HostBaby gives you two plans to choose from: Site Builder or Full Developer. HostBaby bills based on the number of hosted sites, though, so whichever plan you choose, you’ll still pay the same fee: $20 per month for your first domain, and $10 per month for each additional site.
So what’s the difference between the two plans? Two words: available controls.
Site Builder is designed for users who have little coding knowledge or website-building experience. It comes with theme galleries, drag-and-drop widgets, and so on.
Full Developer, meanwhile, is for users who know their way around HTML, CSS, and/or PHP and MySQL. It supposedly gives you free reign to tinker with your themes and whatever aspect of your website you want to customize. That said, HostBaby’s various tools and components turn out to be less customizable than promised. You’ll have to do a lot of wrangling if you want deeper changes than, say, simple palette switch-ups — and in that case, you might have an easier time using standard site building tools and/or content management systems like WordPress.
Unlike many of its competitors, HostBaby doesn’t bundle domain registration in with its plans. This means you’ll have to pay a separate annual fee to register a domain:
- $12.99 for .com and .net
- $14.49 for .org
- $18.99 for .rocks
- $28.99 for .band
There are other top-level domains, including country-specific ones, available upon request. What’s vexing about HostBaby, though, is that it also charges you similar rates even if you’re simply transferring an existing domain that you already own. There’s no way to avoid those extra domain fees.
Themes and Look
HostBaby gives you an extensive array of themes and site layout templates to choose from. If you’re not well-versed in CSS or HTML, this is a godsend; all you have to do is find the theme and template that best fits your intended design, and you’ll have your site arranged in no time.
You’ll need a Full Developer account to really dig into the code, though, and even then, changing anything more extensive than colors or fonts could take more effort than you’d normally need. Some theme elements aren’t freely customizable, for example. The drag-and-drop widgets like calendars and image galleries are convenient for easily modifying your site’s layout, but if you want to tweak the look and feel for the widgets themselves, you won’t have much leeway to work with.
Media and Music
You can upload photos directly through your HostBaby dashboard. The same goes for other file types like PDFs or zipped folders, and as HostBaby itself points out, this simplifies the process of assembling an electronic press kit for your band.
As for your music, most of your options come through integration with CDBaby. You’ll need a CDBaby account from which to stream tracks (via the CDBaby player), for example. Showing off your catalog entails importing everything from your CDBaby account, too. This is understandable considering HostBaby’s status as a sister service, but it does pose some inconveniences for users who don’t have CDBaby accounts or who already use a different service for their music.
Merchandise and Sales
In fact, CDBaby is the main integration you’ll find here, almost to the point that HostBaby feels like a supplementary service that’s simply been bolted onto the base CDBaby system. For music sales, you’ll have to go through CDBaby — convenient if you’d rather oversee your presence on different services like Spotify and Apple Music from one place, but a hassle if, say, you’re not interested in getting a separate CDBaby account.
You do get CDBaby submission coupons, but these are only available if you sign up for at least a full year on HostBaby. What’s more, these coupons are limited to CDBaby’s Standard plan services, which don’t include crucial features like global publishing royalty collection.
If you want to skip CDBaby entirely, you can opt to set up a standalone store for your music and other kinds of merch through the HostBaby store widget. This lets you integrate PayPal and offer several purchasing options, though for the most part, music track sales will entail simply linking to online retailers like Amazon where you might already have those products listed for sale.
Audience Reach and Integrations
You’ll have options to include important content like gig schedules and band updates through widgets like event calendars and blogs. These are pretty rudimentary, though, and the lack of ready integrations with more sophisticated alternatives like Bandsintown or blogging services like WordPress and Tumblr mean you’re stuck with HostBaby’s limited solutions.
You’ll find similar restrictions when it comes to integrations with social media services. For the most part, HostBaby’s social media offerings amount to simple sharing buttons for various networks. You can also integrate material from, say, your Twitter or Youtube accounts by using the Code Snippet widget to incorporate the embed codes provided by these websites. However, that’s dependent on there being available embeds from your other accounts in the first place, and even then, you might not have the same customization options that you might have gotten with more extensive integrations.
HostBaby beats out a lot of the competition by offering multiple support channels manned by a responsive team. You can file a support ticket, send an email, or call up HostBaby’s dedicated phone line during designated business hours.
What's the Verdict on HostBaby?
HostBaby Review – Conclusion
HostBaby is a great starting point for building your online presence, especially if you’re an inexperienced site builder and/or you’re starting from scratch. The interface and available options are very beginner-friendly, and features like CDBaby integration streamline key processes like setting up a system for selling music. However, HostBaby doesn’t give you much room to grow beyond the basics, with limited and/or unwieldy customization freedom for more experienced developers and a dearth of ready integrations with other big online services for musicians. This is not to say you won’t get a good, functional website — just that you might not find much room to grow. Still, check out HostBaby today.