You should be able to renew an existing domain even cheaper than that. Look at one of the el-cheapo hosting companies like godaddy.com. For a low-traffic site, there's no reason to pay a lot for hosting. For $3-5/year, you might as well hold onto your domain even if you're not updating the site.
As for asking people to sign up for memberships to your site, that's hard enough even with a relatively higher-traffic forum like this one. If I visited the site of an artist I was interested and they wanted me to register in order to learn about the artist, I'd leave and never come back. Even on this forum, you can browse without registering.