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What to do...what to do..?

August 28, 2006

Folks,
We have a hypothetical question that maybe you can help us with…(okay maybe it isn’t quite so hypothetical, but let’s pretend for a minute, shall we...)

Let’s just say IF the Folk Alley staff had been watching, quietly and behind the scenes, an individual abuse the Open Mic feature to benefit a friend whose songs are posted. And, let’s say the things this person was doing to help their ‘artist friend’ wasn’t just a one-time, isolated incident, but was rather an on-going pattern for well over a month, maybe even two.

Would you agree that this individual was abusing and taking advantage of the system? And would you think that this person was showing a total lack of respect for the Open Mic community? Finally - What do you think we should do about this? Condone it? Publicly expose this person in the Blog? Along with his ‘artist friend’ too? Suspend him for a period of time from the site? Public flogging? Tar and feather? Lock them in a room and blast “Spaced Out: The Best of Leonard Nemoy & William Shatner” for 72 hours solid? Any ideas? Help us out…we want Open Mic to be for YOU not ambitious “gamers.” Thanks!

Posted by Linda Fahey at August 28, 2006 11:49 AM


Comments

I would tar and feather the friend. Ban him or her for life. If you are certain the artist was complicit, then I would publicly expose the dynamic duo, ban the artist for life, and arrange for a public hanging at high noon. Sound reasonable?

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at August 28, 2006 12:09 PM

One warning without public expsoure, then simply block access if abuse continues. If they have multiple email accounts they could register again, so it would be necessary to be vigilant.

Posted by: Jack Swain at August 28, 2006 12:33 PM

I'm with Barry. We have gone over and over this in the blogs, and (hopefully) in our communications with whatever mailing lists we have used to drum up support over the past three months. One person, one vote. No games.

This is supposed to be an honest outreach, a way to expand both our own circle of listeners and the Folk Alley listener base. I've personally travelled hundreds of miles over the past month drumming up support at shows. I would be bitterly disappointed if a "friend" was dishonoring themselves and disrespecting the entire effort, by playing the system.

I would certainly expect all "game" results to be nullified. Let the chips fall.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 28, 2006 12:34 PM

One IP address, one vote may help. It's so easy to have multiple votes from one computer. I did not even permit my son to vote for me in these finals for that very reason. I felt enough of the"gamer" innuendos from Jim' s blog after May's contest.

As I mentioned to Ann and Linda, prior to this blog, I did have to deal with a kind-hearted overzealous fan a few months back. Fortunately, her activities did not affect any outcomes to the best of my knowledge.

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at August 28, 2006 1:00 PM

Barry-- We appreciated that you addressed the problem and are glad that everything has been resolved. It's really rotten when a fan thinks they are "helping" and instead make the situation worse. We all want Open Mic to be fun for both the songwriters and the listeners - it's silly for it to be so stressful. After the big contest this month, we're going to change some things around to bring us back to a place of communal sharing of new music.

Posted by: Ann VerWiebe at August 28, 2006 1:48 PM

Barry I think I'm the one who introduced the word "gamer" to that blog, but it so wasn't about your win. It was the torpedos. I'd lean on my own kids ("You're welcome for bringing you into the damn world!") in a minute, and they've got their own ISP addresses.

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at August 28, 2006 2:18 PM

What's happened here? I'm saddened by this. In live open mics, those in the audience would listen to a performer and 1. clap enthusiastically 2. Clap politely or 3. Not clap at all. That's it. The 2s and 3s might get up and get another beer or something, bu this competition thing, this "my song is better than your's" thing has gotten out of hand. Way out of hand.

I'm rarely one to wave my own banner, but I think I had a hand in the creation of this open mic. I'm just some guy in another country who writes songs and thought of way to get them heard along with thousands of other songwriters who needed a place to be heard. In my mind it was never inteded to be a competition. I feel the fun's gone out it. Damn shame!

Posted by: Joshua Brande at August 28, 2006 3:16 PM

I have a friend who doesn't have internet connection yet at his home, but he has access to Folk Alley through the computer lab at his school library. Unfortunately, he cannot hear the program from the school library, but he can read the blogs and read any listed lyrics which might be posted. He also cannot cast his vote from that location, so he comes over here to listen and to contemplate his vote.
The other night, he finally registered (under his real name it should be noted) with Folk Alley and sat quietly and listened intently to each of the contestant's songs three times, then made his choice, reviewed them just once more, then selected and locked his vote.
He made an excellent choice, I thought, albeit different from mine, but an excellent choice none-the-less. He even took the time to send a little comment to the artist about that song.

I was really happy to be able to help him find a way and a place to vote in this contest.
Now, he had to register from my computer, so next day I had to log him off and re-register my account from scratch in order to continue to participate in the blogs, etc.
I don't consider this friend a multiper user of my computer, for he hasn't his own account logged in as a multiple user here, so I don't see the potential for misuse here at this location.

I would think that, for the real abusers, a sequence of events might be good to nip the problem in the bud:
1) a big public warning might first be in order
2) a warning to expose the perpetrator's ID name and location might be a second warning
and if the abuse still continues,
3) communication to that ID address in attempt at one last opportunity for communication about the issue
And if the first two efforts have no effect, then
3) a swift removal of and notification to that ID from having voting/commenting/blogging privileges for the whole of the next contest

I'm with Jack Swain on this one. Voting is a privilege, and should be respected as such. Play by the rules and everybody wins.

Is there no way to remove all but the first of the votes from that perptrator? Or would that also be considered monkeying with the results, and a big no-no?

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 28, 2006 3:34 PM

Music sites that have ranking systems, with or without a big prize, are inevitably reduced to game playing. Why? Rank amateurs like myself who aren't signed and don't have any agents of promotion must do their own promotion. And many of us do it poorly. We post songs, try to find supporters in hyperspace as well as our own neighborhoods, trade comments, and try to learn as we go along. Online music sharing is a new dynamic for interaction and we are enduring a helluva lot of growth pains. And I will be the first to admit that I have been overly zealous in promoting myself -- so much so that it is starting to irritate some. But now I weary of the effort. I will ease back and concentrate on local live performances for my home crowd. Thanks to those who encouraged me in my time here. I won't be posting any new stuff for a spell. Maybe I'll take a few songs offline. I'm sorry if I messed up the Open Mic scene.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at August 28, 2006 3:37 PM

And, as far as 'exposing' the artist who's "fan" has been abusing the contest system - might I suggest that the artist be notified of the problem, but I see no reason the artist should be penalized for someone else's actions.

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 28, 2006 3:41 PM

Richard! I, for one, have enjoyed all of your input here and would miss you greatly if you were to retreat to your local scene solely.

Hey, we all irritate someone..it's a big bad worldnout there, but we go on doing what we do, regardless of a few sour pusses here and there.
You, in NO way have 'messed up the Open Mic scene', so stop that. No need to be discouraged.
I can understand your weariness, but take a break to recharge and roll on in again, fully recharged. No one can fill your spot - I hope you know that!
You're prolific, and I, for one, stand in awe of that.

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 28, 2006 3:58 PM

And Richard...you gotta remember, if a person has a valid critique they'll most likely use their own real name here to post comments. It's real easy to hide behind a pseudonym. It takes courage to say, "This is my name, this is who I am, and this is what I think."

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 28, 2006 4:06 PM

Actually, I am against the notion of voting on songs altogether. I believe there is only one criteria that is a valid measure of popularity and that is the number of listenings. If you really like a song you will repeat your listening. If a song has a low rating it seems obvious enough, that most people will not even listen once because someone else has already made their decision for them. I do not believe music should be competitive.

Posted by: Jack Swain at August 28, 2006 4:07 PM

Jack - but how do you measure the listenership for those songs which are right away downloaded on to iTunes and then mostly listened to from there? Those songs may be getting many more listens than are being counted here on the FA Open Mic ticker...
A few of my all time fav songs have relatively lower ratings here, which mystifies me, but I listen to them a lot from a couple of places.

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 28, 2006 4:52 PM

Frankly, I don't know what you mean downloaded on to iTunes. Do mean some of the open mic songs are getting sold through iTunes, so it would reduce the number of times they would be listened to on the Folk Alley open mic? If that is the case, then the person selling their songs should be getting a measure of the popularity based on sales. Or, you mean downloaded from the Folk Alley site to listen with an iPod? Don't they already measure the number of downloads?

???

Posted by: Jack Swain at August 28, 2006 5:06 PM

JoLynn: Seriously, I was guilty of obsessing about my ratings and visibility. I complained to Linda when Listener Favorites module was removed. Later that day, I realized how stupid I was to make a fuss. I felt quite unclean. I really need to take a breather. I had an idea about where I could take my music but now the picture is changing. That Irish band experience has a lot to do with my change of season. I felt so inadequate in the wake of their supercharged and authentic renditions of traditional Irish tunes. Lucky Guitar is not the reason I am backing off. I am leaving up 15 tunes -- the best from my heart to you folks.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at August 28, 2006 5:23 PM

"Downloaded to iTunes" simply means the free MP3 file which FolkAlley provides is downloaded to a person's computer and played in iTunes...or in any other MP3-playing program or device (QuickTime, Windows Media Player, iPod, Rio Player, etc.). The iTunes Music Store is not what was being talked about.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at August 28, 2006 5:24 PM

Once a tune is downloaded, there is no way for FA (or anyone, really) to track how many times it is played, traded, or duplicated out in cyberspace.

It has become free, rising above the earthly shackles imposed by analog technology, to sail blissfully off to digital nirvana, as content in multple iPods, cellphones, and other web-enabled listening paraphernalia.

And, incidentally, earn its creator exactly bupkiss in royalties. Breaks of the game. That is why I only made two tunes available for download on Open Mic. My generosity knows some bounds.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 28, 2006 5:24 PM

Regardless of the issues, I am confident that the Folk Alley staff, Blue Ribbon Panel, and IT department shall select the appropriate winner. The winner should be CELEBRATED ~ I know the feeling of a tainted win and it's bittersweet.

I tip my hat to FA staff, panelists, honest voters, and artists for introducing a worthwhile contest. For the record Joan, I forgot it was you that introduced the word "gamer" and it was from someone else that I felt genuine malice. Please don't ever think otherwise my friend. As for my son, he's my biggest fan, and I am honored :)

~ Barry

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at August 28, 2006 5:31 PM

I also applaud the FolkAlley staff for a job well done. You now have a rich depository of home grown music for folks to enjoy. I have submitted songs to other sites and FA has been the most enjoyable scene. I really mean that. Not as much feedback as I had hoped for early on, but I think song comments have been significantly increasing this past month or so. Has anyone else noticed that?

Posted by: Richard Schletty at August 28, 2006 5:40 PM

I think that once the ice was broken a few folks loosened up. Would still like to see more participation - and follow-through from writers when more info is requested.

Hey Jack, that phrase:

"I say to all aspiring songwriters and itinerant musicians out there do not listen to those who choose to discourage your craft. It is not the self-proclaimed critics who will decide the fate of your music. Play it as often as you can, and if people like it enough to join in, especially the children, then you are doing something right."

Did you come up with that off the cuff? Because I'd like to quote that on my email signatures. Well said!

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 28, 2006 5:43 PM

For the record Richard, I'm a rank amateur myself. My 9 year old boy accompanies me to the rare coffeehouse as my manager (30% of the cut) and sells the odd CD. A few artists have thought I have a promoter and am signed to a label - NOT.

I appreciated their inquiries and informed them that I alone am "Narrative Music" with one release, one promoter, and one artist on its roster - ME.


Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at August 28, 2006 5:43 PM

Barry: I often appear to others much larger than I really am, too. The Internet has made that possible. Having good musicians to collaborate (locally and in hyperspace) also brings quite a polish to my songs. But really, I am a hacker. What I like about FA is that there are fewer guises. What you see is what you get. That is why I now want to work on solo live performance in the coffee house setting. I think I will find my voice there. I am doing volunteer work for New Folk Collective (newfolk.org) and actually learning the "Folk Scene" for the first time in my life. I was never involved with Folk much before...except as an occasional consumer.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at August 28, 2006 6:04 PM

Jim, I wrote the message the other day and held off sending it, but my wife saw the Word document on my computer with the message and urged me to post it so I did. I did not want to sound confrontational, nor was I sure it should have been posted in that particular thread, except in response to a few other comments. As far as the particluar phrase you are asking about, it has long been my belief and I put it to words the other day. You are free to use it, if you find any value in it.

Posted by: Jack Swain at August 28, 2006 6:05 PM

Thanks Jack. I think it says an awful lot, and it says it with elegance. Eloquent elegance.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 28, 2006 6:43 PM

Ann - I hope the Open Mic has been as much fun for the listeners as it has been for me. I found the whole process more amazing than stressful, having the superb opportunity to expose, listen, and share fringe music. Surprisingly, and unintentionally, the Open Mic Contest also provided a fascinating micro-opportunity to experience the shadowy, self-absorbed nature of the music industry.

I appreciated your starting a blog to commend Liam's, Jim's, and my results in the May contest. Though, I understand why you did not do the same for the June and July winners. I heard a listener ask "Why?" The essential question. Well, hardly anyone posted to the May contest blog, even though you brought us here to CELEBRATE folk music. Ironically, the more critical, negative - oooops - I mean constructive Open Mic blogs were flooded with comments, just like this one.

I do hope you post a Final Winner blog to CELEBRATE the winners ~ and that it receives at least half as many posts as Jim Pipkin's "Primate Psychology" blog. I have my serious blog response doubts. Hmmm ... is the "I love you friend" folkie a self-serving master of illusion? Delightful grist for a song.

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at August 28, 2006 7:01 PM

I think everyone involved in playing music feels stepped on every once in awhile. And we have so few chances to really vent about it - mustn't anger the promoter, mustn't alienate the venue owner, must appear positive and cheerful at ALL times (think of the FANS, think of the AUDIENCE, the SHOW must go ON) ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

It isn't bitterness, or negativity, or even the desire to hurt people's feelings that draws so many into a discussion like this one, or like "Primate" (which was off-topic more than it was on, really). It is just the need to have SOME place where we can discuss the real foibles of human nature that we have seen out here in the cigarette smoke, above the sound of the annoying espresso machine, or with the smell of stale beer in our nostrils.

I know in my case it helped a great deal to hear others' viewpoints, vents, and observations. To let the painted-on smiles crack a bit, and relate to each other as the human beings we are - not as we think the audience might wish us to be.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 28, 2006 7:16 PM

I have been known to turn a blog into a song. Beware!

Busking Online
http://www.macjams.com/song/10015

Posted by: Richard Schletty at August 28, 2006 7:20 PM

I appreciate the rich discussions on your blog Jim and on this one. I hope you realize that my point in the previous post was to lift the shadow from over the parade. We seem to dwell in the mist and not dance in the sunlight.

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at August 28, 2006 7:34 PM

For the record Jim, I am most myself in front of an audience. That's why I gravitate to Harry Chapin as my favourite live performer. When it comes to live performances, having attended many of their concerts, Harry Chapin and Gordon Lightfoot are like bookends. I find Lightfoot stiff on stage. Ironically, I tend to wear my painted-on-smile in my daily life.

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at August 28, 2006 7:41 PM

Don't we all!!

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 28, 2006 9:57 PM

Definitely unprofessional! Both the artist, and the not-so-bright computer tactician should be transported immediately to geosynchronous orbit above the planet Xynton, WITHOUT the aid of Chris Boros' transbiulator. Let them explain their behavior to the Xyntons, we definitely don't need such unnethical high-school behavior in the midst of folkalley.com.

BTW, am I the only one who sees the potential of "Narrative Music?" Re: What do we call this stuff?

Posted by: Robin Roderick at August 28, 2006 11:18 PM

oooops, that's 'unethical.' Hey Linda, can't we get fonts and spellcheck? ;)

Posted by: Robin Roderick at August 28, 2006 11:22 PM

Hey Y'all, First let me say I'm pretty much an analog man (I have a song that proves it!) and have some questions about the whole voting issue. And second, what a surprise it was to have one of my songs selected to be in the 10 songs for the July open mic contest and THEN to have been included in the finals. Wow. Thanks! I just thought it would be cool to get some feed back on some tunes after hearing some of the awesome songs posted. So all of a sudden I'm telling folks at my gigs about FolkAlley and encouraging them to upload their own stuff and oh by the way couldya vote for my song and suddenly I'm feeling more like a politician than musician and politics just never one of my favorite pastimes. Whew! Let my take a deep breath...
So my question is this: I have friends that work at schools and hospitals, small town cafes, etc. and all register their own e-mail addresses and names with Folk Alley but use the computer at their place of employment. Is that showing up as multiple votes? Some enlightenment on this would be most welcome.
Lastly, I would like to thank all the folks who are working their butts off running Folk Alley and striving to keep it real. Thanks for a GREAT place to hang out in cyber-space.
dM

Posted by: Dale Marsh at August 29, 2006 12:13 AM

It's refreshing to be "real" isn't it? This is such a great experience, yes, even for the listener.

Richard described the iTune thing correctly. It just happens to be a player on my computer which stores any downloaded songs for me to listen to. I've loaded some of my favorite albums on there too, so I can just set the thing going and listen while I go about my day.
Right now songs are organized alphabetically, and I haven't even gotten past the "H"s after hours and hours of play. For some strange reason that fluke of an alphabetical "playlist" actually works, blend wise. I couldn't have edited it better myself! Happy accident, as they say.

I think Folk Alley does keep a record of the number of times each Open Mic song has been downloaded.
If I had my way, I'd download the whole shebang to my player so I could be assured that I could still listen to a song even if it's later withdrawn. A reoccuring nightmare for me, now that I'm "spoiled" by Folk Alley's Open Mic, is for that feature to end, and I'd be left hanging. That would be dreadful...just dreadful.

Richard, I'd be interested in periodic journal reports of your LIVE experience you're embarking on. We could learn a thing or two from that, I think.

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 29, 2006 4:51 AM

Howdy Dale! I feel your pain - I was "campaigning" all over Arizona for the past few weeks. I feel like a congressional candidate, only without the money, drugs, or hookers.

The idea was to encourage the competitors to promote both their own music and Folk Alley, and for the most part I think this was successful. I was motivated to get out to a lot more places than I would ordinarily visit, even do a few freebies and cameos, just to "get out the vote".

I know of several situations where fans of mine voted out of the same IP - not going to name drop, but at least one band currently touring told me they all voted from the laptop in their van, and I gave Linda a heads-up about them. I don't know how the IT group will weed out the dross . To be frank, as long as I know I've been honest, I don't care. I'm sure they'll do their best.

But I'm also glad the "campaign" is over, and I can focus on other stuff. Out of our hands now, and that's fine by me.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 29, 2006 8:54 AM

Ditto Jim: "To be frank, as long as I know I've been honest, I don't care. I'm sure they'll do their best" too. As for campaigning, I'm happy to see a Blue Ribbon Panel of judges and not simply a popularity contest. Though the new Folk Alley acquaintances is a wonderful spin-off.

Robin, you lost me on the "Narrative Music" and ethics comment though I thought the indie label name appropriate for my favourite style of songs ~ ones that tell stories. Hopefully, I shall release a second CD soon under my same umbrella.


Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at August 29, 2006 9:11 AM

"Narrative Music" does describe a lot of the material (the ballads), but not the instrumental pieces, or the argument songs, or the philosophical ones, or most of the relationship ones. Even folk types often skip the story behind why a relationship failed (or flourished), and just natter on about how it makes them feel.

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at August 29, 2006 10:10 AM

Natterative Music

Posted by: Richard Schletty at August 29, 2006 10:53 AM

Oh, about the artist and the friend. I'd shame the friend and inform the artist. I don't think people who register just to vote necessarily read any of the blogs, and I don't remember a one-voter-one-vote rule being posted anywhere. Anyone can sense that was the intent, but nothing goes without saying. I guess the technical design just needs to uphold the intent. Given the results, the overall process did work to bring a terrific dozen finalists to the fore.

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at August 29, 2006 11:05 AM

It is possible the friend was not aware of the one person one vote rule? So giving them the benefit of the doubt I would inform them of the rule then if they refuse to comply block thier access.

Posted by: RIC SIERS at August 29, 2006 1:02 PM

Since they would have to be manipulating something to get a second vote, it seems clear enough they knew what they were doing.

Posted by: Jack Swain at August 29, 2006 1:09 PM

Just to clarify -- this thread was initiated in reference to general Open Mic activities, and NOT the Monthly and Finals Contests specifically. We've had our share of issues with people voting multiple times in the Contests (where it is stated that each listener gets one vote per month), but that's not what triggered this conversation.

Posted by: Linda Fahey at August 29, 2006 1:22 PM

Jack I think you're right. But Remember how Ben-the-Webmeister said (in the Primate Psychology thread) that the original working title of Open Mic had been "Folk Idol" and that it was kind of modeled on American Idol? Voters on that show are permitted to vote as many times as they want to, but they have to make a fresh call each time they do, benefiting the sponsor/phone company. So there's room here for a smidge of benefit of the doubt. But since this system makes you reregister under a different name each time you vote, that would seem to make the just-vote-once intent pretty clear. So voters come to the site with their own intent, to benefit whoever they came to vote for. When intents are in conflict, people are prone to go with whatever advances their own. Else, you know, we wouldn't have the jails and wars and stuff.

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at August 29, 2006 1:26 PM

So, do you think they might have mistaken the fact that they had to register with a different login to get a second vote was just a bug on the website? If they were that ignorant they would not have thought to register with a second ID in the first place.

Posted by: Jack Swain at August 29, 2006 1:39 PM

I think the temptation can be overwhelming if they think everyone else on the site is either too civilized or too dumb to do the same thing. I think it's maybe a little bit like when a 3-year-old tells a lie for the first time -- they've pretty much invented the concept as far as they know. So many synapses have to fire before that can happen, parents should probably celebrate it as a milestone. Somehow, though, we dont.

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at August 29, 2006 1:45 PM

Back on topic Linda, I do seriously feel that any complicit friend-artist duo that has obviously been cheating over a significant period of time should be publicly exposed and publicly removed permanently from Folk Alley.

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at August 29, 2006 2:07 PM

Though I would prefer, if such is the case, that the "tell tale heart" fess up on this blog, express a sincere apology, withdraw from the contest, and remain a friend of Folk Alley. I prefer to believe that we are a fairly forgiving bunch.

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at August 29, 2006 2:17 PM

The offender doesn't need to be exposed publicly...they just need a 'time out' like a 3-year-old that Joan speaks of above. And they need to start playing nice with others.

Posted by: Linda Fahey at August 29, 2006 2:23 PM

Fair enough Linda ~ in retrospect, it sounds more humanized. I think you should take the offenders "blankie" away permanently though, it's time to grow up.

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at August 29, 2006 2:33 PM

My understanding is that the duo in question are not among the current contest finalists, their games were being played elsewhere in open mic. Is this correct?

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 29, 2006 3:05 PM

That's right, Jim. They're not involved with the contest. And to tell you the truth, (hypothetically, of course) I think it's more the friend than the artist...so I don't want to hammer on the artist too much. Don't get me wrong, there are a great number of inappropriate votes in the contest too. And we'll need to adjust totals before everything's all said and done, but that's not what I'm talking about in the first post that started this thread.

Posted by: Linda Fahey at August 29, 2006 3:37 PM

That's cool, we're playing by your rules here, and everyone I think understands that votes alone will not determine the outcome. Thanks!

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 29, 2006 3:41 PM

Sooo...the thought plickens!

Posted by: Jack Swain at August 29, 2006 3:52 PM

I'm relieved to hear that none of the artists from the finalist pool are incriminated in any way. Total vote totals may decline, however, no artist/s shall be tainted. Thank you for clarifying Linda ~ otherwise, misinterpretations of the results may have negatively impacted friendly artist relations.

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at August 29, 2006 5:10 PM

Speaking of artist relations - I started that blog you suggested, Barry, looking for positive experiences from those who wound up in the finals. I've asked all of the finalists to chime in.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 29, 2006 5:14 PM

Howdy all, just surfed in to the blog, sounds tasty. I think the situation requires some discussion between FA and the artist, to see if the artist knew of the impropriety that was being committed on their behalf. Hopefully honesty will prevail, whether or not they knew what was being done. Sometimes, I have found, fans and/or friends can be overzealous in their "promotion" of someone, and not understand or know that what they are doing is harmful to the system. I'm not sure if that's the case here, and someone could be conscienly rebelling against the rules, but I think the conversation with the artist is a good place to start, for I'd hate for a good artist to been reprimanded for something they didn't even know what was going on.

Posted by: Sam Hensley at August 29, 2006 5:28 PM

And if the artist did know, then they should be asked to leave open mic for a certain length of time. And write 100 times on the blackboard, "I will not abuse the rights and priveledges of the Folk Alley Open Mic ever, ever again."

Posted by: Sam Hensley at August 29, 2006 5:31 PM

1000 times. And no eraser-stuffing with the chalk, either.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 29, 2006 6:32 PM

Oh, man, and I just washed the blackboard!

Posted by: Jack Swain at August 29, 2006 7:03 PM

...and then afterward they have to wash the blackboard, so Jack doesn't have to work so hard.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 29, 2006 7:06 PM

pheeuuww! Thanks, that's a relief!

Posted by: Jack Swain at August 29, 2006 7:11 PM

What's "eraser-stuffing"?
Anyway, the sensible thing to do is to let the atist know and encourage them to invite their friend to visit the offices of FA (which are grand, palatial and VERY high-tec, as we know), where, unbeknownst to them, several mandolin players will await them to practice their art upon the softer, hairier areas of the perpetrators' bodies ...

... no, not the musical instruments, the kitchen utensils!

Posted by: Johnny Mindlin at August 31, 2006 10:55 AM

Eraser stuffing is when you stick a piece of chalk in each of the little slots on the blackboard eraser, so that you can write 3-4 identical lines at once. "I will not release snakes in class...I will not release snakes in class...I will not..."

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at August 31, 2006 11:54 AM

Ouch! Johnny, be good!
(made me laugh!)

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 31, 2006 12:01 PM

WOW!!! I never thought of that when I was in school ... probably why I turned out to be a musician, instead of a salesman or something ...

Still, as my friend used to say "Slices, dices AND Juliennes!" in her best Valley Girl voice.
Whatever happened to Valey Girls, they were grerat!

Posted by: Johnny Mindlin at August 31, 2006 2:19 PM

Yes! THAT's what they were: Grerat! It's like a normal rat, only with more gre!

Posted by: Johnny Mindlin at August 31, 2006 2:24 PM

Oh boy ... I must not drink 3 cups of coffee and go on line! I must not drink 3 cups of coffee and go on line! I must not drink 3 cups of coffee and go on line! I must not drink 3 cups of coffee and go on line! I must not drink 3 cups of coffee and go on line! I must not drink 3 cups of coffee and go on line! I must not drink 3 cups of coffee and go on line! I must not drink 3 cups of coffee and go on line! I must not drink 3 cups of coffee and go on line! etc.

Posted by: Johnny Mindlin at August 31, 2006 2:25 PM

Duh...Like...duuuude...switch to decaff. It will, like, totally change your outlook, ya kneoow?

Posted by: JL Braswell at August 31, 2006 5:14 PM

I used to be in answering machines: I bred the little sprites that scramble the tape (if you're old enough) or the digital recorder at the precise point where the caller leaves their number. Mind you, I also used to make ringtones, you know? (no, NOT the Frog) but, since the unreasonable price-hike of wholesale fudge, I've had to cut back production. No one wants Fudge Sprites these days.
The world's gone whole-meal and I'm stuffed. Ah well, so much for the oat-n-raisin cookies.
You know how you can spot a joke and you go for it and when you say it or print it, it all goes horribly wrong and people get upset? Well, what I SHOULD have said earlier is that when the artists' "friend" arrives at FAHQ, Mandolin artists will play their instruments on them ... no, not "at" them,"on" them - I'm talking kitchen utensils!
The same idea, only funnier! If only the whole world was re-writable.
What IS a fudge sprite? It's obviously a euphemism, but what is euphemised?
Bed time.

Posted by: Johnny Mindlin at August 31, 2006 8:16 PM

Is a "Fudge Sprite" one which rewrites (messes up) the original message?

Posted by: JL Braswell at September 1, 2006 2:22 AM

is now ...

Posted by: Johnny Mindlin at September 1, 2006 3:23 AM

I work out of my house. There is my wife and one full time employee. We also have two part-time women, but they are not interested in folk music at all (I know… Blasphemy!... but I need their 20 year PC board stuffing experience).

Anyway, I know how I vote and I know pretty much how my wife votes. She is 11 years younger, and tends to listen and vote for the more folk-rock/electric and I listen and vote more on the traditional. I have no idea how my employee votes.
This makes three possible votes from the same IP, but I know that it is me who votes the most (as FA is really a part of my life - not theirs).

If I mention that I was torpedoed and/or bombed or whatever the word is to say that someone went in and gave all 1 rating to my songs, I know my wife logs on to try to help.

I first noticed this practice the day that ALL my songs were reversed in less than 15 minutes. What songs were on top were now at the bottom and vice versa. As everyone else here, I got VERY annoyed when I found out what had happened.

HOWEVER, I have noticed something VERY interesting lately that over a two to four week period after a bomb, one by one, the NEW votes from either brand new people and/or others here who are hearing my songs for the first time, the ratings were actually reversing themselves back to where they were!

It seems that given enough time, your ratings get put back to some extent (never back to a 5, but at least higher).

Of course, you also need enough total NUMBER of ratings of your song to help block yourself from another 1 rating by the next troglodyte from hurting you too badly!

So, I would say that when you post a song, tell everyone you know here that you uploaded it and ask them to have a listen and see what they think of it. At least this will give you a larger TOTAL of votes - the ONLY way to fight the 1 rating from affecting you too badly.

Lastly, I agree that public humiliation by naming names and total IP blocking would be a great step in stopping this practice.
AND, to literally add insult to injury, if after blocking an IP, you find that it was a WORKPLACE IP with OTHER people in the office now not being able to log on now, directly due to this individual, the culprit also enjoys the continuing anger and scorn from his fellow co-workers on a daily basis – yet another GOT-CHA!!

Posted by: Paul Marks at September 1, 2006 2:37 PM

Paul is "right on" regarding the torpedo/bombing "1" ratings. I've met some REALLY REALLY nice, talented people on here BUT, I took my songs off of Folk Alley because of the rating system. I watched it, I tested it. It's pushing SOME (not all!) not-so-great music to the top of the ratings chart and burying some great talent down on the charts. Which, makes the site look bad when visitors stop in to listen...If they hear the top rated songs that shouldn't be top rated they think "whoa. if this is the BEST here then i don't want to hear the WORST!" They don't know some of the best talent got buried down on the ratings chart by being bombed by unfair "1" ratings. They leave and don't come back. And then it's just us artists here. All alone. Rating eachother. *shiver*

Also, I wonder if the original concept of Folk Alley's Open Mic was for anyone and everyone with a guitar and an mp3 to submit songs about the day their son was born or about how they cried on their daughter's wedding day. Was that REALLY the original vision of Open Mic cuz...gee...Why?

I wish Folk Alley Open Mic could be a GREAT place to hear AWESOME uncut songs and unsigned artists and songwriters. Why not make it an audition-to-be-here basis? Take away all the competition among the artists. Folk Alley could determine how high to raise the bar and draft 10 or so people to listen to an artist/songwriter to determine if that artist/songwriter is someone who would contribute to making Folk Alley Open Mic THE place to go on the internet to hear great undiscovered music. If you pass the audition you get to be an artist on Folk Alley's Open Mic. ( If you think that defeats the purpose of Open Mic then I'd like to point out (for what it's worth) that alot of places like the Bluebird Cafe make you send in an audition tape for Open Mic. You can't just walk in and sing. You have to make the audition first. )

I'd much rather aspire to be part of THAT ^ Folk Alley Open Mic than to be part of the way it is now. If I auditioned and wasn't accepted it would make me work harder to improve so I might be accepted next submission period. At least I'd know if I ever got accepted onto the Folk Alley Open Mic that I was going to be part of a hot, happening site with some amazing talent.

Maybe the site would THEN become a place where music fans AND major labels, publishers, recording artists looking for great songs would come...
But, maybe that's not the point of Folk Alley's Open Mic. Maybe it's just a place to "share"... tell everyone in a song that my son weighed 8 lbs 6 oz's when he was born. On a rainy day. In October. And he was beautiful. And I ate a cold hospital egg. And I cried. BRILLIANT! :0P

Posted by: Jennifer Sherrill at September 2, 2006 2:23 AM

Jennifer, the stream part of Folk Alley is just that, a juried site. I don't think 10 judges working fulltime would be nearly enough to screen the submissions of a Virtual Bluebird Cafe, though it's an interesting idea.

Something makes me think you're more of a commercial songwriter (looking for artists to record your work) than a folk writer. Folk music isn't just an entry-level spot for people who'd rather be in country or pop, though it can seem that way at times. Your comments on the songs you hated here reminded me of something I heard that commercial writers have to keep in mind: that you have to remember that your listener doesn't care about you, and that your job is to make them care. I think that's where the family tree forks between folk and commercial. Folk writers are used to playing to empathetic listeners, which folk fans are. So you don't work quite so hard to bring them over. You can start out assuming they'd be interested in what you have to say about your son's birth or your daughter's wedding. Intriguing comments, though.

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at September 2, 2006 10:05 AM

Thanks, Joan, for being kind in your response. I want to say that I didn't say I "hated" any of the songs on Open Mic. I didn't mean to give a "hate" impression and I apologize if I did.

I know folk music isn't an entry-level for people who'd rather be in another genre of music. I love folk music. ~ I know what it is. I have my favorite folk artists. AND, there are MANY artists on Open Mic that I love listening to, many songs I was excited to discover...I definitely have my favorites here.

BUT, the mainstream folk artists ( folk artists who make a living with their music) HAVE found a way to say things in a "commercial" way - in a way that makes you care. That's not just a country or pop thing! If it didn't apply to folk music too then every person on Open Mic could be performing and selling cd's and making music their career.

So, I think you've answered my question. Folk Alley's Open Mic is a place to "share". The artists/songwriters here are not looking to make a living with their music.

So, why (addressing the original question of this blog) even bother with the friend who voted for the artist and messed up the ratings? Who cares if the ratings are fair or not if the point of Open Mic is simply to share your music with folk music fans who are interested in what you have to say, no matter how good or not-so-good you say it?

Posted by: Jennifer Sherrill at September 2, 2006 2:18 PM

Probably no two people would have designed Open Mic the exact same way, especially the ratings part. When there were first rumblings about having an open mic here, I thought it would be great to just let people include links to their own websites, or myspace sites, or soundclick sites, in their blog-posting signatures. Just an easy, unobtrusive way of letting blog readers who were interested, in on their music.

Because there was a decision to make the open mic a contest, of course there was concern and discussion when people weren't playing fair. You pulled your songs off, so did I, so did some others, pretty much because of the torpedos. And being a responsive bunch of people, FA is tweaking it back toward fair and fun. How cool is that?

For some reason I'm now moved to write about the birth of my son, something I've had the good grace to keep quiet about heretofor. I'll MAKE ya care.

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at September 2, 2006 3:14 PM

:0) Thanks Joan! Please DO make me care! :0)

It is very cool that FA cares enough to do some tweaking to Open Mic!

I hope I didn't sound too mean or hateful in my earlier posts. I had become so frustrated trying to figure out the purpose of Open Mic. There's a huge difference between sharing and competing for high ratings. The reasons for doing both are very different.

I'm clear now that it's intended to be a place to share. Thank you! Seriously. And I can't wait to hear the song about your son when it's finished!

Posted by: Jennifer Sherrill at September 2, 2006 3:57 PM

Jennifer said: "There's a huge difference between sharing and competing for high ratings. The reasons for doing both are very different."

I disagree. Some singer/songwriters are trying to promote themselves upward to a larger audience so they can share their songs. If they prefer not to have a manager or agent of promotion (or can't afford one), then they must do their own self-promotion. At another music collaboration and sharing site, www.macjams.com, that effort at self promotion has been half-jokingly, half-seriously been labeled as "pimping". Why does a newcomer to the music scene have to get devalued for trying to win a contest? Was it wrong for me to do a couple e-mail blasts to the music allies I had gathered and tended to for two years? Yes, Open Mic needs rethinking. With the first contest now over, no one is volleying for position and votes and comments on songs seem to have dropped off considerably. What will help drive participation in Open Mic, short of a Big Carrot like an invitation to perform at the KSFF? Thinking caps on again.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 2, 2006 6:44 PM

Did I make it clear that I am not here just for the sake of getting accolades? I want hard critiques. Lucky Guitar actually did more good for me in my quest for improvement than the silence of most OM listeners. If you think I am not sincere about about achieving lyricism in my songs, ask those who really know me. Can't ask Ralph Brown, though. He left FA last week in disgust. Asked that his user account be deleted. I am real sad about that. Some of us newbies are simply guilty of excess enthusiasm. I posted too many songs. I cut my song list from 47 to 17 songs, thinking that would help me appear less effusive. I really, really hope Open Mic can continue and evolve as a learning lab for Folk Art.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 2, 2006 6:53 PM

While trying to adopt a child, my friend and her husband were referred to a support group of other hopeful adoptors. After a couple of sessions of sharing their anxieties and hopes and experiences, they realized they were all visiting and hosting and applying to adopt from the very same tiny pool of children. It really does weird things to a group dynamic when your support network is also your competition.

Richard, I think Open Mic will continue to have participants coming out of its ears. The weirdness is if most of the voting is coming from the other entrants. The inherent conflict of interest is beyond ironic. Once the drop-ins have come in, voted, and left, it's back to just us. Which is fine by me, except for the reality-show weirdness of getting voted off Page One Island by your own friends and peers. That's the conflict between open mic and contest.

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at September 2, 2006 7:05 PM

Why did Ralph Brown leave in disgust?

Posted by: Jack Swain at September 2, 2006 8:26 PM

How about adding this to your thinking caps:

A time-limited Open Mic?:
Each song will be on there for, say, 4 weeks (irrespective of when they're put up). During that time, voters get a chance to vote in favour of that song - not rating 1-5, just positive votes (one user name, one vote).
The number of votes for each songs is not displayed to visitors to the site, but the data is kept by FA and can be accessed by the artist (only our own, not anyone elses, the same as it is now).
Each month, the songs that have been taken off within the previous month (i.e. they've finished their 4 weeks) with the largest number of votes are considered, BY AUDITION, for the monthly contest.

The visitors can still sort the songs by (displayed) number of plays, number of down-loads, artist, genre or title, but the default sorting is random (this is actually not that hard and algorhythm to write - see www.mysinglefriend.com a really neat site, by the way, but I digress).

That way, you keep the Open Mic element (and live Open Mic nights generally only go on for 1 evening at a time, we don't hang out at the venue for the rest of our naturals ... at least MOST of us don't) AND you get the contest. If people want to multi-log in and multi-vote, that's OK, beause the songs get auditioned anyway for the contest. What's more, since the selection for the contest is by audition, if there is a super-highly voted song that the selectors within FA don't think deserves it, they don't need to explain themselves. It is, after all, the same as programming the station, it's not OUR job, it's THEIRS.

I believe that new performers will provide the majority of songs because most of us get tired of re-up-loading songs AND it would encourage us to keep writing and recording new songs for the site. What's more, I think that once a song has been up there for a while, it has basically had all the downloads and plays its going to get, so let it make room for someone else. AANNDD it is likely to mean that people will keep coming back to Open Mic more often to see what's new1

BRILLIANT!!!!

It will also deal with the fact that there are nearly 1,500 songs on there. I don't feel Open Mic should be our on-line archive, that's for our own web-sites, not here.

Man, I've convinced mySELF - I think I'll start a new religion (no offence meant)!

Posted by: Johnny Mindlin at September 3, 2006 6:04 PM

The above does not deal with the contest, but I feel very strongly that the contest is a separate issue. One of my favourite things out open mic nights is that among the beautiful and moving, there will probably be someone who ... re ... is "not to your taste" ... er ... but at least you know they're only on for 2 or 3 songs, then another treat will be along ... and there always IS at least one brilliant performer at these things (no, I DON'T mean me!).
So "sharing" is how I would like to see it, Jennifer, and I'm happy to leave the contest to someone else to shake up.

Posted by: Johnny Mindlin at September 3, 2006 6:15 PM

I agree with Johnny, there should be a time limit. Otherwise this will turn into a monster. Of course songs that have been up longer will have more plays, etc - so have FA staff set a time limit and drop tunes after 4, 6, or 8 weeks. If we want to reload them we can (some do this anyway).
Up to them really.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at September 3, 2006 8:26 PM

Understood. I'm leaving up 4 previously posted songs. Just put up a new one. I feel...lighter!

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 3, 2006 10:54 PM

In other words, I understand what you are saying about Open Mic not being a main repository for one's songs. Some other sites do accept that as their raison d'etre, and artists post all their songs there (sometimes in addition to having their own personal domain site). Anyway, I think Johnny's ideas are real good.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 3, 2006 11:00 PM

Hmmm....What I'd be interested in knowing is, who is the "they" of FA who would be screening/prejudging songs for Open Mic auditions, if that idea were to fly?
My guess is that the current staff is up to their neck in allegators at this point anyway...where on earth are they going to find the time to add that humongous task (although a pleasurable one) to their already full plates?

Another thought, Johnny, is that at times, some of us go out of town, some on tour or whatever, and miss whole chunks of a month or more. If there were a time limit for posting Open Mic songs, then people like yours truly would miss out entirely on some real potential jewels.

Posted by: JL Braswell at September 5, 2006 6:39 AM

I don't mind the time limits, but I am opposed to the "audition". If someone wants to be auditioned for a spot, all they have to do is submit their CD and sit back and wait like everyone else. If the FA staff gets to it and like it, it could wind up in the rotation on the regular FA broadcast which has a bigger audience, anyway. I think you guys are beginning to miss the point of the open mic.

Posted by: Jack Swain at September 5, 2006 10:13 AM

Let's not put the onus of auditioning open mic onto the FA staff. That is asking a bit much from a team already running on a limited budget! And besides, like Jack says, the whole point here is to provide unfettered access for original and traditional music.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at September 5, 2006 10:49 AM

Perhaps the artists could assist by selecting 1 song as an Open Mic submission, and upload the others for listening pleasure. The campaigners could field test them on their friends.

Perhaps artists could then vote for their favourite song by a peer, and their votes could be weighed more heavily. For instance, 3 for a fellow artist vote and 1 for a listener vote. Artist participation could be made conditional on casting a vote for a peer.

Random musings,
Barry

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at September 5, 2006 11:25 AM

I like your idea about the artist choosing one song for the contest, with the others for listening. I did that with "Tommyknockers", the rest are just there to get kicked around.

I don't agree with weighting the votes, though, it really should be one per person. If a listener takes the time to come over onto Open Mic and cast a vote, they should have the same standing as any of us.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at September 5, 2006 11:34 AM

OK, from the top:

JoLene, it's not a "humongous task": the "Auditions" would ONLY be for those songs going into the monthly CONTEST - the system can show a list of, say, the top 15 voted songs (blind voting, remember) and listening to them to choose the 10 for the competition would take an hour of the time that is used to set up the contest anyway (and I'm sure all the contest songs are listenend to at the moment).

"Auditions" is ONLY for the monthly CONTEST.

As to missing out on some real potential jewels, can you honestly say that you've heard all 1,471 songs that are on Open Mic today? The jewels would still be there. In fact, if the default display IS random and we're up-loading new stuff all the time, you'll find MORE jewels, not fewer.

Jack - See the comment above, I'm only suggesting audition for the monthly contest; Open Mic would still be open to everyone, as it is now.

Jim - well, I would never want to fetter anyone, least of all you ;-) and I'm not suggesting we do. In fact, if older songs (lovely though they are) leave the list, there is greater focus on new songs by simple dint of having fewer songs to choose from.

Linda, what do YOU think so far?

Posted by: Johnny Mindlin at September 5, 2006 11:35 AM

I'm listening....

Posted by: Linda Fahey at September 5, 2006 11:42 AM

Why, if the songs have already been narrowed down through the voting process, would it then require an audition? Because those who voted don't count? I am sorry, but I neither understand this plan, nor support it.

Posted by: Jack Swain at September 5, 2006 12:49 PM

Nor do you seem to want to try to understand it, Jack. Perhaps you would rather waste the rest of our time on this platform Onanistically arguing about what to do with people who abuse the system as it is, rather than finding ways to improve it?
I am suggesting a bunch of ideas to improve THE WHOLE of Open Mic, but NOT dealing with the contest itself further than to suggest that the NORMAL process of entering songs into the contest be maintained effectively as it is, since I'm sure SOMEONE listens to the songs before they go in, though I may be wrong.

Perhaps, before we reach a "misunderstanding", we
forget I ever mentioned the word "audition" (in among LOTS of other words that you've unilaterally chosen to ignore).
Could you find a few moments in your staggeringly busy schedule to look at the parts of my original suggestions that DON'T mention "audition" and comment on those?

Thanks

Have a nice day.

Posted by: Johnny Mindlin at September 5, 2006 6:18 PM

Just now, I turned off my computer in high dudgeon and took a shower to calm down and, while standing under the stream (a metaphor, perhaps?), I realised something: perhaps the term "Audition" means something different in American English to what it does in UK English. Here (I'm in London), in this context it would simply mean pre-listening, rather than a formal systematic selection process.

Anyway, please forget I EVER said it.

Posted by: Johnny Mindlin at September 5, 2006 6:37 PM

Anyone got Simon Cowell's phone number? I want to join his charm school.

Posted by: Johnny Mindlin at September 5, 2006 6:40 PM

Ah, Johnny. You had me, then you lost me, then you got me back.

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at September 5, 2006 6:58 PM

I don't know if this has anything to do with this, but all of Jim Pipkin's stuff is gone, his songs, his blog. Anyone know anything?

Posted by: Sam Hensley at September 5, 2006 7:28 PM

I know but can't say.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 5, 2006 8:28 PM

Oh, what a web we weave!

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 5, 2006 8:29 PM

Jim?

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at September 5, 2006 10:07 PM

Hi Barry, I'm taking a hiatus. 20-30 years oughta do it. Track me down online, or come on down to AZ and let's play a show sometime. I suddenly recalled why I don't enter song contests! I'm a lousy loser!

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at September 6, 2006 12:03 AM

Jim - I'd be honored to play a show with you and shall connect if entering your neck of the woods. You're a fine artist. When it comes to contests, I recall Clay Aiken placing #2 in American Idol. I don't recall who placed #1. Persist my friend on the Jim Pipkin highway.

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at September 6, 2006 12:25 AM

I'll cetainly be tracking you down on the web and getting myself on your mailing list, if you have one. It's been an honour to converse with you through this medium.
Take good care.

Posted by: Johnny Mindlin at September 6, 2006 3:33 AM

Well, one thing's for sure - this blog is good for improving my vocabulary. I had forgotten the definition of "onanistically"! Thanks Johnny.

And before it goes on for too much longer, my name is actually JoLynn, although an old boyfriend used to tease me with "JoLene" and a smile - so, I do (smile) each time you guys refer to me as such. (o;
You can call me anything you want really. I answer to "Petal" to one jewel who hasn't yet submitted anything to Open Mic (I say with a huge hint-hint to the man to go ahead and submit something already!).

Posted by: JL Braswell at September 6, 2006 6:42 AM

And, no - I haven't caught up with all 1,471 + counting Open Mic submissions yet...each time I go out of town I lag way behind.
And, yes...I think you're right. "Audition" most probably does carry different weight here in the US...as many of us can tell you from years and years and years of school competitions and such -
sweaty hands and all. I agree that Open Mic should remain open and free to all. It's such a great thing, and hey- I'm still quietly pulling for those early songs which intrigue me still, but seem not to have a chance of making ground competitively.
You know what I do with them? I contact the artists and encourage them to set up a MySpace page so I can ADD and post their songs to my page and run them for a week! (My little way of getting the great stuff out there, ya-ha-ha-hah!)

Posted by: JL Braswell at September 6, 2006 6:55 AM

It seems that each time I go away to a festival and come back, songs go missing from Open Mic ...perhaps I should never leave home.

Posted by: JL Braswell at September 6, 2006 7:49 AM

(Just a bit of frustration expressed there, that's all folks.)

Posted by: JL Braswell at September 6, 2006 7:50 AM

I think there must be a far less bruising way of doing open mics and contests. Maybe we're lurching toward one, and maybe keeping the ratings blind is a good step in that direction. It seems the emphasis has been on bringing in voters from outside the site, and maybe it turns out that very few of them stick around to hear anyone else or join the community. If it's going to be largely about duelling fan bases, that's no fun at all for artists who are just starting to build theirs. And if the top listener favorites get swept away by a select panel of judges, it can feel like the last scenes of Animal Farm. "Four legs good, two legs better." I'm glad the design isn't up to me, since any tweak will leave somebody out in the cold.

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at September 6, 2006 9:57 AM

Sorry. I meant, maybe keeping the ratings blind WOULD BE a good step...

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at September 6, 2006 10:07 AM

*peeks out*
just want to say real quick that yesterdays Open Mic Finals results have restored my faith in - and excitement for - FA's Open Mic. maybe it ain't so broken afterall. i sheepishly smile
:0) and apologize for earlier vents posted. and hope the "1" bombers remain forever silent.
"love is all we need doo doo doo da doo..."
*ducks back into hiding real quick*

Posted by: Jennifer Sherrill at September 6, 2006 10:51 AM

Why apologize? I never lost faith in the process ~ we're in professional hands. As for the bombing, I think all contenders got hit pretty hard ~ some later than others. I don't think my "5th Avenue" (voted #1 in May) would have survived to the finals if I had entered the contest in June. Nasty :)

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at September 6, 2006 11:30 AM

Thanks Barry! June WAS the nasty one - that's when I was brand new to OM and it was not a good introduction. I assumed it had always been nasty and was worried it would remain that way.

I really admire the writers who have kept their songs on OM thru it all (I didn't). It shows great character and a true love for the music!

Thanks for giving us Open Mic, Folk Alley!

Posted by: Jennifer Sherrill at September 6, 2006 12:02 PM

I will ad one thought. I think that it would be nice to have it either totally based on Public Opinion, OR on the FA judges alone - not a combination of both.
At the very least, everyone should know ahead of time which group carries the greater percentage of "who wins and who doesn't" - the exact percentage.
I mention this ONLY because the two groups were far apart in their voting. SO far apart that it almost seems that public opinion may hold very little weight.
This is the first one I have witnessed. Has it been close in the past? Am I totally off bass?

Posted by: Paul Marks at September 6, 2006 1:45 PM

I don't think you're off base Paul. I think "Irish Girl" was hand-picked as a wild card, for winning reasons, without pre-requisite monthly voting support. Also, upon listening to the Open Mic final vote advertisement on the FA stream that contained 3 hand-picked songs: "Tommyknockers" and "Bluebird Creek" (for certain) and a third song ("Irish Girl" perhaps), it does appear that the 3 winners had been pre-selected, regardless of listener input.

A strong case could be argued that Open Mic was more of the closed kind to get on the Kent State stage. Regardless, the entire process ~ exposing diverse aspects of the human condition ~ has been genuinely fascinating and appreciated by this participant.

p.s. "Irish Girl" stirs my Celtic heart and is a superior song. I'd say 30 more listener votes (regardless of mid-listener ranking) would have boosted it over the top; however, that extreme a selection would have been too blatantly listener inconsiderate.

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at September 6, 2006 2:34 PM

Hey, Barry - I hope my comment about the Finals results didn't offend any of the very talented finalists. I should have stated it more clearly. I had noticed Lissa and Chad getting bombed a lot during that time and I was happy to see they prevailed in spite of it.

Posted by: Jennifer Sherrill at September 6, 2006 2:59 PM

Here's the letter that was sent to each contestant at the beginning of the contest. I regret that I left out the phrase, "...that will be weighted equally" after the "three components of judging" part. I sincerely apologize.

Any decisions we made to adjust and tweak things were done solely with the intention of making things more fair for the artists - not less.

*******
Hi!

I just wanted to let you know if that we have just posted the Open Mic Finals Contest on FolkAlley.com and you’re in it!

Here’s the link: http://www.folkalley.com/openmic/finals/

The voting begins now and will run until August 28th at 5:00 p.m. EDT.

The final winner for the Open Mic Finals will be based on three components of judging.

1.) The Listening Folk Alley Open Mic Audience
2.) A number of Folk Alley staff
3.) A specially invited “blue ribbon” panel

We certainly encourage you to spread the word and let your network of family, friends, and fans know about the Open Mic contest. Please, encourage them to cast A vote (that means one) for your song! Please remind them, though, that they should only vote once. Over enthusiastic fans who register multiple times and cast numerous votes for your song may cause your song to be disqualified from the contest.

{{If I can take a minute to be frank – we originally wanted the voting to be solely by the Folk Alley Open Mic Audience. Unfortunately, there has been way too much (what we consider) cheating or otherwise “gaming” going on. We are able to see where each vote comes from, by who and when. But you know what,,,, this takes a lot of time, and we have other things we need to be doing with our time for Folk Alley. So… it’s just easier for us to add more subjectivity to the contest judging. We’re doing this in the name of fairness to the people who aren’t gamers, and who have played along on Open Mic in the spirit of what we’re trying to accomplish.}}

The winner of the Open Mic Finals will receive an invitation to come to Kent in November to perform as part of the 40th Kent State Folk Festival. We haven’t finalized the nature of the performance spot that will be part of the invitation, but we hope to have that nailed down this week or next. Stay tuned.

Posted by: Linda Fahey at September 6, 2006 3:24 PM

How will I ever know if people cheated on my behalf? There is still a cloud of mystery here. I know one of my supporters spread the word around his workplace (a huge office complex) -- and I suppose some of the votes cast on my behalf could have come from the same IP address. If I was perceived as a gamer by the FA staff, I want to know. I could say that I am a sore loser, too. I dominated the charts for a couple months. But it was not a popularity contest, was it? Was it a fashion show? A reward system for those who have paid their dues?

I think Open Mic is a better place without Big Carrot Dangling. We can get down to the business of sharing as a peerless peer group.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 6, 2006 3:55 PM

For the public record Linda, do you consider me a "gamer"? The inference by association stings?

For the Open Mic Record ~ Chad, Lissa, and Jim ~ are all worthy winners ~ gifted songwriters and talented performers.

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at September 6, 2006 4:11 PM

Hey Jennifer

Likewise, I hope my comment about the winners didn't offend any of them.

As an Open Mic loser, however, I feel that Sam, Dale, Sandy, Liam and I (who all apparently placed ahead of "Irish Girl" with the listeners) have been smeared with the same brush of suspicion, and reduced to a suspect crew of "gamers". I graciously accept the final results but not the public innuendos.

Likewise, I'm happy to see that Lissa and Chad prevailed in spite of the bombings. I was happy to see a Blue Ribbon Panel introduced and Jim Pipkin win with the listeners. I started to have unfair and unfounded suspicions about Jim's vote count ~ sorry Jim ~ just as observers now have about Sam's, Dale's, Sandy's, Liam's, and mine (in that order) .

To the best of my knowledge, I received 104 honest votes ~ but once again, I exit another round with a sour taste in my mouth. I realize it's a time consuming task Linda, but I think each participant (artist and listener) is entitled to an honest public vote count; I'd like to know where I honestly placed amongst the listeners.

I have better things to do with my time too, but on principle, I feel publicly cheated.

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at September 6, 2006 5:29 PM

Excuse my multiple postings but on a closing note, I want listeners to know that I have removed myself as an artist because of the shaming innuendos, not the final results. Of course, I shall continue to tune-in and connect with friends through what I consider to be a premier folk community.

Godspeed!
Barry


Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at September 6, 2006 6:47 PM

Godspeed Bary.


...


anyone still here?

Posted by: Johnny Mindlin at September 6, 2006 7:40 PM

I have no idea if I had flagged votes, I sent out emails to my fan base asking them to come and vote at Folk Alley. I do a lot of work with teenagers(as does Angie Kendall) and sometimes, in order to try and win affection from adults, they do things that don't seem wrong to them, but are. So that is perhaps the case here, I'm not sure. But never did I encourage any sort of malevolent behavior. I'm just a folk singer trying to play my songs, and do my best. I'm not going to pull my songs, because I think this is a pretty cool site. Let's face it, we were afforded the opportunity FOR FREE to put our songs up for review and the chance to win. We should all be thankful to Folk Alley, maybe we didn't win, maybe we didn't know all the rules, but we also didn't put money in the till, FA did all that for us. So what did we sacrifice? Win or lose, we still play, sing, and live out our lives, at least I hope we do. Let's remember that this contest is such a small part of the cosmic scheme, and put our good energy toward continuing to make great folk music. Thanks FA for what you do.

Posted by: Sam Hensley at September 6, 2006 8:26 PM

The grand prize is starting to remind me of that Coke bottle in "The Gods Must Be Crazy."

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at September 6, 2006 8:42 PM

Thanks, Sam, for sticking in there - that gets you great respect in my book.
I feel a bit cheated when someone who's music I really admire (and who's friendship for that matter), takes their ball and bat and goes home, so to speak. Of course, I'm not in the frey, so I cannot see it from that perspective. My investment is in the music and the people who write it - my rep is not on the line here.
What I really enjoy is the opportunity to hear new music I may not have become aware of without this forum, and value the connections made here.
After the dust settles a bit, we live and learn, then we celebrate!

Posted by: JL Braswell at September 6, 2006 8:46 PM

To quote Joan, "It really does weird things to a group dynamic when your support network is also your competition".
That sentence rang as clear to me as anything in this entire blog!

Let the FA staff, and whomever they wish to ask to aid them in the voting, do it all, in private, and be done with it!

There are way too many things that can go wrong if we are a part of voting for a REAL prize. It's bad enough with all the "1" votes. Maybe if there is no real prize for doing it, it would stop.

We have lost two people already. I would not like to see any more real talent go due to conflicks like this (I just got through with one of my own and all I can say is that at my age, I've had many more productive moments than yesterday's tantrum)!

BTW - Did anyone take psych 101?

I'm ONLY speaking for myself, but I seem to remember that some well known syninums for the word "childish" are either "artist" or "musician"!

Posted by: Paul Marks at September 6, 2006 9:19 PM

BTW - Sorry for the misspelled words/typos. I'm tired and did not do my usual re-read.
Besides, my sixth grade teacher told me that bad spelling was one sign of a genius.
My wife tells me that I have been running with that one ever since!!!

Posted by: Paul Marks at September 6, 2006 9:32 PM

Oh, God. I did take psych 101, and your question made me google the phrase "regression in service of the ego." Some interesting takes out there on the artist's quest. And in life when we periodically go dramatic, people will spot us some points for just trying the quest. But the coldest room out there is other artists. Think of trying out your new card trick in a nightclub filled with avid magicians.

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at September 6, 2006 9:57 PM

Thanks Sam for putting my negative energies into perspective! Thanks FA for what you do and I do intend to return one day with a fresh batch of tunes. In the interim, I do intend to put "good energy toward continuing to make great folk music". No rep here either JL ~ just a folk singer who takes innuendos too personally. Call it "childish", "artistic", "musical", whatever ~ google me anytime and keep in touch.

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at September 6, 2006 10:12 PM

I also am troubled by the fact that no one came clear and identified the singer/fan base suspected of cheating on this contest. Because this was never made public, I'm considered guilty because I can't be proven innocent.

(For the record, no votes for me were "removed" as suspicious at the end of the voting process.)

There were lots of wonderful songs that never made it into the monthly contests. There is no question in my mind that my song floated up to the top, first and foremost, because I have a huge mailing list I've been cultivating for years. It could be that some of these folks entered questionable votes. But without the opportunity to clear my name, I feel like -- along with the "glory" this contest has brought me -- it's also left behind a little grime.

Best of luck to the next crew of Open Mic-ers, and thanks again to Folk Alley.

- Sandy

Posted by: Sandy Cash at September 7, 2006 1:21 AM

Likewise Sandy, for the record, "no votes for me were 'removed' as suspicious at the end of the voting process". Thanks for chiming in and the best on your journey.

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at September 7, 2006 1:30 AM

You know...from my perspective, as far as I can see - no one's guilty of anything. I see no shadow of doubt hanging over any of you fine competitors.

I've been in the position before of being re-selected by forced audition because someone else was sour that a part had routinely been given to me, and suspected that something funky and under-the-table must be going on with the selector/director and yours truly. The inuendo stung, but puzzled me because I knew everything had always been on the up and up.
I suggested that we do the repeat auditions, they were done, and I got the spot once again - same as before, on my own merits, head held high. Then we got down to the business of preparing for the next performance, all possible arguments publicly quelled.

Perhaps it might be nice, now that that demon's out of the sack (having mentioned the issue in the first place), that the info be given to the artist, let them deal with it, tell us it's been done and handled, losses cut, lessons learned, and let's move on. That's about all I need to hear at this point.

I'd really like to celebrate Chad's Kent State Folk Festival arrival, and the other two people who's music will be added to the Folk Alley stream, and do that in a possitive way, so that each time I hear those songs I won't have a sour memory to weigh heavily upon my enjoyment of them.

And Joan, indeed - thanks for making me smile!
"The grand prize is starting to remind me of that Coke bottle in "The Gods Must Be Crazy"."
That's one of my favourite films of all times - such a valuable lesson, if we'll grasp it!

Posted by: JL Braswell at September 7, 2006 4:40 AM

JL, there is a separate blog for celebrating Chad, Lissa, and Jim and YES ~ they should be celebrated for their victories. This blog is "what to do ~ what to do" and I'm not sure you get the sour point. As an artist, I falsely assumed that an accurate listener vote count would be publicly posted. The 'hypothetical' situation blog has real implications. "What to do ~ what to do" in the future is publicly post an accurate listener vote count.

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at September 7, 2006 9:28 AM

We're smart people, we can figure this out. Think in terms of a virtual Constitutional Convention, with ideas flying that would be very cynical on the face of it. But that instead are really in place to protect the best characters from the worst, and that assume a healthy sprinkling of prickly artistic temperament. (We all try to keep our own in line, but it's not always possible.) And if the thread wanders slightly off-topic a time or two, maybe it's wandering over to a place where fresh ideas grow.

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at September 7, 2006 9:36 AM

Dialectic bliss Joan ~ cheers to Socrates!

Posted by: Barry McLoughlin at September 7, 2006 9:45 AM

Here's the kind of contest that would be stimulating and fun. Maybe no prize but a cheesy title, where nothing counts but the quality of the piece itself, where your posse can't help you. Maybe you'd have to enter a song yourself to be able to vote, or at least be a trusted agent within the FA blogging community. The songs could be broken out into separate groupings, either arbitrary or by category. Or by assigned topic! Whatever it takes to be ineligible to vote on the group that contains your own song. And the ratings are blind, so you don't know how you're doing till its over, and you don't know who is voting on your category so you're not lobbying for votes. And you can give a positive vote to as many of the entries in your block as you want. (Even all of them, but what would be the point?)

Even better: all of the above, but somebody else is singing your lyrics so those voting don't even know who wrote the song. There could even be a side prize for Worst Proxy Vocals. Or we could make nice with one another and do the vocals for one anothers' entries.

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at September 7, 2006 9:50 AM

Yet ANOTHER answer to the puzzle of getting an accurate total at the end AND cut the "1" votes to a minimum.
Before I go on, I'm well aware that what I purpose is not fair to the "just listeners" on the site. However, it appears it is the NON musicians who cast their votes only for their friends thus changing it to a non-fair voting system.
All you need now for top rankings is a large family and a few friends in large companies. Chances are NONE of them are musicians, they are not going to vote for anyone else but you, and as was said before about the school kids, they may be most of the "1" raters.

My idea is in order to vote on anyone's songs, you must have at least one song of your OWN posted (see, I told you it would not be fair to the listeners). However, this way, the voting comes ONLY from a "known' group - US!

I am an only child, have only a very few friends who like folk music, and have no people I would bother at their place of work.
SO...even though I have songs that have been appreciated with high ratings, I have always been left with low vote TOTALS - a sitting duck for the "1" raters to do serious damage with only one vote.

Anyway, apart from any of my reasons, I think it would an interesting thing to take all the "friends and family" votes out of the equation for a time. I bet things would look a lot different in a few weeks.

Posted by: Paul Marks at September 7, 2006 10:16 AM

Maybe we should rename Open Mic. How about Reality Folk?

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 7, 2006 10:16 AM

Yeah, I'm thinking, everybody's clearest ideas will most likely come from the scenarios of "I would do better in the contest if only they'd...." because that's where most of our wheels spin. If you don't have much of a fan base, your ideas turn to "How can we eliminate the fan base factor?" Same for big families, work contacts, myspace, whatever. FA is I guess interested in raising the site's visibility, which makes bringing in outside voters a good idea, from the perspective of the force that's doing the actual work to make this happen. But that doesn't have to factor into our brainstorming here.

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at September 7, 2006 11:37 AM

How many rats's tails is this? LoLynn, sorry for the Dolly Parton confusion - great song though! While my esteemed colleague Mr Mindlin definitely overdid it on the extra shots back there, 'death before decaf' is our battlecry and he is 'a ottist' after all. Has Pipkin broken off all communication? I really hate to think of his songs being less available, he was a real find!

My feeling about the Open Mic is that there should be no prize. Competition makes cannibals of us all in the end. The true value of Open Mic is as an international showcase for work by artists who may only really be found in their home town.

Any votes I cast were a genuine expression of how I felt about the songs I'd heard, and I didn't give an onanistic flick of the wrist whether our stuff won or lost. I merely loved getting it heard. To this end I certainly put additional comments next to my favourites, therby giving them a bit more front page exposure in the recent comments section.

Thank you FA, and thanks all who voted positively or negatively.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 7, 2006 11:49 AM

Paul, that is a Genius idea! Artists voting for songs - it helps focus the contest on the songs themselves, rather than being a contest of mailing lists ... and, in the end, that's what we all really care about.
So, combine that with blind voting, single-vote positive voting only, 1 Artist 1 vote and time-limited song up-loads (as mentioned above - September 3rd - but IGNORE the word "AUDITION"!) and we've got a strong plan!

Oh, and Joan? You're probably right about the selfishness of these ideas but, until this year, one of my favourite things about the Mercury Music Prize was the way total un-knowns could find some recognition for their art alone, not their selling volume and FAOM is another place where that could happen.

P.S., Huw, (sorry), Mr Pryce ... under the plan outlined above, you would still get your chance to vote in favour of a song (1 vote only therefore you can only support a particular song, no chance to "torpedo") but I think it's the comments that are one of the greatest ways to tell an artist you like their work. I'm sure, like me, you enjoyed the comments we get for our songs more than the votes.

Posted by: Johnny Mindlin at September 7, 2006 1:01 PM

Hi Johnny -- I wasn't slamming ideas for their selfishness, almost the opposite. Enlightened self-interest? The thing we've given the most thought to is the thing we're most likely to have something thoughtful to say about, bias and all.

Huw -- a tip of the hat to the "onanistic flick of the wrist." Coffee spattered on the monitor with that one.

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at September 7, 2006 1:21 PM

M'learned friend has hit the nail on the head for voting. A 1 out of 5 qualitative assessment is too variable a variable. Of course polling no votes - or 1 vote, or in the case of say, a seven piece band, seven votes, might be just as bruising an experience as getting a 2.8 average across 30 votes. Why can't we all lead a simple, pastoral existence, living together in a harmonious cooperative collective?

I mean it about competition. Music is about harmony and cooperation (as well as squabbling and name-calling). Nobody stuck a "Best of Breed" rosette on the great musicians of the past - quite the opposite if anything.

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 7, 2006 2:19 PM

I think FA is already set to move to a yes/not-vote system once the dust has cleared for this contest. If they don't first throw up their hands and say "Sod you all!."

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at September 7, 2006 2:28 PM

I am not by nature a person of few words. This is perhaps why I chose the songwriting path – as a way to become more succinct and to the point. I had a long stint as a technical writer as well, but there are no real competitions in that field that satisfy a person’s fantasy. So I will get to the point.

I am off to wheatland music festival in an hour or so and will REALLY miss reading this blog. I have been tempted to jump in at nearly every turn, but thought better of it. I, like many of you, entered this site very early and was bombed. My song “Still Gone” (which just won an honorable mention in the great lakes songwriting contest) was my first attempt to be heard. With the help of a very few friends (who often share computers with their spouses) It was able to stay on the board for a few days. I currently have a song in the top ten. It has been here only a couple weeks and has been listened to 30 times more than “Still Gone” which is, I believe, a better song and has been on the site for months and months.

OK THE REAL POINT!

We want people to HEAR our songs. Having them either on the front page or…OR Easily found by people who are not on Folk Alley just to hear OUR songs is the only way to do it here. I have a number of friends that came to this site to vote for me and then said, “WOW, did you hear so-and-so??” That’s why we are here people. At least that’s why I am here. I had a guy I didn’t know listen to my stuff and then tell me he didn’t care for it, and why. HE took the time to listen, and his critique, though it pissed me off at first, actually took my songwriting to the next level. Martin Hanna,….Thank you!

Maybe the yes/no vote is a good idea, but..

maybe, regardless of the rating, the songs (organized into categories) could be shuffled a couple times a day.

Some of my most enjoyable listens were songs I went to because of a great comment in the “recent comments” section even though they were rated a 3.5 or lower. I have enjoyed the time I spent on folk alley, and I got REALLY angry when I was seemingly targeted because my songs were competing with someone else’s contest chances. I also noticed that only songs in the contests really received any listens. That bummed me out.

Congrats, Chad. I won’t see your show ‘cause I’ll be playing across town at the Mustard Seed Market that night, but I’ll find you on Saturday during the workshops.

Lissa, good job. Jim, don’t leave for good, you have been the soul of this thing from the top.

OK, I told you I was not a person of few words. Sorry, just had to say something.

Seeya in a few days HAPPY WHEATLAND!

Michael
Oh,….and ya’ll go listen to my songs now, y’hear?

Posted by: Michael Grady at September 7, 2006 6:09 PM

Barry - yes, I do like things to be open and above board, and I like your support of the publically posted accurate vote count. My emphasis was to try to figure out a way to learn from this experience (which I suppose this blog is all about in the first place) and move on to celebrate, and to be able to do it in a way without grudges or the weight of attitudinal grumbling ball-and-chains tagging along, that's all. Nothing wrong with discussion - I'm just a natural born problem solver and like to move on to resolving an issue when I sense the need. Sorry, I may just be ahead of myself.

I've dealt with artistic temperments most all of my life, so that's no biggie for me to understand how all this can affect someone. Your heart and soul goes into the music you make, and you hope and expect it to be received well, and not dissed by the uno-bombers, or by an unfair vote count or implied or perceived character smears.

Public votes are just that - public. The "quality" of a public vote is variable, and the more voters involved and the larger the audience..well, can be quite subjective, to say the least.

If I had a song or two posted, I could draw from a few large mailing lists to solicit votes, but there's no guarantee that those votes would be for MY song, and I wouldn't expect them to be. These things aren't about me - they're about the songs.
If a friend or family blindly votes for you because of a sense of loyalty or love and respect, and not your song, that cannot be helped. You can discourage that kind of behaviour, but cannot control it in the end. Even the Mommy of a kid playing a dead body on stage in some play production is going to leap up and clap and say, "That's my boy! That's my BOY!"

Now, Paul, if votes were to be limited to musicians only - how would we define musician? I have no songs posted, but have valid, educated musical opinions and I'd like to vote, if that's what this Open Mic contest is all about. More than anything, though, I enjoy listening and commenting to the artists about their work, and making connection that way, and possibly friendships.

Folk Alley having an Open Mic winner who performs publicly on stage at the Kent State Folk Festival is good for publicity - both to further FA's good rep. and to help launch or further the career(s) of the winner(s). Bottom line: In a business sense, it makes good sense.
The real pay off for the rest of us is that it possibly guarantees this forum to go on, so we can have Folk music available for free, 24 hours a day, 'round the world, and to have a place, with this Open Mic feature, to have our music heard by more people than merely our own little village.

Btw, have you noticed that the Folk Alley Fall Pledge Drive has begun? Check out the banjo ticker on the opening page for progress and links to make your pledges. Let's see if we can make those banjo
strings bust this time with totals reaching the goal!

Posted by: JL Braswell at September 7, 2006 6:38 PM

Normally I am quite content just to read the comments posted on the Folk Alley Blog topics. It can be entertaining at times. Sometimes downright funny. But I am reading with utter dismay the comments being made about the Open Mic results. I am just a very average fok music fan: I'm not obsessed, but I like the music. I listen to the stream regularly and visit the website occasionaly. And I've enjoyed the Open Mic contest, too, even though if you ask me a lot of the music is just so-so. I for one am HAPPY that Chad Elliott won (I voted for him!). I don't know Chad; I'm not a friend of his or a family member. I'm not on any mailing list that he may have. I simply felt that he had the best song. I'm also happy that the people at Folk Alley had added other types of judging to the contest. Otherwise, all it appeared to me was a contest to see who had the biggest mailing list and not necessarily the best song. THAT didn't seem fair to me. I thought this was about the music; not who has the most organized fan base. I just wonder how many people who VOTED in the last contest took the time to actually LISTEN to each song with an open, critical mind, like (presumably) the judges did. My guess is very few. I'm sorry, but reading some of the coments here makes some of you sound incredibly whiny and childish. Sour grapes! Get over it! And by the way, CONGRATULATIONS CHAD!!

Posted by: Jeff Biby at September 7, 2006 7:12 PM

**opens one bloodshot eye. groans, sits up**

I agree with you, Jeff - Chad wrote a fine song, and we should all be congratulating him on a clear win. I know that was the first thing I wanted to do! Well, after I knuckle-dusted a couple of blue ribbon panelers, anyhow.

The judges' opinions here carry a lot of weight because they are all experienced industry insiders, and they have now heard Chad's material and given it high praise. He has the chance to share a bill with Bela Fleck, GEEZ Chad you must be on top of the world right now! And rightly so, you did a great job.

As to how my own tune fared with the judges? No real surprise to me, industry insiders have been dissing my stuff for thirty years. I still keep writing and playing this crap just to lower the bar, and because I'm stubborn enough to believe my fans know what they like. They're a pretty unsophisticated bunch, thank God, and I mean that in all the best ways. Mean as snakes and spiny as cockleburrs, every mother's child of'em! I am ALMIGHTY PROUD that they came through for me and earned that People's Choice nod, just as they have come through for me for years at my shows.

I'll take that award, and thank'ee, because I know my people earned it for me. We're throwing them a party later this month, y'all come!

Am I out of FA, Huw? Most likely for awhile, this contest brought out some pretty ugly emotions in me that I have to get a handle on. I know my votes were all "straight up" - at least all of the feedback I've gotten from the FA team indicates that. I know I covered hundreds of road miles rounding them up, from one end of Arizona to the other. But hey, the roads out here are worth the drive. You should see the sun setting on the San Francisco Peaks from a bar porch by the railroad tracks in Flagstaff. Be there when that fast freight comes roaring through!

My suggestion would be to discard ratings, votes, and everything except comments and spins. That's how the big kids play, it should be good enough for us fritterlings.

Now, I'm going to find me a cantina that makes its own mescal, and introduce myself to a few worms.

Posted by: Jim Pipkin at September 7, 2006 8:32 PM

Hey Jim - have one for me too. Glad you stopped back by for a little wave...the love here never dies, you know.
See you soon-ish, you ol' choya! ;o)

Posted by: JL Braswell at September 7, 2006 9:50 PM

Wake up with a sinus headache at 1:30 AM, turn the computer on, and who do I find posting???
Hi Jim - Glad to see you!

Now for my post - In speaking with Linda yesterday on other matters, I of course, HAD to give her my "earthshaking" thoughts to remedy this ENTIRE situation of multiple log-ons and "1" ratings, etc..

I was VERY proud of them (read smug).
Somewhere in the back of my mind, I was SURE that once she heard my iincredibly large, pefectly crafted, and overly complex plan, that she would be overcome with my keen reasoning skills and finnally say "WOW, why didn't WE think of that"? Paul, you are so smart, blah, blah, blah, and then have an FA office "Paul has saved the Day" party!!!

Instead, after I rambled on and on (and then waited for my applause light to be turned on) she quietly told me two "little" ideas/changes that the FA staff has come up with.
They are so smart in their simplicity and can be crafted with 1/10th of the effort on the part of the web master as any of my plans.

So, I said "LINDA, THAT'S GENIUS", hung up the phone feeling very humbled, and quietly threw myself a quick mental "FA has saved the day, (and I'm an egotistica idiot)" party.

Anyway, Look for WONDERFUL (yet very simple) changes in the near future. They not only adress the fairness of things, but they actually make it simpler and easier for ANYONE who stops by Open Mic!
Rest Easy!

Posted by: Paul Marks at September 8, 2006 1:53 AM

I oiled my extraordinarily squeeky loud old office chair with WD-40, and things are much quieter now! Why, until this moment, I ask myself, did it not occur to me to take this simple, yet oh-so-obvious step to remedy the situation? Jeff Biby, you're a genious - thanks so much for the wake-up call!

And thanks, Paul, for cluing us in to the new, brilliantly simple changes by the FA team. I'm really looking forward to the future of Open Mic now. :o)

Posted by: JL Braswell at September 8, 2006 2:07 AM

I’m not sure the system is broken, nor do I think it needs to be fixed, maybe expectations just need to be adjusted. We posted 5 of our band’s tunes on this site and are really grateful to have a national forum on which to post our tunes. Four of our postings are originals, one a cover. We had NO expectations of storming through a contest and winning. Though we use acoustic guitars in our band we’re not really “folk” artists, so we were pretty sure our sound wouldn’t fit in too well on this site. Here in Cleveland we’re a tough act to market, too folky and acoustic for some bars, and too “rocky” for most coffee houses; still we were quite happy to be afforded a chance to post our material for FREE. So far, a quick calculation shows we’ve had 211 “listens”, 77 folks took time to vote, around 15 posted or emailed comments to us. We’re all trained musicians (took lessons, studied, can read and write music and understand some theory) but only one of us makes her living in music. For the rest of the band, we have daytime careers, families, and the good fortune to be able to make art together and make enough money at it to have most of our expenses covered, we’re amateurs and consider ourselves damned lucky to have a small audience who’ll stop by a bar, buy some beer and put a buck in the tip jar. We’ve produced one CD so far, sold a couple of hundred, and have a damned good time playing for a small following in several Cleveland bars and coffee houses. This is what we do for fun! Sure, we put lots of work into writing and rehearsing so we don’t suck when we play out, we put a lot of ourselves into our writing, but in the end it’s still supposed to be fun, so we don’t take a lot of criticism real seriously. Face it, getting slammed in voting for a contest is really no different than handling hecklers in a bar, it’s the price one pays for putting oneself out there. If you’re a busker or a player in a bar band it’s part of the territory, and you learn to deal with it or you drop performing. Point is, we (and I suspect lots of others) posted our songs in the hope that some folks would listen, and that a few would comment so we’d learn something about what a segment of the listening public likes to hear. That’s what we got, a little bit of thoughtful feedback from a few folks. Seems to me anyone getting their knickers in a knot about voting patterns and contest outcomes is operating, or wishes they operated, at a much more professional level, and so is maybe past the “open mic” stage? I’m rambling too much, so I’ll close. In my opinion, some good songs were chosen for the contest, some really poor ones were as well, but in the end a really well crafted song won. I was given a place to post some of my work for free, and I got to listen to some really good songwriting from folks I’d never heard before in the bargain. I say well done Folk Alley, keep it up, and don’t let any whining folks mess up a pretty good thing.

Posted by: Jim Kooser at September 8, 2006 5:12 PM

Sheesh, Jim Kooser, where have YOU been? Not many of us expected to storm thru and win a song contest. Nor was that the reason we put our songs on OM. Most of us didn't care a fig about that. But, here's something for you to think about - There WAS a song contest. What's the point of HAVING a song contest if it isn't going to be legit? That's all that most of the "whiners" were pulling for. FA OM saw some ugly days there for a while. Days that made some of us wonder if this was Open Mic or Open Song Contest - and a crooked contest at that...crooked ratings, wicked competing... a real sweet venue turned snake pit.

If it weren't for people "whining" since way back in June, Chad probably wouldn't have won the song contest and Lissa wouldn't have finished on top either. Some suckwad song that was manipulated up the charts by manipulating others down the charts would have won. If you are part of the OM community shouldn't you care about that? Chad AND Lissa and other artists who deserved to be at the top were getting bombed with "1"'s every time they passed an artist "someone" thought they shouldn't have passed on the ratings chart. Thank GOD people "whined", FA listened, watched, paid attention and did THE fairest thing possible in the end.

As you're enjoying your free FA Open Mic so much, you might think about the fact that it's made greater by people who see unfair crap, then take the time -and care enough - to confront it and work to change it. It isn't all about "you". Open Mic is about every person performing. Thank goodness for the people who aren't afraid to offer suggestions they hope MIGHT make it an even better place for everyone...no matter how stupid or whiney they sound, or may be. The rating system WAS broken for a little bit of time and it WAS screwing up the whole shebang... but people bravely "whined" - they did it for YOU as much as for themselves. And FA staff took the unfairness and made it as fair as it could POSSIBLY be.

Next time you've got a banner to wave, be brave enough to step in when the battle to change a crappy situation is raging. Don't sit back where it's safe and wait til it's all over and THEN come riding in waving your "stop whining" banner at those who were only trying to fight to make YOUR free little Open Mic world a better place.

Posted by: Jennifer Sherrill at September 8, 2006 9:34 PM

Linda - I have not heard that “Spaced Out: The Best of Leonard Nemoy & William Shatner” . Perhaps I could use some of that right about now. Is it funny?

Posted by: JL Braswell at September 9, 2006 5:56 AM

I'm about to lighten up. I recommend we all lighten up. It's only a blog. It's only a blog. Kooser is to be respected for what he wrote. We should demand nothing more of him than his heartfelt appreciation for a handful of votes and helpful comments. I have found a here at Folk Alley some very talented and introspective artist-types. I will treasure this for a long time. Contests will spring up and drain down into the Drain of Flimsy Chance. Relationships that spawn and strengthen musical understanding will endure.

I am convinced that Big Dangling Carrot and Singer-Songwriter Workshop are opposing forces in human nature. I vote no contest.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 9, 2006 10:51 AM

“To a worm in horseradish,
the whole world is horseradish.”
- Yiddish saying

Posted by: JL Braswell at September 9, 2006 12:39 PM

"A fool who lashes out in anger,
soon feels like a worm in horseradish."
-ancient Worm saying

Jim K. ~ I'm sorry.

Posted by: Jennifer Sherrill at September 9, 2006 3:10 PM

Criticizing the details of a well-made handmade gift can make you sound or feel like an ingrate. But on invitation to chime in, and with something to offer by way of suggestion, no foul! The open mic is a work in progress. The first few versions will have things about them that people will have strong ideas toward wanting changed, and the staff is being responsive, open-hearted and more than tolerant of the range of input.

There's a safe harbor feeling in being invited to comment, to vent, to peel off the painted-on smile. Once you feel free to offer what you really think, it's a most unwelcome slap if someone calls it whining. Complaints, even rants, are part of the process of making the best better.

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at September 9, 2006 4:24 PM

Fine, whatever. Just be real.

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 9, 2006 5:19 PM

Hey - if we can balance the rants with plenty of raves, then we've got it made! (still smiling)

Posted by: JL Braswell at September 9, 2006 6:36 PM

Ok everyone - group hug!

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 9, 2006 7:48 PM

OK, (but I'll miss Jim Pipkin in the fold).

Posted by: Paul Marks at September 10, 2006 5:48 PM

(me too!)

Posted by: JL Braswell at September 10, 2006 6:07 PM

I will too

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at September 11, 2006 12:35 AM

Me too. And guess what? I got the sweetest email from Jim Kooser. What a great guy! :0) SO many beautiful people here on FA's Open Mic.

Posted by: Jennifer Sherrill at September 11, 2006 12:19 PM

The making up time is especially nice, isn't it?
It's a good place to be, this Alley.

Posted by: JL Braswell at September 11, 2006 12:40 PM

I really hope Jim comes back, I miss his songs on here and Barry's too. One of the great things about FA is the inherent integrity of the people I've "met". I really wish I could meet you guys for real, there's nothing in the UK that compares to FA but I'm lucky in that I've got a tight circle of good songwriting friends. I'm going to start saving those pennies and get myself and Jane over there one of these days.

Posted by: Tom Fairnie at September 11, 2006 4:13 PM

Now, that's really good news!

Posted by: JL Braswell at September 12, 2006 2:29 AM

Has no one picked up on the "hugging Jim's fold" feed-line? ... sorry, yes, now I remember, this is folk not comedy ...
I'll miss Jim here too, but he does exist in the wider net as well and he's no slouch when it comes to Emails, so go find him.
Actually, I'm going to try to persuade him to get a message board on his own web-site ... a sort of "Wit and Wisdom of Jim" thing ... or "The Pipkin Papers".

Posted by: Johnny Mindlin at September 12, 2006 3:31 AM

Great idea, Johnny, and yes, I did reach over there and pass along the group hug yesterday.
Uhh...Johnny...I think I'll leave that "hugging Jim's fold" to Alice!
And yup - Jim's full of it (wit and wisdom, that is!).
(o;

Posted by: JL Braswell at September 12, 2006 4:08 AM

Ach y fi!

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 12, 2006 6:14 AM

My sentiments, exactly!
Johnny, you are just wierd, that's all there is to it!
(Wierd in the nicest way though, lest I be misunderstood here.)

Posted by: JL Braswell at September 12, 2006 1:57 PM

Matt and Shannon Heaton, who were finalists in Folk Alley's Open Mic contest, have been nominated for
OUTSTANDING FOLK ACT for this year's Boston Music Awards.

You may vote by visiting this site and scroll down to FOLK ACT:
http://www.nemoboston.com/index.php?PID=47

"We are proud that the Boston Music Awards is
recognizing independent traditional music. We'd
love to represent, and we'd adore your help!", say Matt and Shannon in an e-mail which I received yesterday.
(Voting ends 22 Sept.)

--- "EatsRecords.com"
> wrote:
>
>> (Mailing List Info at the end of this message)
>>
>> hello -
>>
>> We typically send out one message per month...
>> But we couldn't wait to let you know that we
>> have been nominated for OUTSTANDING FOLK ACT
>> for this year's Boston Music Awards.
>>
>> Of course, we would be grateful your vote. Just
>> visit this site and scroll down to FOLK ACT:
http://www.nemoboston.com/index.php?PID=47
>>
>> We are proud that the Boston Music Awards is
>> recognizing independent traditional music. We'd
>> love to represent, and we'd adore your help!
>>
>> Thank you,
>> Matt & Shannon Heaton


Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at September 13, 2006 3:19 AM

(perhaps I should have omited that last email bit, sorry.)

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at September 13, 2006 3:21 AM

What to do...what to do...?

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 13, 2006 3:59 PM

Let's cheat!

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 14, 2006 5:24 AM

Siwwy wabbit...dat trick never works!

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at September 14, 2006 7:54 AM

Awwww!

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 14, 2006 11:20 AM

When all is said and done,

Posted by: Richard Schletty at September 22, 2006 2:38 PM

Mmm?

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 24, 2006 12:37 PM

...what's done is said, I suppose......

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at September 24, 2006 10:47 PM

D'you think we've said it all?!

Posted by: Huw Pryce at September 25, 2006 9:11 AM

Sure. Till the next contest.

Posted by: Joan Kennedy at September 25, 2006 9:18 AM

Ladies and Gentlemen...start your engines!

Posted by: JoLynn Braswell at November 20, 2006 6:07 AM

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