I started putting these notes together while coaching a young musician friend on expanding his internet presence beyond Facebook.
I'll probably formalize them as time goes on, but these are just my observations so far.
BTW, I've built dozens of web pages, including some for Fortune 500 corporations, so I'm no moron. But for this exercise, I'm trying to work with tools that anybody can learn and use without a fortune in software or a degree in computer science.
PLEASE log in or contact me directly using the links above or below the message block and tell me your experience, and where I'm wrong. I'm still learning, after all. - Paul
First, go to GoDaddy and register yourname.com
If you don't own your own name, you don't own your own web presence.
Right now you can register it for two years for less than $20.
Don't laugh, domain name squatters have been known to register other folks' brand names and charge them $1000 or more for something that should have cost them $15.
If your name is taken, register yournamemusic.com or some such. Then go back to GoDaddy and backorder yourname.com in case the person using it now forgets to re-register it when it runs out. That will cost you another $20 or so plus an annual $5 fee to be part of that "feature" or whatever they call their "backorder club."
Next, take a look at artist web pages you like and try to figure out the "look and feel" you want for your site. MOST web technologies can be used to generate MOST "look and feels" so don't get hung up on whether the artist is on Bandzoogle or Reverbnation or whatever at this time.
If you're an indie artiest and internet newbie, you might experiment with Bandzoogle or Reverbnation or whatever, but you also need to consider eventually having a site that you control completely on a server that you are "renting" independently of the all-in-one sites. That said, a lot of folks love BZ and RN, and they'll at least help you get your toe in the water.
I'm told that Bandzoogle has a lot of features that indie artists like. I tried evaluating them for a friend who is starting out with nothing, but they have it set up so you have to set up your site just to figure out what the features are, and life's too short. When I asked the guy about features he told me just to do the setup and I'd figure it out for myself without wasting his time. Apparently he didn't mind me wasting mine. I told him that I've set up about 40 web sites using all kinds of technologies and just wanted to know what his site had to offer that I couldn't more easily cobble together on my own.
Apparently asking that question made me a jerk. End of conversation.
However some indie artists love their service. You pay by the month.
If you like your original setup but you get tired of working with them and want to host your page somewhere else, I don't know if you can port ANY of your site's resources to a server they don't control without violating your agreement.
Apparently I'm not allowed to ask that either.
However, I am apparently allowed to get an e-mail every few days telling me that my free 30 day period is up and I need to give them my Visa # so I can finish building the web site I gave up on weeks ago and they can start charging me.
Reverbnation is another site that clueless indies love, and even a few pros who have no technical support. I have no opinion on that, since I haven't even taken a "whack" at it.
Again, EITHER of those one-size-fits-all sites will at least get your name "out there," and offer many other services that you'd have to cobble together on your own.
Because I was weak on building blogs from the ground up, and I wanted my revised "artist web page" to have a blog, I started it as a WordPress blog that I installed on my own server. Then I manually built the other pages so they'd have the same look and feel (as much as I could add). I also hacked my own site to do some things the native WordPress files wouldn't do on their own without cumbersome add-ons. http://www.paulracemusic.com
Wordpress has a bunch of templates that can be adapted, although you have to buy the "deluxe" version of the template if you want to really tweak it. (Or know CSS and HTML5).
One reason I used them is that I was allowed to do everything on my own server, over which I have complete control. You DON'T want a YourName.WordPress.com site, even if it's free. It looks amateurish and you have no real control over the site.
The next thing was to build links from my paulracemusic.com site to my other sites and vice versa.
PLEASE join the forum or contact me directly using the links above or below the message block and tell me your experience - feel free to disagree violently if you wish. I could be wrong. I could be VERY wrong.