Recently, I was speaking with production guy Bill Carlton (one of our newest SPL contributors) and as we were winding up, he noted that he had been getting magazines with my name on them “for 100 years.” Well, it hasn’t been THAT long although it sometimes feels like it.
But Bill’s point was pretty right on. The thing about doing this for more than two decades in multiple venues is that it means I have written hundreds of these little missives. I made a decision a long time ago to never do a cop-out, “here is what’s in this issue” deal. If I have space, I ought to actually say something. It may not always have been something of value but I would guess I am batting a solid .400 which doesn’t suck. This approach, however, means I have to come up with something to write about each time. Sometimes it comes easy and other times it does not. And sometimes something happens at the last moment that pulls it all together.
Side note: On occasion, this has called for some creative camouflage, like writing about a non-existent company in the Midwest to keep from getting the guy in Florida in trouble or creating a student in Italy as an “example” for a discussion about employees being able to trust an employer.
Over the past couple of months, we have been flat out blessed with a steady stream of smart, literate audio types agreeing (and in many cases coming to us) to contribute reviews, show coverage interviews and video blogs to the SPLNetwork.com Web site and to these eZInes. The input of these folks has allowed us to do some work that I am just as proud of as anything I have done in my career. Between the site and the eZine, just in the past five or six weeks, we have picked up (in alpha order) Luther Bell, Robert “Void” Caprio, Mikey Caterina, Bill Carlton, Brad Madix, Jim Roese and Robert Scovill.
Humbling does not even begin to describe how I’m feeling about it. Add to that list the folks who were in Issue #1 and making big contributions online and off (“Darth Fader”, Jamie Rio, Ken “Pooch” Van Druten, Sandy Espinoza and “The Bard of the Board”) and it is a stronger team than I have ever had the pleasure of working with.
So why did this all fall together? I think it’s because people in the tribe can “feel” what we are trying to do here. It is about digital vs. print and cool new formats, true, but even more, it is about telling the truth and offering a place for the tribe to talk to and learn from each other. It is about letting it grow organically into what it and the tribe wants it to be.
Two events that brought this into focus. The first is about the small drawing that illustrates the “How Loud Is Too Loud” feature. I had a lot of great stuff (including comments from a number of the folks listed above) and needed art. I went online and started searching for something that would do the job and that we could get permission to use. I came across the pencil drawing of the girl with the bleeding ears and thought it was perfect. I clicked through and found it was a piece by NEED NAME OF ARTIST and that it was posted on a Web site that my daughter frequents called DeviantArt. Because she is a member, we were able to reach out to NAME and get permission to use her drawing.
Add to this the fact that almost every single one of our new contributors came to us via connections on various social networks and you start to see the Web of relationships that we are simultaneously surfing and trying to support.
The second thing is a blog that I subscribe to. if you have a bent for business then you may know who Seth Godin is. He is one of the gurus of “new” business based on connection and permission and relationships between peers and not on top-down models that have always been the norm. Seth wrote about journalism—a subject near and dear to me. And he did the best job addressing both the problem and the solution related to “crowd-sourced” reporting that I have ever seen. You can read the whole blog (and Seth understands economy of writing way better than I do which is a long way of saying that the post is pretty short) by hitting the first button to the left of this text. (Remember the SPL eZine Rule” Click the button to make content appear and click the button again to make it go away.)
Seth uses a picture of 100 photographers and reporters, all covering the same thing, to illustrate how traditional media has become more irrelevant by the day because they are all basically telling the same stories. Pros in the content creation world have been bitching loudly for a while about how these untrained people were making it impossible to make a living doing what they have always done. I have a lot of sympathy for people who have had their professional legs cut out from under them. Those in the audio tribe have seen a lot of the same stuff happening.
But Seth makes a great point. It does not take a pro to do stuff that everyone else is doing and he is right. He wraps it up with this: “The hard part of professional journalism going forward is writing about what hasn't been written about, directing attention where it hasn't been, and saying something new.” Which is exactly what we are trying to do with SPL and with our sister site/eZine for musicians, Live2Play (www.L2Pnet.com). I’m not saying we always succeed but it is what we are going for. As always, feel free to tell us how we’re doing.
Sometimes Things Just Work Out. Love It When That Happens...
By Bill Evans