Yesterday afternoon, Musical Toronto received its 100,000th individual visit only seven months in — and less than six months after I started treating it as a full-time job.
The response has exceeded my wildest hopes. So, 100,000 heartfelt thank yous for taking time out of your busy lives to check this place out.
I can only hope that the words here will continue to be relevant to your daily cultural engagement and conversation.
This milestone is especially significant given that Nielsen/MacKinsey’s research division, NM Incite found that, as of last October, the world counted 181 million blogs. No blogger can take even a single person’s attention for granted.
My colleague, Toronto composer, critic and scholar Colin Eatock has been in the process of compiling The Big List of Classical Music Blogs. The site already counts 561 links to independents, critics, newspapers, organizations, composers, musicians and other people writing about classical music and opera.
That’s a lot of chatter — and a goldmine of wit, insight, barb, history, gossip and instruction.
My blog’s stats show to me, day after day, that Musical Toronto readers are looking for a focus on art music and opera. Posts relating to other genres barely get noticed.
Readers are also looking for serious stuff, specifically reviews, interviews and anything else that contributes insight, meaning and context.
This runs counter to the blythe chatter that so much of social media is about. It’s a daily reminder that, in this little corner of our noisy world, practitioners and fans recognize that certain subjects defy a typical Twitter response of “Check out the awesum Semele and the blow-up God of Sleep!!!”
Ask anyone who has broken through the blogging readership barrier and they will say that running a successful blog is a full-time job. That’s full-time in the sense of checking news while sipping morning coffee to tossing aside bedtime reading for one last scan of the laptop.
I pray every night for the stamina to do it one more day.
But I worry about money even more.
I have lived and worked in a state of financial grace for the last six months, but I have to face the reality that I am working full-time at a job that pays exactly $0. That wouldn’t be sustainable in Malawi, much less in Toronto.
Asking readers to pay for access to a blog is ridiculous. So I need to solicit advertising in order to survive.
Currently, Google and WordPress really want to advertise on this blog, but they pay poorly and, in return, clutter up each page with awful, cheap-looking ads and links that may or may not have anything to do with the subject matter.
So, over the course of the next two months, Musical Toronto needs to move to a new server, will get a new design and, with luck and some work, will be sustainable through advertising revenue.
If not, I’ll need to go out and get a real job, as the saying goes.
With the exception of public broadcasters, the work of journalists and critics has always been supported by advertising. But they are not the ones who have had to go out and solicit it. So this raises a number of very serious issues around conflict of interest.
I intend to tread carefully.
STRENGTH IN COMMUNITY
I chose the blog’s name and its .org suffix because I’m merely a passing player — one already in middle age — in a city that already has more than two centuries of musical history, one that continues to grow in magnificent leaps and bounds.
Wouldn’t it be nice if Musical Toronto could become an enduring community and conversation, larger than any single blogger, ideally run as a not-for-profit organization offering all sorts of educational outreach as part of its mandate.
I may be delusional, but I firmly believe that the proliferation of social media only reinforces the need for respected, trusted hubs of information — not from one person, but a mixed chorus of voices.
Check out San Francisco Classical Voice, founded 14 years ago by former San Francisco Chronicle classical music critic Robert Commanday, to get an idea of what I’m talking about. It is an wondrous place that beautifully reflects a city with a vibrant art music and opera community.
According to its advertiser information, San Francisco Classical Voice, in its three-year-old current form, receives more than 30,000 unique visitors in an average month.
Right now, Musical Toronto is getting an average of 700 unique visitors a day — that’s more than 20,000 a month — from a simple blog that’s little more than six months old.
How’s that for potential?
YOUR INPUT IS ESSENTIAL
If there’s something you want to see or read here, let me know.
If you’re upset by something you see here, let me know.
Best of all, if you feel you have something to contribute, let me know.
I can be reached at suchacritic (at) gmail.com
Thank you — again and again.