“TradConnect was established in April 2011 as a new social forum for Irish traditional musicians. It brings together musicians from across the globe providing a place where you can talk about and share your music with other like minded musicians.” TradConnect.com can be used as a complete social network to engage with other users, locally and across the globe, and provides a means for musically like-minded people to connect.
TradConnect was created by Co. Mayo native Tony Lawless who says “the site is basically about connecting people and getting them out playing traditional music.” Tony grew up in a musical family, and besides running TradConnect, plays a regular weekly session in Dublin
My interview with Tony:
Q. As well as having many groups at home, TradConnect currently has groups in places such as Scotland, New York, Colorado, Norway, Sweden and even Brazil. You may have hoped TradConnect would encourage people to connect around the world to play Irish music, but did you anticipate such a positive global response to TradConnect in the first couple of years?
A. The response has been unbelievable and shows the desire and need for people across the globe to connect and share their thoughts on this music. There is an obvious strong presence from the USA and Ireland and all other regions are slowly growing.
Q. Are your intentions to keep TradConnect free for your users? And, do you have suggestions for how they can help you build your web profile?
A. Yes. The site will always be free for members to connect. We run it as a non-commercial venture and will continue to do so. It would be great to get a sponsor on board to allow us to have an editorial budget and therefore produce more content and this is something we may consider in the future. For now we do it ourselves and in truth we combine the content between that provided by our members and content we produce ourselves. The idea is that over time our input will lessen as members content increases. We encourage other bloggers around the world to post content from their blogs/sites on TradConnect with a link at the bottom showing where the article was originally posted. This is a great way for bloggers to grow traffic to their site. People like Hearth Music and Song of the Isles do this.
Q. How many members are currently subscribed to TradConnect?
A. At present we have close to 3,500 members with up to 10,000 unique visitors a month.
Q. Irish music is loved and played in all corners of the world. Do you find most of the interest in your site coming from our own shores, or further afield?
A. Membership is split very roughly between Ireland, USA and elsewhere, with about a third from each. This is as you would expect I suppose.
Q. The idea behind TradConnect is wonderful – primarily you want to connect people with a shared interest and love of Irish music. But what were the challenges in getting it off the ground, and what are the current set of challenges you face as a social network?
A. The challenges is always getting the word out and getting people to understand what it is you are trying to do. The first two years have been spent in promoting it and making people aware of it. We don’t need to do this anymore as we are now well recognized by Google due to our extremely high monthly visits. We can now concentrate on other things like content and upping the design which we have done recently. Making it a positive and friendly place is also important as this is what music is about. People supporting each other no matter what the level of their music. We post up a lot of content on artists and albums that we like and then leave it up to members to decide. There are so many online places to listen to music before purchase these days that members are very smart. We can highlight something good. If you want to invest that is up to you.
Q. Do you agree that your site could have a positive impact on tourism if it were promoted via tourism websites, as a means of providing tourists with a way to track down a trad session in the towns they visit? Our long lost cousins across the pond are always keen to hear some Irish music upon arrival in Ireland.
A. 100%. I mentioned it above. We have a member map showing the location of members across the world. So if you are coming from the US to Ennis for example, simply zoom in on our interactive map of Ennis. Find the members there and drop a comment on their profile. They are the ones that know where the music is, the level of the session etc. This is as good a tourist tool as you will find and it uses the trad population to help and assist.
Q. The site is fantastic in that it provides so many options for users, novice or expert, to connect. They can do so via chat forums, video links, music samples, groups and more, but is there any one thing that you get requests from users to add to the site, or one thing that you are hoping to bring to your users in the future?
A. The most obvious addition would be the ability to purchase music on the site. This would be a long term desire, and I am still not even sure if it would be worth the investment as we can direct members to the artist’s websites thus cutting out the need for artists to pay commissions etc. Other than that the site is always developing and we are slowly getting to grips with the vast internet resources out there to assist artists.
Q. What have been your own musical influences? And, apart from Irish trad, what do you like to listen to?
A. I am a huge fan of singer songwriter material and Americana with literally thousands of CD’s on my shelf that I have bought over the years. As with a lot of my generation Springsteen, Dylan and Morrison feature strongly in my collection but I am into blues, rock, pop and everything in-between
Q. Do you care to share a music sample, or video, of the man behind TradConnect showing his musical talents?
A. I have a few videos of myself and my friends on the site. Sadly I spent my life chasing a professional career with music coming second so I am a very average fiddle and guitar player. With some additional time on my hands as a result of the recession I decided to do something I had a passion for and this is it.
Find a Trad session in your own area, or connect with other musicians worldwide, by stopping by TradConnect today.