Sounding Off: The Dos And Don’ts Of Recording And Adding Sound To Your Website

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sounding-off

In an increasingly crowded bookselling marketplace, the challenge du jour for every hardworking author is discoverability. How on earth do you distinguish yourself from thousands of other authors, and your book from thousands of new releases hitting the real and virtual shelves? The answer lies in your ability to communicate your unique brand—the special, amazing qualities that set you apart from the crowd.

Your website, as your online hub, is command central for all your marketing and promotion efforts. A great website design keeps your dedicated followers engaged while hooking potential new readers. At the very least, you need ease of navigation, richness of content, and eye-popping visual design. But what about offering another dimension by adding music and sound to your website?

If you are familiar with html and are using a do-it-yourself website design program, adding music and sound to your website is a relatively easy matter. However, just because it’s easy doesn’t always make it smart. Although a musician’s website certainly requires sound, background music is not really essential for authors.

Before you add sound to your author website, consider these dos and don’ts:

DO make sure you have permission to use the recordings. For musicians, ASCAP and other advocacy organizations keep a vigilant watch on their members’ artistic output to make sure music is not being used without permission. Be sure to check that your music files are free. If they’re not, avoid copyright infringement DMCA notices by getting permission first.

DON’T auto-load background music. Auto-loaded background music is a very unpopular website feature that can repel your fans. A good portion of your audience may be visiting your website during the work day. If music starts blaring as your site loads, they’ll close the window quickly lest they disturb their coworkers or supervisors. Even if you add controls to pause or stop the auto-loaded music, it’s unlikely your potential new fan will navigate back to your website anytime soon.

DO provide clickable music file links. An alternative to auto-loaded background music is providing a clickable music file, either through a hyperlink that will open the user’s default sound player, or by using specific html code to embed a media player in your website. Readers prefer to choose to listen to your playlist or podcast, and a clickable music file allows that option.

DON’T post fuzzy, indistinct audio files. Ideally, your author website shows that you’re a pro. That means your audio files should come across so crisp and clear that the listener doesn’t waste a passing thought about the quality. Fortunately, these days there are loads of inexpensive software programs to help you record music, sounds, and podcasts like a pro.

DO know your audience. Adding sound to your website may enrich the visitor’s experience, but it does introduce a certain level of technical complexity. Playback problems may occur if your audience hasn’t updated their browsers or media players or if they’re working with older operating systems. Ask yourself if your fans and followers will appreciate the addition of background music or sound, or if you’re better off limiting—or eliminating—the add-ons.

Website design is an evolving art that integrates visual impact and well-crafted content with your marketing and promotional goals, so it’s always smart to consult a professional designer before making any decisions about adding music and sound to your author website.  Integrating music can engage your readers and add an exciting, emotional dimension to your website experience—but only if done wisely.

Question: What music is on your current WIP playlist?

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