Over the years, I've had plenty of arguments with musicians and with music management professionals about the importance of maintaining a website under your own domain. Their responses often included:
* 1996: I don't need my own domain. AOL gives me free web page hosting, and I'll always have my AOL account! * 1998: I don't need my own domain. It's easier to just search for my page on MP3.com. That site will always be around! * 2000: I don't need my own domain. My Geocities site works just fine, and it will always be here! * 2004: I don't need my own domain. I can just host everything on Blogspot, and folks will find me just fine! * 2007: I don't need my own domain. Everybody will always just find me on MySpace!
By 2010, I just stopped having the conversation. Don't even talk to me about Tumblr.
Owning your own domain name means that every piece of merch and marketing material you ever print will stay valid and relevant, for as long as you want. If you're balking at the price and complaining that you just don't have the money, then you need to fix that. As I wrote about in Grow Your Band's Audience, your listeners expect you to be accessible and available. Talent buyers expect you to be professional enough to maintain a legitimate website with a mailing list. (They didn't buy the concept of MySpace "friends" and they still don't buy the concept of Facebook "likes.")
Ariel Hyatt just came back from Australia, where there's an even bigger hurdle to getting bands online. Apparently, it's acceptable there for bands to get charged $5,000 or more to get a website launched. So she wrote up some thoughts about how to get online for free or cheap, without giving up the benefits of your own domain name. Read Ariel's post at Music Think Tank to learn about three excellent options to get your band online, under its own domain name, for less than $200 per year.