fivetrees domain hosting services: details

The following is an attempt to gather all the answers to all the questions we've been asked about our services in one place ;).
For hosting details please contact us.
Updated 23 May 2014: Steve Fairhead


Domain registration

We prefer our clients to be in control of their own domains; therefore we encourage you to register your domain yourself. However, there are a few technical issues involved, so we're quite happy to do the registration and domain maintenance on your behalf if you prefer.


We can recommend - we've dealt with them a lot over a long period, and they've been great. Their domain maintenance control panel is as, errr, easy as it gets. Whoever you use, be sure that your registrar will allow you to set the nameservers (DNS) - the free/cheap ones may make it difficult for you to use anyone other than themselves as a host, and may make it difficult or expensive for you to transfer your domain to another registrar.


Currently domain registration/renewal costs via Easily are:

You may find better deals on .com domains by using e.g. a US-based registrar, but do consider the caveats above.

Website design

If you'd like us to design your site for you, no problem. (We are big believers in simple, fast sites that adhere to the W3C specs and accessibility guidelines.)


It's obviously difficult to quote a firm price without discussion. However if it's a band/musician's site, the requirements (biography, discography, gig list, gallery, online shop etc) tend to be similar. Assuming that you supply all the content (text and images), we generally quote around the £250 mark for such sites.


Sites we've designed include:


Each hosting account includes:


We run our own servers; they are physically located on a fast & fat backbone in Maidenhead. They are kept deliberately lightly loaded (we don't share them with any other vendors) to keep them snappy and responsive. They are also very secure - security is a big deal for us.


We run OpenBSD, considered to be "the most secure operating system available". In the interests of security we don't allow customer CGI uploads, and we don't run ASP. If you need dynamic pages, we can help - we do run PHP and MySQL - but we keep access to all CGI scripts outside of (insecure) FTP space.


Costs are related to bandwidth usage, i.e. how busy the site is. We currently have four charge bands:

All charges are subject to VAT at the current rate. We generally bill quarterly, but can bill yearly if preferred.

Types of sites

We offer a lot of added-value for musicians and artists - our primary target client-base. But if you want to host a site with us that is not music/art-oriented, it's not a problem.

Note, however, that we won't get involved with pornographic sites, or any kind of site which is likely to offend or break the law. Any such sites will be immediately terminated. It's plain common sense, really.

Further information

You'll find more information about hosting with us on our "host notes" page.

Ecommerce (online CD sales) - *** note: now closed ***

The "Art Gallery model"

We operate much like an art gallery. In brief, we hold stock, sell CDs on a sale-or-return basis, and charge the vendor commission on sales.

We provide the following:

The vendor simply needs to provide us with stock, and their bank details for payment - simple.

Note that you don't have to be hosting with us to have a fivetrees shop - but it does help a lot, since we can install it for you and sort out any problems that arise directly.

Costs and accounting

There is no fee for setting up the shop.

Money earned from CD sales is returned to the owner of the CDs - there is no formal accounting (invoicing, VAT etc) involved, since it's the vendor's money in the first place. Think of it as a loan. We charge commission on sales at 20% (+VAT) of the sale price of the CD; we provide a VAT invoice to the vendor for commission. Typically the payment we make to the vendor is the balance of the money earned from sales minus commission charges.

We absorb all credit card charges - currently these run at around the 6-8% mark, which makes our commission level all the more lean. We survive by selling lots of CDs - which, not by coincidence, means that we have exactly the same agenda as the vendor: i.e. to sell a lot of CDs ;).

Responsiveness and P&P

We despatch goods ordered either on the same day, or on the next working day. We use 1st-class mail in the UK, and airmail elsewhere. We use only high-quality packaging materials.

We make a small charge to the customer for postage and packing. Currently this is £1.50 per item, anywhere in the world. (It actually costs us more than that to ship to Japan, but hey...) We're working on making our system a little smarter, allowing us to charge according to weight and destination. Most of the time this will result in a lower P&P charge to the customer.

Alternative fulfilment centres

We recognise that there are circumstances where the above model isn't appropriate - perhaps you have your own fulfilment centre, and would rather process your own orders. We can accommodate this, with a reduced commission fee, but by discussion - and since we remain legally responsible for the transaction, we require you to abide by our quality standards. Details on request.


Our arrangement with you is non-exclusive; i.e. we encourage you to sell product from anywhere and everywhere. The only time exclusivity makes any kind of sense is where a significant investment or time and/or money must be protected. This is not the way we operate.

MCPS etc (licensing) and barcoding

UK copyright law states that if you're selling a CD, you must register it with the MCPS. This is not simply bureaucracy, it's necessary protection for the owners of the rights to the material on the CD. Many of our clients write all their own material - in this case, MCPS registration is a formality. If your CD includes covers of music written by other artists, the registration process will include a fee.

MCPS registration endows the CD with a barcode. Without this barcode, reputable vendors (including ourselves) will not want to be involved.

Non-CD sales

We can, and do, sell items other than CDs; T-shirts and vinyl are two examples. We're happy to sell anything (legal) that we can physically stock and send in the post.

Mailing lists

Mailing lists (involving either or both email and snailmail newsletters) are an excellent way of keeping in touch with your audience. However, using a conventional mail client to do this is a recipe for pain and disaster. Also they can be hard to manage and keep up-to-date.

If you want to run your own mailing list, use appropriate software. Alternatively we can manage your mailing lists for you.

Opt-in policy

We do not spam. We send newsletters only to those who have actively requested to be on the mailing list. If you run your own mailing list, we strongly advise you to do the same.

Final words

A website and a shop does not sell CDs - it enables CD sales. Please be very clear on this. Some of our shops sell bucketloads of CDs; one or two have yet to sell a single CD. The difference is promotion - you still need to make the public want to buy your CD(s). There is no substitute for the old-fashioned way: lots of gigging, spreading the word, making a buzz happen... and building up the momentum. A website is not a magic bullet.

However, assuming you're doing all that, ensure your audience know that your website is the place to do business with you. Keep your website updated frequently, especially gig listings - keep them coming back and finding new things. Consider a periodic makeover, even if it's just a change of background colour or font. An out-of-date website sends out the wrong message: that you're history.

Further, reinforce your branding - include your website address on every bit of promotional literature you produce, including the CDs themselves, T-shirts, all merchandise, posters, flyers etc. Your website should be seen as an integral part of your PR/promotion - use the same logos, text style, etc.

And with these words of wisdom, we wish you every success!