29 Days to Diva: Day 9 – Get That Web Sensation (#29daystodiva)
Who knows you best? Who has been to every one of your performances, felt the nerves and exhilaration of every audition, and painstakingly learned every note for every show? Who remembers which awards you have won and when? Is there anyone that knows your goals and motivating circumstances better than you? No. It is only you that understands the complex path that brings you to the current moment. Over the course of your career as a singer you have been keeping the details and mementos to mark where you have been. Now is the time to use that inside information.
Your day 9 challenge is to create an accurate and exciting web presence.
You have been such busy little bees this February. Polishing résumés, biographies, recordings, and headshots will make for one snazzy press kit. You have secured all the materials for the hard copy and can access all the materials in a snap, right? Never again will you be caught with an application deadline looming and be unable to drop your kit in the mail at a moment’s notice. With this in mind, you may want to have all of these materials online as well. That is where the blessed opera singer’s website enters. Before you jump right in to this project – you ought to weigh the pros and cons. Cindy Sadler, a professional, managed, working singer with a passion for helping her colleagues take ownership of their talent and leadership of their careers (and of course, consummate diva..), has some great advice about singer websites.
Websites for singers are nothing more than advertising and publicity. They are a great way for a fan base to keep track of you, or for opera companies to check you out without having to contact your agent. Many times I’ve had company personnel tell me how nice it was to just be able to download my materials from the site, no fuss no muss. But no one has ever hired me to sing opera because of it. As long as they are professional, they don’t hurt and may help. But before you spend money, be clear on what they do for you.¹
If you are at the stage of your career in which you feel you need a little more advertising, publicity, and web leverage, then a website might be the best platform for your digital press kit.
Above all, you are using the website as another way to make a first impression. This picture includes a reliable, skilled, professional young artist that is climbing her way through the ranks. Specifically think about your target audience. Stage directors, opera directors, conductors, choir directors are at the top of the list as well as agents in the music business and potential collaborative musicians. Finally, do not forget about your friends and family that are your first and most devout fans. Your first requirement is a simple, elegant, and easy to navigate design. A director must be able to find your audio sample, bio, and résumé within 10 seconds. Stay away from fancy bells and whistles in the initial design and focus on a design that suggests you understand modern web styling. Furthermore, please use type on a background that is easy to read. (I won’t even spend ten seconds on your page if it has a black background and white letters.)
The basic parts of a website:
This doesn’t have to be an exact replica of the bio you send out in your press kit. On your website you are not restricted to the one-page maxim of the hard copy materials. However, this is not the moment to turn into a novelist. Keep your priorities straight. Be interesting and relevant. If you do not have a separate page for downloads, include a way for PR people to download a PDF of your bio on this page. Double, triple, quadruple check for spelling errors!
Make sure you are able to format your online résumé in a clear and legible way. If you do not have a separate page for downloads, include a way for PR people to download a PDF of your résumé on this page. Double, triple, quadruple check for spelling errors and diacritical marks. Before selecting a website, you may want to determine whether or not your diacritical marks will display properly.
Calendar of Performances
This section of your website is an invitation for others to see you in action. Give as much detailed information as possible about who, what, when, where, and how to buy tickets.
Before signing up for anything, determine how (and how well) your website will play audio clips. Check out some examples of other clients. Make sure it works for you before committing yourself. After having made your excellent recording, use your best examples of distinct styles, languages, and musicianship.
Media can be photos, videos, press clippings, etc. You can break these out into more categories if you feel one section is sizable enough to hold its own. If you do not have a separate page for downloads, include a way for PR people to download your high-resolution images here. Do not make them dig through layers of pages to get to this. Directors and webmasters want to access your press kit items quickly so they can generate more press around the production. Help them out!
Do not put your home address on your website. There are more crazy people in the world than opera companies that want to snail mail something to you.
That said, make the rest of this easy. An email address – hopefully, your website provides you with an email service. It looks more professional and web-savvy to use your name (firstname.lastname@example.org). Let your fans know how to find you on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn too.
Your website lends you legitimacy as a singer. It shows that you take yourself and your public image seriously. There are obviously a few things that you will want to stay away from as well.
- Flash-only websites. Flash can take too long to load and on many devices cannot be seen at all. If you use a flash-based website that doesn’t also offer a carbon-copy HTML version it is time to switch. The point of your website is to be accessible, remember?
- Auto-play audio. Please give me the option of choosing which clips of yours to listen too. I may already be listening to music or perhaps want to visit your page in a public space and it is a bit unseemly to make everyone listen to your mp3s too.
- Landing pages. Let’s just get to it. Do not give your visitors a chance to be impatient with your site.
- Do not try to reinvent the website navigation. Choose the top or the left, maybe even the right – but do not make people hunt for the navigational elements.
- Content is king. The only way search engines will find you is if they can index the text. Search engines will not find you if your text is in an image.
- No ads. Buy your domain and take ownership of your web presence. (www.yourname.com – if your name is John Smith, change your name.)
- No typos and no all-caps typing.
The website may or may not be the right tool for you at this point in your career. If it is, you should have plenty of information and all the materials to get it set up today. Your website will be your online press kit. Use it to book more gigs and spread the word about current gigs.
Do you have more questions about creating an opera singer’s website? Ask in the comments below.
Have a great singing website you would like to share with the diva boot camp crew? Share in the comments below.
Want to add a do or don’t to the list? Advise us in the comments below.
See you tomorrow for 29 Days to Diva – Day 10! (#29daystodiva)