Keeping Things Going

Beware: Some crankiness is on the way…

When you start a new project or initiative, one of the first decisions you make (whether intentional or not) is about how long it’s going to last. That one choice affects so much that comes after: do you act for sustainability, or go for the quick-hit? Do you work to broaden the base, or just plunge ahead solo (or with a small team) to get things done? Tons of decisions large and small will affect how long something can sustain itself.

Even if you DO decide that you want something to go for the long haul, it’s still a constant struggle. Organizations and projects go through lifecycles – exciting new growth, slowing, potentially some stagnation, then new bursts of energy and change, and so on. In less successful cases, that stagnation period goes long-term, and the project or group can stall.

All of these truisms of organizational development were on my mind today, as I went looking for news items for Acaville’s Top Of The Hour news. We try to refresh a couple of the news items every week, so I’m always out looking at websites and blogs, seeing what interesting ideas and events I might mention.

Admittedly, it’s summer, traditionally a slower time for these things (especially when a cappella continues to have a large scholastic and collegiate focus). But what I found was pretty unfortunate. CASA’s slider has items from six months ago, and the “News Room” doesn’t feature anything at all from CASA per se (though at the moment, there’s no spam on there, which hasn’t always been the case). RARB’s newest news is from 2013. AcaGeeks? The same. The A Cappella Embassy? Early 2014. Even Mike Chin’s regularly-updated A Cappella Blog has nothing new for a month or so.

[Acatribe has unfortunately been no exception to this general rule, except for a few recent AcaVids entries. Luckily, and coincidentally to this unplanned post from Aaron, we have a lot of content in the pipeline for July. Not all of it qualifies as “news,” but it is new content. -Ed.]

There are lots of reasons (in addition to the calendar) that this could be true. Blogs aren’t as cool as they once were (although still effective, I think), and some of these folks spend their time on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram instead these days. Some (like RARB) still churn out great output and just don’t pay attention to their news area anymore (although I’d wonder why you’d keep it up there then…).

But at a time when there’s so much great stuff going on – festivals, camps like Camp A Cappella, groups touring, new albums dropping – it seems a little like an information and opinion desert right now. And, lest you levy a “pot calling the kettle” argument against me and Acaville, I freely admit that we don’t maintain a blog. Our news goes up on the air at the top of the hour, and sometimes through social media as well. So although we’re trying to help the situation, we could sure do more.

But taking that on could jeopardize the long-term viability of the station – it just feels like one too many things right now. Sustainability is tough, whether it’s an a cappella group or a nonprofit or a radio station. But we’re planning on being in it for the long haul.

(To that end, if you’ve got great resources for news and opinion on a cappella, let me know in the comments! And if you’ve got news to share, drop us a line over at Acaville – those Top of the Hour segments don’t write themselves…)


  1. Chad   •  

    Lots of stuff cropping up on Twitter and facebook groups, as you said. Might be able to mine those for news.

  2. Mike Chin   •  

    Thanks for the ACB mention. We built in summer hiatuses from our very first year on because traffic took such a dip around then (and I’ve been working crazy summer jobs). Admittedly, though, it is a chicken and egg situation between less new content and fewer visitors. Rest assured, we’ll be back with multiple-times-a-week content in September!

  3. Dave Bernstein   •  

    I think those of us who do this can agree that it is sometimes difficult to stay motivated. There is no monetary compensation, often very little feedback from the community, and that whole “what’s the point” feeling can creep in occasionally. Ultimately, though, I am just proud to say I’ve been doing this for nearly four years, and I never thought I’d get 10 hits, far less tens of thousands. I try to remind myself of that when there has been too large a rut in production.

  4. Acaville Aaron   •     Author

    I should point out that my chief complaint isn’t necessarily with the blogs that are humming along most of the year, then take a little time off (although on a personal note, it’s awfully inconvenient for me. :-) ) Rather, there are lots of examples of blogs and sites that go crazy for a while and then just peter out – but remain like ghost blog ships for eternity. When those are also coming from pretty significant organizations in a cappella, that’s also worrisome.

    Dave, your point about motivation is such a good one, and one that I don’t think gets discussed as often as it should. We’re only 2+ years old at this point, so we’ll always be a younger sibling in the a cappella world, but there are still days or weeks when I’m supposed to refresh some news items or record a new promo, and it ends up procrastinated to another day.

    I wonder if there is some organizational collaboration that can help us all keep each other motivated. Some kind of aca-content-club?

What do you think?