splendid > last orders, please...
Dear Readers,

MARCH 2007 UPDATE: Yeah... It's not looking like we'll be coming back any time soon. It's probably a good idea for you to stop sending us your music, by the way, as we've run out of space in which to store it.

Now back to our weepy farewell...

For the last nine years, Splendid has introduced readers to all manner of new and unusual music -- some of it well known, some of it obscure, and some of it so profoundly obscure that it made the stuff you previously thought of as obscure seem like a Britney Spears record by comparison. Since the site first went live in early November of 1996, we've published something on the order of 15,000 CD reviews, always guided by our vow to review everything we receive.

All good things must come to an end. After several months of consideration, we've decided to cease publishing Splendid, effective December 31, 2005. (More on that point later.)

If you're interested in a lengthy explanation of why we're doing this, read on. If not, please skip to the FAQ at the end of the page.

Why are we doing this? Ultimately, it's because we're tired -- not tired of discovering new music, but tired of the logistical nightmare that our open submission policy has created for us. Reviewing everything you receive is a viable strategy if you (a) don't receive a whole lot of music, and (b) don't do a particularly good job reviewing it. At the risk of blowing our own horn, we did do quite well -- we covered CDs quickly and attentively, rarely misplaced music, and rarely had a problem finding qualified staffers. As a result, the site gained notoriety, and more people sent us their music -- which necessitated bringing in more writers, producing more reviews every week, and so forth.

The process, it turned out, wasn't particularly scalable. It costs more to ship packages to ten writers than it does to ship them to three (unless they live in Australia), and it takes longer to edit 80 reviews than it does to edit 40, no matter how well-written those reviews are. A staff of 30 writers can tackle 90 to 100 CDs a week -- but if you receive 150 CDs in the time it takes you to review 90, you're never going to catch up.

While this was happening, we encountered other problems. Storage space became an issue; the tiny home office that easily swallowed a few hundred CDs became positively intractable when we asked it to hold 2000. More discouragingly, we were having a harder and harder time finding qualified writers who were willing to work for free -- many applicants couldn't meet our minimum quality standards, and as time passed, a disturbing number of promising candidates vanished after receiving their first box of CDs. (It's easy to totally lose faith in humanity when this happens to you for the fifth time in as many months.)

At first, we resolved to retrench: we pared our staff down to our best and most committed contributors and resolved to kill the backlog. Sadly, when you're publishing 50-odd reviews a week, have a backlog of 2000 CDs, and receive 200 more every seven days, you're not going to win. And so, faced with the prospect of being unable to fulfill our goal at an acceptable standard, we're stopping.

We've removed the last bit, which addressed the possibility of a new site in the future, because... well, plans change.

If you have comments, questions, etcetera regarding Splendid's final months, please direct them to this address. The FAQ below should cover many of the most common concerns.


Q: Is it okay if I still send you my CD for review?
A: No. We are no longer accepting music for review. It's been 15 months, people. Cut it the hell out.

Q: That sucks! I'm a small indie artist, and I can't afford to lose a CD. Is that the best you can do?

A: More than anything else, we want to deal with everyone honorably. If you truly feel that you've been misled, or that you'll suffer hardship as a result of this development, e-mail us the details regarding your CD. We'll see what other arrangements can be made.

Q: Would you mind moving my/my client's CD to the front of the line? It's special.
A: Sorry; we can't even get to 75 percent of the CDs in the office right now without doing 15 minutes of heavy lifting, so hunting down a specific title and assigning it is damn near impossible. We'll be able to do roughly 350 more reviews before the end. They will be a mixture of things -- the higher-profile releases that our readers want to read about, plus a healthy dose of luck-of-the-draw. If we were able to cover all of them, we'd have done so months ago.

Q: When will new content stop appearing on the site?
A: As mentioned above, New Year's Eve 2005 will be our last day. Until then, it's business as usual.

Q: Can I still buy a banner ad for November and/or December?
A: Absolutely. This may seem like a rather self-serving question, but we need to raise cash for the new site.

Q: You mentioned looking for investors for the new site. Why?
A: Because design and hosting cost money, and writers, photographers, designers, etc. deserve a little something for their efforts. We've done this for free for nine years. We have no plans to get rich, but we'd like to be able to offer our staff some sort of honorarium for their work. We'd also like to give the new site some tools that we've wanted for years but haven't been able to afford, like a database that artists, labels, etc. can access that'll (a) confirm receipt of all CDs, (b) tell you whether your disc was assigned, and (c) tell you when the review will run. We have pages and pages of ideas to make things better for everyone. We just need the resources to make those ideas reality.

Q: I'm not a venture capitalist or anything, but I'd like to contribute a few bucks to the new site. Can I do that?
A: If there seems to be a lot of interest in that, we'll set up a Paypal address for that purpose. Honestly, though, it might be better if you gave us some of your time instead. We're going to need writers, photographers, office interns, designers, programmers -- you name it. Maybe you can help us with that.

Q: I AM a venture capitalist. I had a car accident during the early weeks of the dotcom boom and have spent the last few years in a coma, but I came 'round last week and I'm eager to start throwing money at anything with a .com at the end of its name. Where do I mail the check?
A: Slow down there, tiger. Please email us and we'll talk more.

Q: What will happen to the site after December 31, 2005?
A: The site will remain online for as long as our hosting provider is willing to leave it up. If we successfully launch a new site, all Splendid content will be incorporated into its database.

Q: What will happen to your staff after December 31, 2005?
A: They will be placed in a state of suspended animation until they are needed again.

Q: Can I submit music for the new site now?
A: There is no new site.

Did we answer your question? If not, you probably haven't asked it frequently enough! E-mail us at

George Zahora



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