Essentially you have 3 choices.
- Free service.
- Buy a domain, redirect it to a free site or blog.
- Buy domain and web hosting, maintain full control.
Wix provides a free website builder. You also get to display their (free) advertisements all over your site.
Another option is to use a free blogging platform such as Tumblr or WordPress.com.
- Easy to use
- Free (unless you pay for premium features)
- Domain name is myband.tumblr.com or myband.wix.com (unless you pay)
- Free blogging platforms typically do not allow you to sell products; Wix does
Buy a domain, redirect it
I have noticed a lot of bigger acts and professional songwriters/musicians buying a domain name (www.myband.com) and simply directing it to their Bandcamp store, Facebook Page, or to a Tumblr or Wix site.
Wix sells domains (not sure on the price) or they give you 1 year free when you upgrade to a subscription plan. If you already own a domain, you can pay Wix $4.08/month to connect it to your (free) Wix site (but they will still display their advertisements).
I buy my domains from Bluehost for $11.99-14.99/year (affiliate link).
Buy domain and Web Hosting
In order to host and maintain your own website, you will need to purchase web hosting services from a company such as Bluehost or Host Gator.
You can also use a musician-targeted platform such as Bandzoogle or ReverbNation’s Site Builder (which uses the same software as Bandzoogle). The costs associated with these sites are typically higher but the level of technical expertise required is usually less.
However, every business owner, aka artist (or band), should be aware of the different mechanisms that go into making a music career move forward so learning what you can never hurts.
I hear complaints from creative types often that WordPress (the self-hosted CMS software) is not user-friendly enough for musicians which makes it useless.
I have a long list of points for debate on that one but if using Bluehost’s 1-click-install for WordPress isn’t easy; I’m not sure what you are looking for in a website.
WordPress doesn’t require climbing any steeper a learning curve than trying to figure out Bandzoogle or Wix’s platform, but you can call that my opinion. Just to put it out there, I have built websites on both platforms.
The costs involved with a self-hosted website can add up but fortunately we have this Website Price Comparison table for your reference.
My answer to this question really depends on the band or artist’s current situation.
- If you are new and have no presence, I would suggest starting out with a free site and building from the ground up. You can upgrade as it becomes necessary or as the budget becomes available.
- If you are a new artist trying to get the attention of the industry, buy web hosting (domain name will be free for 1 year) and build your brand from scratch keeping everything in-house and maintaining 100% control of all your assets.
- If you are an established band trying to transition into the digital world, I would recommend buying a domain name to maintain your Brand Identity. Depending on your budget, I would suggest web hosting or if you are bootstrapped; redirect to Tumblr or Bandcamp and engage with your fans on social media.
- If you are a touring act and very active in the physical world, I would recommend buying a domain name to maintain your brand. You can redirect to a Tumblr or other blog site in order to share pictures and video from the road easily. Use social media to engage your fans.
- If you have the budget, buy web hosting (your domain name will be included for the first year). The end goal should be keeping everything in-house and maintaining 100% control. Bluehost has one of the best customer support systems I have had to deal with so when issues or questions arise, things are taken care of quickly and effectively.