Music Industry Web Design

[not to be confused with industrial music]

Back in the 1990'ies, I did—maybe naïvely—think that the music industry would develop one of the most weblike HTML structures. Each album having a web page, with links to the tracks and the band, the band linking to its other albums and its members, the tracks linking to the composer and to other recordings of the same work etc.

It didn't happen that way.


One reason is that album information on the internet would make it easier for small-time bootleggers to print artwork for their CD-Rs.

No links to the competition

If you own Elvis®, you may think it is a bad idea to link from the King's Blue Moon page to the Cowboy Junkies, just because they also have a version of the same song. You do try to run a capitalist site, and you don't want people to end up buying the wrong record.

More examples: Patti Smith's 2004 album Trampin is not mentioned on; her Sony and Arista pages do not link each other. Sony's Kari Rueslåtten page pretends that Kari Rueslåtten's career went down the drain with the 1998 Mesmerized album. Plausible, but fortunately not true. And her new site,, does it right: linking to her former label's page. While her missing link to Storm seems more deliberate.

Sony's appearent policy of no outbound links, is probably not even good business. After all, Rueslåtten is still distributed by Sony in Germany. (Who seems to do a good job, she is on, but not on .com or

Bad design leading to success?

The big stars have corporate sites, which look bad because they are indended to impress the execs. The majority of band sites belong to bands that do not earn zillions for the labels, and are designed by amateurs. But they are almost as bad as the corporate sites

Maybe they try to mimic the star sites, thinking that bad design leads to success? I tend to think that the opposite is true: It is success that leads to bad design.

Jan Egil Kristiansen,

Styrheim > Various texts > The Economics of Web Design > The Music Industry