No sound files, no podcasts, just wanted to pause for a moment and philosophize (hark – it is the sound of 1,000 mouse buttons clicking to another site).

Sometime this month, Soul Sides is going to pass my original blog, Pop Life. For a long time, SS was just the baby brother but since the end of summer (hello Rolling Stone and Newsweek), the stats have inverted themselves and these days, SS leads PL by almost 2-to-1 (both have around a quarter-million page loads since their respective inceptions).

I have to admit, part of me is sad to see this happen: it’s not that I don’t want to see SS blow up, it’s just that I wanted to see the two at least keep par with one another. But it’s not like PL is lagging, it’s just that the interest in SS and audioblogs like it is so overwhelming that it’s hard for a more conventional weblog to hang.

This has truly been an extraordinary year, not just for SS but for the whole community of audiobloggers out there. I’ve never been very good at forecasting – my vision is strictly 20/20 hindsight – so things only seem obvious in retrospect. I suppose no one should be surprised that these sound sites have taken off so breathtakingly fast, with what seems like a dozen new ones popping up everyday. As someone who’s been involved in broadcasting (college radio) since the first President Bush was in office, I’ve seen the expansion of community-driven broadcasting take off over the last 15 years: pirate radio, then web radio, now satellite, but I don’t know if there’s any easy comparison with the phenomenon you see unfolding before you.

The growth of audioblogs has meant an explosion in overnight DJ/music journalists/archivists. While there’s a minor technical learning curve involved, for the most part, the only thing that people have to commit themselves to do is find music they like and share it with others. To that extent, audioblogging isn’t that different from other forms of DIY publishing that has come before it – from zines to mixtapes – but the seamless integration of print and sound media is unlike anything I’ve really seen before. Most days, it still leaves me a little stunned and I’m not saying that to be self-aggrandizing. Even if SS didn’t exist, I’d still look around the internet and be amazed at the scope of passion, depth and diversity that’s floating out there.
I’m not writing this for any particular reason except to say that I’m just humbly appreciative at this all. People write me very kind comments and emails to say how much to appreciate my site and I realize that I don’t nearly do that enough in the other direction. Thanks deserve to be given out. By the bushel. Yeah, I’m a little late – Thanksgiving was last week – but hey, I have a dissertation to finish and I haven’t been feeling nearly as sentimental of late. But here we go – the Soul Sides shout-outs.

1) This site wouldn’t be possible without the generous hosting of Ed Wong over at Sandbox Automatic. He’s hosted my web sites (all twenty gazillion of them) for years now, simply out of friendship and largesse and it’s a tremendous act of charity on his part to support my lil endeavours even though I’m probably not generating a red cent for his business (I try though, really I do). I think I’m passionate about music but this dude left college to start a record business that he continues to pour proverbial blood, sweat and tears into. We are not worthy.

2) I cannot imagine a greater ambassador for the audioblogging world than John at Tofu Hut. Never mind that his musical breadth and depth puts most of us to shame. He’s taken it upon himself to actually document and interact with all the fools like us out there with him, giving all of us shine through his own site. I’m sure one day, when audioblogging gets co-opted by the industry, we’ll all be back-stabbing each other to make a buck but for now, John is like the mayor of our little neighborhood and he’s doing an amazing job of looking out for all of us while still getting his own work done.

3) There are far, far, far too many quality audioblogs out there (see my links at left to visit a few of them) for me to thank everyone. Suffice to say, I am in awe of this whole community and what people bring out every day. It certainly has helped expand my musical horizons and put my raging ego in check, presuming I know every good song, artist and album out there.

People often ask me what my favorite audioblog is and that changes with the week – certainly, Flux Blog was an early inspiration, my friends at Sticker Shock offer me daily delights, as does the incredible team over at Music-For-Robots. However, if you twist my arm, I have to say that in the last few months, the most consistent audioblog I know is Noz’ Cocaine Blunts.

Newbies – take notes. Noz has concept, content and, of course, solid songs, but his dedication to fully exploring a theme over the course of a week is a marvel and even if you don’t like hip-hop (shame on you), there’s much to learn from him (dude even has message boards now. So next level). He’ll show you how to do this, son.

4) Lastly, thanks to all of you for visiting the site, enjoying the music and sharing your thoughts. People who don’t actually run a site don’t realize this but we really like getting feedback because it tells us that A) you’re listening and B) that the music we share is sparking a reaction. Ask any radio DJ who’s ever had a show run for three hours without a single call-in, sometimes you wonder if you’re just broadcasting into a vacuum but your feedback is part of what helps fuel our own interest in staying with this.

My best to all of you,