WordPress 3.0 “Thelonius” is out!

Update your blogs, WordPress 3.0 is out!

Log into your Dashboards and update your installation, 3.0 is out and available! I’ll be writing up some articles about the new features soon. I’ll also be updating Your Band Blog to reflect 3.0 and the changes it offers us musicians. Until then, get your blog updated!

Sonicbids buys ArtistData!

Sonicbids, the company that helps you get gigs, has acquired ArtistData, the company that helps you promote gigs. Read on to find out why this is a good thing.

Sonicbids, the company that helps you get gigs, has acquired ArtistData, the company that helps you promote gigs.  Brendan Mulligan, CEO of ArtistData, published a letter to ArtistData users talking about the transition and what it means.  When I first read the news, I have to say I was pretty pissed.  I have a Sonicbids membership and while they have some good exclusive gigs, parts of their system desperately need improvement.  My fear was that Sonicbids would screw up ArtistData and/or lock it up for members only.

Fortunately, Brendan relieved these fears.  Part of the acquisition deal was a free option for ArtistData’s services.  The paid parts of ArtistData would become standard issue for Sonicbids members (yea for me!).  He also said he’d be helping improve the Sonicbids system.  If the amazing work he’s done with ArtistData is any indication, we can all look forward to a vastly improved Sonicbids!  I’m very happy about the change in this case.

What does this mean for you?  Since there will still be a free option, we can still publish our gigs through ArtistData for no cost.  If you have a Sonicbids membership as well, like I do, it will mean getting the extra features for free.  I think the biggest thing will be having Brendan and his team working with Sonicbids.  I sincerely hope they are able to help Sonicbids improve their system.

Here are some suggestions for Brendan as he helps improve their system at Sonicbids:

More granular options for gig listings.  Nashville is only a four-hour drive from Cincinnati, so I have to include Ohio in my options for gig listings to see shows there.  Unfortunately, Ohio is lumped in with Michigan and Pennsylvania, so I see tons of gigs that too far away for me to consider.  Not to mention seeing gigs for Cleveland which also too far away.  It would be nice if you could select not only which states you’d like to see, but which parts of states like southern Illinois vs northern Illinois or eastern, middle, or western Tennessee.  Or maybe by city.  I know several musicians who fly back and forth from Nashville and Los Angeles, so it would benefit them to see gig listings from those cities, but not every city & state in between.

Improved email notifications.  I’ve changed my email preferences several times and I still get daily emails with gig listings (I’ve asked for a weekly digest instead).  For the last three weeks, these daily emails have included all the same gigs.  While I understand why you’d relist the same upcoming deadline, if you’re going to send a daily “new listings” email, it should only include actual new listings.  Not listings from two weeks ago that  you’ve already either submitted to or decided to ignore.  Same thing for deadlines.  Maybe try sending a third email when a listing is half way over to remind people about it.

What about listing venues, period?  There’s a site called indieonthemove.com that lists venues and allows bands to give their feedback about the place and their experiences there.  Sonicbids could allow members to submit venues and their contact info, which could then be verified and listed in the Sonicbids database.  As part of the verification process, SB could contact these venues about possibly accepting peformance offers from their members.  Keeping in regular contact with venues would also give SB the most current, up-to-date venue listings around; that alone would be worth the SB membership fees!  I do the booking for my band and I can’t tell you how many closed venues still have sites up with no news about them closing.

AD improvement:

Have a form to submit media.  I have a habit of picking up out of town newspapers and periodicals and such, but there’s no easy way for me to submit them to your database.  Crowdsource this part of the process to make your life easier!

W3 Total Cache

Load and activate the W3 Total Cache plugin to see significant improvement in your WordPress blog load times.

I just discovered an amazing caching plugin, thanks to yoast.com.  It’s called W3 Total Cache and is available through the WordPress plugins directory.  I’ve endorsed WP Super Cache in Your Band Blog, but frankly, I never really noticed it making my site faster.  When I installed and activated W3TC, I noticed.  I completely believe their claims of a 10x load time improvement.

The best part is, it doesn’t require much tweaking, most of the default settings are great.  I had one minor issue: for some reason the plugin wasn’t able to put its file, advanced-cache.php, in the plugins folder, so it disabled that portion of the plugin.  I manually uploaded the file, reloaded the plugin options page, and all was well.

Here are the settings I changed from the defaults:

Page Cache Settings:

Change HTTP compression to gzip and deflate (best).

Minify Settings:

Change HTTP compression to gzip and deflate (best).

Check the enable box for HTML minify settings.

That’s it.  The plugin will prompt you to empty the cache after each change, just wait until you’ve made all three, then you’re good to go.  You should notice a dramatic increase in your page load times, I know I did.  I have yet to gather any concrete data, like Google Page Speed analytics, but it appears to load much faster than before.  Give this plugin a shot and I think you’ll be happy with the results!

BuddyPress

BuddyPress was recently updated to include support for single WordPress installs. Is this useful or just another social network?

Last May, I read about BuddyPress, a new plugin from Automattic, which also produces WordPress, that would bring social networking to WordPress blogs.  I immediately began dreaming up ways to create a community of my music’s fans.  Then I read up on it.  It required WordPress MU, which allows you to create blog networks (like for a school, company, etc).  Since I wasn’t running MU, and didn’t know any bands that were, I forgot about it.

BuddyPress 1.2 was released Friday, February 26th and can be used with a single WordPress install, so we can all have social networks related to our band blogs!  However, I’m a little hesitant: do our fans need yet another social network?  While I’m sure there are bands that could easily support their own (think: Phish, Dave Matthews Band, or KISS to name a few), most of us don’t have enough fans to justify it.  We’re better off with sticking to Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter because our fans are already on those sites.

Before you think I’m just being pessimistic, I’m in favor of using this plugin.  I just wonder how effective it will be for most artists.  If you have a community created around your band already, this will work well to help you unite them.  For the rest of us, it could assist you in building that community around your music.  Either way, this is a good step for this plugin and I hope to start working it into some artist blogs to see if it’s helpful or just another useless social network.  Once I have some first-hand knowledge, I’ll write some more (but I’ll bet you see this plugin in the next version of my book).