Thursday, Jul 19, 2007 8:02:57 AM
New Features and Solutions at ArtistServer
While I haven't been posting to my blog, I have been jamming on a lot of work, took a week vacation in Kauai with my family, worked in the yard a lot, had a 5yr anniversary with my wife, and hammered out five updates to ArtistServer in the last two and a half months.
Here's a summary of the last five site updates - I posted these on our forums, but I'm sure this is still news for most people:
1. 05/02/07 - New "Local" section on the site
If you are signed into ArtistServer, and click on 'Local' from the main menu, you'll see a page which lists content and people from your local area. This is based on your setting in your profile.
If you are not signed in, you'll see a listing of countries, along with a count of how many people we have in that country.
Each page displays new photos, music, store items, and ringtones, plus a listing of recent visitors to the site that live in the currently selected region.
Country Listing: http://www.artistserver.com/local.cfm
Viewing all of the US:
Viewing all of California:
Viewing San Diego:
Later on, I'll improve this area so you'll also see listings of events for the selected region (most likely using the services and data from http://www.Eventful.com). Let me know if you have any suggestions or feedback.
If your location is not correct - make sure you are signed in, then check your profile (under My Account) and see if your Country, State, and City are set correctly.
Keep in mind that the Cities and non-us states are entered by the site members and artists - so there are many errors like: LA and L.A and l.a. when all of them should be: Los Angeles
2. 06/02/07 - Another Year, A Present For You
I have a present for all the artists on ArtistServer, your total song counts have been raised!
- Freeware Artist account: your song count was raised from 3 to 5
- Upgraded Artist account: your song count was raised from 200 to 300
Why? Because we made it through another year!
We have 2 anniversaries around here, one is the date it all started, and the other is the date we first went live. We first went live on 12/05/2001, and it all started back in May of 1999 with a post to the Electronic music forums at mp3.com. Ah the old days...
The first stage of 'this' site was launched a year later (5/2000) as ElectronicBBoard.com. And another year later, on 05/22/2001, the beta site for ElectronicScene.com went live.
There's a short timeline here: http://wiki.artistserver.com/index.cfm/History
Thank you for all the music, memories, and friendship!
3. 07/09/07 - ArtistServer Now Offers ID3 Tag Editing
Depending on what you use to encode your mp3s, you may or may not have your ID3 'tag' set in your mp3 file.
An ID3 Tag is a set of information that is included in the mp3 file and is displayed by mp3 players by default. If no ID3 tag is present in the file, mp3 players usually attempt to figure out the artist name and song title from the filename.
At ArtistServer, we've always served your songs to people with both your artist name and song title, but until today, we didn't have a means for you to edit the ID3 tag within the files.
When I encode 'my' mp3 files, I usually open them in WinAmp and fill out the ID3 tag info, but I'm sure a lot of artists out there are not doing this, most likely because they are not aware of the ID3 tag nor how to set the information in the tag.
No problem... we can help!
When you view the listing of your songs from the "My Account" area of the site (this is where you'd go to upload or edit your songs), you'll now see a new option/button for "MP3 ID3 info" - click on the 'edit' button you see, and wait a few seconds for the server to complete the process.
The server will take your artist name, song title, description, upload year, and genre, and write them directly to the mp3 file. Now when people download your mp3, all the important information is saved along with the file.
For best results, do not stream your mp3 before or during the time you click on the edit button, as the process could fail.
4. 07/16/07 - PayPal for Classified/Store Payments
ArtistServer now supports "Paypal Accounts" - to enter your PayPal Account information - visit the My Account area, and edit your Profile.
After entering your PayPal Account Email address (you'll need a PayPal account), you can then edit your store/classified items, and set them to be sold using PayPal.
Site visitors will click on the cart/buy now button next to your store item, and be sent to PayPal along with the price, money type, and item title. PayPal handles the transaction, you receive an email that a payment and order has been made, then you send the purchased item.
ArtistServer does not participate in the sale, nor take any percentage from your sale.
As an attempt to keep 'spam bots' from extracting your email address from the PayPal buttons, I've added a script which converts your email address into ASCII special characters.
5. 07/17/07 - Tip Jar Option for Artists
ArtistServer now provides a "Tip Jar" option for all artists. To use this new feature, you will first need an account at PayPal, then follow the steps below:
1. Add your PayPal account email to your profile on ArtistServer (in the My Account area)
2. Edit your Site Settings on ArtistServer (also in the My Account area), and turn your Tip Jar on (it's the last item in your site settings, bottom of the page).
Now when people visit your artist page, they'll see a "Tip Jar" button like this on the side of your page:
All donations made to your Tip Jar go directly into YOUR PayPal account, not ours. ArtistServer does not collect money for you, nor does ArtistServer take any percent or fee from the donation - it's all for you!
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Friday, Mar 23, 2007 11:26:56 AM
Site Redesign Under Development It's funny how updating one's site is similar to working on your house... you decide you're going to make one change, but then suddenly that one thing grows to 2, then 5 things and then suddenly... you're into all kinds of projects. :)
My initial task was to modify the site to expand to a larger width. We are currently designed for 800x600 screen resolution, but as of this year, only 9.7% of the site visitors are using 800x600 - which means we can now scale the site up for a 1024x768 resolution. The new target resolution is 1024x768, which will put us at 990px wide (we gain 220 more pixels in width). You just can't set a new width though, if you did, the layout would no longer look 'tight.' While any layout 'could' be liquid (fully expand and contract), the end result is often an inconsistent look. Personally, I like to create a consistent experience, so I never use liquid layouts.
Here's a screenshot of the new site homepage:
click to view full size
With the site getting wider, I had to adjust the spacing and layouts of all the pages on the site. Most of these are done, except the artist pages.
Here's a layout sketch of the new artist/member sites:
click to view full size
The left column will be 270px, and the right will be 695px. The main change here, is the smaller column is now on the left, and the wider will display songs in 2 columns.
Since the artist and member pages were going to change, it seemed like a good time to update and fix the site designer tool. As a site tool, I've felt it's always been a bit confusing, and I view it as 'almost useful,' so it was time to start from scratch. The Web has evolved a bit since I originally wrote the site designer, so I decided to go all out and create what I felt was the ideal tool and utilize modern Web design concepts.
click to view full size
You'll see there's a top section with directions, and a lower section where you'll setup your page layout and design. Let's move from left to right over the screenshot:
I have to make some database changes, and finish modifying all the pages for the larger layout before I can integrate the new design tool, so expect to see the new changes on the site in 2 weeks or less. The new site designer is built using open source code, if you are a developer, and you feel it would be something you can use, let me know and I'll point you to the files.
- Available Modules - each item or object you place on your page will now be called a "Module" - for example, you'll have a module to view show your profile, and another for showing the first 8-10 photos, etc. The Available modules column shows you the modules that are available for you. To add one, click on it and drag it to the Page Preview on the right. To remove a module, drag it to the Available Modules list. And yes, we'll support more modules, like adding your external RSS feed, or your Flickr photo feed.
- Page Preview - this works in real-time, all color or background image changes are applied to the Page Preview area. You can also drag your modules around the page, setting their order and position on the page. In the screenshot, you can see that I'm dragging the photos module. When you click on the Update button, the site will reorganize your page's layout to match what you setup in the Page Preview.
- Color Settings - this works similar to the current site design tool, where you can click on a color setting to select it, then change the color and see the preview. What's new, is that you now have control over the border of your page items, and the selection of colors is much easier.
- Color Picker and Background Images - this color picker is much easier to use, and you have access to any color your monitor can generate. Just click on the color setting you wish to edit, then click on the color picker to set it - no more popup color picker! You've always had a page background image, but now you'll also get to set it's position and repeat settings. For those who already use a backround graphic, I'm sure you'll be excited about this new addition - you now have much more control. But wait... there's more! You'll also have the option to set a background graphic for the title bar and container for the items on your page, and again, you'll have position and repeat attributes available to you. Just like the color picker, the background images load and display in real-time.
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Wednesday, Mar 07, 2007 10:25:14 AM
Website Ad Policy or Shooting Yourself in the Foot Do you know ArtistServer's Ad policy?
I was recently talking to someone about ArtistServer, and pointed out that the site doesn't generate enough revenue to cover all the expenses. This person then asked about the ads on the site - stating that ArtistServer should have enough traffic to 'break even.'
I agreed, but then explained my policy about ads.
I don't think I've ever posted what that policy is, and I think it's important for people to know, as I feel it creates a much better experience on ArtistServer when compared to other social media and music sites. Unfortunately, my policy is like shooting myself in the foot, as the end result, is that ArtistServer doesn't generate enough revenue to cover all it's expenses. Ah... the cost of pride... or is it a fine for being stubborn?
My policy is simple:
- No animated ads - currently, this also means no 'graphic ads' since our ad provider groups animated ads with graphic ads.
- No popups - popup ads are lame, they're a waste of people's time, and because of them, Web developers can no longer pop a window open since most people now use popup blockers.
- Three ads max on public pages - you'll never see more than 3 ads per page - usually one larger one, and two smaller ones
- Two ads max on artist/member pages - One of the reasons I started all this back in 2000, was because of the annoying ads mp3.com was placing on my artist page. Those of you who have been around all these years can probably recall my actions against mp3.com and their main advertiser, "Sephora." I created an artist site on mp3.com and started the AntiSephora campaign... artists joined in, and we produced a 2CD set of music that made fun of Sephora. The end result... we were heard, mp3.com shut down the site, and the ads continued. That was one of the final straw for me, and I began building what is now ArtistServer.
Will this policy change? I can't predict how things will change in the future, but I will always work to keep these four ad policies in place. Why? Because I use this site to - every day, and I, like most of you, can't stand advertisements. Ideally, we would rip all of them off the site, but that's something I can't afford to do.
I do think we'll display graphic ads at some point, as I don't think they're any worse than the text based ads - as long as they are graphic ads are NOT animated.
If you like this policy - tell others about it. When you hear someone complaining about MySpace, or some other site that's covered with ads - point out that ArtistServer has a firm policy about ads, and that we care about your experience on the site more than dollars.
Another thing you can do, is help support the site by upgrading your account. :)
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Sunday, Feb 11, 2007 4:57:30 PM
ArtistServer Adds More Support for Microformats!
This weekend, I rolled out some updates to ArtistServer.com - expanding our support of Microformats, to include xfn and hcard. Below is an outline of all the
Microformats ArtistServer currently supports.
Learn more about Microformats here: http://microformats.org
Draft Formats: The following are draft formats which ArtistServer currently supports.
- Microformat: xfn
Where: xfn is now used on each artist and member's Friend page on ArtistServer.
About: XFN (XHTML Friends Network) is a simple way to represent human relationships using hyperlinks. In recent years, blogs and blogrolls have become a rapidly growing area of the Web. XFN enables web authors to indicate their relationship(s) to the people in their blogrolls simply by adding a 'rel' attribute to their links.
Where: At the bottom of each artist and member's homepage on ArtistServer.
About: hCard is a simple, open, distributed format for representing people, companies, organizations, and places, using a 1:1 representation of the properties and values of the vCard standard (RFC2426 (http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc2426.txt)) in semantic XHTML. hCard is one of several open microformat standards suitable for embedding in (X)HTML, Atom, RSS, and arbitrary XML.
Where: Each song on the site carries a rel-license microformat on ArtistServer.
About: Rel-License is a simple, open, format for indicating content licenses which is embedable in (X)HTML, Atom, RSS, and arbitrary XML.
Where: Everywhere you see tags being used, the rel-tag microformat is assigned to the link.
About: By adding rel="tag" to a hyperlink, a page indicates that the destination of that hyperlink is an author-designated "tag" (or keyword/subject) for the current page. Note that a tag may just refer to a major portion of the current page (i.e. a blog post). e.g. by placing this link on a page.
- Microformat: geo
Where: Inside each hCard, ArtistServer outputs the artist or member's geocoordinates if they are known.
About: geo is a simple format for marking up geographic latitude longitude information, suitable for embedding in (X)HTML, Atom, RSS, and arbitrary XML. geo is a 1:1 representation of the "geo" property in the vCard standard (RFC2426 (http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc2426.txt)) in XHTML, one of several open microformat standards.
- Microformat: enclosure
Where: Each mp3 download link on the site carries an enclosure microformat on ArtistServer.
About: RelEnclosure is a simple, open, format for indicating files to cache which is embeddable in (X)HTML, Atom, RSS, and arbitrary XML.
- Microformat: adr
Where: Inside each hCard, ArtistServer outputs the artist or member's City, State and Country.
About: adr is a simple format for marking up address information, suitable for embedding in (X)HTML, Atom, RSS, and arbitrary XML. adr is a 1:1 representation of the adr property in the vCard standard (RFC2426 (http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc2426.txt)) in XHTML, one of several open microformat standards. It is also a property of hCard.
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Tuesday, Jan 02, 2007 1:58:14 PM
Stats and Data for ArtistServer.com for 2006
Yes, I'm still here - I've been bypassing the blog for more than a month now, and it's time to get back into it again.
Let's begin with some stats and data for any of you out there that are curious as to how well ArtistServer.com did in 2006. I spent this morning pulling data from various places and have compiled a comprehensive look at ArtistServer - covering traffic, revenue, visitors, mp3 stats, and more. Certainly, there's room for improvement and growth, but the numbers aren't bad considering there aren't any full-time employees, nor funding, and we stopped advertising in June 2006.
This year will be interesting, as I see us growing at a faster rate than in 2006. We'll need to upscale again, adding more storage, 2+ additional servers, and moving to a load-balanced solution.
In terms of new tools and features on the site, I plan to add Video hosting (most likely partnering with VideoEgg.com), expanding the Photo tools and options (like adding RSS feeds for photos), offering 'widgets,' and finally building out the mobile version of the site (which has been in beta for a year now).
I hope 2007 will bring some opportunities for ArtistServer, and the platform it runs on, SocialNetworkServer. I spent the last few months of 2006 talking to some people about launching a company around the platform. Unfortunately, the potential investor wasn't the right person, and the team that was forming has had difficulty getting all on the same page. Fortunately, nothing was signed, I still owning full rights to the platform, and I found out this was the wrong situation before it went too far. The good thing about the experience, is that I finally sat down and wrote out the whole plan for my platform including 20+ diagrams, which will make it easier to get things rolling on the next potential investment.
Ok - on with the stats!
Hopefully the formatting isn't too messy... if it is, and you are viewing this in your RSS reader, try viewing it on my blog instead.
Totals for 2006
Total Unique Visitors: 316,241
Total Pageviews: 1,271,169
Total Account Upgrades
Top 10 Member Country (2001-2006)
United States 9,342 41.35%
United Kingdom 2,174 9.62%
Canada 1,168 5.17%
Germany 774 3.43%
Australia 571 2.53%
Brazil 392 1.74%
France 343 1.52%
Poland 313 1.39%
Sweden 304 1.35%
India 287 1.27%
Top 10 Countries by Visit (2006)
United States 116,153
United Kingdom 34,358
Top Pages visited by Unique Views (2006)
Top 5 Web Browsers by Visits (2006)
Internet Explorer 199,811
Screen Resolution by Visits (2006)
Connection Speed by Visits (2006)
These totals do not contain the data for songs that were deleted during the year.
Total Downloads: 8,771
Total HiFi Streams: 29,576
Total LoFi Streams: 1,363
Total Downloads: 7,040
Total HiFi Streams: 24,477
Total LoFi Streams: 2,194
Total Downloads: 17,575
Total HiFi Streams: 29,467
Total LoFi Streams: 2,427
Total Downloads: 11,827
Total HiFi Streams: 27,034
Total LoFi Streams: 2,054
Total Downloads: 18,200
Total HiFi Streams: 25,427
Total LoFi Streams: 2,002
Total Downloads: 12,657
Total HiFi Streams: 20,568
Total LoFi Streams: 1,656
Total Downloads: 10,248
Total HiFi Streams: 21,209
Total LoFi Streams: 1,328
Total Downloads: 12,279
Total HiFi Streams: 23,445
Total LoFi Streams: 668
Total Downloads: 12,348
Total HiFi Streams: 24,820
Total LoFi Streams: 988
Total Downloads: 18,646
Total HiFi Streams: 29,463
Total LoFi Streams: 1,485
Total Downloads: 19,423
Total HiFi Streams: 28,992
Total LoFi Streams: 1,691
Total Downloads: 18,662
Total HiFi Streams: 28,103
Total LoFi Streams: 2,753
Click here for a chart of additional data.
If you are going to republish my stats somewhere, please let me know.
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