Your favorite band's website sucks
December 6, 2004 9:58 AM   Subscribe

Your favorite band's website sucks. I can't count the number of times I've wanted to share a band's great new tracks with friends over email and had to give them detailed instructions on how to navigate the flash popup (ok, first click on the band's launch panel, then look in the popup for something marked "sounds" then click that and click the stream button...what? you don't have the latest flash?), or if I love a band's music, I can't seem to find their tour dates even though I know they're on the road. Merlin drops the five golden rules for bands that do too good of a job keeping their fans from their music.
posted by mathowie (81 comments total)
Label sites are guilty too! Drives me insane!
posted by shoepal at 10:07 AM on December 6, 2004

Good essay. As much as I love They Might Be Giants, their official site is atrocious. Sure, it's great if you like belching presidents, but if you actually want information on the band... yeah. Somebody over there should read this.

(And thanks, Mr. Haughey, for reopening memberships.)
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:10 AM on December 6, 2004

This is good.
posted by drezdn at 10:11 AM on December 6, 2004

for faint of butt:
posted by Stynxno at 10:13 AM on December 6, 2004

the buicks show how it should be done.

disclosure - my brother's band.
posted by three blind mice at 10:14 AM on December 6, 2004

for faint of butt:

And evidently this is also official. Two sites for the same band, one decent, one baffling. WTF, Johns?

And three blind mice, the Buick's site is better, but there's still too much Flash flash going on. I have become officially tired of any uses of Shockwave other than actual games or cartoons.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:19 AM on December 6, 2004

So true, so true. In my experience, bands are second only to painters in using mystery meat navigation on their web sites. Trying to guess which one of the opaque little symbols links to the tour schedule on the average band website is maddening.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:19 AM on December 6, 2004

(Eurgh... ...the Buicks' site...)
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:20 AM on December 6, 2004

I really like the site for Godspeed You! Black Emperor. While it could be a little more useful (a central source for tourdates for all projects, mp3s), it's simple, easy to navigate, and occasionally a little poignant and evocative of the band. Strange that such an inscrutable act would have such a friendly website.

These are all great tips. I hate having to go to allmusic or - god forbid - a lyrics site because a band's page is so lacking in content.
posted by deafmute at 10:23 AM on December 6, 2004

mp3 metadata - rubbish. I don't provide free mp3 clips so that people can listen to them on their wanky little mp3 players while waiting in line at the retro store - I provide them so that they know what they're buying before they go ahead and actually buy the album. If some ancient wizard dude is going to boycott my label for not including metadata, then fine - he's not the kind of person I want to be listening to my albums anyway.
posted by nylon at 10:23 AM on December 6, 2004

I posted this because I wanted to write a similar rant last week. Rilo Kiley is one of my favorite indie bands, but has always had an all-flash site. Their current one isn't as bad as their previous ones, but it's still nearly impossible to hear a song or make sense of their next tour date. There's another major indie band that had nothing on their tour page, even though I saw loads of shows on listing them. I think it was Iron & Wine.

Bands shouldn't make it hard for fans to share their love of the work. It should be easy to link to a page of mp3s, or a tour page. RSS is the killer app they don't even know about. I'd sign up for mailing lists, but having my RSS reader perk up every six months or so to tell me that my favorite band will swing through town someday is a killer feature. RSS for tour dates is a set-it-and-forget-it thing more bands should do.
posted by mathowie at 10:25 AM on December 6, 2004

nylon, if someone downloads your song and can't remember a week later where they got RawkSong_12.mp3, you just lost a sale. Just stuff your band URL into the comments field. I download lots of sample tracks all the time, throw them into a huge mix, and then come back later to see what's worth buying.

In my case as well, you'd lose a sale if I couldn't track it down.
posted by mathowie at 10:26 AM on December 6, 2004

Well color me wrong, godspeed's site does have mp3s, lots of them.

Alot of more independent bands usually have websites that are very poorly maintained. I remember trying to coax information out of Les Savy Fav's site forever. They used to have lyrics, now they just have a somewhat dated list of tour dates (May?). Iron & Wine's site used to be bad, but now he's finally got a good list of tour dates on it. It could be a little more fleshed out, particularly when it comes to lyrics (one of my biggest frustrations with most music sites), but it has a certain beautiful understatement and simplicity to it that reflects the music very well. It's a good site. Wish he was touring somewhere near me again.
posted by deafmute at 10:32 AM on December 6, 2004

Too artsy, too fartsy


posted by Quartermass at 10:34 AM on December 6, 2004

Aha! I remembered it. Check out the Arcade Fire's tour page. But if you dive into the News section of their Flash site, you actually can find tour dates along the side.

This is Broken.
posted by mathowie at 10:39 AM on December 6, 2004

Here's a biggy they missed-- I DON'T WANT MY BROWSER TO MAKE NOISE UNLESS I ASK IT TO and a lot of other people feel the same way. If I'm browsing quietly along, and I click through to a band site that starts blaring music I haven't asked it to play, my first instinct is to hit command+w and close the window, because that's the fastest way I know to make it shut up. I'm outta there, and I'm unlikely to come back. Sure, put music on your site, but for chrissakes, give us the option to play it if we want, or not if we don't.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:42 AM on December 6, 2004

I do the site for a major Canadian rock band and agree with everything on this site except the search function. I've never wanted to use a search at a band's site. ("My" band doesn't have lyrics on their site.)

I'm 100% in agreement on the mp3 thing. Holy fuck I find the lack of tags annoying.

As for the feedback thing--again, excellent point. I'd been doing this band's site for 7 years or so and about 6 months ago added a full-on forum (they'd always had a guestbook and mailing list). It's gone gangbusters and is pushing 8000 posts in that time.

he's not the kind of person I want to be listening to my albums anyway.

Wait, you own an independent label and there are customers you DON'T want? I wonder what your bands think of that. Scary.
posted by dobbs at 10:46 AM on December 6, 2004

To that list please add:

Splash pages with audio clips that kick in at high volume, usually at the expense of whatever music I'm already listening to.
posted by philip at 10:47 AM on December 6, 2004

Matt, yeah, Arcade Fire's site blows, but so does their label's site. I can't believe how out of touch a lot of the indie labels are. Merge's site is dreadful and always has been. They recently added Flash which made it even worse. "I CLICKED Skip Intro already!"
posted by dobbs at 10:50 AM on December 6, 2004

Good post. Killing Joke's (my personal favorite) website is plagued by exactly all of the problems. Is there one design firm that's responsible for all these sites?
posted by Flem Snopes at 10:58 AM on December 6, 2004

dobbs, what is the URL for the band's Website? I do the site for a local bluegrass outfit and I'm always looking out for inspiration from other bands' sites.
posted by NoMich at 11:00 AM on December 6, 2004

three blind mice - actually, that Buick's site shows how pages should never ever be designed. All the navigation is in a teeny little shockwave thingy at the top, while the rest of the content never changes. WTF?
posted by bshort at 11:00 AM on December 6, 2004

Sister Machine Gun's website has (almost) always been totally awesome.
posted by neckro23 at 11:02 AM on December 6, 2004

Is this the right place to complain about Flash-laden movie sites and DVDs? OK, oops, sorry...

It's a very odd thing that people still think you want an "experience" when you go to their web site, when what you want is content, fast. Not form, slowly and unusably. Or maybe it's due to some ultra-powerful Flash-programmer union in the entertainment industry.

How about having by default a nice and simple, text-based site with all the stuff, with a link to optional Flash wankery? Then compare usage statistics. Oh, actually, you probably can't even measure access stats on Flash thingies. Sooo clever...
posted by Turtle at 11:05 AM on December 6, 2004

you own an independent label and there are customers you DON'T want?

i treat my records like i treat my kittens. if i only have three kittens, i prefer to be choosy and only give them to people that will be appreciative and treat them well, and not give them to people who will be pissy that the kittens' names aren't fully inscribed onto their food bowls.

if there are only 200 copies of an album, i want each copy to go to a good home. if someone is going to hate me because i don't include metadata in my mp3 clips, then, well, good for them. if there were only 500 people in the world, i'd consider it a lost sale.

if running a label was my main source of income, then i'd do whatever i could to make money. and then obviously it'd be a completely different label. i do what i do because i can.
posted by nylon at 11:08 AM on December 6, 2004

I scout for an indie label on the side, and I get emails all the time from artists who expect me to go to some crappy website or eelectronic press kits (EPK) where they get free space. The worst is when they expect me to register or signup for a service in order to hear streaming mp3s using some godawful non-standard technology. A note to unsigned bands: if you want us to hear your music, make it easy for us. Make mp3s available for download, not streaming. If you have no record deal, why worry that someone will steal your music? Until people know who you are, you WANT us trading your files, especially if we are industry.

I msyelf prefer sites like this one to anything here.

On the former site, I can get a feel for the band and easily download files to contemplate or to share with my label's principal (portability is key). The design is not anything groundbreaking or phenomenal, but the site is easy to navigate and does not annoy.

The latter site involves too much work on my part. The starving artists should be doing the work, eh?
posted by mds35 at 11:11 AM on December 6, 2004

nylon - wow, I hope your musicians know that your attitude toward your customers is so hostile.

I want metadata with any mp3 I download. If I don't have it then I don't know what I'm listening to and there's no way I can buy it. It takes you about 10 seconds to type it in and it lasts forever.

Your holier-than-thou-ness is precious, but get over yourself, dude.
posted by bshort at 11:11 AM on December 6, 2004

nylon: I should have said this "on preview," but Amen, brother. Amen.
posted by mds35 at 11:15 AM on December 6, 2004

Why would someone not add metadata? It takes 10 seconds in iTunes or Winamp. Is it laziness or technical incompetence?
posted by smackfu at 11:16 AM on December 6, 2004

Since its not the front page, maybe you'll allow me to imagine that if I were your favorite you'd be happy to stop by. especially since i don't want your money and am quite happy to let you cut to the chase. sorry, I just wanted to share.
posted by 31d1 at 11:16 AM on December 6, 2004

The first thing that jumped into my mind upon reading this article was I'm glad I wasn't the only one who thought of them. Someone really needs to send this article to the chopping block...
posted by buriednexttoyou at 11:18 AM on December 6, 2004

OOPS: That "Amen" was intended for mathowie. Sorry, nylon, I am having a Sudafed day. Tags are very important.
posted by mds35 at 11:18 AM on December 6, 2004

Crappy or non existent mp3 metadata

But I thought metadata was dead...

(Reminds me of when I used to work in a USGPO Depository Library. We ran the place on student labor, but didn't dare let them near the GPO fiche in their first year. Because once you misfile a microfiche -- it's pretty much gone forever.
posted by lodurr at 11:19 AM on December 6, 2004

actually, that Buick's site shows how pages should never ever be designed. All the navigation is in a teeny little shockwave thingy at the top, while the rest of the content never changes. WTF?

i'll pass that info on bshort, but there's no need to navigate. you want to hear clips of the band or see where they are playing, it's all on the front page.

frankly any more interest in a band than that borders on a fetish.
posted by three blind mice at 11:25 AM on December 6, 2004

The Buicks site didn't play well with my browser, so I'll attribute the "how it should be done" remark to endearing brotherly over-enthusiasm. I'm a happy Firefox Flashblock user, which requires me to click on any Flash objects if I really want to see them.

Also, it wasn't immediately obvious to me that I just needed to scroll to see information beyond the big useless Flash thingie with their picture that filled my (800x600) screen. PS: don't call me stupid!.

Though imho Flash should be avoided, there's always exceptions. For example, William Shatner and Ben Folds' Has Been album site is quite nicely done (Flash, sound). Though the first time I visited it I didn't notice it had links for news, videos, etc., due to the non-standard layout. I hate having to guess what some designer's clever idea for hiding the data was!
posted by Turtle at 11:40 AM on December 6, 2004

I am amazed (amazed!) that most bands will go to such lengths to make their websites crappy. Tour info that's months out of date frustrates me to no end. What are these people thinking?

One of my favorite labels has a great website: Catsup Plate. Good luck finding the Lost Valley 12" though.
posted by monkeymike at 11:42 AM on December 6, 2004

bshort, i'm hardly being hostile - i'm not actively vetting potential customers and turning them away if they don't pass my rigorous tests. i'm simply responding to merlin, who tells me with some contempt that if i don't include metadata in my mp3, he will not buy my vinyl. i'm saying - whatever.

If I don't have it then I don't know what I'm listening to

you know what you're listening to because you've just clicked on the link on my page in order to get the mp3.

look, i'm not actively refusing to include metadata. i'm simply saying that if you're getting your knickers in a twist about the fact that i don't have any, and you're threatening me with boycotting my records, then i'm not going to lose sleep over that.

and what do the bands think? they don't care - whether i sell 49 records or 50 records has no bearing on the amount of royalties they get.
posted by nylon at 11:48 AM on December 6, 2004

bshort, you're wrong. It may not be the most exciting site going but it does exactly what a regional bands site should do: Give the people a quick taste of their music and let them know where they are playing next. Everything is right in front of you and the flash is used quite moderately in my opinion (no spinning, flashing, moving crap - just some simple nav). Working bands like this one survive because people come out to see them, hence the 20+ successful run for this particular group. It's not album sales. Truth is, no one generally gives a shit who's playing what instrument or how innovative your design company who built the site is. They just know they are going out this weekend and want to see a good band. To that end, this site serves it's purpose just fine.

These other sites mentioned are annoyingly design intensive and much like a lot of other art, are only cool to the particular nerd that designed them. They are great for surfing killing time but many of them don't even post their upcoming schedules on the index. WTF?

And for as much as there are way too many annoying flash sites, the concept that it has no place in this type of format or isn't an effective design and navigation tool is absurd.
posted by j.p. Hung at 11:51 AM on December 6, 2004

I love the Atomiks and their Bowie-esque album Motordeath, but everything about their packaging and website it obscure and poorly done, and it can't be helping their cause. After that intro page, the Flash is some of the worst ever.
posted by bendybendy at 11:54 AM on December 6, 2004

Billy Harvey.
posted by jimmy at 11:56 AM on December 6, 2004

NoMich, Danko Jones. (self)
posted by dobbs at 11:57 AM on December 6, 2004

I think the Sentenced web page is a nice balance of aesthetics & usability, tho' ideally I could do with less reliance on javascript.
posted by Wolfdog at 12:00 PM on December 6, 2004

Jesus christ, this list is so right. Especially about MP3s. I do a weekly posts over at Viewropa of freely available MP3s and spend a lot more time than is healthy looking around shitty band sites. And if you think Flash is a pain in the arse, then try it when it's in Hungarian.

But amazes me me is that there are so many no-name bands out there who think they can afford to be fussy and not offer up their tracks as MP3s, but as Real Player or Windows Media files. Now, sure enough it's their choice - I just think it's a bad choice. I like to live with a track and have it on my MP3 player for a while and I'm sure other people must feel the same. Some tracks take more than one listen to fully sink in too, and a track that sounded average first time round might sound like genius third time round (naturally the reverse can be true).
posted by dodgygeezer at 12:02 PM on December 6, 2004

Nylon, you released Aufgehoben's Anno Fauve? Neat.
posted by kenko at 12:02 PM on December 6, 2004

Mathowie: Iron and Wine (tour dates are actually there.) Though, the guy that maintains the I&W site also has a full time job and plays drums in a variety of bands (including I&W), so he's pretty busy and might fall behind on updating from time to time.
posted by shoepal at 12:16 PM on December 6, 2004

j.p. Hung: no you're wrong :-)

Maybe you can't see them but The Buicks' site uses lots of little Flash thingies just for titles, or for blank space. If you're not running Flash, it makes the site quite illegible.

Lots of useful data is hidden inside the main Flash thingie, and it's not bookmarkable, so even if you do have Flash, usability suffers.

For example, I can't just email a friend a link asking him to pick a concert date, nor can I copy/paste the list of dates. It's what Matt was complaining about: I have to email him a some instructions: "click on this link, then click on the 'appearances' title at the top right of the page, you should see a list of dates appear after a little bit of gratuitous animation, that is, if you have Flash installed." Ugh.

So even that humble site's use of Flash is a pain and pointlessly gets in the way of the very simple things you would want to use the web site for.

It's not that Flash should never be used; it's just that most of the time it's used wrong. Why take that risk?
posted by Turtle at 12:22 PM on December 6, 2004

OK, just noticed their concert dates appear twice: once inside the Flash thingie, and another time "in case you missed it above", further down the page in HTML. I think my point about usability problems with Flash still holds.
posted by Turtle at 12:28 PM on December 6, 2004

I think it's pretty clear that nylon is not running a typical record label. He sets an intentional limit on how many records he will sell, and he places a strong emphasis on the details of the overall packaging experience. He probably look down on MP3s as an shoddy product unworthy of consideration.

For people who live in the normal universe, where musicians like being popular, and want to have fans who actually know who they are, not including metadata is just plain lazy. I can't imagine anybody doing it intentionally. When you download an MP3, the metadata is the packaging.

Like or not, people do actually listen to digital music, and offering "soloaripse.mp3" by "Unknown Artist" on your website is the digital equivalent of shipping your albums burned onto an 80-minute Office Depot CD-R with "12-Pack" printed on the cover.
posted by designbot at 12:32 PM on December 6, 2004

The thing is, in my experience, that the bands like stupid (I mean multimedia-rich) websites. They like opaque navigation systems, they like websites that make music come out of your speakers unbidden, they like *pointless* animations. The same applies to many 'creatives' that I speak to.
You might say that this is why they are the musicians and we are the web designers. But they are fans too, they love music and they love the bands they love. And they want to be like them.
I am currently working on a site on which I hope to balance the band's needs and those of the fans. It will be rich in media, but only deliver the music, videos and so forth at the users discretion. Band info will be obvious and fans will be able to use a bulletin board on the site. I am currently deciding whether/how to include some animations that I know they'll like, but that are completely superfluous to the user.
dodgygeezer - bands might actually believe that if people can download reasonable quality mp3s then they wont buy the product. I would disagree, but it is their perogative.
posted by asok at 12:34 PM on December 6, 2004

shoepal, it was actually arcade fire I couldn't find tour dates for, but Iron & Wine's tour page is still missing something vital: try and buy a ticket to an upcoming gig.

I couldn't track down any way to order a ticket for their Portland show, and I'll probably have to call the box office this week. I should be able to do this in my underwear at 2am, instead of calling venues.
posted by mathowie at 12:38 PM on December 6, 2004

Turtle, couple good points you make but tell me, who the hell is not running flash on their machine in 2004?
posted by j.p. Hung at 12:44 PM on December 6, 2004

Okay, our site totally breaks some of those rules (I suppose we should have an HTML-only site as well), but otherwise I think it's fairly self-explanatory...

Marianas (fall hypnotized to the creepy portrait tiles)

Note of obvious-ness, the jukebox contains some of our favorite songs, while the actual downloads are our songs (complete with ID3 tags, huzzah).
posted by almostcool at 12:49 PM on December 6, 2004

Yeah, another thumbs down for The Arcade Fire's site. It's pretty, but that's not what I am after, or at least wasn't what I was after at 1:00 this morning. I wanted downloads, and I wanted to decide whether or not to grab a ticket to their show here in the 12th. Forunately, I already knew the tour date, I have a copy of Limewire, and though it nearly caused me actual physical pain, I was able to buy tickets through Ticketmaster after listening to the album a few times and deciding to believe the hype.

So they won a ticket-buying fan despite themselves. Also, putting up a notice on their mp3 page saying that they couldn't afford the bandwidth seems shortsighted on the part of their label (couldn't they help out?)
posted by jokeefe at 12:50 PM on December 6, 2004

nylon - Being lazy is not the same thing as having principles. We're talking about something that takes you so little time to set up and which makes your customer's experience non-annoying.

And it has nothing to do with boycotting something, it has to do with a complete inability to find your artist again.

almostcool - nice site, but it breaks most of the suggestions in the article. I gave up after about a minute, because I couldn't find any compelling reason to explore further, and the oddball navigation was more annoying than useful.
posted by bshort at 1:00 PM on December 6, 2004

mathowie: Fair enough. I'll tell my friend that he needs to link to the venue/ticketmaster. That sounds reasonable.

Oddly, I was just looking at the Magnetic Fields site, which links to the venue/show (right column) quite conveniently.
posted by shoepal at 1:02 PM on December 6, 2004

I think Jen Chapin's site has a fine mix of flash and functionality, some popups but they at least make sense. You've gotta applaud artists that make their whole cd available online as well, not just crappy quality, 30 second clips.
posted by m@ at 1:09 PM on December 6, 2004

I think there's a fundamental disconnect between nylon and the anti-nylons.

Nylon: No one is boycotting your music because you didn't include ID3 tags. What they're saying is that they generally download an mp3 and add it to something like iTunes, which puts it in rotation. A week later it might come up in shuffle and they say "Wow, this is a really good song, where do I send my money?" except since all they see is "12.mp3" they have no way to get back to your site.

The only reason I can see for not respecting the ID3 crowd's point of view is if you prefer a customer who is willing to make a snap decision about whether to buy a song or not.

The reason people are being so vehement about it is because most of them/us have been in that situation at least once where we have an awesome song but we have no way to figure out where it came from because of a lack of ID3 tags.
posted by revgeorge at 1:17 PM on December 6, 2004

j.p. hung: Turtle, couple good points you make but tell me, who the hell is not running flash on their machine in 2004?

maybe you missed it, my brotha, but turtle is a happy Firefox Flashblock user.

this means turtle be liking flash about as much as i be liking mozilla. which is to say not at all. in other words, you can't please everyone. justin timberlake fans are never going to dig the blues and dial-up users don't dig flash.

don't let the negative comments get you down, dogg. this is metafilter.
posted by three blind mice at 1:25 PM on December 6, 2004

revgeorge, I hear ya. I got all defensive because, well, with mp3 you totally lose the tactile experience, which is everything I stand for. So hearing someone say that in order for me to be successful and happy I need to include things for people who use mp3 players is not music to my ears.

So how the hell do I include ID3 information in my files? I've been trying to figure it out for an hour. I don't have Winamp, or iTunes, or blah blah blah - just Sound Forge. Is it the extended properties tag?
posted by nylon at 1:44 PM on December 6, 2004

j.p. Hung: tell me, who the hell is not running flash on their machine in 2004?

Ah, glad you asked :-}

As I mentioned, by default I don't run Flash on my browser, mostly to avoid annoying, intrusive, flashing ads. It's so relaxing. If I want to, I can activate a particular Flash animation, but only if it seems worth it (like for a game or a slide show). I know Rich Internet Applications have their place, but most often I don't need 'em or want 'em (those ads that take over your screen or your loudspeakers... yechh!).

Also, more and more people surf the web on something other than a loaded PC. For example, a phone. I surf the web on my phone using a WML proxy, and yeah, it's painful, because I have a cheapo phone. But it can be useful when I'm headed to the concert and I don't remember the venue name...

Also, machines are happier searching HTML than Flash. Contrast searching the Buicks' site for "upcoming shows" (which text only appears in Flash) and searching for "saturday" (which appears in the HTML). Imagine some web-wide aggregator that compiles concert listings: be nice and feed it text, not Flash.

Also, good ole HTML is more accessible. I bet blind people have better luck reading HTML than Flash.

Etc. There has to be a more up-to-date general anti-flash site, but this is all I've got. Anyone know a better one? I tend to repeat myself a lot on this subject, and it raises my blood pressure...

On preview: you can't please everyone

Do users ever complain, saying, "Wow man, there's no Flash on the one-page web site of your band, it's all HTML, that sucks man..."?

You can please everyone: put all the important stuff in HTML.

I'm sorry if I come off as negative. I'm just trying to help.
Ok, and nurse a pet peeve, Ok, OK...
posted by Turtle at 1:44 PM on December 6, 2004

tbm, did you just call me a dial-up user? :-)
posted by Turtle at 1:50 PM on December 6, 2004

I've done several sites for local bands; the one I have always gotten the best feedback about is a clean little design with everything on one page - a bio with a couple of press quotes, CD track listing linking to mp3 samples, and a sidebar with gigs. Though I have had bands go somewhere else when I say I don't know flash.
posted by transient at 1:53 PM on December 6, 2004

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. For how many years now have I been saying exactly this?
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:56 PM on December 6, 2004

I was a blogger before I was a bassplayer and the only slightly web-savvy member of the band so when it fell in my lap to do our little local bar band's site, I pretty much put up a blog with mp3's and gig dates in the sidebar to keep it simple. I've had offers for flash jukebox gizmos but am fine with the simplicity. Being on dialup, I don't build any pages that I myself would have a problem loading. Putting the site name in the metadata is a good idea though, I'm going to implement that.
posted by krix at 1:57 PM on December 6, 2004

All you flash haters be hating on the cosmic perfection that is - (via MeFi yonks ago). So stop it.
posted by Sparx at 2:55 PM on December 6, 2004

Great music, lousy website.
posted by DenOfSizer at 4:10 PM on December 6, 2004

A band website that does everything it should (information, bios, mp3s, easy navigation) and looks great to boot: Dark Blue World. (Full disclosure: friends of mine.)
posted by jokeefe at 4:42 PM on December 6, 2004

Turtle... yes, for search purposes, the flash is pretty much useless but then again, given that bands like these generally draw from a regional audience that already knows them or are supported by club advertising, I don't see it as a big issue, but I get your point. And really, not utilizing flash doesn't effect this particular page at all - save the fact you won't see band members (yes, contact info should not be buried in the flash, agreed there). Bookmarking isn't an issue, it's only one page which, in reference to Transient's point is probably the best solution from a marketing standpoint.
posted by j.p. Hung at 4:43 PM on December 6, 2004

jokeefe, don't mean to slag your friends, but the site looks almost like black-on-black to my PC monitor (which admittedly is not calibrated and everything looks dark).

All I see is the band title, clicking on it does nothing, and hunting around with my mouse I see a nav highlight for "band" and nothing else.
posted by mathowie at 4:46 PM on December 6, 2004

Mathowie and jokeefe, I saw The Arcade Fire last week, and it'll be worth the trouble. You're in for an amazing show.

Just please don't resent the band for their crap design, or even the label, if they are small and struggling. Until recently, TAF qualified, and I imagine that their sudden, unexpected success has given them a lot of crazy dodgeballs to deal with. They -- meaning all small or independent label bands out there -- are doing their best; trust me, they want to be heard. I know it's annoying, and I know it's tempting to say that no band worth its salt would lack this ability. But good web design requires skill, and if you're fledgling, especially off-label, and recording and producing and marketing yourself, it's a lot to contend with. Think about what your designs were like when you were first learning, especially if you were self-taught. Design is intuitive as well as learned, and many people have neither design intuition or skill. If you're feeling especially large-hearted, you might drop a note to your favorite nobody band and tell them about some changes that they might make to their site to make your experience better. Better yet, tell them how -- point them to the resources that will help them improve things, give them explicit pointers, etc. Chances are, they'll be grateful, especially if you come from the point of view of a supportive fan.
posted by melissa may at 4:54 PM on December 6, 2004

This is so timely. My weekend:

Saturday: See Snagglepuss, Hope Nicholls from Fetchin' Bones' latest band. Amazing show. The indie scales are yanked from my eyes. I now believe in saxophones.

Sunday: Visit Snagglepuss's website. Loud music blares, full screen window blots out my taskbar. I try to decipher the navigation, which consists of pictures of Loteria cards paired with artsy, meaningless phrases. I give up after two minutes.

Somewhere I have a tattered handout written by the music editor for the local free paper. It lists his tips for getting good music coverage, and right near the top is "Have an accessible, navigable website." Free papers carry the best music coverage in most towns. The writers might not have very fast computers or a great deal of time -- music writers have to visit a lot of band websites. So it's also smart from the getting-further-publicity angle to have a friendly site.
posted by climalene at 5:49 PM on December 6, 2004

Also: I half agree with you, Melissa. I'd like bands to be thinking about music above all, not web design or self-promotion. But most of the sites linked here suffer from an overabundance of skill and artistic vision. The Flash stuff is mostly carefully designed and lovely, but it has no sense of audience or function. The bands and their web designers don't need to learn more about design -- they just need to be told, as you suggest, that most people visit their sites for information, not an experience.
posted by climalene at 6:01 PM on December 6, 2004

Wait, you own an independent label and there are customers you DON'T want?

he's the indie best buy!
posted by quonsar at 6:45 PM on December 6, 2004

Surele you people have heard of...The Flaming Lips! Sure it's Flash, but it's tasteful Flash.
posted by Who_Am_I at 6:52 PM on December 6, 2004

Damn. Late to a pertinent thread... I was just updating my own group's site (self-link, duh) with our latest showdates (in plain vanilla HTML, so there ya go, mathowie - and thanks for the membership from a longtime lurker) - a task I handle mostly due to financial necessity, but I won't deny that I like keeping creative control (which sounds absolutely silly in this context, I know) - even if I haven't had the time to, uh, express that control (or formulate it, for that matter) in a skilled way, yet. But this post is a big relief; since we're 80% in compliance, and all.
posted by joe lisboa at 7:22 PM on December 6, 2004

My band's website has all of these problems.
I will cheerfully hang myself now.
posted by lumpenprole at 8:16 PM on December 6, 2004

Matt, thanks for your comment-- I'm not too sure what the problem is, it's always looked fine on my iBook and Elizabeth's G4. I'll let her know.
posted by jokeefe at 9:32 PM on December 6, 2004

jokeefe, if you've only ever seen it on a mac you might not know what it looks like to your typical PC user (due to cross-platform gamma differences).

/not that mathowie is your typical PC user...
posted by mkdg at 10:44 PM on December 6, 2004

one band's website that is awesome is Thrice's website
posted by clubmedia at 1:15 PM on December 7, 2004

Mathowie: Ask and ye shall (sorta) receive. The Iron & Wine tour page now has links (again).

Here's the justification for the simplicity: "I did link the tour dates with venues at one time, but venues and promoters kept bitching at me about what i should be linking... promoters wanted me to link their website which had links to tickets, and venues wanted me to link their website which had links to ticketmeister, or whatever e-tix service they used... I got sick of it and went back to keeping it simple. "
posted by shoepal at 8:00 PM on December 7, 2004

Nylon: perhaps you already found out how to add ID3 tags, but if not I can recommend using Tag&Rename. It is shareware, but it's pretty cheap and there's a 30-day trial - then you can add cover art, label details, website links, artist, album and track titles, and whatever else you need.

Perhaps there's a good little freeware program just for adding ID3 tags, but I haven't found it yet (though of course, you could just use Winamp).
posted by alf at 5:37 AM on December 12, 2004

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