Warning to musicians: CdBaby’s Hostbaby service is a huge rip-off!

2006-07-05 5:56am by Ann

Hostbaby is CdBaby’s hosting service. They advertise it as “web hosting for musicians” on the CdBaby website, and it’s such a horrible service that I can’t bring myself to even provide a link to it from here.

Considering the free open source CMS (content management system) options out there, the fact that the whole point of a CMS once installed and setup is to allow users to do their own updates (meaning that CdBaby people spend little to no time doing any actual work on your site since the setup process is likely automated), and coupled with all the free hosting options out there, $20 a month for Hostbaby’s basic CMS (no e-commerce or video) and limited hosting plan is OUTRAGEOUS! I can’t believe a company whose supposed philosophy is to HELP small-time independent musicians make money from their music would turn around and overcharge them by so much! Yes, every musician and band should have a web presence. Granted, reliable hosting will cost a bit more than nothing. But charging $20 a month when MySpace is free (and has video too now, though many people still use YouTube) should be an indication that this pricing is way off! And $10 a year per domain is at cost? Yeah right!

It makes me even angrier when I think of CdBaby ripping off some poor unknown starving musician who automatically goes with HostBaby because s/he sees it advertised on CdBaby’s website, and doesn’t know of any other (fairly-priced) option. And CdBaby has that whole “indie” rep thing going on which makes them seem more trustworthy to such people, which in the realm of websites and hosting is totally false. Come on, Derek Sivers, don’t be a hypocrite and abuse your responsibility to help independents! Lower your hosting prices to a few bucks a month and give musicians your CMS for free. Or offer the CMS + hosting for free and do something else entirely for revenue, like integrating the CdBaby store into the e-commerce portion of the CMS.

Anyway, I recommend that all musicians out there just avoid this nasty Hostbaby thing entirely. If you’re looking for a professional website the best thing to do is to hire an independent to customize a website or content management system for you (which WILL cost you, but if you find the right person it will actually be worth it, and it will be CUSTOMIZED), and host it somewhere for really cheap (there are a billion hosting companies out there, many quite reliable, and hosting itself is just getting cheaper and cheaper). Honestly with the exposure and popularity of MySpace you’d actually even be WAY better off there than with some crappy Hostbaby CMS/generic template design, and as an added bonus you’d save all that money. Just keep your CDs on CdBaby to leverage their advertising/distribution channels (which is really what they’re good for), but link back to your website and also consider selling your CD direct on there using a cheap payment service like Paypal or Google Checkout for a price slightly less than CdBaby (since selling a CD on your personal site means you don’t pay CdBaby’s markup).

13 Responses to “Warning to musicians: CdBaby’s Hostbaby service is a huge rip-off!”

  1. Mitch says:

    What are some good alternatives?

  2. Ceez says:

    I see this is a old. So have they gotton better, or are there other sites that work?

  3. Ann says:

    I just took a quick look at their site and it looks like they haven’t really added any features. Also browsed a few Hostbaby-hosted sites and boy are those designs dated…

    WordPress is a great platform for websites — it’s free and with a little know-how you can have it do everything a website needs to do. For example, you can use it to serve up a podcast to iTunes. The internet has really evolved and as an independent musician you really should be taking advantage of everything you can to promote yourself. If you buy any sort of cheap standard shared hosting, you could probably get a free domain name, set it up with WordPress, and either find some nice free template to use (there are tons, just do a search) and/or hire someone to design something custom.

    And don’t forget all those social networking websites!

  4. Will Zell says:

    I just had this dialogue with CDBaby and then found and read your site. Thank You for your counter weight. I will check out your leads.

    Will

    “Hi Will,

    To do that, you’d need to hire a web designer. What you are describing
    is something that cannot be done with a standard wizard template.

    Sorry about that! Let us know if you’d like to switch to a full account
    so that someone could help you design what you described.

    :)
    Celia

    Celia at Hostbaby.com
    http://hostbabyfaq.com – Our Brand New FAQ!
    hostbaby@hostbaby.com
    1-888-448-6369

    WILL ZELL wrote:
    > Dear HostBaby,
    >
    > I am writing to inquire information that will help me get started in designing my web site with you. I have looked over the FAQ and searched the other sites. They have been helpful, yet I still need some questions answered if you may?
    >
    > Here is what I would like to do and perhaps you can help me get there.
    >
    > I would like those clicking on to OpenSourceSongs.org to see a home page that has several thumbnails of different albums along with a brief description of the work. When a customer or fan clicks on the thumbnail a seperate page opens up which includes their bio, news, MP3, purchase info through CDBaby etc.. all of the usual site information that is available through your site building hardware.
    >
    > This way I do not have to open up a new account for each artist I help sell their CD. This home page can be added to and one may have to scroll down to see it all.
    >
    > This is really all I need if it is possible. Please let me know how I can get started. I look forward to your response.
    >
    > Will Zell ”
    >

  5. mai-ling says:

    i always felt that way about hostbaby.

  6. hallow says:

    Sivers implimented Host Baby and a few other useless services for the sole purpose of making CDBaby look more valuable to potential buyers of CDBaby. And since the sale to Disk Makers, every aspect of CDBaby has slide down hill (that is, away from helping independent musicians and toward corporate greed)

  7. Dave says:

    IDK, i have been very happy with them…i play in multiple projects, love the layout options and how fast and easy it is. To me it seems way more professional than myspace, i teach privately as well, so for what it costs me for 1 lesson, i have a web site for the month…that more than pays for itself in my embedded lesson calendar alone…parents look at the calendar and reschedule missed lessons saving at least $20/month in phone tag hassles…(which could be done on any website i realize) plus I write it all off on income tax. The mailing list function is nice too, unlike anything myspace was offering when i first started.

    I am sure there are better bargains but for the time saved AND the ability to change and update very easily, I am pretty content…speaking of bargains…independent musicians should check out kunaki.com for really cheap cd production…like $2 a disc in batches that are VERY small (like 5 cd’s)

    As far as promotion, to me facebook is the best option unless u are a viable touring band with a following. I am a jazz musician, and simply NOT going to bring huge numbers of people out regularly, but what i have found is last minute fb notices will get those people with nothing to do that night off the couch and into the club.

    I stumbled upon this site looking for ways to embed video on my hostbaby sites, and just thought i would share…ty!

  8. Jonny says:

    I agree with you, Ann.

    I am surprised that after four years your post is still relevant. A musician friend signed up for this service before I had the chance to fully evaluate it. I was shocked to find how awful their CMS is and how garbage their templates are, especially at the high cost of US$20/month. Perhaps there are some redeeming qualities, like music/merch sales, but I have yet to get to that point.

    I am a professional web designer, and would never advocate this service to anyone. At US$6.95/month, Bluehost offers pretty much everything under the sun without any hassle. At present, I am hacking the CSS to one of HostBaby’s minimalist templates – at least I have that to work with.

    Had I the time and resources (e.g. money), I would invest in creating a website in Drupal, another open-source CMS. It can exceed every feature they have on their site, but I’m just a friend doing a favour ;)

    It would be smart for HostBaby to get with the times.

  9. Nino says:

    http://www.Bandzoogle.com is another band-oriented CMS which seems to have better features than HostBaby, and they offer various levels of pricing – the highest being $20/month. Or use the free website builders you can find on the web together with the free widgets from http://www.ReverbNation.com.

  10. Chris says:

    HostBaby has over 14,000 happily hosted musicians using our service.

    You wont find phone support or the dedicated customer support we offer at many other hosts.

    We have tippled the size of our development team and have been adding new designs and competitive features on a regular basis.

    In-fact, we have major updates planned this month.

    We invite you to try it for yourself for free.

    Chris @ HostBaby

  11. D says:

    Been using Host Baby since 2009. I am just a small time artist and musician not looking to make it big. It’s convenient. Maybe what you say was true back then. Either way, I am not a starving artist. I once used to be someone with no money and quite frankly, I am tired of people complaining about how expensive everything is.

  12. Bernie says:

    I know that this is way after the fact, but I want to put in my counterweight here… I’ve been with both CD Baby and Hostbaby since around the time of the first post – 2006 or thereabouts.

    They have been nothing but great. Derek (who is no longer directly involved, I think) even flew down here to LA to help organize a showing at a town council meeting to determine the fate of a great club here (Kulak’s Woodshed on Laurel Canyon). It’s still there due to this kind of action.

    I needed help installing WordPress, they did it for me. They updated WordPress for me. Within a day of our conversations both times.

    Someone said they couldn’t do e-commerce or video- you just have to know how to code it in- I’ve have the Paypal Store implemented (I get more exposure on Fine Art’s America and CD Baby, so I removed it) I’ve had video on my site. Turns out it’s better to link to a YouTube video, so I uploaded my videos there. But it all works.

    When they upgrade to a “full account”, it’s the same price, you just are saying you’ll be in charge of your own website, and can’t use the wizard.

    So- you get what you pay for. If you can’t afford the $20- and I know it always comes due at the wrong time- I know!!! But you can get free sites – not nearly as comprehensive in service.

    MySpace and others are great, but they are not replacements for your own website. They are additional opportunities to spread your word (music, etc.).

  13. Just stumbled across this post…I know this is an old article, but I just wanted to say that things have changed now. I’ve been with hostbaby for over a year now and I love it because it’s easy. Its great for someone who doesn’t really want to learn code and web design. You can just change things with a click of a button and done. You can put anything here as long as you know a few basics in code. (I have put videos, paypal links, and amazon affiliate links). It’s also real easy to upload your own music. So, maybe when this article was written hostbaby was new and confusing. Now it’s incredibly easy. And as far as the $20 a month…that’s not a lot in the scheme of things. It’s less than a dollar a day. All people are struggling these days, not just musicians. So, yeah you can go to a cheaper company to host your site, but to me it’s not worth the hassle…hostbaby is just easier. And it also includes listbaby so you can mail out newsletters to your fans. Again…super easy to do. That’s something else you might have to pay for separately somewhere else.

    Myspace is pretty much gone now. There’s still facebook, youtube and twitter…all other good ways to spread your music and links to your website.

Leave a Reply

Current day month ye@r *