I think that the best way to start any endeavor like a new website, is to examine previous efforts. If you read my Introductory statement you know that I used to run a website for DJ Shadow called Endtroducing.com. It started out in 1997 mostly as an excuse to run a website. I met a guy through a consulting gig who hooked me up with an account on his server mostly as a way to ftp some software to me. It also had the ability to display web pages! For a couple of weeks I searched for a reason to use a website. I started a couple of lame pages with links to other sites. I bought an HTML reference.
One day I was driving around Eagan, MN– I was probably going to work in the Cities. I remember this pretty clearly. It was early 1997. The sun was out and the radio, tuned to REV 105, was playing the opening strains of “Building Steam with a Grain of Salt.” I was immediately enthralled. I waited in my truck to hear the name of the song and artist and immediately headed to The Electric Fetus in downtown Minneapolis to see if they had it in stock. They did. This disc- DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing… stayed in my player constantly for weeks it seems. I started to do research on this enigmatic artist. There was a very noticable lack of information on him. At least, none of it was in one place. So, I thought that it was a good thing to write about and would be helpful. I’ve always been a content first person when it comes to the internet. I made a decision right at the start that I was going to do this only up until the point when the site becomes redundant. That is, when another site does a better job than when I do. It is kind of the Open Source mentality. Rather than two sites trying to outdo each other, the maintainers should combine efforts to make one really good site.
I logged my link on Yahoo and UBL (The Ultimate Band List) as well as CDNow (who incidentally did a banner exchange with me!). The rest is history, as they say. A guy named Mike Beam offered to host a ListServ that we called InFlux which helped to gel the community by giving them one place to interact. Shadow’s girlfriend (now wife) joined the list anonymously enough but reached out to me to tell me that he liked the site. He didn’t have a computer, but she did, and she read his e-mails for him. We stayed in touch, and she got me hooked up with the label A&R person for A&M/FFRR/Mo’Wax, Alison Pember. I helped her get the word out for the mini-tour surrounding the UNKLE Psyence Fiction project. Mike Beam and I pulled together a couple of moderated “Internet Chats” with DJ Shadow via IRC. Talk about old school!
At some point in that timeline (October 18, 1998) I picked a domain name for the website. I chose “Endtroducing” because it was the first album and a word that DJ Shadow used to mean the end and the beginning at the same time. I thought it was suitable. I also didn’t want to register djshadow.com– although it was available at that time– because I wasn’t the “official site” and thought it would be confusing. I should have registered it because Shadow had some negotiating to do with the guy that did register it!
In 2000 Shadow finally registered and put a site up on djshadow.com, but initially it was only used for some label contests. Shadow admitted to me that he didn’t have the time to keep it up, so he wanted to keep using endtroducing.com as a vehicle for collecting all of the news, etc., and would give me the scoops. This relationship stayed pretty much this way until August 15, 2001 when Shadow got serious about his web presence and hired someone to design it in Flash. Shadow asked me to come on board and help with getting the content done. I was flattered and very excited at the prospect of this. This was what I thought should happen. I had previously negotiated with a company called MusicFans to sell endtroducing.com to them and signed on as a consultant to run that site. Everything was in place. I was working directly with an artist that I considered to be very important and vital. On the side I was working on the primary fan site for the artist as well– kind of a cake-and-eat-it-too situation.
Unfortunately, things didn’t stay this way. In the middle of the UNKLE release, MCA bought A&M and that messed up the management of things. Shadow got lost in the shuffle as far as the label was concerned. MCA started taking over the content of the website. Shadow started working on his next album and the essential communications that were needed to keep me in the loop so I could work on djshadow.com stopped. At the same time the dot.com boom busted and MusicFans filed for bankruptcy. They alerted me that they wouldn’t be renewing the endtroducing.com domain name, and they had no plans of transferring the domain name back to me. I was paid, so I couldn’t complain. According to “whois” endtroducing.com was going to expire in October 2002. There was another person who was running solesides.com– which was becoming a very good site in its own right. His focus was more on the stable of Quannum artists that DJ Shadow was part of. I explained to him what was going on and asked him if he’d maintain an archive of endtroducing.com on his site. He graciously agreed. Soon after I posted what was to be my last words on the subject to the InFlux Mailing list:
It’s time for me to move on. It has been a pretty great ride, and I got to do some pretty good things. I made *the* website for DJ Shadow and I ran it for over 5 years. I saw Shadow come from being someone who didn’t use a computer for e-mail to getting his own site up and running. I saw the generation of In/Flux and the follow-on Hindsight mailing lists, a couple of really good mixoffs, I hosted 3 Internet chats with the Man Himself. I paid for Josh’s lunch when I met up with him during the 2000 tour. I got credit on the Private Press.
Today, I run the official website for the band Pell Mell http://www.pellmell.org/ . Although they are on hiatus, I have been in touch with three of the members. They are pretty excited about a site about them, and I get some updates from them. I am also starting a website for Dave Spalding, one of the guitarists from Pell Mell http://www.davespalding.com/
It’s time to play b-sides
And so it begins again from how it ended…