On Producing a Personal Music Website with WordPress

If we’re designing for the web here at Needmore, the odds are pretty good we’re producing in WordPress. It’s been our platform of choice for over seven years now. This translates to working with WordPress day in and day out.

I also can’t remember a time when I wasn’t making music in one way or another. My personal archive of songs are piling up. Last week, I decided I really wanted a place to share this with the world, even if for my own gratification.

WordPress Will See Me Through

Playlist for an early album from the early years

To get started, I turned immediately to my trusted buddy WordPress and set up a website at brigleb.com. (After Amazon S3 went down recently, I was hesitant to trust a cloud service like SoundCloud so soon after being reminded that those services come and go.) Instead, I oped for a website that I managed myself, much like the ones I build for my clients all day long.

The choice turned out to be fitting. First off, WordPress has dependable media handling right out of the box. It has the ability to make playlists (in case you want to post an album in sequence). WordPress even has a first-rate audio player that shows up whenever you add an MP3 to a post.

WordPress’s handy audio player

It’s a Podcast?

Listeners can even subscribe as if it were a podcast (go ahead, do it). Sure, there are several podcasting plugins for WordPress. Unfortunately, their quality varies and some come with additional costs. These paid services may be useful if you are making a podcast to submit to iTunes, but for a personal project such as this, it’s compelling to me that you don’t actually have to use one at all. Instead,  WordPress—out of the box—is ready to go for podcasting.

It’s disappointing that the podcast’s feature image is only some 512 pixels square, but otherwise it works pretty well.

I’ll admit that there are a few shortcomings: the episode images aren’t quite right and you don’t have much control of the overall experience. These are a small price to pay for a simple feed where anyone can tap on a link and begin subscribing.

The Music

As I’ve been entering older music, starting from 1988(!), the simplicity has been a revelation. For example, if you create a draft post and change the date back to (approximately) when the music was recorded, media gets tucked away in a folder matching this month and year. As a stickler for organization, it is a thrill knowing the server files will be in the expected place.

WordPress also inspires and allows me to go even further than I would on a platform such SoundCloud. With more flexibility, I’ve challenged myself to start writing a bit about each song (with hopes to link them all together at some point) while also tagging, categorizing, and guessing the dates of their recording. I’ve even taken to adding (mostly) original photography to them, since I’ve also been taking pictures for years.

Conclusion

This project has turned out to be a lot more fun and interesting than I’d expected, and choosing a blog-centric platform like WordPress probably has a lot to do with that.

As the days go by, I find myself inspired to write more and more personal anecdotes. I’ve started writing about the origin of the song, and it has slowly become a diary. This was unexpected, but as so often happens with constraints (writing only about each song, in this case), it turns out that these very constraints are what inspire me to write. Knowing I’m only writing about the song let’s me feel like I’m “getting away with something” when I write a little about the larger context.

The music is being posted oldest to newest, and so I’d like to think the best is yet to come.