Seems like this cold air from the north is never going to go away. We have been in the teens and single digits for over a week now and I really want to see normal temperatures again. Normal for this time of year of course. Then again it could be worse. I have been following the stories about the 8 feet of snow that has fallen in upstate New York so things could be worse.
Ambient Visions has been around since 1999 and the thing that gets me sometimes is that I don't always see a lot of reciprocal links back to the site. I've never required links back to AV for me to post a link in my links section but it would be nice to see some of the sites that have requested links over the years to return the favor. To me if I enjoy a website and I have a platform like Ambient Visions to speak from I like being able to point my readers to sites that they will find interesting. I guess I just always assumed that other websites would operate with the same ideas in mind. That is not always the case though and it has puzzled me as to why this does not happen. To many surfers of the Internet links pages can become a goldmine of information if they are kept up to date (which is another whole subject for a blog) by the person who runs the website. When I have the time I still visit links pages and start following them to see where they might lead. I have discovered quite a bit of music using this method of investigation. I might have been able to do the same thing with a Google search but to me the links pages of these sites offers a more targeted approach to discovering new sites. If I go to a site that I enjoy then ordinarily the site's link's page will offer me even more sites that will be interesting to me as well. So if you enjoy Ambient Visions be sure to share it with readers of your website by including a link on your links pages back to AV. If I don't already have a link to your site be sure to e-mail me after you have added the link and I would be happy to add a link back to your website as well.
The reciprocal link issue has always puzzled me but there is something that makes me wonder even more about how much energy is put into promoting an artist's music by the artist themselves. Time and time again I have done interviews for AV and when asked about how important the web has been to their musical careers most artists will agree that it has been invaluable to reaching out to fans who would not otherwise have been aware of this artist's music. So it still surprises me at how often I will go up to an artist's site and find that even though they have just done an interview with me and it has been published to Ambient Visions there is no link to that interview on the artist's site. This is not just about bringing more traffic to AV it is about the effort that was put into the interview by the artist and then not directing your fans who come to your website to an interview that might make the reader want to further explore the music you create because of understanding the why's and how's behind the creation of that music. Why is it that some artists don't link to resources that might help explain their music to their fans in a little more depth than a review might?
Now I'm not talking about posting that e-mail to 10 different e-mail groups and hoping that posting catches the eye everyone that might want to read the interview. Those groups won't reach all of your potential fans and to not have a permanent link to as many resources as you can about our music on the web is certainly not using the medium of the Internet to its fullest advantage. I am beginning to understand that ambient and the associated genres artists don't do a lot of follow through on making sure that the web is fully utilized to spread the word about their music. Perhaps a saturation level of sorts has been reached and it is going to be more difficult to stir interest in the next release or to even generate enough money from the previous release to guarantee that there will even be a next release. Regardless of your situation it seems that if you are still serious about pursuing this field of music you need to take advantage of every opportunity to let folks get to know you and thereby your music. Posting your thoughts to discussion groups, pointing your fans to the latest news about your music, showing them the latest interview you just did or that your music is on a playlist or chart somewhere. This may include the hit and run post of the press release but it also includes a lot more. I have decided to set aside the time to work on improving Ambient Visions and the same goes for those who are looking to take their music to a larger audience. It is a never ending push to keep your name in front of those who will want to buy a copy of your music. For most there is no record label involved and no marketing department to depend on so that leaves just you to make sure that everyone knows about what you are doing musically and that will only come through spending time. Time will not always be an easy commodity to come by but it is a decision that must be made by each artist as they look at the career they have chosen and decide if the expenditure of time is worth the results.
My thoughts this week have to do with working together through links, through interviews, through discussions and through cooperation to spur the ambient community on to what it is capable of and not what it currently is. An eye on the future is necessary to make sure that the present day is moving in the direction that it needs to be in order that you might one day find yourself at the destination you were hoping to achieve. Community is important in this effort. If you have a presence on the web then use it to move us all towards a future that sees ambient in a strong position. Take care. We'll be talking again real soon.
Michael Foster, editor
Well it is very cold here in northeastern Ohio this morning with the temperature hovering right around 0 this is as cold as we have gotten for the winter of 2006-2007 and I must say that I find myself really wishing for the arrival of spring. I've never been a winter person and usually all I can do is simply endure the cold weather each year. In warmer news I relaunched the Ambient Visions discussion group on Yahoo earlier this week. I know what you are thinking. Why do we need another Yahoo group and how will it be different than the other Yahoo groups or mailing lists that we already belong to? I am hoping to make the AV discussion group more of a community effort than just to have another list that does little more than host the announcement postings of everyone who wants to let you know of their latest release or the latest radio show on the internet. I am not saying that letting folks know what is going on is wrong but if that is all the activity that a group has then it can become very boring. I use these postings myself to fill in some of the information that you find on Ambient Visions but by definition a discussion group that has nothing but announcement posts is not really a discussion group.
I've seen groups go on for years and years and folks still get excited by the next release of their favorite artist. They are still passionate about discussing all of the ins and outs of the music that they love so much. And I have also seen groups that after a period of time go cold. No discussion, no enthusiasm, no nothing. People drift away and what seemed like a good idea a few years back has now become simply another announcement group that pretty much duplicates the content of the other announcement groups. I recently saw that Bill Binkleman is calling it quits with the New Age Music-Biz Yahoo group and again it is because the group has no activity. No discussions, no hints about the business, no sharing of ideas or wisdom. Just silence. Is that Bill's fault? Not really. Had everyone said what they wanted to say and had nothing else they wished to share with the other list members? Probably not. Who knows. For whatever reason it like many other groups before it reached the point where conversation just faded away. Once this happens you feel like you need to do something to throw out some topics or to find a way to stimulate new conversations. The truth is that the responsibility for making a group a live and active one or one that needs to be unplugged and allowed to die are the people who comprise the virtual community.
If everyone waits for the next person to start a topic or toss out an idea before they join in you will have a group that will eventually whither and die. With the Ambient Visions discussion group I am going to be a participant along with everyone else but I can not be the one who makes it happen without the help of the other members. Let's see if we can make 2007 a year that sees a resurgence within the musical community and one that is characterized by folks becoming personally involved with sharing their ideas and their discoveries of new music wherever they may find it. I know it sounds like a pie in the sky kind of scenario but I tend to be positive about most things so why shouldn't I see the glass as half full in regards to the music that has been one of the soundtracks to my life for the past 8 years. Think about it and then sign up and jump into the discussion pool.
Michael Foster, editor