Eleven Years of Avant Music News


On April 29, 2003 I posted the first three articles on what would become Avant Music News.  Eleven years later, we have 2475 followers on Facebook and 2100 on Twitter.  We’ve published 18,260 articles, of which 234 are original reviews, and 25 are original interviews.  We began doing reviews less than three years ago, and interviews about 7 months ago, so I am proud of these numbers.

Lots of thanks go out to the community.  To the contributors for their input, to the artists for their updates, sharing their music, and thoughtful answers to interview questions, and to you, the reader.  Somehow, all of you make getting up early in the morning each day to work on this site worthwhile.

-Mike

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Site News


It has been a while since I wrote one of these general update posts. Nothing earth-shattering is going on in the world of AMN, but a few tidbits that you might be interested in.

I just finished updating the geographical listing of live music venues on out Live Music page. This is our attempt to provide an idea of where to go to hear all kinds of strange and wonderful tunes. It is obviously incomplete, but it is a constant work in progress. Drop us a line if we’re missing a venue you know of.

Our reviews keep chugging along, and I’m shooting for 10-15 per month in the future. One of our biggest problems (and it is a good one to have) is that we get far more promo material to review than we possibly can listen to, much less review. Our review staff keep plugging along with great effort, but if you or anyone you know would like to help out, have them contact me.

One of the pleasant surprises of the last year has been the popularity of our interviews. They have been some of the most-visited places on the entire site, and we only starting conducting interviews six months ago. Many of our interviewees have gone to great effort to provide very detailed answers to our questions.  We have several more in the hopper, and hope to eventually provide five or more per month.

That’s all for now.  Happy listening.

AMN Site Status: Interviews, Reviews, Facebook


Avant Music News continues to grow with over 2160 Facebook followers, and nearly 1800 followers on Twitter.  I remember at one point thinking that 300 followers would be the most we’d ever be able to obtain.  So glad I was wrong.

Some of you may have noticed that we’re now conducting original interviews.  You can read all two of them here.  So far it has gone well, and we hope to continue conducting more interviews in the future.  If you’re a musician or composer who would like to be interviewed, or if you know someone who you think we should interview, feel free to contact us.

We’ve received a record number of requests to review releases in the last two months.  Despite publishing more reviews than ever in September, we still get about 20 review requests for each published review.  That means that 19 out of 20 go unreviewed.  Please don’t take any lack of response on our part as an indication that we don’t like your music.  Often, we do, but there is just so much time in the day.  There are only four of us writing reviews regularly at this point, and I’d like to bump that number up a bit.  Thus, if you’d like to write a review or two per month for AMN, please also contact us.

Finally, we share / republish all of articles on our Facebook feed.  However, Facebook has been letting fewer and fewer people see the articles in this feed, while simultaneously asking us for money to ensure that more people see said articles.  We are not willing to part with money for this service, but can’t complain since it is free.  However, if you are missing AMN articles on your Facebook feed, try this: On our Facebook page find the button that says “Liked”, click on it, and select “Get Notifications”.  That way you shouldn’t miss a thing.  Hopefully.

Ten Years of Avant Music News


Ten years ago today, I posted the first three articles on a web site that I called “Avant Music News.”

I’m not much for sentiment, or for assigning importance to big round numbers. But, I cannot discount the impact that AMN has had on my life. Beyond spending 20-30 minutes every morning sorting through submissions every morning and then doing the same in the afternoons, AMN has been a musical journey for me. Listening to diverse music, meeting interesting people, and hopefully doing my small part to get the word out about interesting events and releases happening the world over. I’ve accepted the fact that I’ll never be able to listen to all of the good music coming out because it just isn’t possible in one lifetime. But I hope that I can point out its existence, if nothing else.

AMN has gotten bigger than just me, which is a good thing. More people are writing for us, and our readers number in the thousands and span the globe. And they all like weird music. I find that oddly comforting.

While I don’t plan for the future of AMN, at least not explicitly, I hope it continues to slowly grow and branch out. In other words, I have no clear idea where the next ten years will lead, but I’m looking forward to them.

Thanks.

Site News: Reviews / Milestones / Chicago Shows


Happy October. Fall is here, and is much welcome after a hot and dry summer in Chicago.

AMN has been busy lately, but in a good way. We’ve been receiving tons of information, including plenty of fall season performances from out the world. Additionally, our reviewers have been cranking out posts, many of which have become popular with musicians and fans alike. Also, in the last month, I’ve received about 50 new releases for ostensible review or as candidates for our Picks of the Week, which has been par for the course of late.

The one downside to all of this busy-ness is my inability to stay on top of it. After making several valiant efforts to clean out my AMN inbox, I’ve hit a steady state of about 50-80 unread messages. I know that some of these are probably stale, announcing events that took places weeks or months ago. I apologize for that and for not being on the ball in general. Despite efforts to reduce this number, I’ve been unable to do so. I’ve been unusually busy at work for the last 3-4 months, which is the main reason that I’ve slipped so far behind.

But these problems are good to have. The quirky, weird unclassifiable music that permeates AMN is on the rise. Or, at least, holding steady. Traffic to AMN is up, as is our following on Twitter and Facebook. There seems to be more going on than I can keep up with, and I’ve had to make hard decisions lately about what to cover.  I prefer to limit AMN to 4-8 relevant postings per day rather than unleash the floodgates on you, the reader. Nonetheless, this should not stop anyone from contacting us with tour dates, new release news, promos, and so on. I will eventually clear out the backlog, and I do listen to all music submissions.

As arbitrary milestones go, AMN passed 15,000 posts earlier this month. In April, 2013 we will reach our 10th anniversary. Honestly, I’m not sure how or if to celebrate.

In random show-attendance news, I’ll be attending this Saturday’s Lampo show, featuring Okkyung Lee and David Berhman, in Chicago. I’m also going to try to make the Wednesday or Thursday evening (November 7th & 8th, respectively) show of the Umbrella Music Festival. If you’ll be at any of those shows and would like to say hi, drop me a line.

Also, if you’d like to join our staff of reviewers, send me a writing sample and an idea of what you’d like to cover. I’ve got no end to the incoming material.

Finally, on a personal note, my kids and I have designed and published a card game. It has nothing to do with music, but check it out here.

Site News: Facebook Feed is Down – UPDATE


Our feed on Facebook has been down since Friday.  So far, all of our attempts to get it up and running again have failed.  While we’re looking into the issue, please feel free to follow us here, on the web site, via Twitter, or via our RSS feed.

Thanks.

UPDATE: 6/5/12 – I’ve rerouted our Facebook feed to be direct rather than to be based on our Twitter feed. That seems to have solved the problem. If you follow the Facebook feed only, visit our web site to find out what you’ve missed.

Site News


As you may have noticed, we have a new site.

Long, painful story boiled down: AMN was getting a lot of bot/spider/crawler traffic, as well as high-volume requests from various locations attempting index, download or copy the entire site.  My (now previous) hosting service had been complaining about this for over two weeks.  I spent about 35 hours over that period of time doing everything I could to reduce the load.  Load was reduced, but not to their satisfaction.  I was frustrated, losing sleep, getting behind at work, and not spending enough time with the family.  Ultimately, the problem the site was having was beyond my control.

So, I’ve moved the site to another provider that should be able to handle the load issues.  I hope.  I’m going to give it a couple of weeks here before I declare success.

In the mean time, there are a few features that we no longer have at AMN, and some new features to try out as well.  Despite the site being fully operational at this point, I’ll be working over the next few days to get a few minor things in order.

One difficulty that some of you may have is that you might be getting redirected to the old site.  This problem should go away over the next several days, as DNS records are propagated.  If you’re still having problems by the end of the week, drop me a line.

I appreciate your patience during the transition.