More News about What's Ahead Here at ND

In the week or so since we announced that FreshGrass has acquired No Depression, our growing team has been working hard to make sure this transition goes as smoothly as possible. First off, we would like to echo all of the praise and appreciation that you have expressed regarding the amazing job Kyla and Kim have done over the last five years (and, in Kyla’s case, many more). Their contributions to the roots music world will be felt for a long time to come. The good news is that we do not need to say goodbye to them. Our new Community Manager Shelley will be supported by administrative assistant Stacy (who's been with us since last summer). Kim will become the Editor of No Depression, and Kyla will stay on as an advisor and strategic partner.

Second, we would like to thank you, the ND community, for welcoming us and for keeping an open mind to having some new blood behind the scenes. We know it will take some time to earn your trust, but rest assured there are no corporate bad guys or stuffy suits and we have no agenda other than to continue the great tradition that is ND. Hopefully FreshGrass will contribute an interesting chapter to what is already a great, ongoing story.

So, why did we do this? The reasons are actually pretty simple - No Depression and FreshGrass are both gathering places for enthusiasts of grassroots music. By combining our efforts, we think our community and influence can grow. No Depression has pioneered the notion that a community can create a vibrant and intelligent discourse around music and that, collectively, it can become a respected voice and authority in the industry. Similarly, FreshGrass has endeavored in a small way to celebrate innovative grassroots music through our annual festival at Mass MoCA, including an expanding repertoire of contests for emerging artists and a growing library of video productions. In the short term, we simply want to connect kindred spirits and keep FreshGrass and No Depression on parallel paths.

How will we begin our chapter at ND? We will be completely transparent and lay out our three short-term goals: (1) In the precise words of Easy Ed, we will first and foremost work hard not to fuck it up; (2) we will invest our time and resources to create an incredible ND experience on mobile devices; and (3) over time, we will give the existing platform an update and facelift. We will approach these goals with the utmost respect for the current experience. On every step of the way, we will elicit your input, advice and suggestions, so stay tuned for more on this in the near future.

Longer term, our lofty hope is to create the most vibrant and largest community of grassroots listeners, contributors and artists in the world, and for FreshGrass to become a collective of businesses designed by, made for and to the benefit of that community. We want to add more live events, build the definitive roots music archive and online store, and offer local music and band services of various kinds. If we succeed, then everything in this collective will represent the wisdom and desire of the community. We want the community to be the voice of the industry and the hand that shapes it.

As usual, please feel free to contact us any time with any questions, concerns, or suggestions.

Thanks,
The No Depression team

Views: 1187

Comment by Sibylle on March 18, 2014 at 9:25am
I wish I hadn't read this, because your short-term goals (2) and (3) are ruining my day.

As regards (2), do whatever you want with your Mobile application, just keep it off my iPhone. One Web site after another has destroyed my experience by imposing their miserable mobile on my iPhone 4, with not even the option to switch back to the full view that I had been enjoying.

To give just two examples, Amazon has now lost a lot of my participation and business just by forcing their brand-new mobile Cart, Order and Feedback pages on me. I fear it's only a matter of time until they screw up the crucial Advanced Search, Search Results and Product Details pages as well. NPR's wretched iPhone pages aggravate me daily, as well as cheating their advertisers because they show only a tiny fraction of the ads that I used to see on the full site.

Those are only two examples. And no matter how clever you think you are, you're not going to have the resources or the expertise to accomplish with your mobile application what Amazon, NPR and other major corporations have so abysmally failed to do. Again, I don't care what you do in the mobile realm, as long as you leave my iPhone experience alone.

As regards (3), I can't think of another site anywhere on the World Wide Web that's better designed than the current No Depression site. American Routes used to have probably my favorite site on the Web. Some years ago, they threw out all that lush Spanish moss and replaced the entire site with one so ugly I can't close the page fast enough once I've checked the week's playlist.

The ND site doesn't need an update or 'facelift' (an apt metaphor if you think about how garish artificially tightened skin looks on a face that should have been left to age gracefully).

The corollary to Easy Ed's crucial warning is a time-honored bit of wisdom that I would implore you to heed: If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

Thanks for listening, folks!

Sibylle

(Submitted from the fully functioning, 'desktop' view of the ND site on my iPhone 4. Not even an iPhone 5. And everything looks great and works perfectly. Please don't fuck it up!)
Comment by Kim Ruehl on March 18, 2014 at 11:28am

Hi Sibylle - thanks for your comments and concern! Honestly, I completely agree about the comparatively not-so-great experience on many mobile sites, but I think there's always room for someone to get it...if not right, then at least more tolerably close. Currently, the mobile version of this site is just an activity feed and has always been a big personal pet peeve of mine. (I also have an iPhone 4 - not even a 4s.) I know it's a subjective thing and what's easy for some people is a pain for others. But, I think there are things we could probably do to make it better for most people.

Having worked on this site for five years, I hope that I can reassure you that our newly expanded team is very, very committed to not fucking it up. But without any real updates to the site in a half-decade, there are some things that can be done behind the scenes to make the site more intuitive to newcomers and easier to interact with on all mobile devices, as well as from your computer. I trust our new crew to focus this "facelift" on improvements and making things easier/more intuitive, rather than - as many websites often do - targeting a "facelift" toward completely changing the user experience, color scheme, layouts, etc. I think sometimes that happens because the people who run it are bored with the look, or they want to rebrand, or something. I don't think that's what's in store here at all.

I can't really go into detail on any of that, but wanted to share my two cents as someone who's been around a while, that we're all here - the new owners, the workers, and everyone who visits this site as a reader - for the same reason. We want to read great blogs and articles, have some awesome discussions with strangers around the world who share our love for great music we may not hear about anywhere else. Those things are central to every decision made here, and hopefully you'll stick around to see where all this leads. If you - or anyone else - has any ideas about how we can make the desktop and/or mobile experience more worthwhile, we are always open.

Comment by Easy Ed on March 18, 2014 at 12:58pm
As I can see now the power of my words, I should share with you that in one of my first exchanges with Kyla five years ago I suggested that the site and layout were not to my liking. When she informed me how much she paid to have this design created, and the challenges of the Ning platform, I appreciated how well it all worked despite itself. But the fact is, Ning is probably no longer an option, especially if we want to add new features and bring the platform up to date with both image and functionality.
As a frequent reader and writer, I selfishly want more. The concept has always been to create a community and destination for roots music fans. We've collectively managed that, but it's just merely a fraction of the opportunity. I'd love to see more interaction with the musicians. And even managers, presenters, festivals, labels, artisans, sellers and creators of all kind. I want one stop roots music destination because I grow weary of hitting a half dozen sites every day. And further, the more it becomes relevant the more people will come and the more people will read my words. So there's that. But not screwing things up doesn't equal no change. Change...please. But do it cautiously without wiping out the beauty of this site. The people and the music we love.
Finally...sorry to say, but if you want to catch fish, you gotta fish where they live. And mobile devices rule the interwebs. I hate small screens, but I'm sitting in a cafe in Soho writing this and if I didn't have my iPhone 5s I'd miss the chance to chime in.
I like this post. Carry on. Just DFIU.
Comment by RP N10 on March 18, 2014 at 1:54pm

Kim:>> Currently, the mobile version of this site is just an activity feed and has always been a big personal pet peeve of mine. (I also have an iPhone 4 - not even a 4s.) I know it's a subjective thing and what's easy for some people is a pain for others.

About 2 weeks ago my mobile version of ND changed from the activity feed (which I liked - there was an option to go to the web view) to one with just the featured blogs.  Tried to change it a load of times and last weekend gave up altogether.  One person's fish another's poisson as they say.

Comment by Michael Helwig on March 18, 2014 at 2:12pm

if I may chime in here, first to say I don't even own a cell phone, so don't waste any mobile-device-efforts on my part, and, second, I cannot echo loudly enough Sibylle's admonition: IF IT AIN'T BROKE, DON'T FIX IT...nothing worse than change for change's sake...this site has gathered us together because we are open to change in the music world...bells and whistles belong in the studio, not on the website 

Comment by Hal Bogerd on March 18, 2014 at 2:16pm

The simple phrase "to celebrate innovative Grass Roots music" changed my mind about change at NoDepression!

No more Dylan this and Donovan that. Let's Live For Today!

And who did the best P.F. Sloan cover? The Grass Roots or Barry McGuire?

 

Comment by Jack Williams on March 18, 2014 at 4:26pm

And good night, Mrs. Calabash, where ever you are.

 

Here's one I had on 45 when I was 11:

 

Comment by Dave Champine on March 18, 2014 at 5:33pm

Hi there-

I'm Dave, the guy that is responsible for not fucking up the technology part of ND.  I figure this is a good time to introduce myself so that you have an ordinary guy to associate with these changes rather than envisioning some nameless, faceless automaton, hell-bent on destroying your world. 

Some things you may find interesting:  I have a theatre degree because 30 years ago, I decided that a computer degree would narrow my view of the world.  I have always been a computer guy, starting in 1979 on my TRS-80.  I was fascinated with "telecommunications" and it was in an online forum (on CompuServe) that I first learned John Lennon had been shot.  I'm proud to say that I've been a citizen of various online communities for nearly 35 years! 

Over the years, I've been fortunate to have a successful career building technology that connects people.  I helped Charles Schwab & Co make the transition to online trading and I helped define some of the standards that allow you to send and receive e-mail - while doing my darndest to stop the bad guys from doing the same.  Ultimately, though that was entirely unsatisfying and so I committed myself to helping independent artists, venues, and communities connect with each other to promote grass roots music as an agent of change. 

Over the past 5 years or so, my wife and I (Shelley, the community manager mentioned above) have worked tirelessly and without pay to do everything possible to bring positive change (with technology) to support and promote local music scenes nationwide.  I have never been happier, and I have never been more optimistic about these efforts than the day we joined forces with Chris and soon after, Kyla, Kim and Stacy.

I will gladly suffer any slings and arrows you want to send my way because I trust the collective conscience of ND and I know that any concerns or criticisms you may have regarding my efforts come from a deep, emotional bond with the other people in this community.  We won't always agree.  We won't always appreciate other perspectives, but ultimately, we'll get along because we share a common goal.  That's what community is all about - and that is much more important than any particular tools or technologies that we may choose to use.

So now you know a little bit about me and my motivation in all this.  I know I'll have to work extra hard to earn your trust, but it's worth it to me and I'm sure it will be worth it for you too.  Please feel free to contact me if you want to give me direct feedback, complaints, suggestions, or even a compliment if you are so inclined. 

I look forward to hanging out with you guys - I think we're gonna have a good time.

Comment by Ron Myhr on March 18, 2014 at 7:06pm

Change is the stuff of life, and I do think that ND can really become something bigger and even better than it is.  The current design isn't perfect (maybe a less dysfunctional search function can be high on the change list), and I suspect that the content from the community can be better served with an overhaul.  I'm pleased to see the commitment to supporting the music;  I hope there isn't excessive focus on the "grass roots" over commercial reality -- the business is still driven by commerce and sales, and ignoring that would be a mistake. 

Comment by Kyla Fairchild on March 18, 2014 at 10:32pm

@RP N10 - That change from the Activity Feed to the Blog view for mobile was my doing.  I just switched the mobile view back to the Activity Feed for you!   If anyone wants the desktop view on their mobile device then click on the box with the three lines in the upper right hand corner you can choose the "Desktop View" which is how I prefer to view the site on my iPhone 4.  From the desktop view if you scroll down to the very bottom of the site in the black bar there is the option to switch to the "mobile optimized view" which will take you back to the  Activity Feed view.

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Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.