Your Music Online: Starting
Article by David Nevue - August
Back to Internet Music Promotion 101
nice thing about selling your
music on the Internet is that
you can get started with
very little cash up front. If
you already have a computer
and Internet access, you can
get going for as little as $50.
Below you'll find a
short list of items you will
need to get started, along with
estimated costs. Much more detail
is provided in my book, How
to Promote Your Music Successfully
on the Internet.
‘Right’ Computer System
Most any computer system you purchase today will come
with built-in Internet connectibility. You can easily purchase an
Internet-ready computer for less than $1000, but expect to pay $1200-$1300 for
a system that comes with all the most up-to-date goodies. If you are buying new
and for the first time, you may want to consider purchasing your system
locally. That way, if you encounter system difficulties, you can take your
system right to the dealer for repair.
There are basically two ways to go when looking for a computer system: you can
buy one with Microsoft Windows pre-installed, or go the
Macintosh route. Either way, once you have a system, getting onto the Net will be a relatively
simple process. Today’s high-speed systems come pre-configured with all the
hardware and software you should need.
Fast Internet Service Provider
Once you have the computer system, the next thing
you’ll need is an Internet connection. Most systems you buy today will come
with two or three ISP (Internet Service Provider) choices preconfigured for you
(MSN or AOL are common examples). I would suggest, however, that you do a bit
of research before going with one of these companies. Ask someone you know for
a referral that is already hooked up and happy with their service. You can also
look in your local phone book Yellow Pages under “Internet.” Your local
providers will be listed there. If you still have difficulty finding one, try
searching “The List.”
The last few years have seen the rise (and fall) of
ISPs that offer FREE access to the Internet. While most of these companies have
failed, one called NetZero has survived and is still
fairly popular, though these days they limit their “free” service to just 10
hours a month. When using a free ISP, you can expect to make
certain trade-offs. You’ll have to deal with viewing sponsor pop-up and banner
advertisements of one form or another, and some free ISPs require you fill in
and return marketing surveys on a regular basis to continue your service.
For the absolute fastest and hassle-free Internet
connection possible, I really recommend you look into a cable modem, DSL
(Digital Subscriber Line) or wireless Internet connection. I currently use
Comcast Digital Cable, and if you can afford to plunk down $50/month to get
this kind of connection, by all means get hooked up.
To research other companies providing fast connections in your area, check out
Broadband Reports .
you to go with anything other than a dial-up connection, you MUST have a
personal firewall to prevent unwanted tampering on your system. Windows
comes with a firewall built in which you can use for free, but if you just can’t bring yourself to trust
Microsoft, check out ZoneAlarm.
Explorer dominates the market.
Firefox is the up and coming
contender everyones talking about right now.
is the Macintosh favorite.
are dozens of other
web browsers available if
none of these suit you.
the Perfect Web Host - A Place
to Call Home
You’ll need a place to call ‘home’ on the Internet, a
place to put your web pages so others can view them. A web hosting service will
allow you to put your web site on their servers for a monthly fee. The fee for web hosting varies, but generally lies
between $8 and $30 dollars a month depending on the options you need. The more space,
features and bandwidth you want, the more it will cost you. You may also be
asked to pay a one-time setup fee which can run anywhere from $20 to $50. The
company I currently use for web site hosting is Aplus.net at http://www.aplus.net/
. Hosting plans start at just $5.95 per month, and their web servers are very fast. While their setup and
configuration isn’t the most intuitive, you’re just one click away from being
able to chat with someone on Aplus’ excellent support team who will gladly help
Other hosts recommended by readers have included:
and Surpass Hosting.
I can’t talk about music-related web hosting without suggesting you take
HostBaby into consideration. HostBaby is run by the
same great mind that started up CD Baby and if you
want a web host for no other purpose than to have your own artist page up on
the Internet, HostBaby.com will provide you with everything you are likely to
In addition to a place to host your web site, you’ll
need to register a domain name (such as mywebsite.com) to serve as your web
site address. I use DirectNIC to register and manage
all of my domain names. The cost of their service is $15.00 per year, per
domain, and while you can find cheaper registration services, you’ll be hard
pressed to find one that’s easier to use. I highly recommend their service.
Once you have registered your domain name, you’ll need to tell the
name registration service where to direct traffic for that domain name. In
other words, when someone types
“yourwebsiteaddress.com” into their web browser, to what server should
they be directed? To set this up, simply find out from your web host what your
primary and secondary domain name server (DNS) information is. Take this information, go to your domain registration service,
and add it to your nameserver (or they might call it DNS) configuration. The
process sounds more complicated than it is, but if you have difficulty, your
web host should be happy to
Your Web Site
of the first things you'll need
to decide is whether or not
you want to design your own
web site. If your goal is to
simply have your music available
somewhere online, you
might want to just sign up for
Baby's services. For $35
bucks, they'll take your CD
and put it on a beautiful web
page for you. And that will
give you somewhere to direct
your fans to purchase your music
online if they wish.
if you wish to grow your online
pressence into a long-term income
generator, at some point you
really must have
your own web site. The next
question then becomes whether or
not you have the know-how to
design a quality web site that
will sell CDs for you.
you know nothing about web site
design, your options are many.
First, consider your fan base.
Are any of your fans talented
designers? You may find a fan
will design a very nice web
site for you for little or no
money. My fans do a LOT of great
things for me just because they
want to support my music.
not, there are many places on the Internet where you
can search for and make contact with professional designers. At GetaGraphic.com
for example, you can post your design requirements
and graphic artists will bid for your job. You can evaluate each bid, including
each bidder’s portfolio, before committing to anything. If you see something
you like, you can hire them on the spot. Similar options are available at
Compare Web Designers,
the Elance Agency
you wish to design your web
site yourself, you'll need to
decide what kind of web page
design software you want to
Dreamweaver software is
a popular choice. However, I
like a simple, WYSIWYG (what
you see is what you get) page
editor. So, for simplicities
sake, I recommend Namo
WebEditor. I LOVE this software!
You can download a free trial
version from Namo’s web site.
If you decide to buy it, your
cost is only $99, as opposed
to nearly $400 for Dreamweaver.
is an acronym for “File Transfer
Protocol.” The basic function
of FTP client software is to
upload and download files to
and from your web host’s server.
Once you have your web page
designed, the HTML document
and graphic files that make
up that page need to be transferred
from your computer to your web
host’s server via an FTP client.
FTP client file utilities are
readily available on the Internet.
I recommend CuteFTP's
software, but CoreFTP's free
FTP tool is a good alternative
for those of you just starting
Your New Best Friend
mail makes it easy for potential
customers to contact you. Most
services, including web hosts,
ISPs and online services will
provide you with a free e-mail
address to go along with your
web site. If you’d rather, you
can use one of the many free
web-based e-mail services on
the Net, such as Yahoo!
Mail or Google’s Gmail
program. The advantage of going
this route is that you can check
your e-mail with ease from any
computer with an Internet connection.
For a quick study on all the
services available to you, check
out the Free
E-mail Address Directory
tools mentioned above are all
you should need to get started
on the Internet. You will use
these tools just about every
day as you run your online business.
If you are new to this kind
of technology, some of what
I described above may sound
a bit complicated, but it’s
really not. If you take the
time, you can learn all this
stuff pretty quickly, and soon
you won’t even think about it
- you’ll do it all automatically.
Much more detail
on this topic is provided in my book, How
to Promote Your Music Successfully
on the Internet.
is the founder of The
Music Biz Academy
Solo Piano Radio. He is also a professional pianist,
recording artist, full-time Internet musician, and author of the book, "How to Promote Your Music Successfully on the Internet."