3 Quick Tips for Mastering Your Musical Domain

image from www.google.com Though I advocate for the use of a lot of different web services and social networks, I've always maintained that musicians and music-related businesses should have a home-base that is under their control at their own domain.

Platforms come and go. Accounts are destroyed. If your primary web presence is on a platform controlled by someone else, your future is also under their control.

Fred Wilson, an investor partly responsible for the ever growing range of social networking-related sites, recently stated:

"Don't be a Google Bitch, don't be a Facebook Bitch, and Don't be a Twitter Bitch. Be your own Bitch."

Wilson was giving advice to developers creating apps for social network platforms such as Facebook who periodically find their businesses undermined by the platform on which they depend.  But the advice is also useful for musicians who give up control of their web presence by making a social networking site the center of their activity.

Given that there are a variety of ways in which your social network presence could be obliterated, as can happen with Facebook pages, or simply made outdated, as has happened with MySpace, the inherent instability of constant change is one strong argument for having your own website at your own domain.

The bottom line is that if you haven't yet established a site at your own domain, you need to do so right away. Here are three simple tips for a quick start:

    1. Buy a domain that includes your band's name. If possible, get one that is just your band's name.
    2. Set up a single page website that includes, at the very least, a paragraph about your band and links to your various outposts on the web.
    3. Share the domain wherever you can while encouraging friends and fans to link to that domain and to consider it your band's official site.

      From there, you're set to expand your website and to build the site's presence in search engines. Your core long-term goals should be to create a site that is the ultimate resource about you and your music and for that site to be the first thing that appears in web searches on your band's name.

      Doing these things should make it easier for folks to find you on the web and for you to strongly influence the key messages and resources made available to friends, fans, press and whoever else matters in achieving your goals as a musician.

      Hypebot contributor Clyde Smith is a freelance writer and blogger. Flux Research is his business writing hub and All World Dance: World Dance News is his primary web project.

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      1. Good advice but… I completely disagree. Websites are costly to design, maintain, and often just appear downright confusing and unnavigable to fans. Fans are already on the hip and happening social networks. You just need to move with the flow. Besides, they’re all free. Check out my counterpoint in depth at http://blog.publicrecords.org/?p=792

      2. I agree with you on this Clyde. Social network sites can come and go. Remember when bands would redirect their website URL to Myspace? You don’t own your space on these sites. It’s free and can disappear in a heartbeat. But of course I’m a strong advocate for social media as they are a great way to increase your online presence, to compliment your band’s website. I always recommend that musicians set up and maintain their own dot com. It is not costly at all. You can get a domain cheap at GoDaddy then set up a free WordPress or Tumblr site. It can be as simple as one page with your photo, bio, song player (I recommend using ReverbNation’s widget), links to your social media sites and links to purchase your music online. Simple. Easy. You own it.

      3. @Julian “Websites are costly to design, maintain, and often just appear downright confusing and unnavigable to fans.”
        I appreciate your saying that cause it shows me that it’s worthwhile to follow up with at least one point about what I thought was incredibly obvious since it’s been true for at least the last 10 years. There are all sorts of free/cheap, easy to use website services that would allow someone to create a single page using their own domain and giving one the option to create a very simple website.

      4. And if you are really active on social networks, you can add various widgets for such things as your Twitter stream and still have a simple, free website.

      5. @Julian Fans being on the social networks is not enough to make that your entire web presence. My philosophy with working with any musician – indie or signed – is to definitely have a major presence on the social websites, but artists as a business need to have their own home base where they have full control of the content. For me the website serves as the center of the hub that all social media accounts point back to. The social media accounts get users’ attention and helps keep them up to speed on what’s going on, but the website gives them more detail and lets them dig in deeper.
        Yes, building a website CAN be costly, but like @Clyde Smith said above, “There are all sorts of free/cheap, easy to use website services that would allow someone to create a single page using their own domain and giving one the option to create a very simple website.” If you have a Mac you can use iWeb, which isn’t necessarily the best option, but for just creating a good looking landing page, is more than adequate.
        The other major issue is that if a new fan gets home from seeing a band for the first time and they do a google search for the band’s name, that domain name for the band should be the first thing to pop up in the search results. Not a freaking Facebook page!
        For furthering your brand as an artist or band online, having your own domain is crucial! And there’s plenty of affordable options out there to make that happen.

      6. And by the way, if you do want good search engine results, for the love of God DON’T USE FLASH TO BUILD YOUR WEBSITE!!!
        Modern Javascript can do pretty much every cool effect you need to have a nice looking website. And it doesn’t interfere with crawlers from finding the text data that’s so crucial in getting good search engine results.

      7. I feel you, bro. Times are tough and I too am counting my pennies.
        It’s too bad that the fact that free website solutions are available, as most of us have pointed out, just doesn’t the job.
        I hadn’t realized things were so tough that free just isn’t cheap enough for everybody.
        Hang in there buddy!

      8. I read all the comments but I think if you are socially active person and need to promote yourself on web you need to buy your own domain and there are many site platform which provides you a cheap domains. Now, if we talk about social networking sites, I agree that social networking sites come and go.. Modern programming languages like java script can gives your site a better look and advance features.

      9. If you don’t want to be a starving artist anymore, then treat your craft as a business. What business nowadays survives without a proper website promoting 100% what it offers?
        Plus, THERE ARE PLENTY OF FREE WEBSITE BUILDING TOOLS OUT THERE! If you don’t have money, then invest a little time in doing it yourself. If you don’t invest time (like building your own website in a custom WordPress install on your own domain) or invest marketing capital (like paying someone to do your website) in your business, then all your music will ever be is a hobby or a secondary source of income.
        Take it from a person who works online for a living – relying solely on social media to grow your fan base and business is not enough. It’s a great start, and a valuable part of your web strategy to reach the audience. But will never serve as a proper place to completely host your business/craft online.

      10. You really need to have at least a basic website for your band. Social networks are fine, as an additional resource, but they can come and go. How many bands are still working their MySpace site? I’ve all but abandoned mine in favour of Facebook.
        It’s great to have Facebook/Myspace/Google+/Twitter/etc., but you need a solid website to be your homebase that anyone can go to for in depth info & media.

      11. Websites are not at all costly, and if they appear confusing or unnavigable, then a redesign is in order. If Facebook goes away tomorrow, how will you connect with all of your “friends”? Wait until they hopefully sign up on the next great social network?
        Relying on a network that you have no control over is just asking for trouble.
        Unless, of course, you’re promoting a service like publicrecords…

      12. Creating a website that is more than a single page is important–if for nothing else just to appear like you mean business. It also behooves artists to provide deeper content for those who want it. Sure, most fans may just want to check your concert calendar or watch a certain video, but some of your fans might also want to read your bio, blog, lyrics, album reviews or browse your photo gallery and music store.
        I’m obviously biased, but HostBaby is a quick and easy way for musicians to build a music website that has everything.
        Chris B

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