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What makes a good portfolio/demo reel website?

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Hey guys,

I'm wondering what you guys think are good features for a portfolio or demo-reel website for composers and/or sound effects creators looking to find work.


There are a few obvious points:

  1. Should have a built-in music/sound player.
  2. Should be relatively simple -- you don't want a lot of other content distracting potential clients.
  3. Should have an easy-to-use contact form and/or contact details.

What else is important?

I see it's pretty common to have embedded tracks hosted on SoundCloud -- is this a preferred way to go, or would a good custom music player embedded into the site be a good option? Should it perhaps be easy to mix and match either or both of these approaches?


What about the back-end of the site as a composer -- are there any features you think are invaluable or particularly important? I would think a quick and easy-to-use way of uploading your music and configuring the music-player (if this is not automatic) would probably be a priority, but is anything else required?

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One idea would be an easy way to manage a library of royalty free tracks so that the composer can sell directly from their website.

I think there a bunch of different sites that offer the various services composers need, but it would be nice to have them all in one place, e.g.
- Contact management
- Embedded music player with stat tracking
- eCommerce support & library management (Possibly Bandcamp)
- Nice web design for the less technically minded
- Advertising (PPC/SEO)
- Social media linking (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter)
- Content Management System for updating client info, bio, reviews, etc.

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PLEASE don't set the music player to auto-play.

Absolutely, that's a big no-no in almost any web-design project, and a portfolio is certainly no exception to the rule!


And I'd take SoundCloud over a custom player any day, because it has fantastic smartphone support

Aha, that's some pretty sound reasoning, thanks for the input.

I'm well aware of the suitability of a WordPress installation for this as well -- I'm actually asking because I'm considering creating a premium WordPress template specifically to suit the needs of the composer/sound-guy/musician audience -- I think there could be value in providing a template which (as StauntonLick suggests) provides all of the requirements in a single, easy-to-set-up and easy-to-use package; something that allows a range of stylish designs and layouts and which the user can easily customise to meet their needs without necessarily having beyond-average technical skills.

Would people be interested in such a system?


- Contact management

Basically an address book, perhaps with some functionality for grouping/categorising contacts and adding notes? I guess you would probably want to be able to import contacts from popular services such as gmail as well?


- Nice web design for the less technically minded

How about a series of different template/layout options (essentially completely different page layouts), each with a couple of different configurations (left menu/right menu, top-player/bottom-player/middle-of-page-player, etc.), and then a selection of "skins" (different colours and graphical elements, etc.) that can be applied to any of the layouts to produce a different look. From there you could make small customisations (select different colours, apply your own logos, etc.) with a simple editor interface to really make the site your own.


Thanks for the great feedback so far guys, you've given me a couple of extra ideas that I think would really add value. smile.png

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I am kind of working up a portfolio site myself, I was thinking one thing that I don't see that I think would help sell your stuff is maybe a video that shows either some actual game footage or still shots (or even concept) art while playing a section of your songs. I remember reading the way Jeremy Soule landed his first gig was he took a tape of various video games and dubbed his own music over the existing ones. Even some still shots of a game screen with your music playing might help people visualize a bit more. One video could show lots of little clips. This is just a thought I'm going with, what do you think?

Thats all I have to add that hasnt already been said. I'm going the Wordpress route and also using bandcamp just for selling stuff I keep the rights to.

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I am kind of working up a portfolio site myself, I was thinking one thing that I don't see that I think would help sell your stuff is maybe a video that shows either some actual game footage or still shots (or even concept) art while playing a section of your songs. I remember reading the way Jeremy Soule landed his first gig was he took a tape of various video games and dubbed his own music over the existing ones. Even some still shots of a game screen with your music playing might help people visualize a bit more. One video could show lots of little clips. This is just a thought I'm going with, what do you think?

Thats all I have to add that hasnt already been said. I'm going the Wordpress route and also using bandcamp just for selling stuff I keep the rights to.

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