Let’s Archive, People

Open Letters

Dear Competition and Festival Organizers,

Back in 2006, I had the idea of starting The A Cappella Blog. There were a lot of reasons to do so, but chief among them was a void in a cappella blogging. For while CASA and Varsity Vocals had great websites, RARB was doing an excellent job with reviews, and a handful of other outlets came and went, the a cappella world was missing a consistent archive of information, such as which group sang which songs when, let alone how well-received those performances or recordings were. So, we started our site on the idea of focusing on live event reviews and archiving as much as we could.

Fast forward a decade, and the Internet is a more comprehensive place. YouTube went from a fledgling video sharing site to the best-known of a group of user-friendly sites of its ilk, where, for a cappella purposes, a lot of groups have shared a lot of performances. Social media has advanced and aca-people have grown more adept at integrating their creative efforts with their Facebook and Twitter identities. On top of that, there are more a cappella-based websites, podcasts, and other media that have made an aca-world that is constantly expanding simultaneously feel smaller and all the more accessible.

Given that accessibility—that most of us involved in the a cappella world have some level of access and engagement with the Internet, we now expect to find access to information. And it’s maddening when we don’t have it.

For as the Internet has grown, so too has the field of a cappella festivals, competitions, and events. All great stuff, and I’d like to drive home that I so appreciate the folks who have invested countless, thankless hours to bring these events to life. But I’m here to ask you one additional favor.

In recent years, I’ve frankly been shocked at how difficult it is to find concrete information about a variety of shows. While some organizations like Varsity Vocals do a stand-up job of archiving who placed at competitions and won special awards, and the Contemporary A Cappella Society nicely publishes the results of the CARAs, there are a lot of other major shows and festivals that oddly enough don’t seem to keep a formal, public record of their results, including competition or award winners.

Neglecting to meaningfully archive results sells short both performers and the organizations behind shows. Taking the extra step to at least write a quick blog post that compiles results, if not building a sub-page in the organization’s site to archive this information, adds a sense of permanence and gravity to an accomplishment—it takes a sensational performance that resulted in a competition victory, for example, beyond the live audience and the group that earned the honor, to instead broadcast and maintain this result for the world to read.

Some food for thought.

Sincerely,

Mike