Top five reasons why Songbook might close (go private) soon

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5. Maintaining the site takes too much time. Due to the 5,000 [2016 update: closer to 10,000] odd embedded videos on the site, none of which are downloaded — they’re just borrowed from various libraries — the site takes a ridiculous amount of time for daily maintenance. Youtube, in particular, removes and destroys videos at an alarming rate, usually citing copyright claims by one of the major music groups (Sony, WMG, EMI, etc.).

I’ve got a number of other sites which have been either completely neglected or nearly so during the past two years because of the huge amount of time spent developing and maintaining Songbook. I’d like to revise and reopen some of those sites, and may open a new popular music site soon, beginning at 1960.

4. Because of the unstable nature of most of my posts and pages (disappearing videos), I have not the luxury of letting the site run on autopilot for any length of time without it sustaining heavy damage. I don’t want a visitor to enter a page only to find that six out of ten videos either don’t play or don’t exist anymore.

3. Waning visitor interest: The site has experienced a drop-off of visitors in late spring or early summer each year since it opened in 2009. Last year, the traffic declined 40% from May to June. The June drop was steeper in 2010. So I was a bit surprised that the traffic held fairly steady for a couple of weeks after the college spring semester ended this year, and even increased in volume briefly in early June. However, a steady fall in daily visitors began about two weeks ago, and a sharp decline is evident in the past few days (since June 27).

As it has in previous years, the present downward trend may turn and slowly recover as summer drifts toward autumn, but there are other signs that interest in the site is waning. Songbook has never received a large amount of comments, but lately my visitors have grown positively mum. A total of four comments, excluding spam (which is growing), in the past 32 days.

2. My favorite period is the mid-1960s to early 1970s. I’ve been itching to shift my focus to this era. At the same time, my interest in music of earlier decades has grown rather cold. However, I don’t get the impression that many of my visitors are eager to follow in the direction I’m going. There’s been relatively little interest in my Burt Bacharach index (presently 15 feature pages, with more to come) which constitutes one the largest tributes to an artist on the site. Also, excluding the song Corcovado, my Antonio Carlos Jobim pages (11 individually featured songs) have attracted little interest until the past week during which The Girl from Ipanema has also charted in the top twelve most visited. A Goffin and King page, brief as it is, drew more attention than I expected for a while.

I don’t know if I’ve had a single visitor as yet to my page Songwriters, from 1955 (in construction), published about 7 weeks ago, in which I lay out some of my projected plans at that time for the future of the site, the songwriters of the 1960s, ’70s, and beyond which I’d be likely to focus upon in this project. But unmentioned there is my intention to also do annual hits pages. These may become central features of the project, along with special features on such topics as selected songwriters, bands and solo artists, and albums. It won’t be the Billboard top ten or twenty, but my selection of hits gleaned from the year-end Hot 100 charts.

The maintenance duties on previous posts and pages continue to delay and hamper my efforts to focus on the 1960s. I’ve also been preoccupied with some external matters during the past couple of months. What I envision for the 1960s and early 1970s is potentially a large project which will require focused and intense work over a series of months.

I’m not sure I have the energy to carry through with the project at this time. Maybe the project needs to be freed from the constraints of, and the oft-perceived conflicts with, music of the classic American popular song era (which still constitutes a major portion of this site). Why not begin a new site with 1960? Something will probably happen by September.

1. The yips.

Yours truly,

doc

30 June 2012

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23 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Athena at McElrath Cabaret
    Jul 02, 2012 @ 01:34:27

    After reading this post, I certainly understand how you feel. I am sorry I’ve been MIA around here in the comments section of late. I have not one but two blogs of our own that have me running ragged at this point–researching and writing for both, as well as spending an inordinate amount of time promoting all the posts on social media outlets and other blogs takes hours every day, which has left me with little time to spend on fun sites like yours. We get not a lot of comments on our cabaret blog, either, perhaps because it’s newer, and more comments on the gardening blog, which is growing, and I’m going to have to make some changes as well in terms of where I’m spending my time on them.

    Blogging can be a lot of work, and I think you should do what makes you happy. I do hope that this site does not go away but stays around in some form that might be easier to maintain; this is such a valuable resource for those like myself who love classic music, but I certainly do understand the time and effort involved in blog maintenance. Best of luck with your blogging endeavors–I look forward to seeing what you share in September!

    Reply

    • doc
      Jul 02, 2012 @ 11:30:01

      Athena,

      Thanks for the friendly advice and support. One thing I failed to mention is that Songbook will most likely remain open privately. According to WordPress (blog server) policy, that means you must have a WordPress account to be eligible to view a private WP site. Then I say who is allowed in. And you are definitely in. You’ve been my most frequent commenter for several months. Don’t worry a moment. You’re fine.

      All of the WordPress followers who’ve given me a WP website name will be allowed to visit. Others who want in, such as email followers, will have to create accounts (or if they’ve already got one, give me a website name). Creating a WordPress account is very quick and easy.

      Once the site is closed publicly I’ll feel less anxious about allowing it to slowly fall apart due to videos disappearing. There aren’t that many WordPress followers of the site, so it’ll be relatively easy to let everyone know about the issue. I might just stop replacing the videos that are removed or deleted, allowing the site to shrink. Or perhaps I’ll gradually shift toward using audio files. These too I borrow from libraries, but in my experience they tend to last longer than Youtube videos. Videos from most other libraries are more stable, but YT typically has a much larger selection of any particular song or recording.

      I’ll try to visit you soon.

      Warm regards, doc
      email: musicdoq@gmail.com

      Reply

  2. Sheila Harrington-Hughes
    Jul 02, 2012 @ 06:30:27

    I’m sorry I haven’t written comments. I’m new to the internet scene and am rather slow and careful when it comes to making my way around sites. Anyway, I just wanted you to know that I’ve been really happy with this site and have told several people about it. I am sorry that you may have to lose this site. I find it invaluable for researching songs that are new to me and also those old favorites. Please know that you are appreciated. Hope you are able to maintain the site. Have a great summer.

    Reply

    • doc
      Jul 02, 2012 @ 11:42:45

      Sheila, No worries. Sometimes I whine a bit when I get cranky. Thanks for your thoughtful comments, for spreading the word, and the kind wish for the summer. Here’s wishing you the best summer ever.

      See my response to Athena regarding the site remaining open privately, and how to gain access to the site once it is private. I’ll make a post to explain the requirement. But it’s really very simple. All you’ll need to do is create a free WordPress account. That takes probably a minute to accomplish. And then provide me with the account username, or the email address attached to the account.

      For example, my username for the primary account administrating this blog is musicdoc1. My email address connected to the site is musicdoq@gmail.com.

      Cheers.

      Reply

    • doc
      Jul 02, 2012 @ 13:36:24

      Sheila, I made an important correction to the last sentence of my response to you. Here’s the bit about the requirement for access to a private blog again, with the correction:

      All you’ll need to do is create a free WordPress account. That takes probably a minute to accomplish. And then provide me with the account username, or the email address attached to the account.

      For example, my username for the primary account administrating this blog is musicdoc1. My email address connected to the site is musicdoq@gmail.com.

      Reply

  3. Mike Ivers
    Jul 02, 2012 @ 08:46:51

    You cut a wide swath of history and that may just be your cause of exhaustion. Some of us are wedded to times long gone, and it is an easy and relaxed trip of nostalgia. It could be you are attempting to please too many, and for that I sympathize. I never read or hear enough about icons of the thirties, be they composers or artists. With all due respect, to my old ears the golden age of Tin Pan Alley and jazz musicians is long gone but I’m comfortable there. For your own sake and sanity, I suggest narrow your interest. You’ll find an increased attraction by some, a loss of others. Life’s a trade – the important thing. is make Songbook a labor of love, not obligation.

    Good wishes

    Reply

    • doc
      Jul 02, 2012 @ 12:00:22

      Mike, You’re right. Somewhere along the line it became more of a perceived responsibility to do more and more, rather than a relaxed and enjoyable trip into the past. It wasn’t necessary, or even reasonable, to aim all by myself (song title) for comprehensive coverage of a year or decade, or an artist’s standards and hits. Not at the pace I was going for most of the past three years anyway. It’s biting off more than you can chew. Getting trapped by obsession. And being unfaithful to the muse which calls to you.

      Could have lingered more on the stuff I really liked, and left the rest for someone else. I’ll try to keep your advice in mind next time I get some big idea. And there will be a next time.

      Best to you

      Reply

    • doc
      Jul 12, 2012 @ 18:19:29

      Athena, Sheila, Mike, and Don,

      I’ve never told anybody until now that I’ve more than once considered changing the site’s name to Songbook yoga or Songbook yogi, the Sanskrit root of the nominative (yuj) meaning “to yoke” or “join together.” It is nothing for me to look at 1930s and 1960s music as compatible, complimentary, equally valid and to be treasured. I’ve always done so, though until recently I had a lot more familiarity with the latter.

      I’m none too fond of divisions according to styles, and sub-genres. While listening on my little transister radio c.1967 to playlists composed of seemingly random mixtures of old and newer standards, of sunshine, psychedelic, and bubblegum pop, intermixed with doses of rock ‘n’ roll, swing, Broadway and Hollywood show tunes (varying from thumping show stoppers to delicate ballads), R&B, surf, country, folk, folk-rock, traditional music (country, bluegrass, Irish and English folk, rural and city blues, gospel, etc.), calypso, soul, blue-eyed soul, funk, ska, reggae, and so forth at the age of 9 or 10, I didn’t jump to place each song into the appropriate cubbyhole, and was perfectly happy to know next to nothing about such distinctions, the endless sub-genres, and categories. It was all just music to me.

      But I’m not trying to redefine the Great American Songbook. I’ve merely stepped beyond the boundaries of that definition both fore and aft, and probably sideways, too.

      Reply

      • Mike Ivers
        Jul 13, 2012 @ 12:14:31

        I hear your message, but I’m too damn old and too set in my ways to go looking elsewhere. Seriously, I spend most of my time researching, listening and lecturing of subjects of my interest. I figure when you get my age, I’m entitled to forego experimenting with the new and concentrating on appreciating the old.

        I certainly send you kudos for your efforts, but some folks are kind of set in their ways and spent a lifetime to enjoy flowers that bloomed in years long ago.

        Good wishes,

        Mike

  4. Don
    Jul 02, 2012 @ 09:18:22

    Wotcha Doc,
    I’m at a loss as to what to say (I’m 84),like most folk,I pick and choose what I like and there’s been a lot I’ve liked that you have offered.Mike Ivers,mirrors my thoughts and take on your quandry precisely.Though my last thoughts are, that you must do what is right for you.Good luck in your endeavours.
    Regards and respects.

    Reply

    • doc
      Jul 02, 2012 @ 12:20:41

      All right, Don. Ow do!

      You are one of the last of the 1928 Cockneys of Pennyfields, mate, and the voice of wisdom…or so rumor has it. I’m all ears.

      The site will probably remain open privately, at least until it falls into a shambles (if I let it go completely). So you’ll be informed on how to access the site after it becomes private. I’ll just require a minute of your time to set up a free WordPress account. You’ll have a blog, but you don’t actually have to use it. Cheers, mate.

      Reply

  5. doc
    Jul 13, 2012 @ 15:02:03

    My favorite period is long ago as well, Mike. Not quite as long ago as yours, as it happens, but 1967 is 45 years ago. I know relatively little music of the past 25 years. Top 40 hasn’t been listenable to me since the mid-’70s, though now and then a diamond appears in the rough.

    Reply

    • Mike Ivers
      Jul 13, 2012 @ 15:07:54

      Bless your little baby heart!

      Thanks,
      M

      Reply

      • doc
        Jul 14, 2012 @ 22:00:36

        It’s certainly not my intention to drive folks away, or to spoil a good thing. And I’m dimly aware of the possibility that placing The Classics IV, The Guess Who, and Strawberry Alarm Clock The Left Banke (but no Mungo Jerry, I promise) on the same page as Ella, Billie, and Frank might be too much for some of you to swallow.

        That is why I’m considering breaking the project (Songbook) into at least two parts. Part 1 would run until probably 1954. Part two would cover 1955-1974 or thereabouts. If I go that route, then some of the features already published on this site might be deleted.

        It’ll be more difficult than cutting an pasting each page onto a new site, because I’d want to reload the images. Nevertheless, I could get a good start on a new site with a day or two of concentrated effort.

        However…I find myself at present rather deeply ensconced in a procrastinate-like-crazy mode, especially when I perceive what looks like a heavy workload threatening to wake me from my summer dreams.

  6. Mike Ivers
    Jul 16, 2012 @ 21:15:39

    Its your call, but simply put: they’re apples and oranges; or while on the the same path, oil and water. Make your decision and all your fans will abide with your wishes (although some, grudgingly).

    Mike

    Reply

    • doc
      Jul 17, 2012 @ 13:44:22

      Mike,

      Oil and water don’t mix:

      However, most of us have both water and oil happily co-existing in our kitchens. They may even reside in the same cabinet.

      apples and oranges:

      We’ll make fruit salad. :–)

      Reply

  7. Lee Ann Bailey
    Mar 31, 2013 @ 18:39:08

    Hi there, Doc. I’ve been visiting your site and just noticed this note and hope the yips have left you. I for one really enjoy your work and want to show my appreciation by getting some more traffic on here. I’ll talk it up to my musical buddies. My best to you–Lee Ann

    Reply

    • doc
      Mar 31, 2013 @ 21:54:22

      Lee Ann,
      As I read your kind note, I sense that the yips are rapidly disappearing. Actually, I made up the yips because I ran out of reasons at #2. Greatly appreciate you concern and generous offer. Best, Jim (aka doc)

      Reply

    • Mike Ivers
      Apr 01, 2013 @ 07:39:02

      Hi Lee Ann,

      Doc’s efforts are a labor of love – a musical impression of where many of us are at. Privaely, I think Doc’ll keep on going as long as he’s able. There’s too much satisfaction in producing a terrific site like this. I know: I produce similar material for lecture series at The OLLI Senior University in Hilton Head, SC. We do it because we love it and want to share. Kind words like yours makes it worth the effort.

      Reply

  8. rubyfoot
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 04:00:24

    I absolutely adore songbook1 and am really looking forward to your next project.

    Reply

  9. rubyfoot
    Jul 19, 2013 @ 02:34:50

    Sorry Doc, I tend to dip in out of songbook1 without any chronological order and don’ pay any heed to the dates of your posts. I like the stuff you’ve put up so far from the hippie era. You’ve mentioned exploring Motown but don’t forget Stax which (to my mind) was edgier and much more exciting Such divers music came out of the 60s-70s period

    Reply

    • doc
      Jul 21, 2013 @ 00:19:54

      rubyfoot,

      Welcome back and sorry for the delay in response.

      The first four issues I listed in this late June 2012 piece are still among the “reasons,” though things have changed quite a bit since then. The sympathy and support I unexpectedly received in the comments soon after posting the piece probably eased whatever burdens I felt for a while and might have spurred me on to do some new work (A few kind folks actually cared enough to say “Please don’t stop.”), but at least as important was the fact that there was a fairly sharp spike in the volume of traffic beginning a couple of months later. By early December the daily traffic was at double the volume of a year earlier and growing. I thought all that hard work, countless 15 hour days for the better part of 2 and 1/2 years was finally paying off. It didn’t last long.

      I fully expected the climb to reach a plateau before Christmas and perhaps drop off a bit through early January as it had in previous years, before proceeding to climb again, perhaps at a lesser rate, but I was in for a surprise. Instead, the volume dropped off dramatically around the middle of December and continued to fall until it was at about 60% of the peak in early January. Then, after a brief recovery period, which I attributed partly to several new posts being published in January, the traffic volume began to steadily drop again around the first of February. The traffic continued its decline through February despite my doing several new features and making many other improvements to the site during that month and the following one. The descent has continued since January, reaching a low weekly average of approximately 1/6 of the peak reached late last year, with the lowest monthly average less than a 1/3 the peak month.

      Because of the above, and other factors, it’s even likelier than it was a year ago that the site will go private before long. The main thing holding up the change might be procrastination.

      I’ve published very little new work here since March this year, a month during which I implemented a major reorganization of the page heirarchy (and published a few new posts), other than various improvements such as editing and augmenting text and images on selected pages, creating and expanding galleries, indexing works by certain artists. In addition to this site I have dozens of other music-focused websites, most of which use the WordPress free blogging platform. Some are quite large, but all of them are considerably smaller than this one. As you might imagine, if you are more sane than I was, it became impossible to single-handedly manage that many sites some time ago. Due to insufficient time to take care of the incessant need for replacing videos and other maintenance chores, most of the sites were eventually made private or at least had a setting changed to discourage active search engine crawling. Repairs are routinely necessary on my music sites because of the heavy reliance on embedded videos borrowed (without downloading them) from libraries such as Youtube and the inherent instability of the same. They’re here today and gone tomorrow, as often as not without an explanation, though some libraries are better in this regard than others (Dailymotion). On Songbook alone it might take all day just to check every page and post for disabled videos, not including the hours it would take to replace the missing videos.

      As for Stax: Obviously I’ve only scratched the surface here regarding R&B, soul, funk, etc. One of my other sites, titled Funk & Soul, features primarily [pre-Disco era] funk music. The period covered: roughly 1965-75. It’s one of the sites I haven’t kept up with, needing many videos replaced. I’ll consider your suggestion, but it’s more likely that I’d include Stax recordings on another site rather than this one.

      Reply

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