The 2017 NAMM show was memorable for a lot of reasons. New products, cutting-edge technologies, informative demonstrations, great musical performances, fun parties — you know, all the usual things.
But what was unusual at that year’s show was that it was witness to the birth of a blog. This one, in fact. They say that from small acorns, mighty oaks do grow — and that’s certainly been the case for us.
As we celebrate our 500th posting, join us for a look back at where we started, and how far we’ve come.
Our “official” launch date — the date this website was turned on — was January 19, 2017. There were exactly 53 postings at the time, including more than a dozen installments of Yamaha clinician Phil “Bad Mister” Clendeninn’s Mastering Montage series. There were also numerous contributions from our Consumer Audio folks, including the timeless “Why Are the Numbers on My AV Receiver Volume Control Negative?”, which turned out to be one of our most popular postings ever. Rounding out these initial offerings were articles geared towards guitarists, keyboardists, marching band and orchestral percussionists, violinists, and brass players interested in learning more about their instrument’s mouthpieces. Several of these articles included “behind the scenes” videos too — one of our earliest innovations.
Over the next six months, we added another 20 postings, including a four-part article celebrating 30 years of Disklavier. We also launched our popular Tools of the Trade series of articles for live sound engineers (a feature that’s still going strong!), as well as the first in a long line of popular “How to” articles, such as “How to Install Speaker Wire” and “How to Install Banana Plugs on Your Speaker Wire.” We also began publishing articles about music advocacy as part of the long-standing Yamaha commitment to music education.
By the end of 2017, visitors to our blog could avail themselves of nearly 130 articles on a wide variety of subjects, including postings by and for music educators, in addition to articles aimed at music students and/or their parents. Our range of topics broadened as well, to include postings about drums and drumming; advanced technologies such as our company’s latest developments in Artificial Intelligence and Disklavier Education Network remote auditioning; instrument design and development (including an interview with the designer of our SILENT Bass); and musical events Yamaha participates in, such as the Monterey Jazz Festival. In October of that year, we published our 100th posting, “The Yamaha Story,” celebrating the long history of our company.
Along with the broadening of topics, our audience was growing too, with roughly 5,500 visits to our blog per month. But that, it turns out, was just the tip of the iceberg.
In 2018 we began running a regular series of columns, starting with the very first posting, written by our executive editor, veteran music journalist Howard Massey. This was followed shortly thereafter by monthly and bimonthly contributions from Grammy-nominated songwriter Shelly Peiken, guitarist / TV composer Rich Tozzoli, guitar instructor / clinician Robbie Calvo, music software developer Craig Knudsen and keyboardist Gabriel Aldort.
They were soon joined by a number of prestigious guest columnists, including Rolling Stone contributing editor Anthony DeCurtis, New York Times best-selling author Daniel J. Levitin, leading MIT neuroscientist Dr. John Gabrieli and Wall Street Journal contributor Marc Hopkins.
We were also able to secure the services of some of the finest music journalists in the business, including ex-Musician magazine editors Mac Randall and Michael Gelfand, as well as regular EQ and MIX contributors Steve La Cerra and Mike Levine, consumer audio writer Lisa Montgomery (whose work has appeared in Electronic House and CE Pro magazines) and longtime Keyboard Magazine columnist (and author of the popular “Keyboard For Dummies” book) Jerry Kovarsky.
2018 also saw a series of postings written by end users, starting with Steve Rizun’s “What Drumming Means to Me.” Subsequent articles in that vein have focused on keyboard and guitar playing, along with a fascinating look at the “Practicing / Jamming / Creating Trichotomy.” For those readers unable to attend NAMM in person, we also started running NAMM highlights, showcasing the major product releases from Yamaha, while continuing our coverage of new technologies, with articles explaining how to use Amazon Alexa with MusicCast and the secret behind the unique sound of Yamaha TransAcoustic guitars, which can create reverb and chorus effects without the need for an external amplifier.
Another major development in 2018 was the ability to embed audio files within postings, literally bringing sounds to life as you read about them. (Check out articles such as “How To Record TransAcoustic Guitar Effects” and the two-part “Altered Tunings” series for examples of how much this enhances the blog experience!) We also added interactive search capabilities, making it easier for you to find the articles that interest you, along with dedicated Facebook/Twitter Share, Email and Print icons that float alongside every posting.
All this hard work paid off. By mid-September we hosted our 250,000th visitor, and by the end of the year, monthly traffic had improved to an average of more than 32,000 visitors per month — a more than 600% increase over the preceding year. Clearly we had gained a serious following … and things would only get better.
It didn’t take long for our next milestone to be achieved: just 19 days into the new year, our blog received its 500,000th viewing, and January also marked the first month in which more than 75,000 users paid a visit, many of them returning several times, as reflected in the 100,000+ “sessions” that occurred that month.
Continuing in the tradition started in 2018, we welcomed a number of new guest writers, including ex-Michael Jackson keyboard player Rory Kaplan, who described his encounter with the new Yamaha CP88 Stage Piano as an “introduction to an old friend.” We also initiated new Guitar Basics and Home Recording Basics columns for those new to the world of guitar and digital recording, respectively. In the area of AV, we took both a look back (“The History of Hi-Fi”) and a look ahead, with a three-part series on how to stream music from various sources. Other tech-oriented blog postings described how 21st century composers are using the Yamaha Disklavier in their work, how to use remote control in live sound mixing and a close-up look at (and listen to) Atmosfeel™, the latest and most advanced line of Yamaha acoustic guitar pickup systems.
But of course, it’s not just about technologies and products. We also turned the spotlight on various luminaries in music, including bassists John Pattitucci, Nathan East and Billy Sheehan, plus renowned audio designer Rupert Neve, as well as posting a fond appreciation of the artistry of Elton John.
With 500 articles and counting, there’s sure to be something on the Yamaha blog of interest to every musician and music lover out there. We’ve got a lot of great things planned for the months ahead, so stay tuned to this space. Who knows? You might just be our one millionth visitor!