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the eFestivals blog

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Neil

not so wet wet wet

My own visits to camping festivals are over for another summer, and despite officially being the wettest summer on record I've not seen that much mud.

Last summer I went to eight camping festivals. In every case there was more rain than any sensible festival goer would want, much use of wellies (tho I did get away with properly-waterproof trainers once or twice), and it was often far colder than you'd expect even with a British summer (the official stats confirm last summer as colder than this one too).

This summer has been quieter for me, going to just five camping festivals (partly because so little of the line-ups of so many grabbed my interest). With the worst of the summer rain being in June and July, I guess I got lucky with four of those having been from mid-July until now, because the result has been pretty good. :)

Of those five festivals, only one was badly muddy; another one was cold and dull. Of the remaining three, two have been in glorious sunshine without a sign of mud, while the last one did had a few heavy but short showers but not enough to get muddy and was otherwise pleasant with warmth and fair amount of sunshine.

It might have been officially the wettest summer on record, but for festivals it's not all been wet wet wet. :)

Neil

I'm sorry, Dawn Penn

I once wrote a review saying how dreadful I thought Dawn Penn was as a live act. I saw her a second time and that didn't change my mind. Both of those times she was backed by a DJ and not a live band.

 

I saw her again yesterday at Bristol's Harbourfest, with a live band. She was great! :D

 

That was a hard crowd to win over, too - and she got them.

Neil

I'm not one to get all mawkish about the death of someone I don't know. And if you try juggling knives then why be surprised if they cut you? She did what she did and the consequences are hers.

All the same - and I don't say this lightly - the world of music has lost a huge talent. In the 13 years I've been writing about festivals and the acts I've seen there, I can't think of any act who's talent has jumped out and grabbed me in such a strong way as Amy Winehouse.

I first saw Amy and heard her music when she was on the Jonathan Ross Show in 2003 or 2004. While what she played wasn't my thing it was impossible to not be struck by her authenticity and talent. On the basis of that I first saw Amy perform live on the Jazzworld Stage at Glastonbury Festival in 2004 (when she was promoting her debut album 'Frank'), and was hugely impressed. I saw her again a few weeks later at T in the Park and that was re-enforced. And then at Summer Sundae that same year, as a sub-headlining and not-cut-down set I saw her at what for me was her best - a charisma and talent that told me she'd be a huge star.

AmyWinehouse-NRG125.jpg

Summer Sundae 2004

In 2005 at Cornbury Festival I forced some friends to see her. They knew her only from snippets on TV and hadn't liked what they'd seen, but couldn't help but agree with me after having the full experience. The words they used were "jaw droppingly amazing".

The next summer (2006) saw her at Bestival, doing 'Valerie' with Mark Ronson as a cameo. The words from my review of that festival say "a guest appearance from a stick-thin Amy Winehouse – pure class!". Yet while I said 'stick-thin' - something which to me was very noticable - that was her fat compared to what she was to become. But her slide had clearly begun.

Fast forward to the summer of 2007. 'Back in Black' had been released in October 2006 and deservedly went massive, and she was now a huge star and a tabloid fascination - with her publicly displayed problems detailed almost daily. While I was grabbing a beer backstage at Glastonbury's Jazzworld she wandered in with friends who looked like they had similar 'issues', and pushed past me to get to the bar - not that she needed more intoxicants by the look of her. Later that day she was a disappointment with her Jazzworld set, while her Pyramid Stage performance the next day was even more shambolic. It didn't take a genius to guess where it might end.

Today she's being put in the '27 club' of talented musicians who died at that young age. To my mind she's deserving of the comparison by her talent, but sadly not with her output - just two albums (and one of those passed most people by) is a poor amount in comparison to those others.

Musicians come and go, and some leave something lasting behind. She's left us her music, but with her death it's music that's the loser. There's so much more she could have been, there's so much more she could have left us. What a waste!

Neil

pay to say

Payola was a big thing in the past; it probably still goes on - taking money from record companies to feature their products on mainstream radio to help push sales - but it's probably so engrained into the music biz now that it's no longer considered a scandal. From a moral point of view it probably makes bankers look honest.

There's a second version of payola, which works within what is known as journalism. It's not actually journalists who do it of course, because writing fiction is not what journalists do. Anyway, it's no less the norm for writing than it is for radio plays.

Which gets to mean that on occasions eFestivals gets offered blatent or not-so-blatent offers of 'incentives' to attend events, where the expectation from that incentive is to write nice things to either help drive ticket sales before an event or to enhance the repuation of an event after it's taken place.

The masters of payola in music journalism has long been the dance scene, and with the almost-demise of the superclubs in the UK it's home is now Ibiza.

This year we've been offered a blatent cash payment by an agent of an Ibiza based club night who are running a festival in the UK. They were told to fuck right off... and while I can't be sure - and I generally want festivals to succeed - it seems that this event is going to bomb badly. I'm not going to be losing any sleep if it fails as it deserves to.

And this year an Ibiza events series has been paying for journalists to fly to Ibiza, and is providing them with accomodation. Again, they've been told to fuck off but it appears to be the case that an attempt has been made to subvert our principled stand - meaning that they've paid for a writer's treats but that writer has now found they don't have a platform for their writings. Good. Rather than them fucking over the public they've fucked over themselves.

Anyway ... have you read that something in Ibiza is good? Chances are it's a lie. A lie that you're being asked to help fund via your ticket purchase.

Ibiza is a great place for a holiday. It's also a great place to get ripped off by sharks running hugely erxpensive events, if not via the ticket price then by drinks prices - at sometimes over £10 for a small bottle of water (and that was 10 years ago).

How big a mug are you?

Neil

Wanted not wanted?

I'd say not, but as I've only viewed it from the M1 what do I know? Is there much to love about Luton?

Anyway, the 'Love Luton' event - I hesitate to use the word 'festival' - offers a line-up including The Wanted. And Olly Murs. I can't say it's top of my own list of where to go this summer.

Tickets are now £15, and anyone who bought at ticket at the previous higher price will be sent a free extra ticket.

Neil

eFestivals moved premises in mid-January. A move of phone services from one premises to another should be an easy task for any competent business to manage.

And yet...

- BT took the order wrongly.

- BT failed to fulfil the order properly.

- BT did the bits they did several days later than they should have.

- The engineer did a dreadful job, requiring the wiring in both my house and the exchange to need to be re-done.

- it was near-impossible to get them to send that diferent engineer, instead I was told I had to take my office offline for several days while they did more pointless tests.

- the tests they do are very pointless; they said my broadband was down when I was speaking to them on ta voice over IP line that uses broadband.

- The billing of all this was a dreadful cock-up.

The above are the extremely brief version of events. Trying to deal with all of the above took 25+ hours of my time.

After being given the run around by the normal numpties on the phones who told me there was no complaints dept, and nowhwere within BT that I could take these issues to, I finally managed to find the following...

0207 356 6243. This is the number for Barbara Malone, who is the secretary to the MD, or Chairman, or someone (I forget).

She directed me to "the chairman's office", which is a higher level complaints team to the normal complaints team (if you can reach even them). The number for "the chairman's office" is 0800 169 6126. The person who (in my experience) normally answers that phone is Jackie Craig.

Jackie palms you off to one of her team. I firstly spoke to someone called Bill (I forget the surname) who was so incompetent that he ended up offering me much more compensation than he should have.

Moving on from that, the compensation issue was handled incompetently too, so that I got paid double the compensation that Bill offered. That might sound like a good result - and it was better than nothing - but I'd rather not have had weeks of my time wasted getting to that point. That double compensation doesn't compensate me for the issues to that point.

Following on from Bill, I ended up having the issues with the billing dealt with by Rona from the "HLE Business Complaints" team. After some to-ing and fro-ing I thought she'd got things sorted at the beginning of March.

Forward to the end of April, and i get my first bill at my new premises, only to find that I've been charged about £200 more than I should have been, because they're still billing me for broadband at my old premises on my old number (despite that number having been diverted to a voice over IP line when I moved), for a phone they sent me which i never ordered, and for a voice over IP line and number that I never ordered.

So i'm back on the phone to them, to get the bills amended. I make it absolutely clear again and again that it's only the billing that is wrong. I get told only the billing will be altered.

And then I get an email to tell me that my broadband is to cease next week, as ordered. I phone up, to be told there's nowhere I can take my complaint about this, because there's no complaints dept.

Even BT's head office switchboard tell me there's no complaints dept that can be dialed directly.

So feel free to use the number above. Bug the hell out of these useless people. I'm surprised they manage to arrive at work each day ... given the constant incompetence they show I'd expect them to go to the wrong offices.

I'm still trying to get things sorted. I could be here for some time.

PS: I've always been a fan of BT, encouraging others to use them instead of alternatives. I've no experience of the alternatives but I can't believe they can manage incompetence in every single part of the process, even within the parts that are meant to sort out the incompetence of others.

Neil

movin' on....

It's now nearly a year since I moved more into a back office role for eFestivals, and it's been pleasing to have the time to get many of the things done that have been put to the side for years simply because there's not been the time to do them without putting myself thru bad insomnia. It's been great to get a bit of my life back.

Much of what's been done won't have been noticeable to anyone, and even many of the bits that are visible to website users will have probably passed many people by.

But things are now starting to move on at a faster pace having cleared much of that backlog, and tho you can't see them yourselves just yet, much of that work is going to have a greater impact fairly soon. It finally feels like things are moving on. :(

Neil

eFestivals was approached by a newspaper journo - a freelancer, working for one of the nationals - the other day, after some festival information. There's nowt special about that as it often happens, however...

What was rather 'special' was this journo's approach. The normal deal - a deal that is requested explicitly from them, but which is also what they know is the case for this sort of thing - is that eFestivals helps them with their research, and eFestivals gets a mention in the article for that help.

This journo was different; she got her help, then said "and as I'll be mentioning eFestivals, can you send me some festival tickets?" I explained that we don't run festivals and don't sell tickets ourselves, so we don't have any tickets. She then replied "well then, I often have to cut an article down to fit the required word count, and as you won't give me any tickets it'll be the mention of eFestivals that gets cut".

Some journos really are dishonest scumbags. :(

Neil

There's been a big fuss about flags this summer, with many people complaining that their enjoyment of acts at festivals have been spoilt by the huge number of people in front of them in the crowd with flags, blocking their view of the stage. They have a point - at times, particularly at Glastonbury's main stage, this long-running problem stepped very firmly into the realms of huge excess.

Why do some people have these flags?

At the most simple level, they have them because they think it's a fun thing to do, that it makes them different and special in some way. Except of course that with so many having flags, it doesn't make them different or special in any way.

With a more purposeful reason, they have a flag so that their mates can find them within a crowd, and I can see that this would work. Yet in my 28 years of attending festivals I've always managed to locate my friends in a crowd without the need of flags - but then again, I am taller than most, so I guess that does make a difference. But even so, it's still not a difficult thing to do even in the biggest crowds if you've told each other where you'll be.

And with little purpose? The modern disease as demonstrated by the likes of Facebook - "look at me, look at me". One day they'll realise that no one is looking, or that if they are they don't care.

Why the fuss right now?

It's the Reading and Leeds festivals this weekend, and they've taken the decision to ban flags.

Melvin Benn, the man behind these festivals, recently talked about that decision (reported here), saying that "I'm doing everything I can to ban flags this year. For some reason those that buy a flag want to be closest to the stage." and that at Glastonbury (which Melvin also has involvement in running) fans complained about the view during Bruce Springsteen's headline set in particular. "You couldn't see the acts. The flags were everywhere. There have always been flags but not to the level that there has been. And the flags have become very long and tall.".

So Melvin has reacted at Reading and Leeds with a ban, and says that he is also talking to Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis about introducing a ban there. All very worthy in the name of the paying customer. But....

When is a flag not a flag?

Melvin also said that some people were using flags to advertise goods.

That's more than a little over-stating things I feel, as although there are indeed company or product branded flags to be seen amongst the other flags, they're there I feel not directly in the hands of the company involved, but simply because that flag is the one that a particular festival goer has because it's come into their hands somehow, quite possibly because the company involved was giving them away as a promotional item at some point - in fact, much like the promotional things done with Melvin's backing and for his company's financial benefit at some of the festivals he's involved with.

For example, a certain drinks company gave away many hundreds of flags to festival goers earlier this summer, and they're bound to start being seen on poles in festival crowds sooner or later.

Melvin said that some people were using flags to advertise goods - and it seems a rather strange thing to include when it's of no relevance to anyone's blocked view. And I wonder if this is the heart of the matter. :angry:

When a festival organiser has taken a fat pocket of fifties from a drinks company for that drinks company to have the exclusive rights to sell their drinks to the festival attendees, and with the festival being broadcast all around the world, then that drinks company isn't going to be hugely pleased to see other drinks companies get better promotion - and for free rather than at huge expense - via their flags being seen on TV than that drinks sponsor is getting.

Is this flag ban, at least in part, a ban on festival-goers' fun for the commercial benefit of the festival organiser and the festival's sponsors? Or is it only because people's views are getting spoilt?

Neil

The weather has been dreadful lately, it's hard to believe that the country is suffering a drought. And last summer's festival weather was dreadful too, the worst I've encountered across a summer since I started running eFestivals back in 2000.

With this year's summer festival season just about to start, I'm betting there's lots of festival organisers and festival goers wondering when it'll stop.

For some they're now in the two-week range, when the more reputable weather forecasters are prepared to give general-ish forecasts for that long into the future. So up pops one of the festival season's more ridiculous happenings.

Everyone of course wants great weather for their festival, and there's nothing that will stop them finding it - in theory at least. People will trawl around the various weather forecasting websites looking for the best one, and will then try and convince everyone that the weather they'll get will be what is forecast by the best forecast and not by the worst forecast.

Perhaps there's a place for a new weather forecasting service, where only good forecasts are ever given? It'd certainly get a lot of traffic from festival goers. :lol:

PS: cheer up folks, this summer IS going to give us some great weather. :)

Neil

It's now just over a year since the revamp of eFestivals, and the massive increase in traffic thru the year proves that it was long over-due and that it's gone down very well. :angry:

There were about 6.2M unique users over the year, which is over 3 times the number claimed by our nearest competitor. There were about 75M pages viewed thru the year.

Approximately 40% of those page views were for the forums, with the rest being on the main part of the site. The percentage of unique users for the forums was approx 20% of the total.

Compared to 2008, there's been an increase of 26% in unique visitors, a 34% increase in visits, and a 41% increase in pages viewed - with the increase at the end of the year being greater than the increase at the beginning of the year, implying that there should be a further increase in traffic through 2010.

Neil

The cancellation of some of the more major festivals this year have brought a lot of easy headlines for newspapers and the music press, with a raft of reasons suggested as the cause - the olympics, the recession, poor bookings, expensive tickets, and the like.

Those things are of course in the mix and it would be foolish to dismiss the effect they have, but there's much more going on to effect the festivals scene than just those.

Back in 2006 I wrote this article titled "Regulation, Retro and Rubbish", and having just revisited it I can see I called much of it right.

Regulation has tended to tighten again, the change of licencing laws being just a false dawn. Spontinatity is now only permitted if it's been included in the programme and a full risk assessment is carried out. The freedom that festivals once represented and gave the central appeal to the whole idea is long dead and buried.

Retro came and stole the show, and with the dominance of so much dreadful indie landfill it deserved to. But when it goes huge for pop acts like Take That and even Steps can get in on the act then it's time recognise that retro is hitting the bottom of the barrel marked sub-standard, and it's time to move on.

And the rubbish - both kinds - have got more rubbish. When The Hop Farm's booking of Bruce Forsyth is the freshest thing to happen in festival bookings for years then it's time for a re-think.

I said back then "with festivals now so firmly mainstream that they’re something even your grannie might do, are the fashionable days of festivals numbered?."

The grannies have eaten the festivals.

Neil

What you like is what you like; you don't have to agree with me.

Ali Campbell

UB40's ex-frontman is now out on his own. The fall-out with his brother and other UB40 members looks like it's pretty large - perhaps as large as Ali himself now is in his ill-fitting suits - because the set contained absolutely no original UB40 compositions as far as I could tell. All you get linking back to then is the classic covers - 'Red Red Wine', 'Kingston Town', and the like.

Meanwhile, Ali himself puts in very little effort, crooning away and hoping that by charisma alone he can pull it off. Sorry Ali, but you just don't.

James Blunt

Just about everyone's favourite rhyming slang, everyone's favourite hate figure, even James' quite often - he's not scared to take the piss out of himself .... but it's not like he's short of reasons why. He might sell shit loads of records but they're surely being sold to the Westlife crowd who wouldn't know a challenging composition if it hit them in the face. Status Quo could show Blunt an extra chord.

Perhaps Blunt manages an endearing performance. I wouldn't know, I was long gone.

Neil

burning down the house

I was charging a high powered rechargeable battery for one of my boys toys on Sunday morning, when it exploded - proper fireballs (several!) and everything. Because it went up with such a bang, straightaway it was a biggish fire (18 inches across i guess), and it set light to my toy (:(), and things nearby (books, chest of draws, placcy bags of stuff, etc).

If I hadn't been in the room at the time, within seconds it would have taken proper hold, and I'd now have no house. Very luckily I was, and managed to beat it out, mostly with a newspaper of all things (the newspaper was the nearest thing to hand). But I also somehow (I've no real idea how - it was mad panic) managed to burn my hands quite badly, so after a trip to hospital I now have bandages around five of my fingers (three on right hand, two on left), and typing isn't easy.

Today my fingers aren't hurting too badly, so I'm hoping they're not as badly burnt as I first thought (although with burns it's quite often the more minor burns that hurt the most). I have to go back to the hospital tomorrow for these dressings to come off, and then I get to find out what's what. I'm hoping that at worst only the two most burnt fingers (2nd finger left hand, 3rd finger right hand) might need further dressings.

But why did the battery explode? I guess it's down to a cock-up on my part, plugging leads in wrongly, although as far as a I'm aware I didn't. The other alternative is that the the battery had a fault somehow (as it's now a molten mess no one could ever know). A friend cleared up much of the mess for me while I was at hospital so I'll never know for sure.

And my very expensive and almost unused boys toy? It's a wreck, completely useless now - there's just a few bits that can be salvaged for spare parts. I'm so pissed off about it that I can't decide if it's a hobby I'm going to continue with - if I do, I need to shell out hundreds of pounds again to rebuy what's been destroyed. And the house? Other than a coating of soot just about everywhere I touch, it's mostly fine, tho the nice wooden floor is ruined.

Ho-hum. :(

Neil

eFestivals on the up

The new website design seems to be going down extremely well. :(

While it's not possible to do a true like-for-like comparison of last year's website traffic compared to this year's traffic due to some of the changes in the redesign as well as some other background changes, it's certainly the case that there's been a very significant increase in website readership, and the 'stickiness' of those readers.

For example:-

- number of pages viewed is significantly up.

- number of pages viewed per visitor is significantly up.

- visitors from .uk domains is significantly up.

Unfortunately, due to the 'background changes' mentioned above, it's not possible to make a like-for-like comparison of website visits or unique users by IP address. Even so, visits are up, while the recorded (just recorded!) number of unique visits by IP are down - which suggests that if it were possible to make a like-for-like comparison then both visits and unique users would both be showing a significant increase.

And of course, also from those 'background changes', the significant increases in the 3 items mentioned above would actually show a far higher increase than they are showing. So it's all good. :(

The other very noticeable difference within the hit stats is the proportion (just the proportion) of pages read on the forums. While the number of pages read on the forums has increased by around 15% (which is great considering the popularity of facebook and the like), the proportion of all pages read on the website that the forums account for has fallen very sharply, by over half of what it was. Again, this shows that the trend on the main part of the website is a massive increase! :D

So a huge thanks to all of our long time readers for their continued support, a 'welcome back' to those who didn't like the old-style eFestivals but who like the new style, and a big hello to all those who are new readers here. We hope that this year's festivals are all that you dream of. :)

Neil

finding my god

As an easy way to take some load of the main eFestivals server, I've fairly recently created some new sub-domains of eFestivals.co.uk on another server, of 'images', and 'archive'.

While these are good for their created purposes, I've realised since I set them up that they're only really any good for those specific purposes, and aren't particularly good for use for any other purposes. If I was to carry on in the same way I could end up with tens of different use-specific sub-domains which starts to become a nightmare to manage, if only due to having to remember each one and its purpose. So I've been trying to think of a name which would be suitable to encompass all possible uses of a second server.

I don't fancy using the fairly standard 'www2' for a second server, and had been running various options thru my head without anything jumping out at me as particularly good ....so I thought about using a Greek mythological god, as there's a tradition of those being used to name servers. As I'm not particularly familiar with Greek gods, I googled for them and ended up on the wiki page which has a comprehensive listing.

I'd been thinking that I'd pick a short name for easy convenience such as 'zeus', but there was one that jumped right out at me as so suitable that it just had to be used - Dionysus.

According to Wiki, Dionysus is the "God of wine, parties/festivals, madness and merriment. He represents not only the intoxicating power of wine, but also its social and beneficial influences. His symbols are the grape vine, ivy, and thyrsus." .... what could be more suitable for a festivals website server? :(

So a sub-domain dionysus.efestivals.co.uk is going to be created, and over the next few months the references to 'archive.efestivals.co.uk' and 'images.efestivals.co.uk' will be removed from eFestivals, with everything moved to the new dionysus.efestivals.co.uk sub-domain. If you happen to notice this sub-domain being used, you now know that it's genuine.

Neil

Well, that's another summer that's been and gone, with just a few more outdoor fests left before the weather gets bad. Except the weather is bad already - in fact did it ever get good? That's two summers on the trot where it's been generally awful.

Hopefully it's all been due to La Niña, which is normally a two-year weather event and started in early 2007, which means that it's likely that next year will be back to a normal British summer (Yes, that means it rains, but also means it doesn't rain like it has been doing this summer and last summer). I was aware of La Niña early last summer, and in May 2007 was saying to friends that summer 2008 wouldn't be good either; sadly it proved to be true.

Despite the generally awful weather, my own festival going this summer hasn't suffered too badly from it. With more resources for eFestivals now, I've personally attended fewer festivals this summer than I have done for a very long time - just seven, and considering how the weather has been in general I did pretty good, without needing to get my wellies out once (tho waterproof walking shoes [not boots] were needed).

I had wanted to go to Bestival, but a family commitment meant that I had to skip it again (a friend got married on Bestival weekend last summer, so I'd missed last year's too). But having heard reports of just how badly it suffered from the weather this year maybe that wasn't such a bad thing after all - while I can cope with a horribly muddy festival I'd rather not have to.

Roll on next summer: things can only get better, and next summer they will be. :(

Neil

fashions come and go

With yet another festival (Blissfields) having fallen by the wayside for this year, it's pretty clear that fashions are changing.

Blissfields hasn't been hugely ambitious and had (in comparison to other fests) a good offering at a good price, but this was an unfortunate year to go for it - many established festivals appear to suffering a downturn in sales, and i wouldn't be surprised to see a big-name established fest fall this year (it might happen this year but might well not be back next year) as well as other newer events struggling.

eFestivals is of the opinion that the festival peak was three summers ago - the following year held its own, and the drop last year was somewhat hidden by and blamed on the awful weather. While the weather last summer is further affecting sales this year, we don't think it is only the weather that is responsible for the fall-off in the popularity of festivals; they're falling out of fashion and the next few years will show this more clearly.

We expect the coming trend to include (proportionally) fewer advance ticket sales, which of course will make it harder for smaller promoters to run an event, with people making their decisions to attend nearer to an event, in part based on weather forecasts, but also due to a more casual attitude to festrival attendance. It's going to require some promoters to hold their nerve despite the poorer advance sales, but even that won't be enough to save some events into the future.

Neil

:) :) :):D

There's a small handful of people without whom eFestivals wouldn't exist.

Very sadly one of these passed away at the weekend, and she'll be sorely missed by me and her many friends but more importantly by her children and husband.

Neil

It's not only Glastonbury that's suffered from slower sales this year - although it's not being said explicitly, from where I'm sat it seems pretty clear that a number of festivals are suffering from slower sales this year, and desperation is starting to set in for some.

In the days when there was a huge singles market, record companies used to fill DJs pockets with cash to play their records and say how fantastic that particular single was. The result would be that the single with the payola behind it would sell, while other perhaps more worthy records wouldn't get a look in.

eFestivals is aware that within the music & festivals websites market that similar payola has been going on for some time. Over the years we've sometimes received direct approaches to take money to big up an event (which is always refused), and occasionally we've been sent an email meant for an other publication which has shown that that other publication is taking money to falsely present a festival as more to their liking than is really the case.

After last summer's awful weather, some previously successful events are this year suffering a downturn. It's not really surprising, as whatever fantastic attractions an event might have put on, it can be hard for attendees to walk away after a rain-soaked weekend stood ankle deep in mud thinking that they'd had a fantastic time and want to return. Because of that downturn, some promoters are understandably getting worried that their event is going to bomb out, and they have limited options on what they can do to help it sell. And payola is it.

Be careful what you read and where you read it - there's people trying to take your cash using bullshit. Sometimes it's very obvious, where a site has "sponsored by" and then bigs up that thing within its content, with some even go as far as to suggest that their sponsors doings are the best thing since sliced bread - but luckily most people are too smart to fall for something so obvious. But behind the obvious there's often things far more deceptive.

Neil

internet archive

I've just dropped by the Internet Archive, trying to find copies of the original webpages that grew into the Glastonbury website I started, which then grew into eFestivals. Those pages aren't in the archive, so I'll have to do some further 'net hunting to try and track them down, or search thru my 500+ CDs of backups. Ho-hum.

Why am I wanting them? Well, it's coming up to ten years since I started the site, so thought it would be good to try and find some very early examples of where it all sprung from for an article on how things grew from a very small comment on just one page, that was put there as a joke. I don't think I'll have any luck on finding a copy of that original page, but you never know. What I did find on my hunt tho was a picture that I thought was lost forever.

This is a genuine photo of a road sign that still exists (I drove past it the other day) in Radstock in Somerset. :D

nrgreenway.jpg

Neil

eFestivals has had a problem for a while with a certain music-based publicity company having their staff making publicity posts here.

The terms & conditions of the use of these forums is that they're not to be used for commercial purposes. To try to get around that, these staff have made numerous registrations in the normal sorts of usernames that genuine users use, and then made their posts in a deceptive manner, in a "have you heard the latest album by XXXXX? It's superb, check it out" way.

We first picked up on this particular company doing this early in the year and had a word with them, asking that they stop, and they said something like "it's our interns doing this, but we'll make sure they stop". A week or two later and there's been a load more, so this time we make sure they know how seriously pissed off we are about this; again, they said they'd stop.

And now today, we've discovered a whole lot more. Aside from the amusing thing of these threads often having various of these interns 'promoting' the same thing at each other (with each obviously thinking that the other has a genuine interest in the product/band they're promoting), we've again had wortds with this company and again they've given us the same old "it's our interns, it's not our fault" guff.

This company has today told us that "every PR firm does this" (not true, at least not on eFestivals), that "it's the fault of the interns" (as though the company doesn't instruct those interns in what to do :(), and that the record companies they're promoting for don't have the budgets to pay for proper advertising ... which all comes down to this company operating off the back of any resource that they can take advantage of, for their own commercial benefit and at the expense of their PR competitors and companies such as eFestivals.

It all just goes to show how full of bullshit the music industry is, how marketing driven it is (and marketing means, ultimately, that products are being sold on a false basis to suckers: let's keep it simple and say "sold on lies"), and that the whole of the mainstream music business is operating an unsustainable business model.

eFestivals has always tried very hard to be free of this sort of bullshit, and we're extremely pissed off with this publicity company. We'll keep doing our best to ensure that eFestivals remains an honest resource for the benefit of our users.

Neil

server tuning part 4

The new server is now in place, which adds around 80% to the load capacity that was available last Monday when the Reading/Leeds tickets went on sale.

Had this new server been in place on Monday, then I believe that no issues would have been experienced by people using the site at that time. And as there were around 50% more users online simultaneously on Monday across the whole website than this website has experienced previously and things mostly ran OK, I think that's a pretty good indication that website capacity is now (with this new server in place) well over twice what it was last year on Glastonbury T-day.

And realistically, I'm expecting website traffic for this T-Day to be lower than the traffic was on Monday for the Reading/Leeds announcement & ticket sales - there's fewer people buy tickets for Glastonbury than do for (jointly) Reading & Leeds, plus there'll be less people around in general at 9am on a Sunday morning.

I'm very hopeful that the whole website including the forums will stay usable on Sunday, with the worst scenario hopefully being that the forums will be a little slower than normal. But of course all this is dependent on the numbers which hit this website, which can't be known until it happens.

To help keep the load down further a few temporary tweaks will also be made - mostly to do with the website chatrooms, because chatrooms can put a heavy load on servers; a number of chatrooms will be available hosted on a number of different servers, but they won't be fully integrated into the forums as they normally are.

Neil

server tuning part 3

Yesterday was announcement & ticket day for Reading & Leeds festivals, and eFestivals had a new record for the number of users. There were around 40% more users than there were for the previous record, and (mostly) the servers coped better than they did for the previous record.

There were still some issues tho. One of the servers that has been problematic over the last month didn't operate as it should, and led to things slowing down when it shouldn't have - the servers could and should have coped well and at a near-normal speed with the traffic that there was. That problematic server will be replaced in the next few days, and with some other temporary tweaks performance can be improved some more.

I'm very confident that for Glastonbury tickets on Sunday things will cope much better than they did last night, particularly as I don't really see there being any more traffic for that than there was last night.



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