Hello everyone! I’d like to take this occasion to share some of what’s been going on behind the scenes here at Ektoplazm since my last update. I am happy to report that new distribution process has been successfully implemented, easing my workload (so I can concentrate more of my time on the redevelopment effort) and reducing delays and errors (so labels and artists stay happy).
Since making these changes the free music has been flowing almost continuously. I’ve generally been keeping to a pace of about a release a day—which is quite a lot of work! Each and every release takes several hours to download, review, prepare, upload, and promote. Since the crowdfunding campaign ended Ektoplazm has published 572 new releases, something that wouldn’t have been possible without the generous support of the community at large and, of course, the labels and artists providing such awesome music for us all to enjoy.
I also continue to be deeply engaged in the redevelopment process. Work on the new site continues, though I have taken a slightly different approach in recent months. After the crowdfunding campaign ended I focused most of my energy on developing the back-end release management service—something that labels and artists will be able to use to post releases themselves. This service needs to be able to convert between different file formats, package up releases, create samples, store everything in an accessible place, and serve content on demand. It also needs to scale out of the box: Ektoplazm already serves more than 100 terabytes of data every month—and that number is bound to go up when improvements are made and access restrictions are lifted. Designing a distributed, fault-tolerant system to process, manage, and serve so much content is neither cheap nor easy.
I put that effort on hold this winter to refocus my attention on the front-end, the user-facing interface that everyone sees and interacts with today. It is this component that I will be refreshing first—before overhauling the back-end. The reason for this change in direction is simple: I’d like to show some movement on this project after so many delays—and the front-end is in dire need of a facelift anyway.
So, what can you expect in the near future? My goal is to roll out a cleaner, more responsive and mobile-friendly front-end design with an HTML5 (as opposed to Flash) music player. This new site will be up to modern web standards, unlike the current design, which is now about eight years old (and showing its age).
I have already sent out emails to potential beta testers to help me work through the final weeks of testing before pushing these front-end changes live to the site. If you supported the Ektoplazm crowdfunding campaign and claimed a perk relating to beta testing but did not receive an email please contact me and I’ll sort things out.
Once the new front-end design is launched I will return to working on the back-end. I wouldn’t mind a little help with this—but only the right kind of help. If you are an experienced server-side developer with proficiency in Node.js and an interest in volunteering 10+ hours per week feel free to contact me to examples of your work—and please be up front about your capabilities, expectations, and availability.
Finally, I would like to thank all the crowdfunding backers once again for sticking with me through all these ups and downs. To say that things haven’t gone according to plan would be a massive understatement. I made the mistake of assuming that with some decent funding I could find some qualified people to work with, get up to speed very quickly, leapfrog over several looming technical challenges, and launch a new site within months. I also vastly underestimated the amount of time and money required to deliver the promised perks—the postcards, Greatest Trips compilation, and Ektoplazm t-shirts, among others. This was horribly naive of me—but all is not lost. I remain dedicated to delivering what was promised—and I look forward to sharing more tangible results of the long redevelopment process with you very soon.
For reference: this page gathers up a wide variety of content related to the Metamorphosis project.