This month we feature the JJ Grey & MOFRO fan site, Mofrofans.com. Here the site’s founder, Clay Daniels, talks about its creation and development as well as some friends who (wrongly) fear for his sanity…
A couple of my friends think I should be committed to a mental institution. Two or three more have suggested electro-shock therapy combined with heavy doses of medication. My wife, on the other hand, thinks Im perfectly normal.
These friendspoor demented soulsjust dont get it. They say My gawd, youre a grown man, past middle age, and you created a fan site? A FAN SITE? These otherwise somewhat normal people have something awry in their genetic code. Theyre missing the MOFRO gene.
One show is all it really takes. Hell, for me and my wife, 4 songs was all it took. Our intro to the band came at a music fest in Tampa in 03. We only caught the end of their set because we had been watching a different band/stage.
Up to then, and ever since, Ive never experienced music that moves me as JJ Grey & MOFRO. And moves is an intentional double entendre. Some songs move your soul. The others move your feet, your hips, your assyour all body.
At first, I simply thought that because Im a 5th generation Floridian with roots in rural N. Florida that I related to JJs songs about Florida, its joys, its sorrows, its slow demise. But my wife, and so many of our MOFRO friends, are from all over the country.
So why does a grown man start a fan site? The spark of the idea didnt happen until March, 07. We go to 12-15 shows of theirs a year. Upon leaving a kick-ass MOFRO show in Ft. Lauderdale, we simultaneously felt this tremendous letdown. We wont get to see them for at least another 6 months! I remarked to my wife that it would be cool if there was an online community so fans could stay updated during these dry periods, more than MySpace. A passing thought, both of us longingly sighed oh well.
Fast forward to Dec 07. My wife and I attended their annual gig in Jacksonville Beach4 nights in a row culminating with a 3 hour New Years Eve show that was so good it was like an out of body experience. Then, 4 days later we saw them 2 nights in a row in S. Florida. Six nights of JJ Grey & MOFRO in a 10 day period was nothing short of musical bliss.
On the drive back to Tampa our heads were filled with remembrances of moments, talk of new friends, and things like I think the version of How Junior Got His Head Put Out was better at the 2nd show than the 4th.
I said I thought it was time to get serious about this fan site thing. We talked about what it could include, who would visit it, why would they want to visit, etc. I take a ton of photos at their shows, so I had that covered. I have a marketing/advertising background and also have some skills at creating websites; I could do all the work myself in my spare time. Im not a graphic designer, so admittedly the site could have a better graphic appeal, so Ive tried to keep in somewhat simple and clean to make up for it.
We also explored a lot of other fan sites to get a good feel for what people want, and took into consideration what we thought all the MOFRO fanatics weve met along the way would want.
The intent was not to duplicate or compete with the bands MySpace page or their website, but to complement them. MySpace is awesome, and certainly has its place in fandom. But I can cater to whatever a fan wants to see, where MySpace is limited as to what can be done. As for the main band site, my intent was (and still is) to provide an additional place for fans to go so we can talk, share, and query about our favorite subject.
The process was quite different than what Im accustomed to. I just sat down and started building the site. It all came together as I went along. Its in a perpetual state of being re-worked to improve it, but, its probably the closest thing I can relate to how a songwriter can start with a blank sheet of paper and finish with something full of emotion that they can share with other people.
The site launched in late Jan 08 but took a few weeks to rise to a level where people started finding it. Then (and still), I pored over the daily stats to see what people were searching for…people wanted set lists, guitar tabs, band updates, and more. We had our first message board post on Feb 21st, and as of end of May we have 35 signed up to the board, getting more every day, and a long list of post topics.
Our most recent 4 week period had 8 times the unique visitors than our first 4 week period. Even more exciting, its still on the cusp of really taking off. The search engines are still discovering it and its making a steady rise every week.
I honestly didnt know what my expectations were when I started. Its kind of funny that when you work on something from the heart, you dont consider your expectations like you do when youre working on something to produce results in terms of sales or services. But the amount of traffic to the site is already beyond what I thought it would be, comments from fans have been wonderful, it is quickly becoming a common gathering place for all of us JJ Grey & MOFRO fans.
In the weeks and months ahead, Ill keep adding what fans want: more set lists, band and tour news, photos. The board will continue to growthrive actuallywith posts of all sorts. Ive recently added a song poll; more polls to come. A Summer Festival Photo Contest is underway; fans will vote on the best photo during the bands festival run this year. Cool JJ Grey & MOFRO prizes to the winner. And Ill continue to follow the lead of what the fans want. I emphasize on the site, this is YOUR website, and whatever it is you want to see is what well do (within reason!)
JJ Grey and MOFRO is my hobby. Its my distraction from the world. Its where I can go to feel good.
Is that crazy? Should I be put away and heavily sedated for life? I dont think so. But as for the friends who think Im crazy, when the men in white suits armed with straight jackets knock on their door, theyll know who sent them.