As we are approaching the 1200 member level, it has come to my attention that our recent practice of e-blasting current live local events has been both favorably and unfavorably received. Since this network is about values (personal, professional and artistic), I will try to address both the positive and negative feedback I have received thus far and invite any and all comments in response so that we can best learn how to serve the membership.
First the positives:
~Members who have not been accustomed to visiting their page for months at a time have become more active after receiving the emails. ~Members of the funding community have expressed an interest in increasing their levels of support now that they can see that there is a lot of live jazz activity occurring weekly. ~Members who have lamented the demise of certain familiar jazz venues have discovered more than a half dozen new ones they can visit. ~We have gained 3 new venue members in the past few weeks because they see the value of the publicity derived from the e-blasts. ~Members are learning that the blasts are an adjunct to their regular practice of sending out notices to their mailing list via email. Actually they are learning that they can use the network invitation to serve to their email recipients. ~Members are asking question as to how to post an event and are thus learning to use the capabilities of their page to greater advantage. ~Members are getting feedback from around the world from people who are wishing they were in Pittsburgh to see them perform. ~Members from other cities have queried how they can come to Pittsburgh to perform as it seems that we have a very active live music scene 7 days/week. ~Members who plan to move here, visit here or travel through are glad to know where the action is on a regular basis. ~Member/producers who do not use the “Events” posting option have asked me to post events for them because they see the advantage of the free advertising to a target market. ~The number of new members coming into the network has increased to about 4-5/day (from all over the world) since the e-blasts. ~The number of fans and industry professionals signing up has begun to exceed the number of new artists.
On the negative side:
~Three members have asked to be disconnected from the network because they are getting too much email. ~Two members have reported that they use a Blackberry exclusively and the html emails are overwhelming their inbox (take long to load, etc.) and they can’t get to their important email. ~Two members have stated that since they are not living locally they are not interested in local events and would like to disengage from the network. ~One member actually thought that I was promoting myself, i.e., playing on every gig that was e-blasted and that this was “over-the-top.” ~Two members have asked me to not send to them while they are on vacation.
~The mission of this network is to place where artists, fans, media, industry professionals and friends can reach each other directly (without have to have each others current email address), share ideas, activities and memories; encourage each other and discuss polemic issues without censure, meet new people and fans, experience what others are doing and together help to promote increased awareness of jazz music, its Pittsburgh connections and its importance as a cultural value in need of greater support and exposure. ~It permits members to express their opinions and complaints where they can be heard and discussed by those of related interests. ~It has served to celebrate and even memorialize people deserving of such notice and attention. ~It has served to provide support for those in need of prayer, encouragement and accurate information. ~It is serving to increase the brand recognition of Pittsburgh as a jazz capital city in need of wider recognition. ~It has also sparked an interest in revitalizing certain historically singular jazz venues that have are fading into memory loss of have not been experienced by people too young to have had the opportunity while they were open for business. ~It is preserving the memories of those who have made Pittsburgh a great jazz well spring giving just due to those who were not fortunate to receive proper recognition from the mainstream channels. ~It is serving as an online repository for artifacts that otherwise may never be preserved, experienced… and thus appreciated for their true value.
As Your Host:
~I appreciate your membership, feedback and participation in this effort. It is becoming clear to many that we all benefit when we work together to promote the values we care commonly share. Our collective voice is being heard in every corner of the globe already. Not many of us can do it alone. ~I make no money directly from this network and it does take much of my time away from money making pursuits. I do it because I love the tradition that made and sustained me through all the dues paying experiences of a pro-active life. ~I do it for the ancestors who have actively or silently charged me with passing on their wisdom and stories to succeeding generations in my purview. ~I am learning the value and power of social networking as a tool for expounding personal and creative expression (without having to negotiate through layers of middle-people with their associated tariffs) that unleashed us each from the shackles and constraints that have almost reduced us to museum artifacts. ~It is no accident why we have no jazz festival, people ask us to play for free, and we are treated as second-class citizens by almost everyone including the media. I remember when the Steelers couldn’t draw 10,000 fans per game. I also remember when the professional athletes spent much of their leisure time in the jazz clubs. We have a place on this network to discuss such vicissitudes. ~I am an actively performing artist and I don’t have time to post events sent to me via email by members who could easily learn to post it themselves. I will help anyone who asks for help to learn how to do it, but if I am going to do it for you, I might have to start charging a fee… not something I want to do. ~I have the option to ban any member from the network per their request or for any practice I feel violates the collective good of the members. This is a subjective decision on my part. The network has already survived a spam-bot attack and I was able to protect the members by rooting out the spam-bot and deleting the pages. This will happen periodically in the future but I monitor the network daily. ~ This is a DIY network just like the others (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Wordpress, etc.). I chose the Ning platform because it is VERY user-friendly and it is well-supported both financially and technologically. As a Web 2.0 network, it provides considerable band-width to each member that would and does cost a healthy monthly fee on Web 1.0 (www) for those of you who maintain your own website. It is not a substitute for your own site but rather it is a showcase. It is like a candle in the dark abyss of cyberspace that will attract the moths to your window. ~I personally belong to 25 Ning social networks and I am learning much from each one and trying to bring what I learn to enhance this network.
~Every member has the option to unsubscribe or disconnect from the network on their own at any time. If you choose that option, you may want to copy your content onto another platform or your hard drive so you don’t lose it. ~Please try to visit your page and accept or reject friend requests. Each member can only have 100 outstanding friend requests at a time. I have had to withdraw over 100 such requests from members who have not responded. From now on I will ask you to add me as a friend if you like. ~If you request me to disconnect you, I will always comply. Please note that when I do it, you will irretrievably lose all content and messages posted up to that time. ~If you go on vacation or otherwise want to temporarily or permanently block the email blasts of current events, you can choose any of the following methods: • Change your network email to a separate web based email dedicated only to this network under “My settings” on your personal profile. You can then delete all of the invites with a few clicks whenever you go to that account but the e-blasts will not clog you primary email where you do your important business. This also solves the Blackberry problem as well as the dial-up problem. • You can temporarily edit your email address on your profile by deleting the “@” sign at any time and you will receive no emails from this network. You can use this option as an “on-off” switch for network emails and it is easy to do. Rest assured that as the network administrator I am the only one who can see your actual email address in the first place. • Taking either of the actions above will enable you to manage you own level of involvement on the network to your satisfaction. It also will give me clearance to continue sending out the e-blasts for the members without discrimination since they took the initiative to post their event calendar. I hope this helps with some of the frustration it seems has begun to build in some cases. It always helps for you to learn your way around the cyber-world because, in this shrinking economy, the new values are growing exponentially in cyberspace. By joining this network you have taken an important step toward getting in the game or at least watching it. .In the final analysis so far, the positives outweigh the negatives.
Your comments on this blog will be of great value to all.
Thanks for you interest and participation. Best wishes to all, Nelson