It has been 6 months and 3 days since your (Panda's) account was registered, which is roughly in-line with the public release of this site. Recalling your original idea, vision, and aspirations for this site, is the current state of Panda.cd where you imagined it being at 6 months old? Where do you envision the site in another 6 months?
Aside from initial aspirations for the site itself, how well, in terms of uploads/response/support/etc do you think the community/users are doing? What things can us, as users, be doing to support the staff and the site (other than upload content, of course)?
Personally, I am pleased so far but think it can still be taken up a notch. There was a fair amount of interest and activity to start. Which continues to fluctuate up and down in cycles as would be expected in a new site. Concerning the past several months, I hope that the site has at least been one of the more interesting ones to spring up, and offer a different slant on things.
These are some of the issues I think we have run into to date, and how we will address them to try and improve;
Regarding content, there are several artists that have uploaded their entire discography which is great and hopefully more will continue to do the same. The torrent count on the site is still on the low side, partly due to the fact that Creative Commons / share friendly licensed material is less easy to come across. To help with this we plan on opening up a bit more to allow a wider range of content, without compromising the legal nature of the site. For example, remix material will be allowed under the premise that it constitutes fair use (provided it is significantly different and does not defy the expressed wishes of other artists here on this site). Given the subjective nature of what classes as fair use, if artist donations are to be received we will require source / sample information to be given. Then if a user was so inclined they would be able to refer to the original content. By disallowing such material I feel we were perhaps being too restrictive, and therefore stifling creativity.
How about adding a Royalty Free/Samples/Remix section so Panda members can provide Royalty Free Samples for other Panda members to use to create remixes and whatnot of their work ?
We are looking into adding such a feature which could hopefully make the site not just a platform for artists but also a resource. OneBlockWest has offered advice on what requirements should be in place to moderate such content (the plan is to make them fully searchable).
Artist donations are another area I think can be improved on. Perhaps due to the relatively small number of donatable torrents on the site, there may not yet be enough choice for everyone’s taste. Even if a user does like a release enough, donating is currently not an option if the artist is not a site member.
There are a several things planned to try and improve this situation. Firstly, from an artists perspective; The actual process of setting up donation details on their uploads is being made easier. In the case of torrents that have already been uploaded to the site where the artist or rep is not a member it will soon be easier for them to enquire, or even make them aware, that donations can be enabled from the publicly viewable details pages.
We are also considering the idea of allowing artists to accept donations without having an account. This would mean that instead of torrents being linked to only an uploader, they would also be linked to an artist page with an overall summary of all the contributions across all of their releases to keep things transparent. Also, there are the artists that only want to release their work for free and ask for nothing in return which is fair enough.
From a non-artist perspective I hope to further simplify the artist donation process and give greater incentive by unlocking more site features (but nothing that won’t be accessible with power user status). However, we won't ever beg for artist / site donations, as that would simply become annoying.
The publicly viewable torrent pages I feel have been relatively successful in helping to raise awareness of the site and content. However I realise that some users may have reservations about parts of the site being open, particularly among those used to traditional private trackers. I was careful not to make viewable any user information i.e. profiles and peerlists, but I am also looking at implementing detailed privacy options to address any remaining concerns.
As for the community so far, we have had some great dedicated seeders over the past few months (thanks goes to glh5 who helped seed every torrent on the site while my connection struggled). Aside from uploading as you stated, the main things be would be by helping to spread the word, even if it's a musician you know IRL who might like the idea. Also, literally any feedback/idea at all - no matter how minor or silly you think it may be - we will be happy to take it on board!
I hope this has given insight to some of the changes (of which there will be more!) we have planned for 6 months and beyond, we intend to stick around much longer than that.