’ as they once were. Meaning, most people don’t have blogs anymore. Or update their websites other than with tour dates, new songs and new press. It’s the calling card. Not the living, breathing lifeblood of your project.

If people want to get a FEEL for you, they find you on the social sites and interact with you there – social buttons on your site should lead them to your social channels.

You should have an email signup on your website. Yes, building Instagram and Spotify followers is great. Yeah Facebook Likes are still a currency people are looking at. But you don’t own your followers over there. You rent them on social platforms. Once you have their email address (or phone number) you now OWN them. Well, can contact them directly. Facebook’s engagement rate is around 1-2%. Average email open rates are around 24%. And conversion rates (getting them to buy stuff) are WAY higher via email.

A website for musicians can now be done by the artists themselves.

I’ve been through my fair share of web developers and they are the most frustrating people on the planet – and my brother is one! (Love you Micah!)

They typically take on way more projects than they can handle. Charge an arm and a leg. Are super technical when we’re artsy. And the worst part about it, even if they make you the perfect site, you’ll need to update it and it’ll take them 3 months to get around to it.

So, my recommendation is do NOT work with web developers until you can afford one on retainer. But, honestly, with the website builders below, you don’t really need one.

I dug in deep into what can be considered the best website builders for artists below. My team actually built a full musician website on EACH platform to understand the intricacies of each builder. Yes, we really did. And it took a while!

–>Full disclosure, I’ve used Bandzoogle and Squarespace for my own stuff (ariherstand.com is a Bandzoogle site and brassrootsdistrict.com is a Squarespace site), so I’m most familiar with them. And Bandzoogle and CD Baby are or have been Ari’s Take partners (sponsors), but I’ve told them that just because they’re supporting Ari’s Take, it doesn’t get me to change my review on their services!

Just, FYI, you can expect a music website builder to be mobile friendly and/or responsive. What does this mean? Well, responsive sites are the best – meaning they look good on any device: desktop, tablet, phone, anywhere. It was a thing in like 2014 that many sites weren’t responsive/mobile friendly and it was super annoying because you had to pinch in and out to view websites on your phone. But now, every builder is making mobile friendly/responsive sites. So you don’t need to worry about that. I didn’t even add it to the comparison.

And nearly all the sites can add Google Analytics (which I HIGHLY recommend). Some have built-in analytics which are super convenient, but Google Analytics goes extremely deep with the data and usage (how much time users spent on which page). Knowing which pages and content on your musician website are attracting the most attention will give you a heads up on what your users are interested in – so, it’s good to have on there.

You must add Google Analytics manually though. So, set that up first!

Also, worth mentioning AND emphasizing. The easiest way to make your site look great is by starting with great, high quality photos and/or logos. Artist website builders are only as good as the content you give them. If your photos look awful, your site is going to look awful. Spend the money you were going to spend on a web developer on a professional photographer (and possibly graphic designer for your logo – Pro Tip: Fiverr has a lot of talented graphic designers you can hire for cheap).

What is the best website builder for artists? How can you create a website with no design, HTML or development experience?

Wix vs Weebly vs Squarespace vs Bandzoogle vs Bandcamp

 

Bandcamp logo

Sitebuilder Review: What is Bandcamp?

So, Bandcamp doesn’t technically fall into the artist website builders category like the rest do, BUT they have many similar features and some artists use their Bandcamp profile AS their website. I don’t recommend this, but you could use them as your merch store. And definitely as a digital download store. They also have a great Patreon-esque subscription service. Bandcamp is the only place where download sales continue to go UP. It started as merely a digital download store and has evolved into so much more. They now have a curated homepage and blog which acts as kind of a record store editorial section.

+Patreon Review – How To Make Money From Your Music on an Ongoing Basis

Bandcamp continues to be beloved by musicians and indie music fans, it’s just not considered the best website builder for artists.

BEST:

  • Internal music promotion (on their blog/homepage) –
  • Private streaming/sharing built in
  • Download store – Merch store
  • Album pre-orders – Discount/Coupon code offers
  • Subscription/Membership service (fans pay monthly for access)
  • No Bandcamp branding anywhere on your page

WORST:

  • Very limited website-building functionality (not recommended to build your entire site on)
  • No templates
  • Cannot change layout
  • High store commission (10-15%)
  • No live chat support – No phone support
  • Limited built-in visitor analytics
  • No File Manager (to store large files)
  • Limited email customer service support (took weeks for first reply)

+How To Turn Your Fans into Paying Subscribers (Bandcamp Subscription Service Review)

Bandzoogle logo

Bandzoogle Review

When it comes to being intuitive – Bandzoogle can be considered the best website builder for artists. You’ll find loads of Bandzoogle reviews raving about how easy it is to use. It was originally built for musicians (started by a musician), but actually many comedians also have Bandzoogle websites. Because they’re music-first, they have the best features for musicians and are constantly adding new ways to help musicians’ careers. Not to mention that there are really great people at Bandzoogle, especially Dave Cool (yes that’s his real name). I’ve had the pleasure of hanging with them at music conferences all over the world. Their hearts are in the right place. I dig the culture of the company. When the company is led by good people, you know that you’re not going to get screwed or taken advantage of.

A blessing and a curse that I know their platform so well and that I have used it so much is that I know very nuanced things with Bandzoogle – for better or worse. Like, I once sold tickets to a huge event I was holding. Great idea in theory, however, their internal sales numbers did not match up with the numbers I had in PayPal (how I took payment on the site). It was insanely frustrating to say the least. It took hours to cross check the Bandzoogle internal payment numbers with the PayPal numbers (we had hundreds of attendees). All their emails needed to get added to an RSVP sheet, etc etc. Needless to say, their store service ain’t perfect. But unless you’re doing hundreds of sales a month, you shouldn’t have any problems. And they may have worked out these kinks by now – this was a year ago.

BEST:

  • Very intuitive backend
  • Great-looking templates
  • No commission for built-in store
  • Built-in crowdfunding
  • Built-in subscription service
  • Music-first focus
  • Built-in analytics
  • Live chat support
  • Site-wide music player (can browse pages without stopping the music)
  • SoundScan reporting (when you sell music)
  • Sale pricing (on your store items)
  • Can sell tickets commission-free for shows
  • Inventory tracking
  • Album/merch pre-orders
  • Great customer service
  • Unlimited storage/file size for the File Manager with the ability to link to it (to be able to store any type of file – like you can in Dropbox).
  • They give Ari’s Take readers 15% off –click here to enable

WORST:

  • Store items don’t always match up with actual sales (always cross-check payment receipts)
  • Built-in analytics are minimal
  • No affiliate tracking

 

Hostbaby logo

Hostbaby Review:

Update: Hostbaby no longer exists. Hostbaby migrated all of their users (and websites) over to Bandzoogle

Reverbnation logo

Sitebuilder Review: What is ReverbNation?

It’s surprising to me that ReverbNation is still around. It is the platform that just never dies. They do a really good job at marketing to the very beginning musician. Or the (and I hate this term and use it lightly) ‘amateur’ musician. Not the professional musician. No professional artist I know (and I know a lot) use ReverbNation, but somehow they have ‘millions’ of users. No manager I know (and I know a lot!) uses ReverbNation for their artists. There are some great features ReverbNation offers, like Crowd Review (built by the AudioKite guys) and some of their opportunities that you can submit to are solid. But I struggle to see what their focus is as a company. I’ve really wanted them to turn things around for years and they never have.

+AudioKit Review: How To Objectively Pick Your Best Songs (Or Find Out If You Completely Suck)

Case in point, when we built our musician website on ReverbNation for this review, we logged in via Facebook. Only after we added photos, songs, videos and shows did we realize that ReverbNation AUTOPOSTED every single addition to my personal Facebook profile. Like “Ari Herstand just added a photo.” “Ari Herstand just added a song” over and over and over and over again. I even went into the sharing section in ReverbNation and tried to turn it off. And I thought I did, but low and behold, when I added another photo to the website my personal Facebook got a notification “Ari Herstand just added a photo,” with, get this, NOT the photo, but ReverbNation’s logo. Not many ReverbNation reviews mention this ‘glitch’ which didn’t actually strike me as a ‘glitch’ at all!

That’s my biggest issue with ReverbNation: they brand EVERYTHING with ReverbNation. It’s not about musicians. It’s about ReverbNation.

They set everything, by default, to auto post ReverbNation branded content. And, by default, keep everything heavily branded ReverbNation. That ain’t cool. That’s why the professionals have left the building. They like to site “Imagine Dragons is on Reverbnation!” Well, yes, technically, but their profile hasn’t been updated in 8 years. And for the record, neither has mine.

I’m contributing to ReverbNation reviews because they have a music website builder, called “Site Builder” and it comes up frequently when searching. They should spend less money marketing ReverbNation and more money on ways to turn their brand around.

BEST:

  • Lots of additional features for musicians for their monthly price

WORST:

  • All info is pulled from ReverbNation profile (must use ReverbNation)
  • Requires having a fully developed RN profile
  • No built in store
  • No ability to add in HTML code (or any customization)
  • No ability to link externally except for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube
  • Email signup requires using RN’s email list provider
  • No live chat support
  • No phone support
  • No built in analytics
  • Facebook Connect will auto post to your personal profile whether you like it or not
  • Extremely little customization options
  • Only 3 template options
  • Any social site linked will auto post (which is auto enabled)
  • Requires credit card for free trial[ab4]

Squarespace logoSquarespace Review: What is Squarespace?

Squarespace website builder is one of the biggest players in this space. Their product is excellent. They are design-focused so all of their templates look sleek and fresh. Very modern. Very hip. If Wix is Windows, Squarespace is Apple…. But both platforms work on both Windows and Apple… Maybe that metaphor missed. Anyway! I really love Squarespace for artists because their attention to aesthetics is on point. Beautiful sites. I’ve never seen a Squarespace site I didn’t like. Their backend can be a bit tricky and there is quite a steep learning curve to learn their system, but if you put in the time, you can make a really great looking website.

Because Squarespace is so popular, you can find support articles and videos for virtually anything you need to do. Let’s dive in deeper with this Squarespace review, here’s why this platform can be considered the best website builder for artists.

How Much is Squarespace?

One of the most common questions artists ask me when they read my squarespace review is: “How much does Squarespace cost“? That’s a fair question, but you first need to know the features they offer and whether or not you’ll be using them. The more features, the more the cost. When you go up to their higher paying plans, they waive transaction fees for ecommerce stores – so that’s a plus! My suggestion is to progress slowly – when you see your sales soaring enough that it would be cheaper to pay more monthly as opposed to per transaction, that would be a good time to upgrade.

BEST:

  • Design aesthetic
  • Lots of 3rd party integration
  • Live chat support
  • Robust built-in analytics
  • Lots of backend features
  • Great looking templates
  • Sale pricing for store

WORST:

  • Steep learning curve
  • No site-wide music player
  • Store takes commission (in addition to transaction fees)
  • File manager limited to 20MB files

weebly logo

Weebly Review:

Weebly website maker has become a heavy hitter in the space. It’s extremely easy to use and the backend is intuitive. If you have some coding expertise you can customize the pages a bit. Weebly website builder has pre-built page designs which are nice for non-designers and those who just want to leave it to the experts. If you’re going to be selling a lot on your website, Weebly has one of the best, albeit most expensive, store options. You can’t sell digital goods or get access to coupons or inventory management until the $300/year+ option.

Worth noting, there is a free option, but you have to have yourname.weebly.com – Don’t do that. Pay for a custom domain. Have some self respect!

BEST:

  • Auto page layout creation tool
  • Robust store options
  • Chat and phone support
  • Built-in analytics
  • Subscription (membership) option
  • Inventory tracking
  • Discount (coupon) code for store

WORST:

  • Not geared towards musicians
  • Little customization for page design
  • Expensive plans to enable best store features
  • No monthly payment options (must pay all up front)
  • No built-in music player

wix logo

Wix Review: Is Wix a Good Website Builder?

So, apparently Wix website builder is the most popular website builder in the world with 119 million registered users. That being said, whenever I stumble upon a godawful looking website, 9 times out of 10 it’s a Wix site. I’ve never seen a Squarespace site that didn’t look great. I’ve seen many many Wix sites that look horrendous. That’s probably why Wix created their “Artificial Design Intelligence” (ADI) – which basically creates the website for you without you having to figure out any kind of design. If you’re not a design expert and you’re using Wix I definitely recommend using this option. I know there are some of you reading this saying “my site looks great and I’m not a designer!” I bet you THINK it looks great, but the number of Wix sites I’ve seen that look, uh, not great, is astounding. You’re probably in this bunch. Don’t use Wix unless you choose the ADI option or are a designer (or work with one).

It’s also worth noting that you can use Wix website builder for free, but the domain will have Wix in it. Like: yourname.wix.com But, like Weebly, don’t do this. Have some dignity! Be a professional!

Wix Review: How Much Does Wix Cost?

When it comes to pricing, Wix isn’t half bad. It may not be the best website builder for artists, but it can be a start. If you take the above points into consideration and make sure you get your own domain, you should be fine for the short term. It also helps that Wix EPK is a thing and so Wix for musicians is up for consideration.

BEST:

  • Very user friendly
  • Lots of templates to choose from (musician options)
  • Very popular so lots of support articles and videos
  • No store fee
  • Discount code for store
  • Subscription (membership) option
  • Phone support
  • Lots of 3rd party integration

WORST:

  • Cannot switch templates once chosen
  • Storage limited to 20GB (even on highest plan)
  • Easy to make site look horrendous (without ADI)
  • No live chat support
  • No built-in site analytics (via plugin/app)

wordpress logo

WordPress Review:

WordPress has got to be the best known brand in the website building space. It’s typically the first name that comes up when discussing building a website. The only problem is, it’s hella hard to build a website on WordPress. Well, that is, if you’re not a developer.

It’s an open source platform – meaning anyone can create a theme or plugin for WordPress. For better or worse. If you use a 3rd party plugin or theme, you rely on their (non-existent) customer support.

A WordPress website for musicians is best for those with a serious budget to hire a designer and developer to build ON the WordPress platform. WordPress is not a site builder like the rest, but I included it here so you have some understanding considering most people think it is a site builder like the rest.

Because it’s so popular, there are tons of 3rd party plugins you can add to your site and tons of support articles and videos to help you use WordPress features.

There are tons of WordPress themes out there (many paid) you can choose, but you’ll most likely still want a developer and designer to help you build the site even with a theme.

The WordPress backend is bar none. Best out there. Great built-in analytics. WordPress is best for blogs. Lots of blog features.

For music sites – again, WP can be the best website builder for artists if they have a retainer budget for a helluva developer. Otherwise, I’d say, skip WordPress and choose one of the others.

BEST:

  • Lots of 3rd party integration
  • Extremely robust and flexible platform
  • Best for experienced developers, coders, designers
  • Virtually anything you want to do with a website you can do (with the right coding/design knowledge)

WORST:

  • Design and development expertise is required
  • Customer support is limited to strictly WordPress-built features (not 3rd party plugins, themes, etc)
  • Steep learning curve
  • Lots of outdated/unsupported plugins and themes
  • Vulnerable to hacking attacks
  • Lots of maintenance required

The Best Website Builder for Artists Comparison Chart

A musician website builder comparison chart – click to enlarge.

Ari's Take Website Builder Comparison
The Best Website Builder for Artists Battle it Out

Wix vs Squarespace vs WordPress

Real talk – we know that there’s a Wix musician website or two (read: TONS) that are simply terrible. We also know from our WordPress review above that you need to have a crazy developer/designer budget to keep up with that platform. Now, this Squarespace review is no promo piece, but if you put the above three as my only options to build a website, my first response will be: ‘How much is Squarespace?’

Squarespace, Best Website Builder for Artists?

It’s not necessarily the best website builder for musicians, but it offers the features artists need to succeed at a reasonable price, with a fairly friendly user experience. We could pit Wix vs Squarespace vs WordPress all day – but the downsides to the other two platforms simply outweigh those of Squarespace.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Does Squarespace Cost?

The cost of using this website for musicians builder will depend on the features you need. To start, go with the lowest plan available and as your musician website grows – so will your plan!

Is Wix Website Builder for Musicians any Good?

The bottom line is, Wix is the most popular website builder right now. But just because ‘Call Me Maybe’ was a popular song, doesn’t mean I’m gonna jam to it on my own time – let alone pay for it. Too many terrible sites are run by Wix, but that’s not to say that you can’t succeed on their platform. Just make sure you get a second, third, fourth, and fifth opinion on your design before you go live – and check out my Wix website builder review above for some more insights on the platform.

How much does Wix Cost?

Wix pricing starts at $5/month to $35/month depending on the plan you choose to run with. Keep in mind that everything from bandwidth to how many hours of video your site can hold will change between plans – so take your time assessing the needs of your musician website. You can also start small and grow as needed if you have a smaller budget.

What is Squarespace, anyway?

Squarespace website builder has simplified the website building process for those who have no coding experience. At its core, it’s a content management system and has been used by artists globally. Some may consider the platform the best website builder for artists. Scroll up for a full squarespace review.

Why Squarespace is bad

I wouldn’t call the platform ‘bad’…every software has its quirks. With Squarespace, if too many changes are made to their templates you might find yourself falling down a development rabbit hole – something you went to Squarespace website builder to avoid. The software is built with simplicity and at some point, as your musician website and career grows – you’ll outgrow Squarespace, too. As mentioned above, when you have the budget for a month over month development retainer, you have no need for simple website builders to begin with.

I’m Looking for Honest Bandzoogle Reviews…

Then you’ve come to the right place. No review of mine is ever swayed – I’m proud to say that Ari’s Take is made for musicians, by a musician. So let’s jump into that Bandzoogle review. Some of the best features I want to point out are the intuitive backend, really nice templates, and a music-first focus company environment. There’s a lot more to chat about though, scroll up to read the mother of all Bandzoogle reviews – from one artist, to another.

So what is the best website builder for artists?

The answer is…it depends. I know, I know – but that’s the truth. That’s why I laid it all out in detail above. Because the details matter. What I need on my musician website, may be nothing like what you need. So take a few minutes to delve into the above if you haven’t already. If you’ve made it here from the top, I bet one of those artist website builders I reviewed spoke to you. If so, dive even deeper, try out their free plan if they have one and see if it’s what you’ve been looking for.

Steer clear of the website builders I mentioned as a no-no above. I would hate to see other artists run into the same disappointments – that’s what this review is for!

Comment below with any questions! If you’ve had good or bad experiences with any of the above website builders – or other platforms – let us know in the comments and share your valuable insights with fellow artists!

About The Author

Ari Herstand
Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based musician, the founder and CEO of Ari’s Take and the author of How to Make It in the New Music Business.

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