Pink Floyd - Running a Fansite.

Linda Spencer 05/07/2005

You may think that running a band fansite involves hours hunched over a computer, Googling for snippets of information until your fingers bleed and uploading endless photos of surprised looking band members being accosted by fans.

And you would be right. But it also requires dedication, discipline and the ability to mix with all walks of life from the stalker fan right up to the band and their management.

One site enjoying a surge in popularity is the well respected Pink Floyd retreat A Fleeting Glimpse (www.pinkfloydz.com). Now in its eighth year, the Live 8 performance of Floyd and a nod from the BBC has seen an already healthy membership skyrocket. We've managed to prise site owner Colin Turner away from his computer long enough to give a master class to all you would-be fansite owners out there.

Before you get to the giddy heights of guest lists, invites to rehearsals and dinner with management (yes, Colin has done all these and more) you've got to get started.

First get back to basics and know your subject and your audience inside out. Colin has followed Pink Floyd since 1966 and what he doesn't know about David (“Don't call me Dave”) Gilmour and Roger “Not as gloomy as I used to be” Waters could be written on the back of a postage stamp.

Be realistic about your motivation. Colin was inspired to start A Fleeting Glimpse simply due to the lack of credible sites out there.

“The first words I ever put into a search engine on the net were 'Pink Floyd'. I was amazed at how many sites came up! However, when I visited many of them, I came away feeling disappointed. They all seemed to be offering the same old things. I immediately saw the need for something better and different, but at that time, didn't have a clue about how to go about building a site.”

So will you have sell the shirt off your back to get started? Colin says not.

“It doesn't cost a great deal to set up and run the site. There are a couple of really cool guys in Sweden who donate the server space, so that costs nothing. Most of the material on my site has also been donated, so I'm lucky again there.”

This is good advice. Shop around for webspace, recruit some writers but always keep it professional. Once you're established, there will be extra running costs such as extra server space when needed, computer repairs and the software you need to run your site. It costs Colin about 1300.00 a year to run his sites.

The main cost to you in running a fansite is your time. Be prepared to bid a fond farewell to your friends, family and social life. Colin spends about 45 hours a week working on his site including answering emails and moderating the forum but should there be a flurry of publicity about your band, or a tour this can shoot sharply upwards.

“When Roger Waters toured in 2002, I was putting in 70 hours a week to try to keep up! Mind you, I think it was worth it, as I was able to have sound clips, and even videos of Roger's performances up on site, within hours of the show finishing. After one show, I had video clips available just under 2 hours after the show concluded.”

To give your site that real touch of professionalism, you need management on board and the cooperation of your chosen band. With an up and coming group, this shouldn't be too difficult as they need all the publicity they can get. A well worded letter or email should get you a result. Unfortunately for Colin, he picked one of the most successful groups of all time. And due to the infamous Pink Floyd “split” he has not one but two sets of management to deal with. Trust is the key word. Colin explains:

“It took many years of emails to get any trust built up. I think they can tell I am genuine about my site, and take it seriously. As far as I know, there are only two sites that enjoy their trust, and I'm very pleased to say that A Fleeting Glimpse is one of them.”

Of course it helps if your band wants to cooperate. Colin feels in Pink Floyd's case: “They do it because they are nice people, and want to show respect for their fans.”

Now to the nitty gritty. Is there any cash in it? Well not really, unless you want to flood your site with banners and pop ups which are going to send people screaming for the back button. You're doing this for love, not money, remember? There is a pay off though. Colin has had some memorable experiences as a result of running his site. What are the best?

“Without doubt, getting to meet Roger Waters (and his family) in 2002. That was a major thrill. Also, a long lost friend contacting me via the site was memorable. In addition, almost as a direct result of the site, I have had four major overseas trips since 2000.

“I get sent quite a bit of 'official' information, and it's really great to be trusted. I'm often asked to feature something Floyd related on the site, and in exchange I do get lots of promotional items, such as CD's, DVD's T-Shirts, posters and the like.

“I think it's great that new generations are discovering Pink Floyd, and if I can be here to help with their Floydian education then I'm more than happy.

And finally the satisfaction of knowing I am providing a facility that Floyd fans want!”

Our last bit of advice is to keep your site updated. Once you've got the traffic, you have to keep it. Members will stay loyal only as long as your information is relevant and bang up to date. Remember, running a fan site is a bit like being a member of Al Qaeda, should you fall there's always someone else to take your place.

So, is this for you? It's going to eat into your life, but it could take you anywhere. Numerous music journalists have cut their teeth and made their mark via the humble fansite. Today the web, tomorrow the world (hopefully on a press trip freebie!)

A Fleeting Glimpse can be found at www.pinkfloydz.com