4.17.2009

Bike commuting: the best defense is a good offense

"...At 150 pounds unloaded it does not climb hills very fast either. But nobody is ever going to steal this monster since it is only for one size rider and is not easy to ride since it is heavy. It has excellent rain protection. cargo capacity and ramming capability..."

LINK: Joe's Garage

Via, The Goat

4.16.2009

If I only had a dollar for every time somebody visited my site ...

MidCurrent founder Marshall Cutchin recently announced that his site hit 1,000,000 yearly visits in April (as measured by Google Analytics). According to Marshall, the site has been the largest fly fishing media channel in the world for more than two years, with traffic in the past twelve months growing by an additional 42%.

What did you do to celebrate your 1,000,000th hit on MidCurrent?

Can I be honest? I spent the day wondering why our Alexa numbers were so out of whack in the first quarter.

But perhaps you were looking for something more along the lines of: "It was still a 12-hour day, it just went a little faster."


One million sure sounds like a lot, anyway. Does that mean you are officially legit in the online space? Or is there still work to do?

We have a market reach that's five times that of Fly Fisherman or any other fly fishing print media (comparing uniques to rate bases) and about twice that of any thing else online. So if you think of it in terms of relative positioning/popularity/impact, we'd probably qualify as legit. Of course in the fly fishing marketing "universe" numbers like one million sound like a lot, but as Web media goes, we're small. It's more important to me that we reach the "right" million visitors -- the new visitors and the ones who depend on us to perform a service for them.

How do you know if they're the "right" million? Or, more importantly, how do advertisers know?

Click-through rates/conversions and brand reinforcement. For example, click-through rates on social media channels are among the lowest, and click-through rates on niche content sites can be among the highest. So CPMs on Facebook might be valued fairly at less than $1, while Forbes might be able to command $30 or even $50 CPMs in their premium online positions, given their brand strength and conversion rates. Strong brand environment results in the ad publisher being able to pass along its credibility to an advertiser's landing page -- so click-throughs result in longer time-on-site, higher per session value and lifetime customer value. Lots of companies -- though only a few in the fly fishing space -- measure all that. Even if our advertisers aren't tracking it that closely, we want to be sure we come out on top on all those scores.

And to answer your question directly, it never ends, it only gets more challenging with growth.


It sounds like an awful lot of work and big words. Do you still get to fish?

I wish there were smaller words to use too. I still sneak out early in the morning to catch tarpon when my schedule isn't nightmarish.

Was there ever a plan to have a print version of MidCurrent?

If the market wants it, we'll deliver it at some point. My own background is in print, so it seems like a natural way to reach those we can't reach online: smaller, less-connected audiences.

That's an odd twist, don't you think? A future where digital revenue subsidizes the print operation?

It's quite ironic, but I think the writing was on the wall when print brands started to weaken because of their resistance to online delivery. Consumers are vetting information in entirely different ways than they were just two years ago, and the change is accelerating, so it would be very hard -- or prohibitively expensive --to catch up at this point. You can point to media companies, e.g. ESPN, who have more or less kept up, but very few who started in print.

By the way, when I told my magazine publishing friends a few years back that one day magazines would be a "companion" to a Web site, they chuckled. Many magazine publishers today still seem to think that the Web is an interesting but unknowable medium.


LINK: Midcurrent

4.15.2009

Weeds


The 1824 House is an excellent venue for these events. Great atmosphere, comfy chairs, and usually there are several boxes of unattended maple cookies.

"Esteemed weed woman Sharon Plumb from the Nature Conservancy is coming to help us Get Wise on Weeds." Informative, theraputic, a chance to be in on the ground level of a campaign to STOP THE SPREAD OF INVASIVES in the Mad River Valley.

REFRESHMENTS! TASTINGS! PRIZES!

TUESDAY, APRIL 28TH, 6:30-8:30 PM
AT THE 1824 HOUSE, RT 100 WAITSFIELD."

Guitar hero, part II


Enjoyed your piece on Big Head Todd and modern relevance. Got me thinking about "that time of life" and the role music played. Funny, I find myself trying to squeeze music back into my daily life as it was back in the day. It's hard.

I think the BHT story is interesting, why didn't they go bigger? Bad marketing, bad label, volatile lead singer or the simple lack of desire for a 80-90's alt-power-trio. But was it that or was it us? A generation unable to organize on a musical level. Post Dead, although I'll argue to the death that I saw the light, could I really be part of something that was well under way while I was reading the liner notes of my first album, "Frampton Comes Alive"?

I saw Phish in a dorm at UVM and they played the UNH area often, pre-hugeness, didn't get em. They filled a void left by the Dead, and thousands of hungry wanna-be deadheads created something of relevance.

But did you ever say, "wow that tune really spoke to me" or was it more about the psychedelia? I think the window has closed in the itune singles world that we've created.

I see the lifties with ipods stuck in their ears and I can here the rage music or the hip hop thump, they are all in their personal story made almost singular by the privacy of the medium. Oh, give me the days when a worn out boom box played whatever the local station was offering at every lift shack on the mountain...

Then again, maybe it should stay personal (if not micro-communal), those bands that filled that ski-bum, Europe-backpacking, cross-country-driving parts of our lives should really be parts of our own stories.

As much as I want to, maybe I shouldn't feel bad that Truffle, BHT, The Subdudes, and The BoDeans never made it real big. Maybe it would have spoiled it, shared our story with too many people.

4.10.2009

Guitar hero

My 24-year-old self would be shocked by the reality of 2009.

Seriously, if a time machine whisked me from 1991 to the present, I would probably climb right back into the thing and wish I’d never seen this place.

The reason has nothing to do with politics or porn or the Patriots. The reason is that young me would simply not be able to fathom a future in which Big Head Todd wasn’t the king.

Backed by his band “The Monsters,” Big Head Todd played fraternity parties while I was still in high school. He played Colorado shows throughout my college years. And in the early 90s, he played a series of unforgettable shows at the Mangy Moose in Jackson Hole.

Front row center. I was there.

More than a little dark, more than a little angry, and full of blistering guitar solos that could literally set your hair on fire, BHTM shows during the early 90s were insane. They were beautiful and mad and explosive. He played the crowd like a bunch of drunk puppets, and we loved him for it.

The spirit of those shows is captured in the end-all, be-all retrospective album of all time, Midnight Radio. Between 1991 and 1999 I think I listened to it close to a billion times, and it always blew me away.

As a youngster, driving across the mountain plains of Wyoming with lightning in the distance and Midnight Radio as a backdrop, it was as good as it gets.

One of my most memorable BHTM moments was at the Stagecoach Bar. It was the night BHTM appeared on Letterman for the first time (Dave: “you know, I saw him backstage, and he does have a HUGE head”…), and they had him on the big screen TV in the corner. Dave gave him a half-hearted welcome, and Todd thanked him by stomping his way through a guitar solo in that pissed off, sulky, arrogant eruption of style that was him and only him. Not only did the bar full of cowboys and nail bangers stand rapt, knowing that they were seeing something truly special, but Dave himself leapt out of his chair and ran over to shake Todd’s hand immediately after the song. Dave knew he was seeing greatness, too.

Trying to explain how great Big Head Todd was in 1991 is like trying to explain how great it was to be 24. Words can’t really do the trick.

But I think that with his music, he captured the spirit of the post 80s crash ski bum generation. We weren’t really into relationships, into work, or into the whole team thing, but god damn it, despite our painful lack of employability we were all “on a train bound for glory, going clickety clack, clickety clack away from you.” Oh, and by the way, here’s a face-melting, fuck-yeah guitar solo to prove it.

Big Head Todd was our guy. And Midnight Radio was our soundtrack. From Boulder to Bozeman, it was the voice of a generation and a geography. Bound for glory. Amen.

I saw Big Head Todd perform at Higher Ground in Burlington last night. The club was half full, maybe more and it sure seemed like there were a lot of minivans in the parking lot. We strolled in a few minutes before the show started and walked right up to the stage right speaker stack … about 15 feet from Todd’s mike stand.

It was a really good show. Honestly. It was entertaining. I truly enjoyed hearing them play Broken Hearted Savior and the Leaving Song. And seeing the original trio on stage was as satisfying as hearing an old friend tell a familiar story.

But it wasn’t the future I expected nearly two decades ago. I didn’t expect to find the future Big Head Todd to be a decent guitar player with a decent band and some arguably decent new material. And I definitely didn’t expect to find myself wishing that he wouldn’t play Bittersweet.

Still, I feel lucky to have seen Big Head Todd play again. Not because I'm going to run out and buy his newest work (I'm not), but because I'm going to go back to Midnight Radio and appreciate it even more.