How to Make a Music Portfolio at Any Stage in Your Career

From music students to professional musicians, every music professional needs to know how to make a music portfolio. Here's where to start.

close up on guitar playing

The magic may happen on stage and in the studio, but effectively capturing that musical magic for the world to explore is one of the most important parts of marketing yourself as a musician. Before signing a big record deal, accomplished professionals, music students, and others from across the music business often start by creating a music portfolio. Whether you're just starting out, a music student, or an emerging artist, an online portfolio website is one thing that will set you apart from others who are on a similar career path within the ultra-competitive music industry.

A website to display the range of your talent can easily be put together with Format's website builder. The fully customizable templates, used by both music professionals and students just starting out, have assisted many musicians in building their online presence. Portfolio templates are easy to use and background knowledge of web development or design is not required. Social media integration and an SEO editor lets emerging musicians optimize everything from page headings to their band photos.

Once you've decided to embark on the journey to creating an online music portfolio, you're probably going to be left wondering what it takes to put together a portfolio that will get record labels and audiences clicking for your contact information. This guide will walk you through how to make an online music portfolio and include important decisions such as what to include in your music portfolio, choosing the right type of template, and things to avoid when displaying your work.

What to Include in Your Online Music Portfolio

The items that make it into your online music portfolio will depend on who you are trying to target. Before creating your portfolio it's important to ask yourself who you are creating the portfolio for. Are you trying to reach a record label? Impress a potential employer? Or are you a student aiming to get into a music program? Who your audience is will determine what items are displayed on your site and which template you choose.

Student Music Portfolios

Many colleges will request a portfolio as part of the admission process. Each college will have different portfolio requirements, so make sure all items listed are included when you create your portfolio. Once admitted, it's important to continually update and add to your portfolio to best reflect your current style and most recent recordings. Updating your work will also allow you to track your progress as a musician. As a student, you can often feel like the learning process is slow, and a portfolio will assist you to see how far you've come in your achievements.

All student portfolios should include your name, cover letter, resume, and contact information such as your email address (even if it hasn't specifically been requested). A head shot may also be appropriate and add a more personal feel to the portfolio.

Templates For Students

The template you choose will be dependent on how you want to present yourself. Since college administrators are looking through potentially hundreds of portfolios, a student music portfolio template should be simple, straight forward, and easy to navigate. A simple and sleek vertical scroll template allows students to host all the necessary requirements of a portfolio while offering an easy to use and customizable navigation. Ensure social media is only integrated if your social media accounts reflect the content of your portfolio, otherwise, consider leaving them out altogether and only including contact information such as a phone number or email address.

Format Theme: Mode

If you wish to make an instant visual statement with your portfolio, consider maximizing the use of fullscreen templates and wow your visitors with images that spread across their screen. Categorize your work right on the homepage to make your best projects easily accessible. A subtle menu allows for further categorization. Be sure to update your portfolio frequently in order to track your progress throughout your time in school.

Format Theme: Albers

Up and Coming Musician and Music Professionals Portfolios

You've played shows, recorded a demo, or you may even have quite a few tracks you've worked on solo or with a band. Up and coming musical talent looking to showcase their work can reach a whole new audience by using their portfolios. What's included in your portfolio will depend on the style of music you make and the type of musician you want to establish yourself as.

If you're in a band you will want to include:

  • the name of the band

  • a biography with background on the band

  • photos and video of any live performances

  • a group photo shot by a professional photographer

  • a list of upcoming tour dates

A page dedicated to the tracklist of your best songs is also a feature that will familiarize potential fans with the genre of your music. To keep people engaged on the site longer, ensure tracks do not autoplay. Format the playlist to allow visitors to choose which songs they listen to first. Also, consider putting your best tracks near the top of the list to make sure your best work is reflected.

Solo artists will want to include similar elements, but instead replace a group photo with a head shot and replace the band name with the name they go by as an artist. Tracks or a demo of solo work should be included and carefully curated to best reflect the genre of music.

Templates for Up and Coming Musicians

Whether you're trying to attract the attention of a potential employer with your work or looking to showcase your songs, the presentation and style of your portfolio could be the difference between landing a gig or heading back to the studio to put in more work. Unlike building a student portfolio, you may want to develop your page to be a little more eye-catching to draw people in. Image heavy homepages like those with a tiled layout will allow you to display your work and display your talent in a creative and engaging way.

The tiled style of this portfolio template offers a visual way for visitors to navigate your portfolio. The photo-heavy homepage radiates a presentation of creativity and the vertical scroll is easy to browse on both desktop and mobile platforms. Highlight your songs, press kit, cover letter, or other work such as live performances right on your home page via high quality images. The layout also gives visitors the option to navigate the site via a menu bar on the left hand side. Using photos, illustrations, or images with similar color patterns in the home page layout will allow for an enjoyable browsing experience for all visitors, enticing them to stay on the page longer.

Format Theme: Detail

Horizontal scroll templates also offer the same image-heavy and visual design as tiled templates and the style has been utilized heavily within the music industry. The popular horizontal left template displays your work in a striking and impressionable way that puts your best work front and center. The menu bar offers simple navigation and does not take away from the most important elements of her portfolio. 

Format Theme: Horizon Left

Professional Musician Portfolios

Creating a music portfolio is not just for those who are starting out. Once you've established yourself as a musician or music industry professional in a competitive business, but will still need a site for others to track your flourishing career. Whether you're in a band, a solo artist, or work behind the scenes as a producer, a portfolio will allow others to easily find your business and access the latest information on your music and work as a musician.

Don't shy away from boasting about your achievements. Positive album reviews, a press kit, press clippings, tour dates, as well as photos and videos are all items that you can include in your music portfolio as a music industry professional. Previewing recordings and exclusive demo tracks for fans will increase the number of people who visit your page as they seek new songs or exclusive content.

Templates for Professional Musicians

Once you've gathered all the content you want to include in your music portfolio, you will need to decide on which template will display your work in a way that best reflects your brand. Format website templates include a number of layouts that have been used by professional musicians to keep fans up to date on some of their latest work. A vertical scroll style template will allow you to neatly fit in all the elements you need to portray yourself as an accomplished and professional musician.

You can create a well-rounded music portfolio with the template by including a biography, a list of tour dates, videos of live performances, photos, as well as social media integration. Visitors are greeted by a gallery of vertical scroll photos which sets a mood for Shanice's brand as a musician. Offering music lessons in addition to her work as a professional musician, Shanice has a useful contact form that allows potential students to contact her for her services. The addition of a press kit, demos, or recordings could enhance Shanice's portfolio even further.

Format Template: Industry

More articles to help you build your online portfolio: 

Update Your Portfolio: 6 Tips to Spring Clean Your Career & Portfolio

10 Music Photographers You Should Know About

Navigating the World Of Live Music and Concert Photography