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The Shape Of All About Jazz To Come

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Dear fellow AAJ contributor,

It's been several months since our last announcement—a busy stretch resulting in many changes to All About Jazz, from our business strategy to our website's appearance. Please take a moment and read on as we address future plans and recent staff changes.

Index

1. Changing Times: Staff and Direction

2. Fund Drive Results

3. Personalize Your Profile

4. Use Social Media to Distribute your Articles

5. Festival Season—Coverage Adjustments

6. 2011 and Beyond

1. Changing Times: Staff and Direction

Good news! All About Jazz is now operating in New York without brand confusion thanks to the name change of a local print newspaper. We plan to greatly increase our presence and coverage in New York and have assembled an All About Jazz New York Street Team (of writers and photographers). If you're interested in joining our NYC street team, please contact me direct. We plan to establish a much stronger foothold in New York and we'll have more news about that soon.

I've been busy planning for All About Jazz's future since the New Year and I'm currently working on or managing several technical, content and commerce projects that will all play an key role in AAJ's success moving forward. It's a very exciting but demanding time, and we are on the verge of taking a big leap forward, so we're pulling out the stops in 2011!



With the resulting change in my job responsibilities, I unfortunately no longer have time to edit articles (though I'll still manage the news section). That means more work for our editorial staff. Chris May handles extended analysis reviews, multiple CD reviews and book reviews, Maya Shani edits a weekly interview and Jeff Rzepiela handles 2-3 CD reviews/day, which leaves the remaining 80% of the editorial workload for John Kelman. It's critical that John writes, covers international jazz events and conducts outreach, so we are raising the bar on editorial expectations. If you read the editorial comments (and if you don't, please start now), you know what level of editorial involvement was required to publish your articles. We found that we were repeating the same comments to certain writers and unfortunately, there simply isn't enough time in the day for higher maintenance pieces, so we have also parted ways with some writers. For the remaining writers, we ask that you understand and add basic HTML formatting, upload/insert photos and self-edit your words to ensure that they are near publication-ready upon submission. If you are having difficulty grasping the mechanical side of the submission process, we plan to run a series of webinars where John and I will discuss both the editorial and technical aspects of article submission. We'll reach out to you all with our webinar schedule in the coming weeks.

Chris Rich (aka the Data Gnome) joined the staff back in August 2010 and has greatly increased his role over the last two months. Chris manages the guides section and the calendar of events, conducts outreach to presenters and provides technical and end user support. Chris feels strongly about how AAJ can serve jazz and he sees vast potential in AAJ's future. He felt so strongly, that he discontinued his very successful blog (Brilliant Corners) to work with us; and his efforts have given us a much-needed shot in the arm.

Managing interns can be time consuming. It's rare that a student comes knocking on AAJ's door with a specific area of interest and can operate without constant supervision. We found a gem in the plucky Mike Rubini. Mike is a talented saxophonist from Apulia (Italy) and a scholarship holder at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in Manhattan. Mike is tasked with building and integrating AAJ's social presence which has resulted in a new Facebook page and a new approach to Twitter. His efforts and insight on Twitter have resulted in greater activity, helping AAJ recently surpass 8,000 followers.

My long time business partner and friend, Mike Lorenz, departed back in December 2010. Mike has a strong interest in and a passion for developing applications and has launched a company that develops and sells mobile apps. Mike worked on many projects at AAJ since 2002 and we wish him the best of luck with his new business.

Since Mike's departure, I've assumed greater programming responsibilities. I also manage the work that I outsource. We are working with one firm to improve the appearance of AAJ (and we recently completed the home page). We're embracing more modern coding methods and deconstructing much of our legacy code. We also plan to team with another firm for technical/programming solutions. We're changing the way we operate and our new solutions partners will provide much needed services at a significant cost reduction which will give us competitive advantage moving forward.

2. Fund Drive Results

We wrapped up our fund drive recently (read about it here). Though we didn't reach our goal, we were able to seed two projects and finance the AAJ makeover. The site will be fully converted to the new look in the coming weeks.

3. Personalize Your Profile

Please upload a 150 pixel wide x 150 pixel high (200x200 is also fine) JPG photo and associate it with your contributor profile. (Upload here; then add the link to the "Photo/Avatar URL" section of your profile). Also, if you haven't already, please complete your mini-bio and your extended bio. We want to raise the awareness of your profile and your photo/avatar is step #1.

4. Use Social Media to Distribute your Articles

Though AAJ is the most trafficked and most technically sophisticated jazz website, there's no discounting the increasing importance of social media to build a greater readership for your articles. If you have a Facebook and/or a Twitter account, we'd like you to circulate your articles after they are published to both your Facebook and Twitter pages. You can do this by clicking the Facebook "Like" button and clicking the Twitter button on your article's page. If you use other social media outlets, please post them there as well. Jeff Fitzgerald's recent April Fools article generated 616 Facebook likes which resulted in nearly a couple thousand page views in less than a week.

I also noticed a spike in John Kelman's read counts after he made a commitment to social media circulation. I'll let John discuss his results:
My routine takes less than five minutes and the impact on my read count is immediate. I tripled my Twitter followers in a six-month period, and am seeing similar growth at Facebook. My readership is growing, I see comments and interest against the material I've got in the works, and I've absolutely no doubt it's because I'm taking a few minutes each day, to spread the word. If you have a Facebook and/or a Twitter account, contact me and I'll explain my routine.


5. Festival Season—Coverage Adjustments

For the most part, we report from multi-day festivals while they are ongoing which gives our readers a more "in the moment" experience. Timeliness is key and though most bloggers don't provide AAJ's detailed and professional coverage, timeliness is now expected for several reasons. Moving forward, we ask that you file festival coverage reports this way:
If the festival runs one or two days or you are unable to report from the festival, submit your article no later than five days after the festival ends.

If the festival runs three or more days, file coverage from day one through day three on the fourth day of the festival. Repeat until the festival ends.


6. 2011 and Beyond

So, AAJ reconstruction is well under way and with our new direction, and with our new technical and business partners, we now have a much greater chance to compete in an increasingly competitive marketplace. We'll operate in a more fluid manner, we'll more rapidly develop solutions, and we'll greatly improve how we communicate with you. Keep tabs on AAJ News and follow our activity as we announce new partnerships and launch new services throughout the year.

Thanks for your continued support and creativity,

Michael Ricci Founder/Publisher

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