One Year Later
By Matt Yette
January 9, 2003
Well here we are. Just over a week removed from the new year, antsmarching.org celebrates its first birthday. It's been an exciting and eventful year, for both the band, and the site. Busted Stuff was released in July, and has generally sold well, considering the poor handling of promotion by RCA, the band's record label. The band toured relentlessly, blessing us with tours for all seasons, racking up a total of 83 shows. It was, all in all, another strong, telling year for a band who has steadfastly become the most consistently popular rock band in the world.
When the concept of antsmarching.org was created, all those involved had high hopes, but realistic expectations. The Internet was already relatively flooded with Dave Matthews Band fansites, with a small handful being quite alive and kicking. Our goal in creating this site was to bridge the gap between fans all over the world. Message Boards are one thing, but true interaction is a difficult task to undertake via this medium. Despite these factors, we felt that we still had something to bring to the table, and we chose to move forward with the project.
I was introduced to a man by the name of Jake Vigliotti, and was told that he had compiled the largest and most accurate setlist archive known, due to the fact that he has followed the band since its inception. What we now call Tour Central is the very core of antsmarching.org, with virtually all of our features tied into Jake's archive in one way or another. As development of the site was continuing, we started to realize what kind of potential a database-backended archive like this one had. We programmed in the ability for users to search out shows of other users, and set up trades with them. We wrote in a setlist game which takes the setlist data from that night, and scores users' picks against it. We even tied our FTP Servers into it, so users can see which shows each server is currently hosting. In the coming weeks, we will be adding a B&P system to the site as well, so new users can easily get started in the exciting world of trading.
The site was progressing nicely, and on January 9, 2002, we opened up antsmarching.org to the public. We had quite the opening, amassing 1000 users in just 3 days time. Never in our wildest dreams would the site have taken off quite like it has. We figured we'd find our niche and have a small group of users hang around. The only word I can use to describe my feeling is stunned.
A lot of work went into making this site all that it is today, and it's rare that the people behind the scenes receive credit. One of our admins, Shawn Bissell, has been instrumental in building the foundation for the site. He designed and implemented the setlist archive database, as well as the trading functions and the setlist parser. (For those not technically inclined, all we have to do is paste in each night's setlist, and the parser automatically recognizes each song, and adds it into the database accordingly.) When the idea of the Setlist Game went into motion, Shawn and I worked together to work out all the bugs, and get it out by the Spring Tour (we just made it). Shawn, like other admins on this site, has a full time job, and hails from British Columbia, so time zones become an issue as well when trying to organize meetings and work collaboration. Shawn has been the rock of this site. Whenever a problem or an issue comes up in the coding of features, Shawn will almost always have the answer.
James Mayer has been instrumental in helping design the site, and coding up the media pages that are home to the tabs, wallpapers, lyrics, and icons. Rob Theriaque was brought on board midway through the year to assist in moderation of the boards, and general site conceptual discussion. Mike Maniaci is our lead siteop, and he has been invaluable in organizing what is now the largest list of DMB FTP Servers on the Internet. A small group of people indeed, but we are extremely proud of what you see here today.
While the am.org staff does the bulk of the work for the site, it shouldn't go unnoticed that we have received some outside assistance as well. First of all, we'd like to thank Mr. Waldo Jaquith of nancies.org for his generous insight on running a large online community. Whenever a situation arose that we weren't sure how to handle, Waldo was always willing to lend a hand. We'd also like to thank Bill, who has been kind enough to donate his time, bandwidth, and servers to bring you the HTTP SHN Download Area, now hosting nearly 500 shows, and growing everyday.
Last of all, but certainly not least, we would like to thank all of you DMB fans out there for making this site all that it is. We are going to continue to work hard to provide you with new and exciting features, and to continually expand our catalog of DMB shows in SHN format. It's been a great year, and we look forward to many more.
The views and comments expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of antsmarching.org.