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Summary of site status for 2019

Christian Clemmensen
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(plasticlizard.filmtracks.com)
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Summary of site status for 2019   Sunday, January 19, 2020 (10:09 a.m.) 

2019 Summary of the Reviews:
--------------------------------------------------------

There was no silver lining for Filmtracks' reviews in 2019, the year proving to be the site's most challenging in its history. Coverage of both all-new scores and new albums for existing scores plummeted despite a strong start to the year. With only 38 reviews "touched" during 2019, production was well below all targets. Even in the worst of years, Filmtracks usually features about 60 new and re-written reviews.

While slowdowns in the autumn season are common at Filmtracks, this year witnessed increasing real-life hardships that prevented even basic coverage levels. In April, my day job at the City of Seattle began requiring over 50 hours per week. Concurrently, my family became embroiled in a dispute with neighbors who committed timber trespass on our property, and countless hours have been spent on that case. Both circumstances have been immensely draining physically and emotionally.

It is my hope that 2020 will bring resolution to both of the above issues so that I can turn more attention back to Filmtracks. The annual awards at the site for 2019 will be late, as at least a dozen scores from the year still await coverage. Many more still need to be surveyed for awards consideration. A handful of new or revised reviews are already partway finished, awaiting a rare free moment here and there. I have pledged to take some vacation time from work so that I can return to writing again.

The reviewing goals for 2020 remain the same, as I am always an optimist. Realistically, don't expect the coverage levels from five years ago to return anytime soon, however. Reviews of all releases will likely continue to be months behind, and several 2018 re-releases still need addressed.


By the numbers:

2019 Goals:
--------------------------------------
New Reviews of New Albums: 35
New Reviews of Old Albums: 0
Re-Writes: 30

2019 Final Stats:
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New Reviews of New Albums: 19
New Reviews of Old Albums: 0
Re-Writes: 19

2020 Goals:
--------------------------------------
New Reviews of New Albums: 35
New Reviews of Old Albums: 0
Re-Writes: 30


2019 Summary of the Overall Site:
--------------------------------------------------------

Filmtracks experienced an unexpected, emergency migration to a new hosting provider in September after its longtime host, with whom the site had been since 2000, accidentally shut down the site for several days in August. There are other site updates detailing that event. It suffices to say that if a provider erroneously shuts your site down for days without providing any advance notice or immediate rectification, you're not going to stick with that company.

The unplanned transition to AWS for Filmtracks was an intensive process that took upwards of a month to stabilize. Getting the email server to function properly was a painful task that extended into October, and the billing issues weren't resolved until December. But for all the hassle involved with how AWS's hosting works, the ultimate cost of the product for Filmtracks moving forward is reduced and the solution is faster and scalable. It was the right long-term move for the site.

Three additional upgrades to Filmtracks accompanied the move to a new host, and this work precluded any time for coverage in most of September and October. First, SSL certificates have finally been added to the site so that all connections to it are secure. (This task was especially challenging given all the hard-coded internal links to non-secure assets lingering from decades ago.) Second, the site's email server has finally been whitelisted to the extent that outgoing mail can be considered reliable again. Finally, additional firewall configurations were developed to limit adverse robot activity on the site and make legitimate connections from overseas faster.

Meanwhile, these investments didn't translate to improved revenue streams, as the lack of new coverage really started to take a toll on readership involvement and chipped away at the otherwise resilient mainstream audience visits to major reviews. The site's monetary loses are partially offset by the gracious donations by longtime readers (for which I remain truly grateful), but the overall model is not sustainable while I lack the time to properly maintain the site, particularly in coverage levels. I will continue to subsidize Filmtracks as long as I can.

There remains hope that once a permanent office can be built for the site, my day job stabilizes, and the heartbreaking dispute with my forest-destroying neighbor is resolved, I'll be able to escape back to the Filmtracks community and the music we all love. My goal is to make all of those things happen in 2020 so that the site can again be more a hobby and less a burden. The support from all of you remains the driving force behind my humorous but slightly serious pledge to make Filmtracks outlast Facebook, even if it means a few lean years here in the middle.

Best wishes to all in 2020,

Christian


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The reviews and other textual content contained on the filmtracks.com site may not be published, broadcast,
rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. Scoreboard created 7/24/98 and last updated 4/25/15.