Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Big Thanks, Some Changes

Those of you who follow The Dulcimerica Video Podcast know that I've slowed down the posting of podcasts in the final quarter of this year. That's mainly due to how mind-boggling busy I've been, not only with fall gigs, but also with preparation for the Key West Dulcimer Fest.

There is another reason which I hesitate to mention, but since it seems that I may be the last person on the internet to actually put voice to this reason, then I've held on tenaciously.

Earlier this year, a "Donation" button quietly appeared on this site along with a suggested tagline to encourage donations. (I won't mention whose idea this was - but they are a highly respected member of the dulcimer community.) The bottom line is: the podcast is a labor of love, begun three years ago and maintained with alarming consistency where most new podcasts begin to appear erratic after six months. To produce a single episode (there are over 130) takes approximately eight hours; from shooting the footage to logging it into the computer, editing it together, compressing it into form for the web, uploading it to two sites (sometimes three) and maintaining the archives. With my YouTube page, this is cost-free. With the official Dulcimerica page, all of the movie files are stored on my server. More than once, I've had to delete files (in one case, all of the AFI Radio podcasts) in order to make physical room for the increasing number of videos and my ISP has threatened to shut me down due to the enormous amount of bandwidth I use. It's a private server which I've had since 1994 and I'm afraid I'll need to go with a public ISP due to the huge hits that Dulcimerica gets.

Add to that the cost of videotape, camera maintenance and supplementary gear and it all adds up. For a while, I considered putting Dulcimerica behind a firewall and charging a nominal fee for access, but decided against it, choosing instead to place a donation button on the site. Problem is, not a single donation has ever been made. Granted, I've never pointed out the fact that there's a donation button in existence (it's tucked into the right margin just under the subscription buttons) and many people who subscribe to the show either do it through iTunes, another podcatcher or watch it on YouTube.

The reason I mention this now is, as you know, we're living in tough economic times; not terrible, but enough to make everyone cinch up their belts a tad. As I head into a fourth year of producing Dulcimerica, I'd like to revamp a few things, put more time into instructional episodes, creating graphics and supplementary materials for the podcasts. This, of course, will take time, materials and server space as well as bandwidth. Many thousands of people have viewed Dulcimerica on YouTube and via Blogger, enjoying the song demos, instruction, tips and workshops, road trips and interviews. The podcast has over 1600 subscribers! If everyone donated between $2 to $5, it would very nicely help to support and preserve the show as well as our extensive archives.

Please consider making a donation - it would go a long way towards development of what has become a fixture within the dulcimer community.

I'm currently knocking out the remainder of footage from 2009, beginning with the post above from the Winter Creek Reunion. Before the end of the year, footage from New Harmony, Smoky Mountain Dulcimer Retreat and Unicoi will go up. After that, I'll be revamping the opening credits (including the show's new name, which will be simply "Dulcimerica".) Carla Maxwell, who has held the Dulcimerica.com domain name since before the show existed, has lovingly re-directed the domain to the main website - so you can now type Dulcimerica.com and it will take you to the Blogger site. This will not effect subscriptions via iTunes or any of the podcatchers out there.

I'll be kicking off the new year with some instructional videos, quickly followed by road trip episodes from Kentucky Music Winter Weekend, Winter Dulcimer Fest, NAMM Show and the Key West Dulcimer Fest. New graphics and format will be introduced as well. It's my aim to return to four times a month and more if the event calls for it.

If you'd like to donate to Dulcimerica, please use this button:









Even if you're not a PayPal member, you can still make a donation by following the link at the bottom of the screen. Thank you for allowing me to make a telethon post here - I will more than likely do the same through the podcast as well. Your contribution is very much appreciated!

2 comments:

david lee king said...

Just wanted to thank you for the dulcimer videos - I love them!

And a suggestion... I'm sure you have your reasons for self-hosting your vids. But if you are looking for ways to cut costs, I would highly suggest just hosting at youtube/blip/vimeo. You will have no high bandwidth or storage costs, and if you still want/need to store the vids, you can easily do that via dvds or a cloud storage solution, etc.

I guess also think about the goals for the vids - is it to get people to watch? Then Youtube + your blog works great. No extra storage needed.

Hope this is cool - just thinking out loud!

Bing said...

Hi David -

Thanks for posting!

I've got two reasons for maintaining the two sites for Dulcimerica. One is that services like YouTube and Blip, though popular now, ultimately go through changes that invariably require being "in the know" to predict. While I love having them as a mirror site, it would be frustrating to have them decide to discontinue their current operating protocol, leaving us in the lurch (been there and done that with lesser services.)

The second reason is that, via Blogger, Dulcimerica is available through a feed which is subscription-based. Though Blogger isn't the only way to go about this, I've hosted all of my blogs on this service and have it integrated in a number of ways that help save time, energy and money. I'm actually getting my hosting at a decent rate and have targeted another ISP with comparable rates should the need to move arise. This is inevitable, as it's really a matter of bandwidth. My private ISP admin says space is not a problem so much as the bandwidth. And even there, apparently I've just got a ton of stuff in my folder (all of my sites are hosted through this ISP.)

Visibility-wise - it's still up in the air whether the majority of hits are coming from iTunes, Google, YouTube or another form of feed. I've been monitoring the numbers and, all told, iTunes generates the majority of numbers. For that reason, over YouTube, I've maintained a feed with server links.

As content hosting and delivery changes with new services, I'm constantly updating what we do in order to save time and lucre!

Thanks again for the input!