With all the hype about ‘music 2.0′ tools, hosts and websites for musicians, bands and artists, its quite possible that you could easily forget one of the most important aspects of having an online presence as a band/label/DJ/creative. Its strictly old school too. Its your own domain name.
I wrote about it last month here and this is just to expand on the advantages. OK, you have your MySpace sub domain name, one at iLike, Multiply, iMeem and all the other free social music sites. Great, but unless you’re paying for a premium service there’s a possibility that any of these services could disappear down a dotcom black hole. OK then, maybe not MySpace, but its a crowded marketplace and sites do go dark.
“Dec. 2, 2003 was doomsday for independent music. As of noon Tuesday, Mp3.com closed its server and deleted its roughly 750,000 files, marking the end of the largest catalogue of free Internet downloads from hundreds of thousands of unsigned bands..” (from the Eagle Online)
That’s not to throw a dark cloud over everything, but at its peak back in the day who would have foreseen (the then Universal owned) MP3.com shutting up shop? Thousands of bands were thrown into a panic at the time I remember.
So, owning your own domain name and having your own website adds value to your brand/band and is also added security for your data (because you own it, not someone else).
“Using MySpace as your website. This is the worst mistake of all, so I’ve put it at the top of the list. If MySpace is your online presence, you don’t have an online presence. MySpace is for social networking. It is not where you do your business. Have you set up your office at the pub? Use MySpace to interact socially with people, and encourage them to visit your own site where you have control over things like design, content and functionality.” (from Andrew Dubber at New Music Strategies)
Where were we? Oh, domain names! If you haven’t got one (I’m guessing you have already) get one now. I’m using Google Domains to register any domains right now. For $10 a year for a .com they have a bunch of built in extra features (compared to the majority of other domain hosts).
Google go through GoDaddy for registration. 1and1 are another reputable registrar. If the .com name you wanted has already gone, which is highly likely if you have a generic sounding name, there is a bunch of other TLD name alternatives you may not have thought of. The worldwide naming body, IANA has a useful list here if you’re looking for more leftfield domains.
There is actually a huge range of alternative domain extensions beyond the generic .com .org and .net. For music websites you can have .dj domain for instance. The .DJ extension belongs to East African nation Djibouti, though the domain system has admin in Paris. Buzzsonic.dj costs me $50 a year and its pretty unique too, especially if you’re a DJ, the extra expense will make your site stand out. Registrar. $50 a year.
.CD is the extension for the Democratic Republic of Congo. And you don’t need me to underline the musical connotation here! These small or developing nations actually raise much needed capital by opening up their domain system to the rest of the world. These are much more expensive at $65 a year. Some sites will try and charge you up to $100, don’t go there! Use the official Registrar. $65 a year.
.FM & .AM
Again usage of these two are self explanatory. .FM belongs to the Pacific Ocean island of Micronesia. GoDaddy will sell you a .FM domain for $70 a year. Others will charge you closer to $100. .AM Is another radio related extension, this one belonging to Armenia. A .am domain will rush you $75 annually from Dot.FM.
.TV is a popular one with television and video websites for obvious reasons. The extension belongs to the tiny island of Tuvalu but is administered in the USA by VeriSign in Virginia. Cost is around $25 a year.
If you’re clever you can use an even lesser known country extension and blend it into your band/company name. For instance, MP3 blog aggregator Elbows use the .ws extension (from Samoa) to spell out Elbo.ws.
One crucial bit of advice, keep your hands on control of your domain name at all times. Do not give administrative powers or ownership to a third party. Many a sad story has been told about somebody losing their domain name usually by forgetting to renew (put it on auto!) but also by giving admin powers to some fly-by-night webhost, web designer or angry ex-manager.
If someone other than you can get access to your domain DNS you could be asking for trouble.
How To Find A Great Domain Name (Best Tool For The Job)
Country Code Top-Level Domain (Wikipedia)
Worldwide Top Level Domain Name List (IANA)
How Domain Name Servers Work (HowStuffWorks.com)
Tips And Tricks For Managing An Internet Presence (Dogs On Acid)
Five Mistakes You’re Probably Making With Your MySpace Page (New Music Strategy)
Building Personal Brand Within The Social Media Landscape (Hypebot)
Yahoo Music Going Dark, Taking Keys With It (ARS Technica)
What Is Music 2.0? (ReadWriteWeb.com)
Future Of Music (Dave Kusek)