When it comes to your home on the web, what do you think of? SoundCloud? Facebook? Twitter? MySpace… okay, not MySpace. But that’s part of the point of this article: in these slip-slidey times of new technologies, emerging networks and transient user bases, tying your home on the web to a single site could be a recipe for disaster. You could create a static website or even a dynamic one based on CMS like WordPress, and that’s probably the most flexible way – but we’ll be the first to tell you how much hassle it is to make changes to the design and top level content of a ‘proper’ website. We’ve noticed a few new sites emerging recently, ones that boast they can take your various online presences and present them in a single, easy to manage, and beautiful hub. Let’s take a look at four we’ve found that each approach the principle from slightly different angles…
One Sheet’s big selling point is its massive catalogue of services relevant to musicians. If you’ve got music uploaded to somewhere online, One Sheet can probably put it on your page inside a click. Being social’s a strong point of One Sheet too; users can comment on your page and One Sheet will automatically syndicate the comment with Facebook to potentially pull friends of your commenter over to your site. Like many of One Sheet’s best features, though, control over this behaviour is limited to Pro accounts – and without a Pro account there’s no way to see your page’s viewer stats… in fact even with a Pro account there’s no stats, just the option to tie in to Google Analytics. The price of a Pro account? $9.99/month, which we think is a little steep.
• Huge amount of music based services
• Unlimited services in free account
• Lots of social and user retention options in Pro account
• High price for pro account
• Customisation limited in free account
• No internal stats
Of the sites mentioned in this article, Flavors is definitely the most customisable. That’s going to mean one of two things to you: the artistically inclined amongst you will have a field day creating a pretty, unique looking site, and those of you whose creativity molecules were entirely spent on the musical part of your brain will just be worried about something else to mess up. Fear not, though, because a basic site is still extremely easy to conjure up in Flavors, and if a basic site is all you need then it’s completely free. Like One Sheet, most of the best features – such as de-branding the site and getting the most customisation options – are only available to Pro accounts, but Flavors has a very fair $20 per year fee for its Pro accounts. A Pro account will even unlock a ‘custom’ page type in a Flavors page, allowing you to import HTML and build traditional web pages in the service.
• Supremely customisable
• Lots of relevant services
• Cheap yearly pro account
• Limited to five services/pages in free account
• No stats in free account
About.me is definitely designed to be your hub on the web, but it’s not music specific and thus you might find it somewhat lacking when it comes to adding in services. No SoundCloud and no BandCamp might be a dealbreaker, but if it’s not, and you’re happy to link to those sites externally whilst enjoying YouTube and Vimeo videos embedded in the page, you can take advantage of a great looking stats page, something that none of the other sites in this roundup offer for free.
• Pretty statistics page
• Drag and drop homepage design
• No real music-centric services
• No way to de-brand the page
Viinyl perhaps doesn’t quite fit in with the theme as it’s not designed to let you add all your services for viewing on the one site. It is a hub, though, and it lets you add artist information, bio, links and so on, and then create a number of ‘singles’ that each have unique URLs and allow a single track to play, along with (if you like) video and lyrics, share and purchase links. It’s in beta at the moment, and whilst it’s a bit light on features we do like the minimalism of it all. It’s a bit like receiving one of those business cards that manages to mean so much by saying so little.
• Idiot proof design
• Novel concept
• Limited scope
• Limited customisation
• No way to debrand
Our Winner: Flavors.me
We really like Flavors, and it seems to tow the line between simplicity and customisation the best out of all the ‘auto site’ websites we’ve tested (and we tested way more than the four we’ve shown you today!). About.me is, for the majority of you musos, not quite fit for purpose, Viinyl gets a special mention for its fresh approach but it’s ultimately just a bit too limited, and despite the audience retention features built in to One Sheet we think the Pro account is just too over priced.
Have we missed your favourite off? Please let us know which your favourites are and your experiences with the sites we’ve mentioned!