Picking your domain name (when the one you want is taken)


Picking the right domain name (your web address) for your site is an important step in solidifying your online presence, but it can also be a stressful one, particularly if you can’t get “www.yourbandname.com.” This is a common problem for many artists, but there are plenty of solutions – some basic, some a little more creative.

Let’s look at some options, with the assumption that you tried to get “www.yourbandname.com” and it wasn’t available.

.net – Sometimes if the .com you want is not available, .net will be. That suffix has always played second fiddle to the mighty .com, so it might still have that “next-best-thing” air about it to some people, but that matters less and less these days, as most of the time people will be landing on your page via Google or a direct link.

.org – This suffix was originally intended for non-profit organizations, and though you might see it used for other purposes, that’s still the understood implication for an address ending in .org. Probably best to avoid this one.

.band or .rocks – These are relatively new, so you’ve got a decent chance of grabbing one. “.rocks” isn’t for everybody, and neither is “.band” (sorry, solo artists), but these are great options for certain musicians.

Other suffixes: Lots of countries have opened up their top-level domain suffixes to the public, allowing people to get creative with them. For example, “.am” is from Armenia, but AM radio stations have adopted it for their own use. Say your band name was Glam Slam: you could try and get www.glamsl.am. This is another way brands are using lesser-known suffixes in a fairly clever way.

Switching up the wording: Lots of artists just add “music” to the end of their band or artist name and grab the .com that way – this is really common, and an easy way to not only get a .com address, but also put “music” or “guitar” or “rocks” or “sings” at the end so people know what they’re in for!

We’ve discussed domain names before: Check out the following articles from our archives for even more tips, and please share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments!

Domain Names: Choose them wisely!
What if my domain name is taken?
Do I Need to Have a “.com” Web Address?
How to pick your band’s domain name

It’s a new year. Time for a new look?

Happy New Year! Got any grand plans of remaking, renovating, or just generally improving your music life in 2018? Why not start with your website, the jumping-off point for all your content?

Trying out a new theme on your HostBaby site is easy – like trying on new clothes in the store until you find the right one that fits. Slip into one. Don’t like the look? Try another one. Find that one that fits your vibe and then customize and tweak to your heart’s delight.

Before you change themes, make a note of your current theme, in case you want to go back to what you have currently. You can see what you’re currently using by going to the “select theme” page. You’ll see “YOUR CURRENT THEME” and the name of the custom variation if you have one.

If you decide to go back to the original, you’ll click the theme it’s based on, and you’ll see your custom variation as an option.

All set! Now you’re ready to try out some new themes.

Want to energize your site? Try Moving Pictures, the theme that moves with your music. Want something simpler but equally sharp? Run some photos through the Filter theme and find the one that clicks.

Check out our gallery of recent themes here, and go here for detailed info on how to choose and implement your themes.

Here’s hoping for a great 2018! Got any big plans? Let us know in the comments below.

It’s the holidays! Give your site visitors a gift (and get something yourself)

3f9718b87c07baa610e9b881d708712eThe holidays are here! Now’s the perfect time to spread some goodwill and cheer – the kind that can make your fans happy and get you a little something in return.

Got a holiday song? Create a show.co campaign around it and give the song away for free, but require that listeners enter their email address to access the track. They’ll get some great new holiday music and you’ll add contacts to your ever-important email list. Heck, it doesn’t even need to be a holiday song. Offer up a demo, a live track, or something else rare.

Got a YouTube channel? Film yourself performing a holiday classic, demoing a new tune, or just giving a spoken-word message to your family, friends, and fans. Within the video, add an easy “subscribe” link and encourage folks, while they’re there, to subscribe to your channel – as their holiday gift to you.

Got a HostBaby website? I bet you do. Definitely use it to direct people to these mini-campaigns, but you could also tap out a quick blog post or news entry saying what you’re thankful for from the past year and what you’re looking forward to over the next twelve months. Do fans and friends want to join you on this journey? Encourage them to join your email list, subscribe to your YouTube channel, subscribe to your artist page on Spotify, set alerts for your social postings, or share their own story of what they’re thankful for.

Everyone’s in a celebratory mood – let’s harness that spirit and increase engagement, grab new fans, and keep pushing on through to the new year!

Got any end-of-year tips for your fellow HostBabies? Let us know in the comments!

Describe your music on your site (before someone else does it for you)

cazWe’ve talked about your band bio on your site, and how it should clearly state who you are and what your story is, but we also need to talk about how you describe your music on your musician website. This is another opportunity to add a piece to your story and take control of your narrative.

Looking around at sites, I’m surprised by how many artists list their music, provide links to buy and samples to listen to (all good stuff!), but don’t put any words next to those titles and links to give any context. You want to make it easy for writers to write about you! Provide context. Provide salient details. Give the author something to start from (which just so happens to be your favorite parts of the music) and they’re much more likely to not only write about you, but also hit those key points that you’ve laid out for them.

If I’m a journalist (or blogger or podcaster or whatever) and I want to write about you, I’m probably gonna want to focus on your most recent release. Sure, I’ve got the music to listen to, but that doesn’t tell me how this release fits into your overall story, its origins, its trials and tribulations – any of the info that makes for a compelling reason to listen to and/or buy your music!

Use this opportunity to see how your music releases fit into your overall story, and let each release – as well as the words that accompany it – serve as a chapter in your book, whether it just started or we’re well into the plot. By taking this approach, you’re not only staying “on brand” and getting ahead of what’s written about you, you’re also lessening the risk of a writer barely listening to your music, making a snap judgment based on one song snippet, and completely fumbling on describing you and your music in a public forum.

Sure, they still might do that, but from my experience, they’re much more likely to start with what you give them and go from there. Make sure you give them that jumping-off point, and your music has a much better chance of being represented they way you intended.

Any thoughts or personal experiences with this one? Let us know in the comments!

 

Your musician bio: What it needs and what it doesn’t

biookEver see the phrase “TL;DR” online? It stands for “Too long; didn’t read” and it’s the last thing you want someone saying about your musician bio on your site. Now: this is not to say your bio can’t have some length to it – it can! – but if you’re gonna write  a novel, you better have a damn good story to tell.

Because that’s what it should be: your story. And like any good story, if you spend too much time focusing on things that are irrelevant to the overarching plot, you’re going to bore your reader and they’re going to put your book down.

Of course, there’s more to a great bio than just being succinct. This is your chance to craft your image, focus on the story you want to tell – which, in turn, should help a writer tell that same story – and put your best foot forward.

So, that being said, how do you make your bio shine?

Your musician bio serves a few key purposes: introducing potential fans and visitors to you and your story thus far, and giving journalists a jump-off point for penning an article, show preview, or record review about you and your music.

Do they care about where you grew up, when you started playing music? Probably not.

Do they care about the other local bands you played in previously that no one has heard of? Probably not.

Do they care about how your band met, how many incarnations it took to get to your current lineup, and how you’ve learned to make music together? Probably not. Every band does this.

Do they care about famous people you know or have “shared stages with”? Probably not. Lots of bands open for other bands. Did Drake take you on tour? Worth mentioning. Did you once play a festival (on the local stage) that John Fogerty also played (on the main stage)? Not worth mentioning.

Do they care about awards you’ve won? Depends, but if you start listing them off, it’s just that: a list. Of you bragging about yourself.

So what DO they care about?

You. What makes you unique. The challenges you’ve faced to get where you are. The inside scoop on what it is that makes you think you can stand out from the pack and bring something new to such a saturated market. If you can’t determine that and get it into a few paragraphs, you probably don’t stand much of a chance grabbing anyone’s attention.

So make it count!

Check out this article on CD Baby’s DIY Musician blog for more tips and more articles about this very important aspect of your music. And give us any of your tips in the comments.

HostBaby’s email server update: What you need to know

55615Your HostBaby email has been upgraded!

This upgrade was implemented to help your email run faster, improve spam filtering, and bolster account security.

In order for your new email to function properly, you’ll need to update your server settings. If you’re using a third-party email client to access your HostBaby email (Apple Mail, Windows Mail, iOS, Android, etc.) go here for step-by-step instructions. Don’t worry: it’s real simple!

More of an advanced user? Go here for the bare-bones technical server settings.

Need to reset any of the passwords in your account? This article explains how.

We hope you enjoy your new HostBaby email! If you have any further questions, check out the Email Support section of the HostBaby Help Center.

Add a downloadable press kit to your musician website

epk1If you want bloggers and journalists to write about your music, and if you want to impress talent buyers so you can play more gigs,  you need to make it easy for them to write about you or get a feel for your music by providing them with all the essentials.

A while back, we listed the 10 things that every musician website needs to have in order to make the job of talent buyers and editors a little easier. But there’s one other, simple thing you can do to increase your chances of getting written about or booked for the show.

Create a zip folder that includes:

* a one-sheet (PDF) or bio (Word doc)

* 2 or 3 high-res photos (at least 300 dpi) in both landscape and portrait orientations (because you never know what publication or website will need)

* any articles, reviews, press quotes, or press releases that might be useful to a journalist or blogger Continue Reading . . .

Want to increase engagement? Post new content (at least) every week.

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Fans want to stay connected to you, but they’re not going to spend their free time refreshing your site, hoping some new content pops up. (That’s what Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are for: a constant stream of stuff.)

But let’s say you have a blog on your musician website. And let’s say you commit to posting on that blog every Tuesday, you let your fans and followers know your plan, and you keep up with it. Visits to your site are gonna go up, along with engagement with your content. Plus, you’ll increase the visibility of the main focus of your site, whatever that may be at the moment: gigs, getting followers on your social networks, etc.

Why do you want to drive traffic to your site, instead of sticking to Facebook? Because social media, as ubiquitous and convenient as it is, is erratic in its dispersal, unreliable in its algorithms, and doesn’t always have your best interests in mind.

Your musician website is where ALL your content lives, giving visitors a purer picture of what you’re really all about, which can be very endearing to potential fans and buyers. And it’s this same sentiment that you can use to your advantage when updating your site on a regular basis: get personal, get weird – do what you do that make you you and know that it won’t just be breezing by in someone’s timeline!

Take a look at the site above. You can tell they’ve got a diverse mix of content – plenty for a new user to explore, and even more to come back to when they want to see the latest.

It doesn’t take much – a recent photo, some written thoughts about your songwriting process or a new track you’re working on, heck: introduce your fans to your dog. It’ll add to your story, add to the connection potential fans feel with you, and ultimately add to your fanbase.

What do you do to keep visitors engaged with your site? Let us know in the comments.

I’m looking for your “listen” link – where is it?

listenhbSomeone just told me about your band. They’re sure I’ll like your music a lot. I trust this person so I’m gonna give it a shot! But, just so you know, it’s 2017 and I’m not looking to spend more than about 45 seconds searching around for your music.

I’ve got my phone in my hand, my earbuds in, and I’m googling you. I land on your site. I’m looking for the “listen” link. I see “media” – is that it? No, that’s pictures and art. Your “music” link just takes me to a page with iTunes links which lead to clipped samples. C’mon, not even a Spotify button? I guess I’ll settle for your video page and just click the one at the top. Is this your newest one? It doesn’t say.

The internet is full of distractions, and thus, it’s being navigated by people with constantly decreasing attention spans. Yes, it’s a bummer, but it’s the way it is. If you’re expecting people to work overtime to find your music, let alone spend additional time figuring out which of your songs to listen to, you’re probably expecting too much.

People are looking for a “listen” link. Poking around in HostBaby sites, I see people are also using “audio” as a link name (this is a HostBaby default), and even “music” – and that’s cool, too, as long as when people hit that link they’re able to press a button and hear your music within a few seconds after that. How you make that happen is up to you – use HostBaby’s audio pages for easy streaming and downloading, or embed videos or audio from other sites.

You’re in control, so make sure your music is accessible and you’re putting your best foot forward. If you have ONE song you want prospective fans to hear, which is it? Place it front and center on your Listen/Audio/Music page and make that decision for them. It’ll earn you new fans, keep ’em engaged, and lead to more listens down the road.

How do you handle your music on your site? Do you make it quick and easy for new fans to hear what you’re about? Let us know your tips in the comments.

 

Don’t feel obligated to link to your social networks if you’re not using them

HBBBBNot keeping up with your Twitter account? Don’t link to it!

Social networks can be tough to stay on top of. Musicians today might feel obligated to be active on every popular social network, which can often lead to account creation (with the best of intentions), a short period where you engage with the platform regularly, a longer period where you engage with it sporadically, and then eventual complete abandonment. Got tumbleweeds rolling through your Twitter account? That actually looks worse than not having one at all.

So, really, you’ve got a couple options:

  1. Stay on top of your social networks and really encourage people to follow you on all of them via your website. If you keep up with it, this can, obviously, be a great way to engage with listeners and potential fans on a daily basis, holding their interest while you’re in between new releases. Make a plan to keep your socials fresh by picking a day, a time – whatever – that you’ll post updates. Or just become one of those people who’s able to click out quick posts as you go through your day. People aren’t expecting groundbreaking stuff every time, you know.
  2. Only link to your active social accounts and delete any that are gathering dust. This is totally OK! You don’t have to have a Twitter account. Some people like the constant stream it provides; for others it’s just too much to maintain. There are thousands of Twitter handles out there that are “active,” but haven’t tweeted in years. This is not a good look. Got a social account that’s suffering from neglect? Remember that it’s showing up in search results and visitors are going to assume you’ve got nothing going on. So, either stay on it or get rid of it.

HostBaby makes it easy to include your Twitter and Instagram feeds on your site, and we also provide simple social buttons to use as links on your site. But just because they’re there doesn’t mean you have to use all of them. Link to the sites you’re current with – that way, when someone clicks on your social links, they’ll get additional content, not a ghost town.

Got any thoughts on this subject or tips that can help? Let us know in the comments.