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31 July 2007

Networking Online

Stephen Cronin Image: Stephen Cronin  

The Stephen Cronin website first appeared as pages attached to the Griffith University website in the mid-1990s. It was designed primarily as teaching material in a course which included a component about HTML authoring. It was not until 2001 when .name domains became available that those original pages were converted to the current URL (www.stephen.cronin.name) and, as it were, became public. At that time I also registered the URL with Google so that most search engines would choose my 'official' site first rather than other sites which might include my name. For example, in a search for ‘stephen cronin’, the AMC website comes after my personal website.

...direct contact with interested and interesting people from all over the world is enough to convince me that the site is fulfilling its role...From a technical viewpoint I have always tried to build a site which will load very quickly. Most web design manuals suggest web surfers are likely to leave a page in under one second if no information is immediately forthcoming. Early in the construction process I decided not to include large images or soundbytes.

Maintaining a website is an onerous task. Ideally each page should be updated at least monthly to ensure currency of the information made available. Initially I managed to re-visit the pages every two to three months; since 2005 that period has extended to about 12 months or longer.

In 2005 the site was given a major overhaul to include free scores under a Creative Commons licence, links to New Music and Choral Music Webrings, and a shop for selling scores directly to those interested (although I now advise purchasers to use the AMC instead).

The inclusion of the free scores and Webring links immediately produced a four-fold leap in the number of hits – averaging from approximately ten hits per day to forty hits per day. Downloads of free scores still number around twenty per week. On the site I request that people contact me to inform me of performances. From thousands of downloads, this has happened once.

Under my List of Works I include links to first pages of a number of scores. There is a steady stream of downloads of those pages.

Is maintaining a website useful? Yes. However, as an individual web creator it requires a lot of time and effort to keep the site fresh – time that I would prefer to spend composing.

Nevertheless, every now and then I receive an email from a performer or student inquiring about my compositional ideas or a piece I have written. Considering the relatively small size of the new music community, that direct contact with interested and interesting people from all over the world is enough to convince me that the site is fulfilling its role.

Stephen Cronin is a composer whose work is widely commissioned by Australian and overseas ensembles such as the Duo Contemporain, Octomania, Perihelion Ensemble, Synergy, The Song Company, The Seymour Group and various orchestras.


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