I like writing about rock band Web sites. For one, well… I like music and am plugged into my iPod a lot. But more importantly, a rock band Web site has to be really good in order to stand out. I was recently introduced to a band called The Alternate Routes and I not only like their music, I also think the site is terrific.
These guys have developed good positioning and they write well. Here's a direct quote from the site: "The Alternate Routes are a young, dynamic rock band with a strong emphasis on songwriting and storytelling. The band, which recently released its debut album, Good and Reckless and True, was formed in 2002 when vocalist/guitarist Tim Warren and guitarist/vocalist Eric Donnelly began collaborating and found that despite different respective styles and major influences, they shared a similar vision of the songwriting process and a strong desire to develop a style that was uniquely their own. Once bassist Chip Johnson came aboard, the nucleus of the band was complete."
The Alternate Routes Web site has great content – music, photos, text, an e-mail newsletter, places to purchase the CD and merchandise, media info, tour schedule and more. All is organized very well and the design is in keeping with the style of music these guys play. They kind of remind me of the band Semisonic that had a hit with "Closing Time" a few years ago and whose drummer, Jacob Slichter, wrote the fantastic memoir "So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star: How I Machine-Gunned a Roomful of Record Executives and Other True Tales from a Drummer's Life".
I hear a lot of whining and moaning from companies, especially in the B2B market, when they are creating a site. "It is so difficult to stand out in a crowded market," they say. "How can we differentiate?" they ask. So I say, "You think you have a difficult time, try differentiating on the Web if you're a rock band."
I think that people learn a great deal about good Web content by studying sites outside of their own market (and comfort zone). Don't obsess about your direct competitor's site – that is boring. Instead, if you are working on a B2B site, check out non-profits. Consumer e-commerce sites can learn from political sites. And everyone can pick up pointers (and good music) from a great alternative rock band Web site.