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26-06-2008, 07:51 | Michael We.


Nach einem Hackerangriff und den deshalb notwendigen Reperaturarbeiten hat sich das Folk-Downloadportal WOVEN WHEAT WHISPERS entschieden, nicht mehr zurückzukommen. Hier der Text auf der Homepage:

Hello everyone

this is an update following the recent wave of hacker attackers against sites such as ours and the post (shown below) at this blog of last week.

In response to these attacks we took the service down temporarily as we did not want our customer or artist data to be compromised. As our site has hundreds of links to others, we also did not want to spread viruses by mistake, so it was important to withdraw the site while we worked on the issues.

The attacks were not specifically against us and have hit a wide range of government and ecommerce sites. Our service used software certified as hackersafe, but each time the viruses were blocked they mutated. As we worked through the issues and further tightened our security provisions, we undertook a full review of our service.

Our review has come to the conclusion that now is the time to end the service. While we are able to bring it back, against our peak of sales we have seen a marked decline in paid downloads during 2008. This is against a huge growth in customer numbers, most of whom are interested only in free music.

We know our catalogue and service model had no comparison because artists, customers and promotional routes would tell us so. So we put the decline down to a combination of:
- the credit crunch
- the market power of iTunes
- people not bothering to buy folk downloads
- people only being attracted by free music on the internet
- general apathy
- a lack of awareness

We have had paid high profile adverts in many magazines through 2007 and especially 2008 that have not made any difference to recent sales at all. As a (very small) commercial service, the folk press didn't give us coverage and without their support it was genuinely difficult to break through to a wider folk customer base. For example, due to their rules about not promoting commercial interests we couldn't mention our service in many folk online discussion groups. This seems to limit their ability to help the development of independent folk services and labels. Our suspension and now closure hasn't even been remarked on in the folk discussion groups. Nor did more than a handful of people email us in response to the earlier post about service suspension or leave comments. Whatever moment of interest we had, has passed.

We suspect that the wave of general interest in folk and acoustic music is past its peak. The press attention is moving on again and while the folk scene will continue and even thrive, there won't be the kind of expanded audience we saw over recent years in our view. We are aware of a range of small labels, distributors and reviewers who like us are closing their operations down. A core of artists will continue to succeed, particularly related to the traditional scene, but in our view we're unlikely to see a generation of casual fans buying folk releases extensively. The future appears to be festivals rather than releases, the live circuit is where the excitement is now. Perhaps that's how it should be in folk and related music. (We tried advertising at festivals too but nobody remembers you later on and the booklets get put in a drawer).

In addition the requirements of many labels and artists was becoming ever more bespoke at a time of growing competition from sites offering a tailored one stop shop for artist/label downloads. Further development of the service would have required an investment which we were concerned wouldn't be covered by revenue for the artists. With so much growing competition, market apathy and an inability to develop the profile needed and without more active support from online resources and magazines, we questioned if continuing was the right decision.

Clearly we had to give careful consideration to the viability of developing the service and continuing service provision. We feel that the industry is moving onto a situation of concentrated use of iTunes, ever more distribution channels but few people acting buying from them. In this climate there doesn't appear to room to keep and grow a viable niche. We know people appreciated the service and that artists found it a great resource but if that doesn't convert to paid sales for artists, then it's time to move on.

Free music is killing paid sales, piracy is rife and on the whole the user community doesn't care. It's too tempting and easy for people (who don't intend to operate illegally) just to download free music. The range of torrents, blogs and sites offering bootlegged music is staggering and we suspect we too were starting to be impacted.

But in our view free music and illegal downloading devalues the music and the listening experience. 90% of the music downloaded from the service was the free releases, in the end we had to ration their inclusion. In our experience people do not go on to buy music after they download free music in our experience. However we really believe music is special and that by choosing and paying for music, we create a deeper connection than just being given it. It's just that it seems the substantial majority of the population disagree with us. The 'casualisation' of experiencing music has become a part of technological progress, where the range of consumer choice matters more than quality. Where this leads music who knows? It will be interesting to observe and we wish all the artists well at thriving in this new chaotic music industry.

Today is about exploiting the seemingly endless technological possibilities open to us all, without boundaries or moral consideration. We are still only a decade into our online lives, but we have tried to show how a community based creative delivery model can operate. it's just think there's not enough demand for such a model at present. We do believe the time will come, that people will realise the value of small communities of artist and their audience, creating and experiencing in synergy. We won't be the ones who build upon this realisation, but we encourage everyone to remain open to such a possibility.

We have absolutely no plans whatsover to return and all our associated sites will close with immediate effect (as these were co-hosted on the infrastructure providing the service, so we sadly have no choice). We will not be engaging with folk music promotions, artist development, new music additions, forums or other activity in the future. We intend to make a clean break of it after completing all the important work for an orderly closure.

Over the next week we will produce our final collation of sales and start the process of settling the artist accounts. We have all the data and look forward to sharing the final funds with the artists. This will be done as professionally as always, we exist to support our artists properly right until the very end.

We do wish to offer a genuine thank you to all who supported the service. This of course starts with the artists who have been wonderful. Many took an active role in supporting us and we're appreciative of their efforts.

In addition we also want to thank our customers and those who were passionate about the service. Together we created and developed something that we are proud of and stands as an example of how music can touch people.

We have to name a couple of people who provided support, assistance, promotion, enthusiasm and passion. So of particular note are such as:

Nigel Owen Spencer, Sean Breadin, Dave Brzeski, Swill, Steve Tyler, Charlotte Greig, Simon Lewis, Martin & Tom Welham, Phil Widdows, Damh The Bard, Bob Pegg, Alan Trench, Tony Wakeford, B'eirth, Gerald Van Wae, Neil King, Richard Moult, Andy Sharp, Phil Legard, Timothy Renner, Andrew Stewart King, Philip Barker, Oscar Strik, Henk Rijkenbarg, Antonello Cresti, Prydwyn, Derek Brimstone, Talking Trees, Frederick Moe, Alan Craw, Thor Ewing and all at Coldspring.

Thanks to everyone in the list, they have been supportive friends who really did help. Apologies to everyone I haven't mentioned, you genuinely do know who you are. Thanks to Ian Southworth too who played such an important role in the formative years of the service.

We hope that people will look back at our various sites from The Unbroken Circle, Woven Wheat Whispers, Harvest Home through to John Barleycorn Reborn as something positive, that entertained for a while and made a small contribution to folk music over the last ten years.

Even though the sites fade away to become distant memories, the John Barleycorn Reborn set lives on. It will resonate down the years to become its own folk myth.

So it's over. Let's all go and do something new. I'm still around and not at all sad. We did something wonderful, but such things can't last for ever and now it's time to move on.

Thank you for reading, then and now.

Hail John Barleycorn! We came willingly and of our own free will.....


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