Having decided whether your project is commercial, noncommercial, "all rights reserved," or Free Content, you need to select a technical means of distribution. GNU/Linux and Free Software are the de facto standard in web hosting, but building and maintaining a static web site made of manually generated HTML pages can be a chore. This is particularly the case when the web site contains a large number of pages, images, or other files. Supposedly, programs like Adobe Dreamweaver, which provide some automation in web page production, make the process easier, but they're mostly used to generate static pages. The same goes for Adobe's Flash format, which is interactive only in the limited sense that users can click page elements and make things appear to happen. Flash animations are self-contained bundles of vector and application files that can't usually be directly manipulated or altered by the web site visitor.
Since about 2004, Internet pundits have used the term Web 2.0 to describe user-driven sites that host social networking communities, including sites for music and video creators. MySpace and YouTube are examples of Web 2.0—these are sites that couldn't have been built using static HTML pages or Flash animation alone. Instead, web content is held in a database, and the pages seen by the visitor are generated on the fly by the server. The database is the feature that allows a social-networking site to display the day's most popular content, without anyone having to rebuild the home page manually. Many, if not most, Web 2.0 sites are based on Free Software, whether it's the Apache web server, the MySQL database, the PHP scripting language, or a content management system (CMS) written in PHP, such as Drupal.
Setting up your own Web 2.0 site is no doubt more complicated than using one of the many social-networking or content-sharing sites on offer. On the plus side, you're in control of your own web site, unrestricted by policies on the length, size, or type of material you can upload. (Some Internet hosting companies, which supply server hardware for rent, have user agreements that do restrict the material you can upload. And of course, certain types of video and photographic content are illegal in just about every country around the world.)
However, there's a more important reason to run your own show. Let's return to the importance of marketing and promotion for a minute. If you have your own web site, then as long as you pay the modest annual fee to renew the domain name—around $35 per year or less—you get to use the domain name for the foreseeable future. When you promote a MySpace URL for your band, such as www.myspace.com/ddjomp or similar, you send people to a web site that includes a lot of advertising for other bands, mobile phones, and TV shows on the parent company's Fox network. (It's a particular irony that MySpace, the host of so much independent music, has been owned by one of the world's largest media corporations since 2005.) Not to mention the hundreds of young, single people in your area who want to show you close-up photos of their body piercing experiments. It's likely that the web site visitor will become distracted and click one of these other enticements before taking the time to fully appreciate your work. Having got someone's attention to the point that they want to check out your web site, it's a shame to waste the opportunity.
Of course, you can create your own web site and then use pages on various social-networking sites to lead visitors back to it. The main drawback to this approach is that updating multiple sites can take up more of your time, unless you use automated syndication (like the RSS feeds that you read about in Chapter 9).
Was this article helpful?