As of the new year, 2014, all interactive features of CCUK will be removed for good. The contact page, the voting and the comments feature will all disappear. CCUK will become an information reference site - nothing more. We will not accept any more submissions or enquiries. All of the user trophies and 2013's voting will still be included, and the final results from this year will stay on the site permanently. Whilst the site will not be without new content in the future, it will be infrequent, and only at the leisure of the editor.
The 2013 voting will NOT be affected.
A full statement and valediction from the editor regarding this decision is below for all of those interested.
Letter from the editor, Nicola Tilley.
I became interested in Classical Crossover music in 2000 after discovering Sarah Brightman. Within just a few years, I had collected almost every modern classical crossover album that had ever been released in the UK, and bought any new ones as they were released, UK or otherwise. During this time, I signed up to several communities online and became familiar with different fan bases and witnessed what type of artists appeal to what type of audiences. I had unconsciously gathered a massive amount of knowledge of the music, repertoire, artists, markets, and perhaps most importantly, the audience.
The idea to create CCUK came to me out of frustration - the lack of foundation for artists to spring from, the constant misunderstanding in the media and the fickle nature of the major record companies who, instead of nurturing, left massive talents high and dry when they didn't produce a quick buck. Already a member of many online fan communities, my forum posts recommending artists who were not necessarily riding high in the charts went largely ignored. Hoping to attract some casual browsers, I started writing short profiles for different artists, along with a rating system and personal opinions on my online blog.
At twenty four years old, I approached my then best friend Adam Tilley (who would later become my husband) to create a dedicated website for my profiles and reviews. CCUK began purely as a personal opinion website, but when requests started appearing for profiles (the first ever request was from Lisa Evancho in August 2009 for a little girl named Jackie) and PRs called to have their artists interviewed, CCUK made a slow transition from online blog to promotional site. The profile reviews became more balanced, less personal and put more weight on the artists sound and which audience they were likely to appeal to.
With no training in music or journalism, nor even a remote idea of how much hard work and dedication was required from then on, I went straight in. Any why not? Still living with parents and only with a part time job, I had the money and time to spare. The new (and uncomfortable) experiences piled up and I fumbled my way through them - I was interviewing the famous, attending private shows, invited to red carpet events, award ceremonies, given VIP seats and enjoyed press and album launches. Demo and advanced copies of albums piled high around my desk and my virtual mail box started to fill up to unmanageable proportions. Artists recognised me at concerts and artists, PRs, songwriters and record companies globally sought out my advice. I suddenly found myself a journalist, socialite, networker, PR, consultant, critic and A&R. As an enormously shy, quiet and introverted person, these roles did not come naturally.
Once one of our profiled indie artists, Jackie Evancho, stepped out onto America's Got Talent, and directed a large proportion of her audience to our site, CCUK's popularity sky rocketed. It quickly snowballed into something bigger than us. In addition to this, Adam and I had become a couple and moved in together, I had got a full time job which was nearly 50 miles away from where I lived. Despite my decreased activity on the site, the requests, enquiries, submissions and visitor traffic only increased. Unable to cope with all the life changes, the interaction aspect of the site was taken down so I could spend some time to adapt to my sudden lack of free time and thirteen hour working days.
Nine months later, my environmental adaptation somewhat complete, I was missing the site, and the features were reinstated. The site got bigger than it ever had done and the opportunities offered were even more incredible and humbling - in 2013 I had become a member of the Classic Brit Award Academy and invited to interview the biggest name in crossover (which I couldn't go through with). Yet, it didn't take long for me to remember why we had taken the features away. The work was too much, and I felt consistently exhausted and impossibly pressured by both fans and artists. After three years of CCUK, I felt, for the first time, a great desire to close the site and just live my life, pressure free. But my conscience would never allow it. I had e-mails from artists thanking me that such and such found them on CCUK, and this and that gig was given to them because of what I had written. I also wasn't emotionally ready to leave the community, artists and the music. Tired as I was, I was still attached.
Mid 2013 saw more big changes in my personal life (promotion and marriage), and a boost of online CC activity. The personal changes saw the beginning of me emotionally letting go of the site and I stepped back from CC's social media. The online CC activity eased my conscience. The announcement of Classical Crossover International (CCI), created by a much loved, trusted friend and fan seemed to be the perfect opportunity to not only let go, but to pass the reins over without feeling like I'd be letting everyone down. I decided, on CCI's imminent launch, I would publish this statement, as my goodbye to the community, and as a big welcome to CCI.
Being an active editor of CCUK has had great highs, and some very low lows. I've learned about the music industry, but learned more about human nature. I've learned that there are selfish, deluded, arrogant, ungrateful people, but learned that these people are in the minority. My life has been enriched by the majority - the generous, the caring and the supportive. I have never been paid money for the work I perform for the site, but I got the biggest payback from the friends I had made. I treasure the memories I possess; devouring sushi with Hayley, laughing until my stomach hurt over coffee with Thomas and the glorious smell of breakfast in the Lusty household in the early morning. Texting Sisca for hours late in the night, finding a musical taste soul mate in Samantha and being forced into a picture with Annelies and the Tenors of Rock by her mum as I was too shy to do it myself... and being secretly grateful afterwards.
And there's no ignoring the experiences I've had. When I've looked around at a private show, seeing executives, the rich and famous, feeling so out of place but thinking to myself "My god... my writing has got little old me here"... that's no small thing. Crying uncontrollably at Camilla's album launch as she performed "This Woman's Work"; watching and hearing Jackie grow for two years and then seeing her nail it on America's Got Talent - I watched it over and over and cried until there were no tears left; and even gate crashing the stage in front of a thousand people after Lindsey's set, riling the crowd to scream her name louder so we could get another encore (the craziest moment of my life!) These things stick out in my mind and that's something money can't buy. You get it by working, and I achieved all this simply because I had a passion. It's taught me that I'm good enough, not to be afraid, and that I can do anything that I set my mind to.
So, I want to thank all of you. The artists and the fans who have been nothing but supportive. To the fans, thank you for reading my work, for listening to me, and giving the otherwise unknown artists a chance. To the artists, thank you for believing that I am somebody worth talking to! I feel the time is right to move on, but I have no regrets. I leave you with warm, fuzzy feelings and nothing but fondness. I'm no longer an active editor, but I am always here as a friend.
Before I sign this letter, I want to say a massive thank you to John Harvey. CCUK would have been a (much) lesser place without him. He's the unsung hero of CCUK who demands no acknowledgement, attention or praise. He did work for the site behind the scenes and has been a great supporter of both me and the genre. Thank you for your help, John and an even bigger thank you for your friendship.
My love to you all,
29th September 2013
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