September 2008

Michael Ricci By

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Dear fellow AAJ contributors,

We've been on a roll lately and I wanted to share the good news over the last month. Please read on for the details...
  1. Where we're at and where we're going
  2. What you can do to help
  3. Join Musician Networks; Build Watch Lists
  4. View/designate articles by international region
  5. Other Improvements: News and Birthdays
  6. Contest Giveaways are back!
  7. Embed Videos in Your Articles
  8. Look for CDs/DVDs soon!

Where we're at and where we're going

2008 has been a challenging year, but it's also been our most productive. Both Mike Lorenz and I have been actively developing new systems while refining others. If you visit the site regularly, it's hard to miss all the changes (documented here). These dramatic improvements have resulted in a tremendous increase in website traffic—we've also watched our Alexa and Quantcast ratings spike.

We have some exciting projects coming up that will impact the site much in the way the MY AAJ system did a few years back. All good news, and we're creating systems that we hope will double our website traffic. Doubling our traffic will put us in a position where we can generate enough ad revenue to compensate the staff. It's our goal to pay you, but we need to continue to build the site and generate more page impressions, which in turn will serve more ads, and increase our revenue.

In the interim, it's important to keep AAJ strong and humming along. I'll do my part and continue to build on what is already the best jazz website in the world. On your end, I'd like to ask that you continue to submit your articles and reviews to AAJ. If you freely submit articles and CD reviews to other websites or blogs, please consider earmarking all jazz content for AAJ. We present your words in the best possible light and all articles (thanks to AAJ's rank) will index high on Google and Ask.com searches.

And don't feel like you need to post a review to another jazz site just because we already have a review of that CD. We encourage multiple viewpoints of the same CD—readers appreciate them and publicists love them. Keep your content and the page views at AAJ and help us grow.

What you can do to help

Just like adding record labels, if you write a review or article about a musician who does not have a profile, please add it. Ideally, we want to associate a musician profile with every article we publish.

To create a profile, go to the Musician Center and click "SUBMIT PROFILE" link.

Join Musician Networks

We recently launched the musician network, which allows musicians to build fan and friend-based networks and communicate with them directly through AAJ. Readers, contributors, and fellow musicians can join networks by clicking the "Join Network" link on a musician's profile page (example) You can also join a musician's network by adding them to your article "watchlist" from an article page.

Once you join a musician's network, you can access articles about them from your My Articles page, your My CD Review page, and your contributor profile page.

The Miles Davis profile, thanks in part to the Kind of Blue contest, reached 100 network members in three days.

Please set an example for our readers and join the networks of musicians you admire most. The more members that join networks, the more valuable the network feature will become to musicians—the ripple effect is increased activity and a greater dependency on AAJ.

Check out your list of favorite musicians and start adding more to your list today.

View/designate articles by international regions

In our last announcement, we mentioned the addition of a "Primary Region" box on the article submission form. Please select the appropriate international region as it applies to your article. It's important and it will make our new international article pages (see details) that much more useful.

Other Improvements: News and Birthdays

  • News makeover: We made several recent improvements to the News Center.

  • Birthdays at a glance: The Birthday Center once displayed today's birthdays only. We now display the entire month.

  • Character set bug (partially) fixed: We were able to nip a good portion of that pesky character set problem in the bud. There remains an issue with rich text character interpretation (ex: smart quotes, international symbols, etc.). To avoid future problems with the characters, please change your "autoformat" settings in MS Word. We explain how here. We also have a tip for Mac users.

Contest Giveaways are back!

For you long-timers, I'm sure you remember our monthly giveaway contests... well they're back! We're looking to launch a new contest weekly and we're giving away some quality prizes like the entire second series of "Live from the Monterey Jazz Festival" CD set, the 50th Anniversary Special Edition of Kind of Blue, and the Lester Young/Count Basie and Oscar Peterson Trio Mosaic boxes. We'll launch the Pat Metheny signed copy of Day Trip giveaway followed by the Brian Blade complete discography giveaway in the following weeks.

You can enter the contests by clicking the link on the individual contest announcement pages and all active contests can be accessed from the new "Contests" link on the navigation bar.

Contributors will win from time-to-time, so be sure to enter!

Embed Videos in Your Articles

You can make your article or CD review really shine by adding a video to it. We also feel supporting your words with a video performance will leave a much stronger impression on the reader.

If you need help adding a video to your article, click the "What's this?" link next to the "YouTube/Daily Motion video tag" box on article_edit.php. YouTube makes the embedding process simple, so please choose videos for your future articles.

We also highlight video-supported articles with a video icon at the Article Center to make them easier to identify.

Look for CDs/DVDs soon!

Thanks to efforts of John Kelman, who paid a visit to AAJ:HQ back in August, we've started sending out CDs. We'll contact you soon about your package and to confirm your mailing address. In the interim, please make sure your address associated with your contributor profile is current.

We're also going to review who receives service from the record labels and make sure that we're providing maximum coverage. If necessary, we'll make proper adjustments to ensure that CDs shipped regularly from the record labels go directly to the deserving contributors.

Thanks for reading.

Michael Ricci

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