Basics and Definitions
I will use a house analogy to communicate the basics. All Websites have three basic things in common: hosting, a domain and content. Think of hosting as the lot you purchase from the city upon to where to build your house on. The domain is your physical street address and the content is your constructed dwelling with furniture. Hosting is where your Website is. The domain name (www.domainname.com) is the pointer to your Website and the content are your actual Web pages and downloadable files. Hosting is available by the month and packages will include more storage space (size of lot) and more bandwidth (amount of things downloaded from your site). Start with the most basic package and upgrade if you need to later. Domain names must be purchased through a registrar and cost around $10 per year. GoDaddy.com offers affordable domain names and hosting packages and I use them all the time.
Your Music, Your Brand
The main reason to have your own Website is that your band name is the name for your brand. Protect it by having a .com. That way, at least you will be able to distinguish yourself from bands with similar (or the same) name if need be. I recommend steering away from domain names that are like yourbandrocks.com or yourbandmusic.com, unless you absolutely have to (like you only .net domains are available).
Control Your Content
It's all about control. It's like owning your own home, as opposed to renting in a hotel where you can get kicked out for any reason they deem appropriate. Having your own Website will allow you to expand on what Facebook, MySpace, Purevolume and hundreds of other sites have helped you start: nurturing your fans. You can inexpensively create a community portal, share pictures and provide mp3 samples all from a space you can control, customize and manipulate in any way you want.
"I ain't no Webguy!"
Don't know how to make a Website? It's OK. It's easy and you should learn as it is a skill that will come in handy in the future again (I promise). If not, there are thousands of student graphic designers hungry to help out and build up their portfolio. Also, you can ask your fans if any of them can make Websites. Give them some free swag in exchange or put them on the guest list for every show.
Having a Website is good because it serves are your electronic press kit (EPK). More and more venues are going paperless with press kits and it will allow you to save some dollars on printing and shipping. Make sure you have a short bio (3-4 paragraphs at most), a few downloadable MP3s and some video clips at the very least.
This is the 21st Century and you need to market yourself via the Web. Having your own Website will make you seem more professional (if done right) and will allow you to maximize access to your fan base. Take the plunge and figure it out!
[image-1] About Ivan
Ivan Pena has an Advertising degree from UF, 8+ years in corporate and consumer marketing, 10+ years in graphic design and promotions. Ivan is also the leader of the group Soulfound and runs his own independent record label, Mohawk Bomb. In 2008, Ivan was named one of the Top 30 Under 30 by the Tampa Bay Business Journal. Check Ivan out on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ivanpena