First impressions are impulsive, decisive, unfair perhaps, yet crucial to the day-to-day decision-making that occurs behind closed doors for independent producers and directors. When they’ve set out to find a new composer, they’ve got to quickly sort from hundreds of options and create a shortlist of 4 or 5 candidates whose “sound” could be ideal for their project (that is if they don’t already have someone in mind from a previous collaboration).
If the composer is fairly new to the game (and not relying heavily on word-of-mouth), it will be his or her demo reel that will ultimately determine whether they’re right for the job. But before they even click “play”, they’ve got to load up their website.
I would say this is where many aspiring composers will have lost the war before they even began the first battle. To put it simply, if your website takes a really long time to load or the presentation looks less than professional, chances are that director or producer will simply move on to the next name on their list.
I’m sure some will be a bit more patient and wait it out, but every extra second they spend waiting for your front page to load is an extra second they believe could have been used to check out another composer. And yes sure, internet provider blackouts, crappy Wi-Fi, and many other issues could hinder the experience, but don’t let that be an excuse.
To give yourself a fighting chance of making a good first impression, Make sure you do everything you can to provide a professional experience for your potential employers. You are basically welcoming these esteemed guests into your home, so you’d want to make sure they’re not locked out of the house, or have to hurdle through a messy living room, before they even get to sit down and listen to your ideas. They’ll want to be interested in you before they’re interested in your music.
So with that said, below I’ve outlined some simple and effective things you can do to help improve your website’s overall performance and presentation. Although I’ve written this primarily for aspiring composers who have started or are thinking about building their personal website, perhaps those who are already active in the industry might also find these useful. Let’s get started!
Note: The web builders I’ll mostly be covering include WordPress and Squarespace. This is not to say they are the best options out there for composers, but they are the ones I work with the majority of the time. There are plenty of great website builders our there today, many of which share similar features, so be sure to browse around and find what works with your taste and budget.
IMAGE RESIZING & COMPRESSION
Goal: Leveraging high image quality with lower image file size to improve page speed. Normally this is a primary cause of slow-loading websites, so you’d want to make sure your images are optimized for web and leave enough space for the most important thing… your music.
Here’s what I usually aim for:
- Image size: of 1920 x 1080 pixels (height based on your preference)
- Image resolution: 72 DPI (dots per inch)
- File type and size: under 500 KB, JPG
Retina display for logos and other images: newer Mac computers and many PCs will have what we generally call “retina displays”, which is basically a high definition display with 2x the amount of pixels compressed into the same canvas.
This is usually the case if you have a brand logo or identity, as you’d want to make sure your visuals look super crisp on newer screens, so double check your site to see if you can upload retina images. An example of what your web builder would request under your Theme Settings, is a logo (usually a PNG file) at twice the size of the canvas it is occupying in pixels:
- Original could be 300 x 100 px
- Retina could be 600 x 200 px fo