A Direct Address II

Hello, everyone! Congratulations for surviving the year. What a doozy it’s been.

On January 1st, 2020, I released a post which laid out my goals for the year. Now, on the first day of 2021, I’d like to revisit them. Which goals did I achieve? Which were a little too much for me this time around? What am I going to do next year?

Goals

The following are the goals I set for myself content and readership-wise for the year 2020, as well as some explanations for why I may have set those goals.

When I got the idea to cover historical events of some note late in 2019, I began using several sources to research events I might want to discuss. Immediately, I started noticing some patterns. On many “definitive” rock ‘n roll sites, there were definite biases towards a small handful of bands, resulting in some very lopsided representation. While notes of gear auctions or even sales of houses which formerly belonged to certain music artists are interesting enough, those didn’t particularly interest me from a music history perspective. Furthermore, these same sites would list such events without so much as mentioning the birthdays of several of my favorite musicians, individuals who certainly have high enough statures to warrant a little acknowledgement.

All of this made me decide to turn my site into an alternative for readers who might not necessarily care about the dates of divorces, auctions, arrests, or house sales, but who would be curious about notable concerts, birthdays, album releases, dates of major resignations, premieres, deaths, and so on. None of this is to say that interest in the things I listed which won’t be appearing on my site is bad. It’s interesting! However, such things, especially relating to certain individuals or groups, have ample representation on other music history sites, while some of the things I will be writing about don’t have that sort of representation. My site will be filling those holes and providing a more complete music history resource for multiple bands and genres.

As I’m just one person who’s hoping to cover multiple bands in decent detail, that means my site is not yet a complete music history resource. It may take years for it to become so. It may never get there. But every day I write a post about something or other, I’m filling a gap.

To that end, last year, I committed to writing at least one “On This Day” post a day. My intent was to have at least one musical event for every single day in the regular calendar year plus leap day. On January 1st, 2020, I had 53 days covered, with posts written and scheduled for three more days. This amounted to just under a seventh of the full year.

Today, on the early morning of January 1st, 2021, I am happy to report that I have covered all 366 days! Several days have multiple events, some as many as five. I hope to continue covering musical events in this manner in the coming year, hopefully filling my site out a bit.

My second writing goal for last year was to “get back to the original goal of this website, which is to write about the music I listen to”. To that end, I wanted to write at least one long review post a week for various albums or field recordings. This goal, unfortunately, proved to be a bit (read: very) beyond my reach. I only managed to do a few album reviews for the year, for Deep Purple’s self-titled album and for Whoosh! I also did a few song analyses, specifically for three+ songs from Whoosh! (As you can see, the Whoosh! hype really got to me too). I also wrote a single long live review, for Rainbow’s May 8, 1980 Budokan concert. While I wrote a couple of short reviews, I moved them behind the paywall of my patreon to make it a little more worthwhile to my patrons (I wasn’t great at updating my patreon feed this year either, for which I sincerely apologize).

I also managed a few longer miscellaneous posts, including about Deep Purple’s lineup changes, live performances of the songs from Trilogy, a ranking of Don Airey’s solo albums, classical quotes in Deep Purple’s music, and a few other similar posts. These actually were a ton of fun to write, but I didn’t get a chance to do a great many of them. Since my most-viewed post of 2020 was one such miscellaneous post, that seems to suggest there’s an appetite for that sort of post!

My third writing goal was to diversify my topics a bit, writing about a few other eras in music history, grabbing a few other bands to be my main content sources, and so on. I’d say on its surface this goal wasn’t successful, as the overwhelming majority of my posts this year were about Deep Purple, Rainbow, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, or related topics. I’ve included a chart below; since Gary Moore worked with a great many members of Deep Purple and its extended family, Moore falls under the ‘Deep Purple’ category. I’ve also included ‘Chronicles’ posts under ‘Other’, as these posts include anything which happened on the particular days.

However, I still managed to write a great many posts not about these three. One of my major completed projects (more on that below) was even about another band, Tangerine Dream! I also managed to write a bit more about Yes and some of the band’s members this year, which I’d hoped to do. I also wrote about the release of an album by the Hu, a Japanese modernist composer, a few Beatles concerts, two major jazz artists, the earliest classical composer whose music we have access to, and the premieres of a few great classical pieces. Overall, while the site still is vast majority-ELP/Deep Purple/Rainbow and overwhelmingly rock ‘n roll/Western Canon, there’s a few more posts about other things sure to pique readers’ interest.

In my goals for 2020, I also teased the appearance of my major project about Don Airey’s joining of Deep Purple, which was to be my only major project of 2020. While I got it started with several posts on the topic, I am still very far from finishing it. That said, this goal isn’t entirely a failure; I managed to successfully complete several other major projects in lieu of the state one. Within 2020, I completed preliminary coverage of several tours: ELP’s Debut Tour (1970), ELP’s Get Me A Ladder Tour (1973), Tangerine Dream’s 1975 UK Tour, ELP’s Works Tour (1977-1978), Rainbow’s Difficult to Cure Tour (1981), Emerson, Lake & Powell’s sole tour (1986), 3’s sole tour (1988), the Dream Theater/ELP/Deep Purple extravaganza (1998), and Rainbow’s Memories in Rock 2018 Tour. I also covered the release of Whoosh! pretty closely, analyzing three songs, reviewing the album, and even looking into the first two teasers. Full coverage can be found here. I’m also well on track to complete ELP’s Brain Salad Surgery tour (1973-1974) and Rainbow’s Down To Earth Tour (1979-1980) in 2021.

Finally, I committed to a goal which was somewhat out of my control: a viewership goal. My original goal was to have 15,600 views for the year, which averaged out to 1300 views a month and 47 views a day.

In total, I got 17,448 views prior to switching my site and 10,355 views afterwards for the year, a grand total of 27,803 views for the year. This averages out to about 2,316 views a month and 75 views a day, though I had several days reach far above this. This is obviously a lot more than I’d expected!

Statistics

Post Popularity

Below are my 10 most popular posts for the year of 2020 overall. This combines their views from my old site and my new one. Bolded pieces are ones which only showed up on my new site.

  1. Six Great Things Steve Morse has done for Deep Purple. (1,341 views)
  2. First Impressions of Whoosh! (1,041 views)
  3. “Nothing at All” Review (615 views)
  4. Second Impressions of Whoosh! (593 views)
  5. “Throw My Bones” Review (550 views)
  6. Whoosh! album review (525 views)
  7. Coverage of Rainbow’s February 29, 1980 Concert at Empire Pool (370 views)
  8. Coverage of Graham Bonnet’s Birthday on December 23rd (361 views)
  9. First Emerson, Lake & Powell concert (357 views)
  10. A compilation of Deep Purple’s Last Five Concerts of the 1970s (318 views)

Below are my five most popular posts prior to my switching from my old site to my new one:

  1. First Impressions of Whoosh! (1,035 views)
  2. Six Great Things Steve Morse has done for Deep Purple (1,012 views)
  3. Second Impressions of Whoosh! (586 views)
  4. “Throw My Bones” Review (533 views)
  5. “Nothing at All” Review (383 views)

As you can see, the Whoosh! hype was real! All but one of the top five most popular posts from my old site had something to do with this impending album. All five of these posts also remained in my top 10 most popular overall posts, though only two had any sort of success on the new site. The rest simply were popular upon their first release.

Below are my five most popular posts just from my new site. Posts in bold are posts written on this site rather than simply migrated from my old one.

  1. Whoosh! album review (525 views)
  2. First Emerson, Lake & Powell concert (357 views)
  3. Coverage of Graham Bonnet’s Birthday on December 23rd (353 views)
  4. Six Great Things Steve Morse has done for Deep Purple (329 views)
  5. Rainbow’s Concert at Richfield Coliseum on October 8th, 1979 (264 views)

Once more, the hype for Whoosh was strong! As the year went on and I began to write about different topics, however, the list diversified. When I began tracking my top five posts in September, my “Nothing at All” review was at #4. It was surpassed by my coverage of Rainbow’s wild concert at Richfield Coliseum in early October, and kicked off the list in November by the coverage of Steve Morse’s debut performance (which was later kicked off too). I was surprised by the warm reception to my coverage of Graham Bonnet’s birthday, which ended up finishing third overall. This last-discussed post was the only one I did not write in 2020, having instead brought it in from 2019. To me, that also signifies a good trend for the future, with older posts bringing in good viewership numbers along with newer ones.

Traffic Sources

I got most of my traffic, as I did last year, from Facebook. What changed from the year prior was my Twitter experience; thanks to some shares on Twitter by the Deep Purple Podcast and Mr. Scott Haskin, I managed to end the year with 45 followers, who comprised my second-largest traffic referrer. I would be remiss here if I did not thank those two and to the rest of you who follow me on Twitter. I consistently had the best conversations with fellow fans there, and it really added something to my year. So thank you, thank you, thank you.

Another key piece of 2020 was that I gained a great deal of traffic from search engines, basically unsolicited viewers. Since soliciting traffic is one of my least favorite things to do relating to this site, I was happy to see my stats there tick up a lot. Hopefully that trend continues on!

Last but not least, 2020 saw me get several viewers from various forums, mostly related to my coverage of Whoosh!, and viewers after The Highway Star shared one of my song analyses. This, too, was pretty gratifying, and I hope something I write in 2021 will be worthy of a similar honor.

Goals for This Coming Year

Last year, I set some incredibly ambitious goals for myself. While I was unable to accomplish all of them, I managed to succeed in enough of them that I feel really good about next year. It’s going to be a bit of a different year, as I expect it will include a great many life changes for me, likely including graduate school (if I get in…); this will leave me with even less time. However, if 2020 has taught me anything, it’s to expect the unexpected, so I really don’t know what the year will bring. Either way, come what may, here’s what I’m hoping to achieve in 2021 here at Gotta Hear ’em All.

First and foremost, I will not be focusing on creating quite as many posts for my On This Day project. While I enjoyed it, there were times that I really didn’t feel like writing for the day or felt stressed that the quantity of my output was negatively impacting the quality. As such, even though I’ve built a writing habit and then some, I don’t see myself continuing to publish posts daily. That’s not to say that I won’t be writing, and writing a lot. It just means that there will no longer be a guaranteed daily post.

Of the things I do write, I foresee a continued thematic dominance by ELP, Rainbow, and Deep Purple. However, I hope to lower the currently-astronomical ratio between these three bands and every other corner of the musical world! I will continue to write for Yes and Tangerine Dream as the secondary foci of this site. Hopefully by this time next year, there will be plenty of posts about classical music and composers, more non-western work (I’m certainly partial to Geinoh Yamashirogumi), some milestones in the history of ambient music, and so on. I already have one post scheduled about another musical act, so it’s definitely possible.

I will also be working on a few series on this blog. Hopefully in 2021, I will finish The Surprising, my coverage of Rainbow’s Down to Earth Tour, ELP’s Brain Salad Surgery Tour, and Robert Fripp’s Music for Quiet Moments. My stretch goal will be to also finish the Book Of Taliesyn Tour, Steve Morse’s Secret Mexican Tour, and ELP’s Tarkus Tour. As likely as not, I’ll finish a few shorter tours too!

With a decreased focus on “On This Day” posts, I will at last be spending more time on longer posts, namely those review posts which inspired me to start this site in the first place. Last year, I aimed for one a week, or 52 total. This year, I’m going to be much more realistic and aim for 10 review posts, hopefully 5 official albums and 5 unofficial live recordings. That will still be a significantly higher number than this past year, during which time I reviewed exactly one of each! I will also continue to write shorter reviews, which will be available on my Patreon.

I hope to also write more miscellaneous posts, as those were in many ways the most fun. My aim will be to do at least 10 of these. I’ll probably try to do more *insert album here* Live Posts, as I’ve done for three of ELP’s albums (which can be found at these three links in case you’re curious). Most likely these will focus on Deep Purple, who like ELP have a prodigious live output which I love to track, and Rainbow.

Next up, I have the scariest potential goal for the feature: viewership. I achieved my target viewership in June, with just about half the year left to go. I didn’t expect that level of success at all, I must say. While I’m wary of setting targets too high, as this isn’t something I can really control, I do think I can estimate how much traffic I can get for my blog.

Next year, I’m actually going to set two goals for myself. The first goal will be “regular” goal, which I think I’ll be able to achieve; the second will be a “stretch” goal, which will take a hell of a lot of work. My regular goal will be to finish 2021 with 35,000 views on my site for the year. Doing the math on that shows me that I’ll have to average 2917 views a month and 96 views a day to get there. Putting it in another form, I currently have 807 published posts, with one on the way. Each one of these 808 posts and posts-to-be would need to average 44 views to get me to my goal, and only 48 pages or posts on my new site have reached that milestone. My stretch goal will be to hit 50,000 views for 2021. This is significantly harder; I would need to average 4167 views a month and 137 views a day, or 62 views per post. Only 37 posts/pages have reached or surpassed that number on my site thus far.

For context, I had to average 47 viewers a day to remain competitive for my goal for last year, a significantly lower margin. Every day I failed to hit that level of readership, especially early on, was disappointing. However, I’m hopeful that I can do so, especially if I branch out with my topics a bit and continue to share work. This is a goal that you, all of my readers, can help me with, if you wish, by doing the following:

  • Keep reading if you’ve stumbled upon a post in series.
  • Share what I’ve written, if it interests you. I get the vast majority of my traffic from shares on Facebook and retweets on Twitter, so that’s probably a good place to start. Forums relating to the specific music I’m doing are also a good place, and the most relevant.
  • Follow me on Twitter and like my page on Facebook. The links are in the right column on my site.
  • If you run a site, I always appreciate a permalink if what I’ve written is at all relevant, or if my site in general is a good next place to go.
  • Suggest topics you’d like to see, and I’ll do my best to include something on them.
  • Do not copy/paste what I’ve written without a link. That only happened to me once last year, so all of you are really good at this already.

Finally, I have plans to tune up my site. When I migrated over to my new website last July, I did so pretty quickly to serve the ramping up of content I expected later in the year. This resulted in a few problems, including broken links and unattractive/clunky interfaces. I will be working this year to fix every broken link on the site and to make the whole thing look nicer.

I’ll be giving updates every Friday evening on my progress, which will be available on my twitter. Here’s to a good year. Wish me luck!

Thank you so much for reading. If you enjoyed this post, please consider donating on my ko-fi page or becoming a patron on my patreon. I appreciate your help!

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