Now We Are Three
...and Three New Things (Polyphony, Ads, & Stats)
by Ben | 17th Mar 2019
Pretty much all "Year In Review" type content by other people is done in January.
As ever, I like to buck the trend by doing mine in March, so once again this is our "Happy Birthday" blog post time.
(Though there seems to be no cake. Not even a chocolate Hob Nob. Boo!)
Let's start with the usual activity numbers:
|Pubs Live||Active||Scanned||Owned||Articles||Gear Items||Artists|
|Year 2||13 (All!)||193||656||788||4194||1709||361|
|Year 1||309 issues||344 issues||86 issues|
|Year 2||231 issues||137 issues||69 issues|
|Year 3||52 issues||122 issues||72 issues|
As of March 2019, traffic is around 30,000 unique visitors per month, with bandwidth of typically around 65GB/month. We've now crossed over the 1 million page views mark.
We added a few extra publications this year. Last year we picked up a nearly complete run of "Sound International", which will be coming to the site as we scan them (mine and Mike's combined scan pile is currently at something like 350+ issues, so please bear with us..!)
Sound International Founder & Editor Richard Elen provided the last missing issue for us to complete the collection, and we're happy we can add this to the archive going forward.
We also added Phaze 1, from the same publisher as E&MM/MT/HSR, with the ever-prolific Dan Goldstein (again!) in the editor's chair. Issues of Phaze 1 are very hard to come by, so we've purchased the few copies that come up for sale on ebay at fairly high prices - if you have any issues, please let us know!
Phaze 1 has a similar format as the mid-era Music Technology, but was more focused on bands, instruments and playing live.
What's that you say - Polyphony? Wasn't that a US mag?
Polyphony is a legendary synthesist publication produced by American synthesizer manufacturer PAIA, before eventually going out on it's own to become "Electronic Musician", under the leadership of (the also legendary) Craig Anderton.
Existing online archives of Polyphony are sporadic, and Mike championed for it to be hosted here, as he had a good archive, particularly of the later issues which weren't available online.
After getting the go ahead from Scott Lee at PAIA, we decided to use the opportunity to help build out a complete archive, as the mag is too important to not have one. So there is now a "US Publications" section in the mag listing, featuring Polyphony.
(We hope also to do the same for Synapse, but as yet haven't been able to reach anyone to get permissions.)
Polyphony will be added into the regular publishing rotation. As an extra bonus, we are making available PDF copies of Polyphony, even for issues that are not "Active" yet.
If you can help with Polyphony issues we don't yet have, please get into contact with us.
Thanks also to Retro Synth Ads for scanning the first three issues for us.
In last year's blog I wrote: "We *finally* broke the 200 Twitter followers mark (we seemed to be wavering around the 192 mark *forever*)"
This year, sticking to the formula - we *finally* broke the 300 Twitter followers mark (we seemed to be wavering around the 292 mark *forever*).
Yep. Lighting your Social's on fire, we are!
Our web host has been great but has just recently realised that cheaply offering unlimited disk space and bandwidth wasn't such a good business idea (!), and because of our hefty needs our hosting costs will be three times more expensive going forwards (which is still pretty competitively priced, so I'm not complaining as such).
The good news is I've managed to secure another year of hosting at the current low price, so the increased costs won't come into force until 2020. Site donations should continue to be able to support the hosting costs, though we'll have less for other purchases. Once again, your generous support to keep us going is welcome and appreciated. Thank you.
Yep, there's more! I won't recap the many site improvements over the last year but will talk about a few brand new features.
Last year I added support for adverts - ads were tagged and you could now search for them and display them, but the feature was a little, er, basic/under-developed, so they've had a bit more attention to make the whole ads thing a bit of a better experience.
To power these improvements, I had to build an advert admin system, and individually add meta data manually to nearly 10,000 ads... twice!
There were two main problems limiting the ad feature - the first is that often there are multiple ads on a page, but we didn't know what part of the page each covered. So we might know a page had an Akai S1000 advert on it, but the CMS didn't know that it was on the left half of the page, and the other ad on the page was for the top right quarter Syco advert.
By tagging the page area an ad tag covers, we know more about the pages, and the ads on them, and which tags relate to which ads. It just gives us better data, which lets us do more.
The second problem is that often the same ad can run multiple times - an ad campaign for the Korg Wavestation might run on the back page of MT for months, and also appear in other magazines as well. When displaying ads, displaying multiple copies of the same ad is a poor experience, so I wanted some way to be able to group ads together - to say "this ad is the same as those other three ads". Now we can show the ad only once, but I can also extract data about what issues that ad ran in.
(I did explore some spiffy machine-learning-ey ways of being able to automatically recognise and match images to group ads, but it turned out that just doing it manually was the most straightforward and accurate for a bunch of reasons. Besides, once the large task of tagging the existing data is done, it's only a relatively small job to do going forward as each issue is processed.)
So what does this mean in practice?
Firstly, if you're reading a gear review and we have ads for a piece of gear in that review, we show one or two in the sidebar. This helps surface ads to the viewer even if they are not actively looking for them, but isn't too much of a distraction to get in the way of consuming article content.
Clicking on those will take you to the ad page for that ad (or you can use the Gear/Ad search in the usual way to search for ads.)
Below is a dual page ad example, with tags for the MPC60 (showing) and ASQ-10: (The actual live page can be viewed here: Page link)
Clicking on the main ad image will open the large version of the ad. The page area is displayed (here, it's a dual full page ad), and we also get a list of issues that the ad appeared in.
On the right we get a list of ad tags on this page (there may be multiple ads on a page, and multiple tags for individual ads) and you can switch to any of them here.
We also get a list of other ads that have the same ad tag that we are viewing - in this case, we see two other MPC60 ads, and not more versions of the ad we are viewing, even though there are four of them.
Speaking of stats - there's a reason that we didn't do the usual run down of the Top Viewed Articles in this (already overlong) blog post - there's now a page for it!
We've already had a basic stats facility built into the home page, for those wanting to keep track of progress, by clicking the "Show more stats" link in the info bar:
Clicking on this (or there are "Stats" links in the footer and blurb pages) will take you to the new Stats page, where we show expanded stats about our content, and a range of interactive graph visualisations of various data (ooh, swanky!)
I won't go into detail here, but suffice to say there are all kinds of graphs on magazine coverage, page counts, top articles, topic frequency over time (so you can see when people first started to talk about MIDI) and various other things.
I'll likely add more graphs over time - I have some other ideas, but you can let me know if there's anything you'd particularly like to see.
Well, that's more than enough for this post. I hope you enjoy the new features and other improvements as we move into our fourth year. I'm off to find some cake...
Part 6 - OCR Part 1a - Contents & Metadata | Apr 2020
Blog entries from 2019...
Synth Patches - The Return | Dec 2019
Part 5 - Outputting the Scans to Use | Nov 2019
*Almost* the first DAW... | Oct 2019
...and Three New Things (Polyphony, Ads, & Stats) | Mar 2019
Part 4 - Processing the Scans | Jan 2019
Blog entries from 2018...
More Flexible Gear | Oct 2018
Part 3 - The Scan Library | Oct 2018
and music shops, and lunch money... | May 2018
Our 200th issue brings One Two Testing to mu:zines | Apr 2018
Birthday Time Again! | Mar 2018
Don't miss them! | Jan 2018
Part Two - Scanning | Jan 2018
Follow mu:zines on Twitter: @mu_zines
for updates and other bits and pieces