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Music Web Hosting
& Musician Communities

Reviews of independent music sites that host band/artist pages or sponsor musician communities. Many of these also offer CD collaboration options.

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CD Baby  No Monthly Fees, No Runaround. Just Way Cool.

CDBaby was started in 1997 by Derek Sivers, a musician just like yourself who just wanted an efficient way to sell his music on the web. Today, just a few years later, CDBaby is the 2nd largest seller of independent music on the Internet, second only to Amazon.com! Boasting nearly 265,000 artists, CD Baby is one of the most respected hosting solutions for musicians who want to sell their music online. According to the latest posted stats (as of this writing), CDBaby has paid out over $150 million dollars  to independent musicians! That alone should be motivation enough for you to sign up. There is a one-time, $35 setup fee (per CD) to join the service, however, from that fee CDBaby creates an elegant web page for you that has everything you need. Once you start selling CDs, CDBaby takes just $4 from each CD sold via their web site or 9% from download sales. You keep the rest. CDBaby also keeps your CDs in its warehouse, so they handle all the shipping details, and when your stock gets low, CDBaby contacts you to request more. In additional to all this, CDBaby is your connection to digital music distribution, and will put your music in digital stores like iTunes, Amazon MP3, eMusic, Rhapsody, Spotify, Last.FM and many others and no extra charge beyond your initial $35 setup fee. This is one baby you don’t want to throw out with the bath water. Updated 10/13/2010. Sign up for CD Baby now.

Web Hosting/Communities for Musicians
Listed alphabetically....

Amazon.com Advantage
Amazon.com is by far the Internet’s biggest and most popular all-around store. In addition to selling books, electronics, toys and even cheese (yes, you can buy cheese at Amazon.com), they provide a wonderful  distribution outlet for independent musicians. Amazon.com  offers what it calls the “Advantage” program, allowing independent artists to sell and distribute their own CDs through the Amazon.com catalog. The benefits of the Amazon.com Advantage program are obvious: you get to sell your CD on an extremely high-traffic web site. Also, since virtually everyone who shops online knows and trusts the Amazon.com name, you benefit from that. The disadvantage is that participation in the Advantage program will cost you $29.95 annually. On top of this, Amazon.com takes a whopping 55% of your retail CD price. So if you sell one of your CDs retail for $12.99, your cut is a meager $5.85. All that being said, if your music has a following but your music can't be found on Amazon.com, you're probably losing sales. Updated 10/13/2010.

Audiolife is the “best of breed” when it comes to music sales tools. With Audiolife, you create your own store wherein you can sell not only physical albums, but digital albums, singles, merchandise and even ringtones. Once you have created your Audiolife store, you can insert that “store” as a widget anywhere you like online. Not just your web site, but your blog, Facebook account, MySpace page, email message, and a dozen or so other social networking sites. Your customers can even get their own widget for selling your music on their own web sites and networks! The merchandise option is really cool, as you can create your own t-shirts, hoodies, and accessories right in your store. You can sell physical CDs, or you can upload your artwork and have Audiolife create one-off physical CDs to send to buyers after they purchase. When a customer buys a product, whether it be a CD or merchandise, it’s created right there and shipped to them. But the feature we like the most about the Audiolife widget is this: the payment/cart option is included inside the widget. So customers enter their purchase information directly in the widget to buy. The customer doesn’t have to go to a third-party site to make their purchase. And yes, the purchase is secure. The cost to you? There are no up-front costs, which is nice. You pay $5.49 for physical CDs when they are sold (the CDs are created on-demand, one-at-a-time by Audiolife), so if you sell an album for $12.00, you’ll profit $6.51, which is more than you’d make if you sold the same CD at Amazon.com. Merchandise pricing varies, but the wholesale prices are reasonable. You set your retail price to whatever you want to determine your own profit margin. For MP3 albums, Audiolife takes $3.00, you keep the rest. For singles, Audiolife takes .30¢ which is near industry standard. You’ll make .69¢ on a .99¢ download. For ringtones, you make a flat .50¢ per ringtone sold. Audiolife gives you a means by which you can go 100% digital and yet still offer one-off, on-demand physical CDs for customers who want them. You can plug your store into almost any web site, anywhere, accept credit cards and be ready to sell. A pretty cool tool, and the closest thing we’ve seen yet to “amazing” for this purpose.

Bandbox is very simple to set up. Sign up, create an “album”, upload your tracks, and you have a beautiful player from which you can sell digital singles, albums and physical CDs from your web site, Facebook, MySpace, blog and pretty much anywhere else. The cost for the service is $9.95/month (digital only) or $14.95 if you want to sell physical CDs through the player as well. Aside from that, you keep all the profit from sales minus credit card fees. My only caution with Bandbox is that there isn’t much buzz about it and as far as I can tell, not a lot of folks are using it at this point. On the other hand, featured artists using the player include Jewel and Taylor Swift. Research this one for sure, but move forward cautiously. Added 10/13/2010.

Bandcamp doesn’t provide a music player widget like Nimbit, Audiolife or Bandbox, but does give you a very simple way to sell your music direct to your visitors. Create a Bandcamp store, and you can direct your visitors there to purchase downloads (in the format of their choice!) and your physical CDs. It’s free, and whether or not you choose to use this for your actual web site, you’ll want to check out what Bandcamp offers. You may find it useful to use as a storefront to sell your music. Added 10/13/2010.

Need a web site fast? Bandzoogle will let you build a web site in minutes (no design skills needed). Bandzoogle offers snazzy, ready-to-go web site templates and a full range of features including a mailing list, music player, forum, blog, event calendar, photo gallery and you can sell both digital music and physical CDs and merchandize through PayPal. Bandzoogle’s standard plan starts at $14.95/month with a “pro” plan that gives you a bit more for just $19.95/month. Bandzoogle offers 30 days free if you'd like to try it out. Updated 10/13/2010.

CD Unsigned
For those of you in the UK in need of an online solution for selling and distributing your CDs locally, check out CD Unsigned. It's the leading online retailer for independent music in the UK and it's just bursting with UK music energy! Registration costs £ 19.99, and that's a one-time fee, no matter how many CDs you want to put in the store. After that, they take just £ 2.00 from each CD sale and they ship out your CDs to your customer for you when a sale comes in. You are paid immediately when a CD is sold. Updated 10/13/2010.  

Guitar Nine Records
Guitar 9 Records is a hosting service/online store/monthly ezine for independent artists/bands that feature the guitar as their dominant instrument. If you're not already familiar with Guitar 9, we urge you (particularly if you're a guitarist with a CD to market) to take alook at Guitar 9's fine site. Guitar 9 Records has been around for years, and they have consistently stayed true to their purpose - promoting independent guitar music on the Internet (now over 1100 guitar artists). Some of the finest undiscovered guitar players in the world can be found here, and you'll find lots of articles on the music business from a guitarist's perspective. Updated 10/13/2010.

Just Plain Folks Songwriting/Musician Community
JPF is a community of over 50,000 Songwriters, Recording Artists, Music Publishers, Record Labels, Performing Arts Societies, Engineers, Producers, Journalists, Retailers and about every other type of member of the Music Industry. The idea, essentially, is that thousands of 'just plain folks' share ideas on touring, manufacturing, web sites, and organizations friendly to musicians. The entire community is centered on the idea of working together for the benefit of all. The forums, which are very active, are fantastic. Members include Grammy and Emmy winners, staff from BMI and ASCAP, TAXI, AFM, right along side plain old street musicians trying to find a break. Membership is free. Updated 10/13/2010

The Muse's Muse - Songwriters Community
The Muse's Muse has, over its many years, become one of the most enduring and useful independent songwriter communities on the Internet. Songwriters will find a lot to peruse here, but we especially recommend checking out the 'Interactivities', where you'll find chat rooms, as well as an active message board. We also highly recommend the writings of their columnists. Be sure to subscribe to the free monthly newsletter. Updated 10/13/2010.

Music Thoughts
This very active discussion group was created by CD Baby founder Derek Sivers as “A popular, open place for musicians to talk to other musicians.” It’s a great place to hang out and get a vibe for what other musicians are thinking and talking about. If you need a place to get advice, receive feedback on your music, or find out whether or not a company is reputable, this is the place to ask. Updated 10/13/2010.

Nimbit Web Services
Nimbit is another slick “shopping cart” add-on option. As with Audiolife.com above, not only can you sell physical CDs and merchandise through Nimbit’s cart system, you can sell digital downloads too. Nimbit offers three shopping cart style plans, each with its own features. nimbitFree allows you to sell downloads only, nimbitIndie costs $12.95/month and adds the ability to sell physical CDs and merchandise. Finally, nimbitPro is $19.95/month and gives you a custom branded shopping cart, content management tools for your web site and more. You’ll find details on each of these options at http://www.nimbit.com/plans-pricing/. Like Audiolife, Nimbit’s cart is truly portable. It comes with a plug-and-play shopping cart widget called NimbitOMT (Online Merch Table) that you can post literally anywhere, not only your web site but you can plug it in MySpace, Facebook, blog sites and so on. You can also provide your fans with code they can plug into their own web sites and social networking accounts giving your fans the ability to directly support you. The NimbitOMT shopping cart widget includes your digital downloads, streaming samples, your bio with a photo, links to merchandise, eTickets for your concerts, and mailing list manager. Here's a live example of the widget. Last but not least, Nimbit recently introduced a new product: Instant Band Site, which is available as a free Wordpress plug-in. If you need help installing the site, Wordpress or the plug-in, Nimbit will set it all up for you for $199. If you want to explore Nimbit, my suggestion is to try out the nimbitFree service first, see if you like it, and then you can potentially expand into their pay-based tools. Added 10/13/2010.

ReverbNation is a fabulous service for musicians with gobs of features, including Site Builder, their template-based design system. ReverbNation’s Site Builder easily integrates with all their music promotion tools, including some of the best Flash player widgets available. Once you create an account with ReverbNation, just upload MP3s of your music into your profile. Once you’ve done this, visit the “Widget/Apps” section of your “Control Room” to view the available widget apps. There are several music player widgets listed there, and any of them will serve as excellent Flash music players for your web site. My favorite is the “Music Player (Pro)” option, for which you can customize the look, feel and size. Once you’re done customizing the widget to your liking, just cut and paste the code provided into your web site and without too much effort at all you have a beautiful music player for your visitors to enjoy! It’s really that easy.  ReverbNation also has a “store” option for selling your music. If you have an account with ReverbNation, click on the “Reverb Store” option in your “Control Room” to create a store where you can sell digital downloads, CDs, merchandise and even ringtones. Once you’ve uploaded everything you want to sell, click on the “Preview and Place Stores” link. Here, you’ll be presented with several different options for your store which allow you to cut and paste code to insert your “store” right into your own web site HTML. This “store” portion of ReverbNation is actually provided by Audiolife, and while you can create your entire store right here in ReverbNation, I recommend you work directly with Audiolife to create your store instead. Added 10/13/2010.

Rock Band Sites . com
If you want a great looking web site that's super easy to update but you don't know a thing about creating one, RockBandSites.com will design a terrific looking site for you that you can update easily through an admin tool without having to touch the code. They'll also host the site for you. The price varies from $1.95-$14.95/month depending on the package you want. Updated 10/13/2010. 

Rock Web Hosting
Rock web hosting, which targets itself to musicians and bands, offers some incredible prices for hosting - as low as $4.95/month for more than enough hosting features to satisfy most people. If you're willing to pay $9.95/month, your account comes with a product called Band Web Site Builder which makes it very easy to design your own web site. Includes 24/7 support. Updated 10/13/2010.

Suggest A Site For This Directory
Would you like to recommend a web site for the MusicBizAcademy.com directory?
Click here to tell us about it. We welcome any quality musicians resource, as well as music promotion tools, 'how to' articles, and pretty much anything music business related. We're NOT interested in band pages. Please be aware that due to the number of suggestions we receive, our current placement time is about 12 weeks. We will contact you if your site is selected. Thank you.


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