Last Updated on
My 10 Top Responsive WordPress Themes For Bands & Musicians – Ordered Simplest To Complex…est
Now here’s a dingus and a half.
The theme you choose for your band’s website is almost as important as your domain name or hosting; it will greatly affect the way your site looks, feels, and functions.
Luckily, if you ever decide to change a theme you can do so quite easily (domain names and hosting aren’t as simple, though still possible).
About WordPress Themes
Whenever I have a new client who wants to work from a pre-existing theme (the benefit for the client being it’s cheaper for the client), I always make a list of about 5-15 themes that I think are appropriate for their band or business. I figure it makes complete sense for me to give you guys a similar list, that way when you go to make your site you aren’t left in the dark.
I’ve seen a lot of lists like these online, but they often stick only to “band” websites. I’d like to expand that, and include themes that are simply appropriate for a band website (even if they weren’t specifically designed for that bands).
Difficulty Of Using A Theme
It’s important to consider that the more options a theme has, the more difficult and more time it will take to develop that theme into a tight, cohesive site that is your band’s new homepage.
So that I don’t have to keep boasting basic features as “options”, I’m going to assume that these themes:
- are responsive
- have social media built-in
- have contact pages
- have a blog setup
- have at least some degree of customizability
- have a built-in audio player
…unless I note otherwise.
I’m Worried That Someone Will Know I’m Using A Template
Now you might be thinking at some point “if 1000 other people have bought these themes, what if someone runs into another website with the same template?”
- they probably won’t. There are well over 200 million sites on the internet, and the chances of someone running into 2 of the same templates are slim.
- even if they do run into two of the same themes, an average user won’t even remember, besides…
- …it’s likely that it will be months if not years apart from when they view each duplicate theme, so they DEFINITELY won’t remember!
- once your theme is customized, it will be less recognizable from the demo site.
Most people who are keen enough to notice a similar theme probably have a decent understanding of how web design works, and will probably be quite forgiving. The bottom line is that it won’t affect the impression that your fans get from you.
Here’s How To Judge Each Theme
When you’re looking at each theme, try not to get caught up too much with features, and just examine how you feel as you go through each site. Are you overwhelmed, or do you know exactly what to do?
Try and find a theme that represents your band as much as possible, and find one that seems fairly user friendly. Always think about your fans 100%, and don’t get caught up with “all the fancy technologies”. Any one of these themes can do most of the functions that a band needs (and if they’re missing something, I’ll let you know).
My Top 10 WordPress Themes for Bands
Without too much further ado, here are some great themes I’ve found in my travels. I’ve ordered them from simplest to complex…est. The first theme you’ll see (it’s a wonderful little thing called “Playyo”) is good to use if you just need to get your site up TODAY.
The last theme (called “The X”) is a fully customizable framework that you can develop your own themes out of. It requires quite a bit of tinkering, but can get you the complex and artistic website that you’re looking for.
If you need a site up really quick, then Playyo is going to be the easiest way to do it. Install the theme, shove a big image in for a background, upload a track, and you’re pretty much done. So quick, and so easy.
It’s not the fanciest theme out there, but it certainly won’t embarrass you. Minimalism often gains a certain amount of respect, so if you can’t do something big (because you need to get it up quick, or you’re just not good at this stuff), then go intentionally small. Your band will look professional for it.
Difficulty: 2/10. Minimalistic to the max!
A great step up from Playyo is “Shaken Encore”. It’s still quite minimalistic, offers a home page music player (right up front), but in addition has some more flexibility for showcasing your band.
Personal opinion here: I REALLY like this theme. I would easily choose this theme over some of the more complex themes unless they’re done really well, but that’s because I’m a sucker for minimalism.
One big downfall though, is that social media icons are not immediately apparent, and you’ll probably have to put some of those simple Facebook widgets in yourself. I should mention that it does include options to “share” your music (through Facebook or Twitter) , just not immediate links to your social media official pages.
Ovation is a very unique theme that’s a small step up from Shaken Encore when it comes to complexity. Once again, it has a somewhat minimalistic design (don’t worry, I’ll be getting to the more maximalistic stuff as we go on)
It comes with the audiotheme framework so you can manage music, gigs, videos, and other music stuff pretty easily, which is a bonus.
The overall feel of this theme is that there’s more going on in your website than there really is. The blocks alternating between text and images give you a certain mysterious vibe, although that’s totally ruined by the cartoon “Ovation” logo on the left, so make sure your logo ends up being more classy than that.
I would also consider changing that white striped background to black if you can manage it. You might need to know a little CSS to make it happen
Difficulty: 4.5/10. Utilizing the blocks throughout the site in an effective and creative way could prove difficult (check the “videos” page on this theme to see an example of creative use), but getting a basic site up (using very little of your brain) should not prove too difficult, though it will be a challenge if it’s your first site (like any theme would be).
Nowell isn’t too much harder than Ovation to put together, it’s reasonably classy and has a slider that’s extra tall on the home page (I would recommend using this).
I could see this being a great theme for a folk band, or any band related to a folk-type genre.
- gig listings & gig filtering (view the “shows” page to see how this works)
- really beautiful video player
- nice full page photo lightbox
- also includes audiotheme framework (like the Blocco theme)
Difficulty: 4.5/10. As with any theme, take the time to poke around and learn how the theme works. It’s not a “set it and it’s up” type of theme that you can finish today; it’s going to take a bit of time.
Dark N Gritty
I’m going to make clear right away that “Dark N Gritty” is probably my least favorite theme on this list, mainly because I’m not a big fan of the whole darkngritty type of thing. I’d recommend this for bands that are going for a 3 Doors Down/Nickelback kind of vibe with their band; it’s definitely meant for rock bands (but with a bit of a country feel).
My main complaint about the theme is that the home page mainly shows your latest blog posts and Twitter feed. For a band website, I always thinks it’s important for your fans (or potential fans) to be able to listen to your music right away.
I have an affinity for websites that show your music right up front on the home page. With some customization I’m sure you could get that to happen, but it might require a little bit of coding work, which is not a task for a beginner.
Difficulty: 5/10. This theme starts to get into the realm of a traditional website layout, though overall, it’s a pretty simple theme that even a beginner should be able to figure out with a bit of time.
Now we’re moving into some more difficult territory. Ironband is a really full-fledged theme with some great home page options, and a whole lot more:
- customizable color palette
- album discography page
- soundcloud integration
- photo album filters (so you can have your audience see only photos from a specific show, or use some other method to categorize/filter your photos)
- easy newsletter integration
- multiple video listing formats
- nice little boxes to put your contact information in (see the contact page)
- smooth scrolling (FOR GOODNESS SAKE TURN THIS OFF!)
Difficulty: 6/10. I see Ironband as a no-nonsense kind of theme. There’s a certain amount of complexity in it, but all the aspects you see (music, videos, photos, news/blog) are all very necessary for a band website. It’s a good tradeoff between my more minimalistic themes above, and the more complex themes below.
The biggest weakness about flycase is that it has just TOO MANY options. It’s the type of theme that you’ll likely get a bit lost in, and will be referring to the demo site often in order to make “that particular element” that you saw possible.
Actually, I change my mind. The biggest weakness about flycase is that the demo band looks lame as nads. Look at those jerks on that front page, whadda buncha dinguses. I digress…
There are a whole lot of skins that I recommend you play with in the demo site (it’s on the right hand site). Most notable are the “transparency”, and the “dark/boxed” layouts.
The discography grid is actually really gorgeous, and each album’s individual page has a neat audio player, with options to buy the music on the website, or from Amazon/iTunes.
The theme also includes the revolution slider, which is a pretty simple and effective slider that you can put on nearly any page.
There’s a tour dates option, which is very professional looking and something I would feel reasonably comfortable buying tickets off of (you can just link to ticketmaster or wherever else you sell your tickets).
To summarize some of those options in a bulleted list (for you skimming readers):
- multiple style skins
- discography grid gorgeous
- revolution slider included
- “buy music” links
- “tour dates” page
- big tweet option (have your latest tweet displaying in a gigantic font on your site)
There’s also a login feature for…I have no idea at all. Who the heck wants to login to a band’s website? What are you going to do there, all logged in and such. You wanna update your relationship status on Katy Perry’s website?
Oh I get it, you can be like muse and only include 30 seconds of your tracks unless they “register” or “log in”.
Frick, don’t be a frickin dick. Just put a newsletter form on your website if you want some email addresses, no need to hold me hostage if I want to listen to more than a 30 second sample.
Uh, yeah, so don’t put any stock in that login feature. Good news is, you don’t have to use it at all.
Brooklyn Indie Band
This is one my favourite themes on this list, because Brooklyn be real hip yo.
I consider this to be almost “Instagram The WordPress Theme”, and a quick scroll through can help you realize whether it’s right for your music. It’s similar to one of those “one page scrolling” websites, but you can also add in more pages if you want (a blog would be a good idea).
- super nice homepage slider with “touchscreen” like capabilities (you can click and drag it left and right)
- overall gorgeous homepage
- stunningly convincing merch store
- blog layout is fantastic
- can fit most of your website on the home page if you want.
Difficulty: 7/10. This theme is going to require a fair amount of graphic design work on your part if you’re going to be able to rival the demo site that they’re showing. If you don’t know how to use photoshop to a reasonable degree, then I’d recommend you skip this theme.
No, this theme is not a replica of the progressive space rock band’s website. I think it has something to do with BEING a muse; you can use this theme to show off what a deep thinker you are (*cough* douche *cough*).
I actually find that the demo site for Muse is a bit overly complex, but once you get in there you can calm things down a bit.
For example, on the home page there are about 257 social media icons cluttering up the screen. It would be advantageous to just have 5 or 6 up there (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Soundcloud, and maybe your band on iTunes) to keep things simple.
- great shopping cart for selling merch and albums (seriously though, sell your albums on a paid distributor of some kind; fans are more likely to buy if you have it on iTunes, Amazon, or Bandcamp).
Difficulty: 7/10. Muse is a theme with a very particular style that you’ll want to make sure fits your band’s image before you start using it. It will take a keen eye to keep the overwhelming amount of options in this theme from totally taking over the screen, and keeping your fan’s eyes on what’s important: the music.
This one is for someone who is willing to take on a big challenge, and really plunge into the “web building world”. If you’re just looking to get a site up and get a move on, then “The X” is NOT the theme for you.
You’ll want to start by taking a look at The X’s 3 minute video introduction here.
If you didn’t gather from the video, The X is all about customization. It’s about being the most flexible WordPress theme ever. And the more flexible your theme gets, the more complex it gets; you’re going to have to put some real effort and design work into creating a site that really reflects your band. It will require mad photoshop skills, and possibly some HTML/CSS knowledge.
Not to say that The X is a difficult theme to work with. What I’m saying, is that it isn’t going to hold your little baby hands (gosh those hands are small…AND soft, have you been moisturizing?) and just say “cut and paste here to get a great band website” like a lot of other themes do.
There are about 30 demo sites that they’ve made, which is very similar to having 30 different wordpress themes. If you click on “demo sites”, you can see 3 designs, each design having 10 different demos (making a total of 30 demos). For bands, I recommend the following demo sites:
- Icon 5 (very cartoony)
- Renew 2 (also very cartoonish)
- Renew 5 (minimalistic with a left-hand sidebar)
I don’t really think any of their demos are completely suitable for a band site, but those 3 are the closest. They would probably work for some colorful electronic folk act or something along those lines.
Remember that the point of X is to create your own site. You need to have some creativity and put on your thinking cap. You’ll have to do the unthinkable and…
…actually come up with a design idea yourself.
The X makes it much easier to make that design idea a reality, but it takes work. It does have some superb documentation, and is one of the more popular themes on Themeforest at the moment.
Difficulty: 9/10. The bottom line is that this is the theme for someone who wants to go further with their band site.
Any single one of the other options that I’ve listed on this page will give you a really professional presence that will far surpass any amateur musicians, but they won’t give you the flexibility to create a piece of art, such as the Tennis Small Sound music website, which emulates the look and feel of Windows 95 (quite well I might add; don’t forget to try the games ya dingus!).
The X might not be able to give you Windows 95, but it will take you the closest to building something “that custom” out of all of these themes. Beyond that, you’d just need to learn to code or use dreamweaver, but that’s a pretty long term (not to mention professional) solution that should only be taken by those that really like web design.