Update to Social Feeds

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Over the past few weeks Threads and Bluesky have added the ability for me to automatically import our news articles, so both of these accounts will now post articles throughout the day. As always, all of our social feeds can be found here if you would like to give them a follow.

Eight Years.

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I officially launched Chorus on April 1st, 2016. That means today is our eight year anniversary. By most estimates, I started AbsolutePunk in 1999. So, the first “era” was 1999 to 2008 when the company was purchased by Spin. About 9 years. The Spin era then lasted from 2008 to 2016. Eight years. I’ve now run Chorus roughly the same amount of time as I ran AbsolutePunk during its growing phase and then its explosive phase.

Wild.

Thanks for being along for the ride. I can say without a shadow of doubt that these last eight years have been the most rewarding of my internet life. We’re not the biggest website in the world, but I have a space to write and talk about music and other things I love, every single day. And that’s exceptionally fulfilling. Also, a special thank you to everyone who is a supporting member of this website for helping us continue to do what we do.

Rank It All! Or Did I Just Create a Monster?

Rank Everything

If there’s one thing we like to do around here, it’s rank things.

From our End of the Year lists to the countless albums/sports/food rankings in the forums, it’s just a tradition at this point. When the conversation dies down, break out a ranking.

The other night, I was lying in bed thinking about the “bias sorter” going around Tumblr in 2018. It originated, I believe, as a way for people to rank their favorite K-pop bands. I’d been using it for the past few years to start my end of the year album rankings. It’s an excellent way to review a list and decide what you like more: A or B. But the problem is that it’s a pain to use. You need to enter each item individually, click enter after each one, and then go through the ranking process. And after you’re done, there’s no good way to do it again without manually re-entering all those items. I started wondering if I could put something together that would let me input any size list of things I wanted, and then it could present them to me one at a time to pick from and give me a final ranking.

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The (Not So) Annual State of Chorus.fm

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I have a reoccurring reminder to reflect on the state of Chorus at least once a year. The idea is to pull all the numbers together, get an idea of how things are going, and make plans for the future of the website. I realized today that I hadn’t done this since 2021.

So, it was a morning of looking at spreadsheets. And I see a few obvious trends. The first is that the cost of running the website has increased. The most significant cost increase comes from our hosting provider unilaterally hiking prices 20% in April after being bought by another company. Cool. Second, the online advertising industry (already tenuous at best) has yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels. I charted the last two years, and we’re continuing to trend downward.

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An Oral History of AbsolutePunk.net

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Over at the other AP:

Andrew McMahon emphasizes AbsolutePunk’s role in covering artists that other media outlets largely ignored. The former frontman of Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin, two acts that were popular amongst the community, explains “when the traditional music press was not very interested in covering my bands and other bands from our scene, AbsolutePunk was always there carrying the torch.”

Many thanks to Kelly, and to all the people that contributed to this article. Warms my little emo heart.

Modernizing the Supporter System

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about noticing some suspicious activity on our Stripe account. It turns out that some nefarious actors were using the system to test stolen credit card numbers. I detailed the potential cost implications of this in the newsletter (in time and real money,) and I am now happy to announce that I’ve made a series of changes to hopefully mitigate this activity.

I have rebuilt the website’s supporter platform to better use Stripe’s tools for processing payments and managing subscriptions. I also took this opportunity to add a variety of features and better streamline the entire flow.

For anyone that is currently a supporter, nothing has changed. You don’t need to do anything to take advantage of the new system; your account will automatically work with it.

The Changes

  • I redesigned the support page. All three plans now offer even more ways to signup, including Apple Pay and Google Pay. Just pick which tier you’re interested in, and you can easily signup and choose between the monthly or yearly options.
  • There’s also a new manage page for supporters to manage their subscriptions. This page lets you change your payment method, switch from a monthly to a yearly plan, change membership tiers, and cancel your plan (plz no).

Unfortunately, I had to turn off membership signups for the past two weeks while I was making this change, and the end of the year is usually one of the biggest signup periods we have (end-of-the-year lists, holidays, etc.). So, if you were unable to signup before, or you’re a long-time reader ready to now, please do!

I’ll monitor the new system over the next few days to see how it’s all working while I finish putting together our end-of-the-year feature. If all goes well, I should have some time this week to work on a few other new features for the website I’ve had on my list for a while as well.

As always, thank you to everyone that reads this website and helps fund its continued existence. If you ever have any questions or issues with your subscription, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

Chorus is on Mastodon

With the absolute shit show going on at Twitter, I’ve created a new bot over on Mastodon that acts like our Twitter account did and posts the news from our homepage.

I’m also over there as well. I’ve posted up some basic tips for finding people quickly, and I am toying around with the idea of running a music-centric instance myself. (Thoughts on the URL ideas?)

Here are some invites to mastodon.social, and if you’re in a band, or run a record label, or are a music writer, sign-up! We need more music voices over there.

Hey, Hi, How’s Your Weekend Going?

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I try not to be too heavy-handed when it comes to pitching our upgrade membership program. I try and keep the big sell to once a year, and as we walk into October, it’s that time again.

As I wrote about last year, things are bizarre in the online space. Ad revenue has still not recovered to pre-pandemic levels. The place for a small independent, primarily text-based music website and community is extremely not in the mainstream of where the internet is these days. But, tens of thousands of people still come and read our homepage daily, and thousands of people hang out and talk in our forums as well. And, like so many of you, I still have a passion for music that bursts from my seams.

So, if you’d like to see us continue to do what we do, please consider becoming a supporting member of the website. Doing so gives you awesome perks like a dark theme for the website and removes all of the advertisements. I built the website to be extremely fast to load, and without ads, it’s almost unbelievable how speedy it feels. I know many of you use an ad-blocker, and I could be far more hostile to those that have them installed to incentivize either uninstalling them or becoming a member, but I don’t. But if you do use an ad-blocker, please consider just signing up for our smallest package. For pennies a day, you can get a better experience on the website and can be absolved of any ad-blocking guilt because without the ads and the supporting members, we simply could not exist.

There are three packages, all of them have the same perks, and you can choose what tier fits with you. The truth is, I’m bad at selling myself but built the kind of system I wish more online businesses had. I think we have a great core product, and we have an easy way to remove all ads and help keep us online. That’s really the entire pitch.

As always, thank you for reading. In a world dominated by YouTube or hot-take chasing SubStack personalities, it’s often hard to know where we fit into the landscape. But every week, I see how many people still check out our little corner of the internet. And every week, someone tells me they’ve discovered a new band they love because we wrote about them. And every week, I laugh at a joke posted somewhere in our community. So, I remain happy we’re still online, and if you feel the same, please consider becoming a member.

Thank you.

An Update on the Rest of 2020

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As I wrote about in October, this was a very weird year to be running an independent, online, business. I just wanted to take a few moments to be upfront about a couple of changes that I’m going to be making for the rest of this year. In the online ad world, the last part of the year is usually one of the best for online advertising. It tracks along with the holidays and consumer spending and advertisers wanting to convince shoppers to buy their gadgets and gizmos. Now, digital advertising has been a mess for virtually everyone this year, but there’s a small hope we can make up some of that lost revenue with a terrific final quarter. So, I’m going to let the company that handles all of our display ads run a few different advertisements on the website for the next month.

Honestly? They’re probably going to be annoying as hell. They’ve promised to keep everything frequency capped so that users only see one of the annoying ads one time per session, but there’s no nice way to spin the fact that these kinds of advertisements suck for the user experience. I know it, you know it, but it’s me throwing everything at the wall as we end the year in an attempt to salvage what, in many ways, has been a lost year. I want to be forthright about it, so everyone knows what is coming. And, to let you know you can remove all ads on the website by becoming a member. (These ads will only run for a few months, and we have a monthly option for just $3 a month. Remove all ads, get dark mode, live the good life.)

I don’t know what 2021 will hold, but I plan to continue to keep everyone updated as we journey into this uncharted territory together. I hope everyone is staying safe and doing well. The contributors and I have begun preparing for our end of the year feature, which we hope to run, like always, in early January.