The first step in getting your band online, is registering a domain name. But don’t rush the beat, first you need to understand a bit about domain names and how they work.
What is a domain name?
A domain name is basically an internet address. You want a website, and you’ll need to tell people where to find you online. That is what the domain name is for. It’s your internet street address. You can’t have the same address as someone else, so you need a unique domain name. Imagine the confusion that would ensue if two people had the same address!
Because of this need for uniqueness, and the fact that a great many simple domain names are already taken, it may require a good deal of thought and creativity to find the domain name you’ll want to live with for the rest of your band’s life. We’ll discuss that issue in my next article, How to choose a domain name that rocks.
For more information about domain names and how they work, try the website of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
Why should you have your own domain name?
You’ve already got a Facebook page, or perhaps a page at Soundcloud or some other service. Why is it important to have your own domain? Couldn’t you just set up a website at yourbandname.wordpress.com or something similar? Well, of course you could, but you shouldn’t. Here’s why.
1. Be taken seriously
Even if your band is part-time and just for fun, you still want fans and promoters to take you seriously. Having your own domain name is one way to make sure they do. Most people will perceive yourbandname.atsomeoneelsessite.com as amateurish. When you have your own website, at your own domain name, then is appears you’re working as hard at the business as you are at the music.
2. Ease of use
Not for you, for your fans. If you want to send people to your site, whether you announce it from stage or tell someone in line at Starbucks, you’re going to have to communicate the address where they can find you. Being able to send them to yourgreatbandname.com is much easier to communicate and to remember, than is yourgreatbandname.wordpress.com. It’s also less for them to type in, especially if they are doing so on a phone or tablet.
People naturally assume that if you are online, and serious, you will have yourbandname.com as your website. We’ll talk more in my next article about what to do if that is unavailable for some reason, but the argument stands that people will naturally try that first.
Making it easier for people to find you, and easier to communicate where they can find you, will increase the traffic to your site.
3. Improve search placement
Having your own domain name will also improve your placement in search results when someone searches for your band name. Google, and other search engines, give more weight to top level domains than they do to subdomains. wordpress.com is a top level domain. yourbandname.wordpress.com puts your band name in the subdomain rather than the top level. This will affect search results.
We hope people google your band name. That means they’re interested in your music! We’ll talk more in a future post about search engine ranking, but the first step is a top level domain name.
4. Freedom to do what you want
Another advantage of having your own domain name, is that you’ll have more freedom to design and implement your website. If you use a service, such as wordpress.com, their service limits the functionality and design options you can use. Setting up your own website, with your own domain, on your own hosting account, gives you the freedom to implement whatever functionality you wish, with little to no restrictions.
5. Use your own email
One final reason to own your own domain name is that you can ditch the generic email address provided by gmail or worse, your internet provider, and start using your own private email. email@example.com looks better to promoters and talent buyers, than firstname.lastname@example.org!
Make sure you own it!
Just recently I was helping a friend of mine out with his website. He needed to make a major redesign but couldn’t get his previous web designer to respond to him. After many attempts, both by phone and email, he called me and asked for some help. The problem was, the previous designer had registered my friend’s domain and hosting account in his own name, not to my friend’s.
This was his business website, and he had no access to it, and no way to appeal to anyone to give him access, because he didn’t own it. Theoretically he did, the designer set it up for him, and it was his business name. But short of getting lawyers involved and spending a pile of money, there was nothing he could do.
We started over from scratch with a new domain name, but this causes problems because the old domain is still out there with the old website on it. Talk about confusion for the customers!
The moral to the story is, make sure you own your domain name! Don’t let someone else register it for you and end up with your domain name registered to them and not you. You may not think there will be any trouble, but who know what could happen a few months or years down the road?
A future article will address how to register your domain name. For now, just understand that you need to do it yourself when it comes to your domain name.
A few precautions
Be sure you read all my articles about domain names before you take action. Now is the time for paper and pencil.
- Don’t search availability of your domain name by typing it in your browser. Sometimes shady things happen, and you could find that someone else has taken your domain by the time you’re ready to register it.
- Don’t start researching online until you’ve brainstormed and have several good options for a domain name. In fact, don’t start researching online until you’ve read the rest of this series.
- Don’t ask other people’s opinion, especially online. You don’t want someone else to go out and register your potential domain name while you’re still deciding.
This should get you started thinking about domain names. We’ll cover more ground in my next few articles, and before you know it, you’ll be setting up your own band website!
If you’ve got any questions about domain names for bands, just drop them in a comment and I’ll do my best to answer them.