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

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).

27 replies on “Warning to musicians: CdBaby’s Hostbaby service is a huge rip-off!”

depends…i recently tried to cancel my subscription in November, and they CONTINUED TO CHARGE ME… i have emails that prove i tried to cancel, and they still kept my act open and now want money.

First of all… in Oct 17 Host Baby couldn’t accept a payment on a debit card (strange?). I had two specific questions to ask them about hosting. Several messages came back from them (Michele). Not once did she (if she exists) answer my questions, she just said ‘try and pay again and get back to me if you can’t pay’ (twice!). I decided not to go with it. Then, in December 2017 I decided to bite the bullet (mostly because I have 3 albums up on CDBaby). They still have trouble with the Debit card, but they (Michele again) says ‘I’ll give you the free trail anyway, because you’ve had problems and we can sort it out later). Today I decided to start finding out which Host Baby template suited me… basically none of them! (I’m not fussy, I just want the basics!) I’ve spent all day, i.e. 8 hours working through their incredible ‘clunky’ system. (I would charge $150 for that, normally!). They won’t answer my emails because they only work short hours on Saturdays and not at all on Sundays. THEY MUST BE RAKING IT IN. I’m looking elsewhere. With best wishes to normal creative people everywhere, Robert

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!

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.


“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 at – Our Brand New FAQ!
[email protected]

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 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 ”

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)

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 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!

Dave, your comments are especially relevant to those of us in the jazz/educational community, where mailing lists and other website features (not to mention level of literacy) are of great importance. I retired in 2010 (after nearly four decades of teaching in Arkansas public schools) and then became more involved with nonprofits. I currently serve as Secretary for the Arkansas Jazz Heritage Foundation/Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame, which has had its own customized website ( for decades but uses its Facebook page (Arkansas Jazz Heritage Foundation) for virtually all communications to members and the general public. However, the Northwest Arkansas Jazz Society recently revamped its website ( after switching to HostBaby, and this week I received their first mailing via HostBaby’s ListBaby. The improvement over the previous NAJS website and newsletter is remarkable though less time and effort are being spent on them. (If you have a few minutes, you might take a look.) Incidentally, I am the Arkansas editor for Jazz Near You (a global network of websites launched in late 2012 by All About Jazz, created in 1995). If you’re not already doing so, you might consider creating a musician’s profile and posting detailed descriptions of your jazz events under “Calendar” at Then take time to explore all the website’s features, including a weekly e-newsletter (free with sign-up under “More” in the upper right corner of each page). Every JNY event/venue entry includes widgets for sharing via e-mail and social media. Have a jazzy day!

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.

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

CHRIS from HostBaby said: “We have tippled the size of our development team”.

TIPLED. That’s what you said. It is your attention to detail that makes HostBaby SUCK so bad. So- A lot of people use it? Yep. Lots of people eat at McDonald’s too. That doesn’t make it good.

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.

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.).

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.

We have two websites with Hostbaby: and The thing we like about Hostbaby is it’s very user friendly. With just a little bit of code (which you can google for almost anything you are trying to do) it is very simple to change, update, and build a website that looks professional and functions perfectly. I recently helped a friend build a site with Godaddy, and found their site builder clunky and confusing in comparison with Hostbaby’s. Sure, nobody wants to pay $20 a month per site, and if you are well versed in coding you probably won’t have to, but what Hostbaby offers in return is an actual .com domain (not just a run-of-the-mill page attached to a social networking site) and a set of very powerful tools for someone who doesn’t know much coding, and has their hands full with the many other aspects of their business. We at Ink Ribbon Press have been happy with Hostbaby since 2012.

I totally agree with you. I got my own Cpanel host which for starters is a lot cheaper than Host Baby and gives me virtually every possibility imaginable. I can install any CMS I please and or set up custom sites. Cpanel gives me the option to set up multiple websites under Sub domains if I want to. Just imagine the possibilities you can have web-stores, forums, blogs and a whole lot more and the great thing is that all these options do not cost any extra.

Even If Cpanel is overkill for some there are plenty of alternative CMS based affordable options that can easily beat Host Baby on any day of the week.

If one is willing to accept certain limitations there are even free options available. But then Host baby also has limitations. I have noticed how host baby websites seem to have the phrase “Powered by host baby” on the bottom of their websites. Seriously If one pays that much money for a website it should be free of Host Baby’s self promotion adverts.

Thank you for your warning about Hostbaby! I feel like a fool…I’ve payed $20 per month for over a year and stopped working on it out of frustration. Everyone says it’s easy, but I run into walls that make me just give up. I guess I need a very easy drag and drop method…I saw this on Weebly and it is rated 5 stars on everything! from free to $4 to $8 to $25 for business. It seems like most musicians & bands can do quite well with the $8/mo deal with phone support! I’m thinking of dropping Hostbaby and going with Weebly. Any comments are appreciated!

I have experienced the contrary there is no place for a musician to bundle up all of their business together I also feel the tech support team at hostbaby to be incredibly talented and helpful with code writing and fixing a template that would not accommodate my commercial website they did it they did it a timely way and they were in good spirits all time

I thought maybe i was the only one who had trouble setting up a web sight with host baby. I payed for several months and finally gave up. I called for support and they sounded so impatient and short with helping me set up my sight. It would be nice to have a place people could go and check out some of my music.

I have used Hostbaby for both non-profit and for profit music for 7 years with great results. I did compare others like WordPress, Bandzoogle, Wix etc.and they cost the same or more at the end of the day. The unlimited addresses is a fantastic option. I can set up a new email address in 2 minutes. With other services-if you need 5 email addresses you are talking $10-20 more per month. Additional websites are $10 a month complete with their own unlimited email addresses. The mailing list function is also good and if you pay $199 in advance for the year you get unlimited CD baby submissions. I found the best way to operate is to register your URL with Godaddy and point to your site on Hostbaby. If you want to move the site, just point it to another host.

I have been with Host Baby for over four years. It’s sometimes easy, but if you really want to do some more technologically advanced things like “cut and paste”, which is something Host Baby platform cannot support, you’re out of luck. There are other strange complications with their platform as well, but I’ve been lazy not knowing where to turn. During my last campaign just this past week (I’m not a starving musician, but I am a musician who gigs on a regular basis, so I like my fans to know the dates and locations of where I’ll be performing), there was a Host Baby banner that states: “as of September 30, 2018, List Baby will no longer support email campaigns”. What the heck??? So now I’m still lazy about needing to look for another all-in-one carrier, but this is day two of me scouring the internet in search of a decent site to handle both my website and performance campaigns. Gotta go Host Baby!

I had been paying Hostbaby $20 a month since 2001 and now highly regret it. Once they cancelled their Listbaby newsletter option, they should have dropped their price to be competitive but did not. Their customer service has PLENTY of attitude. Their website templates are straight out of the 90s. And as soon as I let them know I was moving to another hosting company, they became even more unhelpful. So losing a loyal customer of almost 18 years didn’t count for much. The transfer took a whole week without service and I even kind of suspect they took their time releasing the domain or just didn’t give it any attention. Not happy. I highly dissuade anyone from using Hostbaby.

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