Here’s the deal:
1. If they wanted to be listening to something, they’re already listening to it.
Music, audio books, self-improvement affirmations, monks chanting–whatever–if they want to be listening to it, they already are. Your mellow harp music, or edgy techno playing over it won’t be appreciated.
2. If they’re not listening to something, there’s a good reason.
Maybe they’re at work. Maybe the baby is sleeping. Maybe they just like their quiet time. Whatever the reason is, if they’re not listening to music, and yours comes blaring through their speakers without warning, they won’t appreciate it.
3. You have 2 seconds to capture their attention.
That’s it. Two seconds. The back button is just too close and tempting. If they don’t like your site for ANY reason, they can get the information they want elsewhere. It’s too easy to go back. Don’t give them any reason to do that.
A web presence is all about the user experience. Make yours as non-intrusive as possible, but since I always say “There is no Right (or Wrong) Way” to do anything, let’s give a few exceptions.
Exceptions to the No Music Rule:
If you’re a musician, or if you’re really compelling on video and you want your customers to be able to see you and hear your voice right up front, you’re probably going to want it playing when people come to your site, but there are ways to do it without turning them off.
If you really want music on your site, try these:
1. Have the music playing on your site, but have it playing silently.
I know. This sounds weird, but it works beautifully. Put your music player in a prominent place on your site and have the music playing on mute so people can see the equalizer going. Then, have the “Sound On” button in a prominent place. The movement of the equalizer will get people’s attention, and if they want to listen, they’ll have the option to click on the sound.
2. This works well with video, too.
Have the video on your site play automatically, but just mute it. Then, when someone clicks on the video, have it start over with sound. For a great example of this, check out how www.youtube.com does their ads at the top.
3. Lastly, you can always just put the player in a prominent place on your site and let people play it if they want to.
There are a ton of player widgets out there, and if you have music of your own on a specific shared site, like ReverbNation, just use the embed code they give you to put your player just about anywhere.
They key here is to simply respect the user experience. You control the content of your site, and let them control their immediate environment. Then, give them great content, beautiful graphics, and well-organized content and layout. They’ll be much more likely to stick around and get to know you and whatever you’re offering.