WordPress 6.1 Is Jam-Packed With Performance Upgrades


WordPress 6.1, arriving November 2022, is jam-packed with performance improvements, signaling that this may be the update that many have been waiting for.

WordPress performance scores from the beginning of 2022 until the end of September have been relatively stable, going up a few percentage points in the spring then dropping in the summer, ending September roughly 3 percentage points higher than from the start of the year.

WordPress Core Web Vitals Performance in 2022

WordPress Core Web Vitals Performance graph.

Most other platforms have enjoyed more substantial performance improvements month after month in 2022:

  • Wix up by 13 points
  • Duda up by 8 points
  • Squarespace up by 7 points
  • Joomla up by 7 points
  • Drupal up by 5 points

WordPress publishers hoping for performance improvements had little good news this year.

But that’s about to change in a big way.

WordPress 6.1 comes packed with substantial improvements, some of which are referred to as “massive.”

“Massive Improvement” To WP_Query Performance

An important performance boost is the addition of caching to WP_Query in the database.

What that means is that every time a visitor requests a webpage that request will remain in a cache, a memory of what was retrieved from the database.

When another visitor requests the same webpage, instead of making another request to the database WordPress will instead retrieve the webpage data from the cache (memory) instead of retrieving (making a query) from the database. That results in faster performance.

The WordPress core contributor who worked on this improvement recently tweeted:

“In WordPress 6.1, there is a massive improvement to database performance.

Database queries in WP_Query are now cached.

A ticket I have been working on for 5+ years was merged.

This should result in billions of less repeated database queries”

Improvement to REST API Database Queries

When a webpage is requested, the webpage will make different requests for various components of the page. This improvement streamlines that process by reducing the number of database queries (requests for parts of a webpage).

WordPress explains:

“When running profiling tools against the responses of REST API requests, it was discovered that post controllers request a lot of linked data to each post.

For example, when returning a post in a REST API response, linked data such as author (user), featured image, and parent post were all requested.

As these linked items were not primed in caches, it could mean that for each post in the REST API response there would be 3 separate database queries: one for the user, one for the featured image, and another for the parent post.

In WordPress 6.1 all the caches are primed in a single database query “

Additional Caching Improvements

There are other cache related improvements that speed up the delivery of webpages.

Improvements to Cache API

These are a couple of improvements.

In simple terms, one improvement that is called “Check cache key types” addresses a problem created by plugins.

This fixes an issue that causes a failure that can result in slightly weird behavior or outright failure.

This improvement makes it easier for plugin developers to notice the problem.

The developer notes on this fix states:

“This commit introduces a quick type check on the given cache keys and adds a _doing_it_wrong() message that should help plugin developers to notice these issues quicker.”

The second improvement is called, Remove `@access private` from cache priming functions.

A plain English explanation for this improvement is that it provides theme and plugin developers the opportunity to access and use certain functions that will result in less database queries which in turn will speed up site performance.

Post, Post Types Improvements

Improves performance for websites with a large amount of custom taxonomies (like tags and categories).

Multisite improvements

Reduces database queries in multisite environments.

Media Handling Improvement

This is a performance boost from how images are deferred in order to keep them from slowing webpage retrieval and display, resulting in performance boosts.

WordPress describes it like this:

“Recently I have been playing around with another special attribute to the img tag which is basically decoding=”async”.

After implementing async decoding to the images in a page, the page load became, even more, faster and images are decoded asynchronously by the browser, loading the contents almost instantly and also reducing page render time. This is a huge performance booster to any webpages which has a lot of images (so basically most sites).”

Improved PHP performance for Core Blocks Registration

This improves how “block registration” is handled. This is an improvement to how block are identified and handled.

WordPress describes it:

“…reduce filesystem reads and processing of block.json files, which should benefit all WordPress sites and improve performance…”

New Site Health Checks

WordPress 6.1 comes with two new site health checks. While this isn’t a performance improvement itself, it does help publishers identify whether they can improve their site peformance with the use of a Persistent Object Cache and/or a Full Page Cache.

Persistent Object Cache

The Persistent Object Cache holds frequently requested webpage parts in a cache (in memory), speeding up the display of a webpage and reducing server load.

Full Page Cache

A Full Page Cache is a cache of the entire webpage, essentially making a webpage behave more like a static HTML page. A full page cache is generally not useful on a site that is dynamic and contains personalization.

Cron API

This seems like kind of a bug fix but it’s also an improvement to wp-cron.php, which is a task scheduler for things like backups, scheduled posts or updates.

The update will speed up performance by making it compatible (again) with LiteSpeed Web Server plus LSAPI. Technical details here.

Many More Performance Improvements

There are many more performance improvements but the above listed updates are the most notable.

I addition to performance improvements, WordPress 6.1 will also arrive with improvements to accessibility, the block editor, more flexibility and options for theme developers, updated external libraries to latest versions, new functions, new filters and even a new oEmbed provider for podcasts.

Updates are generally incremental but WordPress 6.1 is shaping up to be a fairly substantial one, look for it to be released on November 1, 2022.

Citation

Performance Field Guide for WordPress 6.1

Featured image by Shutterstock/Ljupco Smokovski





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Busy weekend ahead for Emporia High athletics


Busy weekend ahead for Emporia High athletics

Emporia High athletics logo.

It’s a busy weekend for Emporia High volleyball and cross country in action.

The Emporia High volleyball team will be hosting a 10-team tournament.

The Spartans will play Washburn Rural, Sumner Academy, Lawrence and Shawnee Mission North in pool play.

Junior Ryan Peak says the Spartans are confident.


Other teams in the tournament are Maize South, Topeka-Seaman, Bishop Carroll, Maize and Bonner Springs. Four teams in the tournament are ranked in this week’s Kansas Volleyball Association rankings. Washburn Rural is ranked No. 1 in 6A, Topeka-Seaman is ranked No. 3 in 5A,  Maize South is No. 6 in 5A and Bishop Carroll is No. 7 in 5A.

Matches begin at 9 a.m. at Emporia High School.

The Emporia High cross country teams will be competing in the Centennial League meet hosted by Manhattan.

Sophomore Daghyn True says he’s got a refresher on the course on his mind with running at Manhattan earlier this season.

Senior Micah Sheffy-Harris says she wants to continue running her best.

Races begin at 10 a.m. in Manhattan.



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Emporia State to face Nebraska Kearney


Emporia State to face Nebraska Kearney

Photo courtesy of Emporia State athletics – Josiah Driggers

It will be a match-up of contrasting styles when the Emporia State Hornets take on the Nebraska Kearney Lopers.

The Hornets have the MIAAs top passing offense and the Lopers have the MIAAs top rushing offense.

Kearney is led by quarterback TJ Davis, who leads the MIAA in rushing. Emporia State Coach Garin Higgins says they will have to do more than contain Davis.

Defensive lineman Rylan Miller says it will boil down to effort.

Emporia State quarterback Braden Gleason says they will have to play a good sound game.

Offensive lineman Connor Lierz says they will face a physical challenge.

Kick-off Saturday in Kearney, Nebraska is set for 1 pm. Coverage on MIX 104.9 begins at 12 pm.



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Lefsetz Letter » Blog Archive » Netflix Ad-Supported Tier


The problem with Netflix isn’t the price, but the content!

Man do they have it wrong.

In a world with a plethora of streaming options, one is ready to cancel any at a whim if there is not programming they want to see. Don’t tell me about dripping out product… No way I’m subscribing to Apple TV+ for multiple months to see “Bad Sisters,” I’m just waiting until it’s over to partake.

Or not. When the buzz is done, do I need to see it?

The “Squid Game” mania… Talked to anybody who’s watched the series recently? I certainly haven’t, it’s old news. Sure, some series survive, I’m aware of all those stories about the “Friends” reruns, but “Friends” was created in a completely different era. Today’s productions have a very short shelf life. You watch them and move on. All you’re doing by dripping out the episodes is leaving people on the sidelines, who won’t even bother to subscribe. As for lowering the price, how does NOTHING sound. Ad-supported for free sounds good to me. Make the damn commercials so onerous that only the truly cheap will take this option. Michael Eisner said 10% of the public will never pay, never ever. A lower price ain’t gonna work, never.

As for the lower price…

It’s not like we live in a vacuum, with no data. The freemium model has existed for years. You give away a hobbled version and people get so addicted they’re willing to pay for the real thing. This is Spotify’s model. 45% of people who use Spotify’s free tier ultimately convert to the paid tier: https://on.wsj.com/3MzKaZU People have the money if you have a desirable product. And if you don’t, there’s no lowering of the price that can entice me.

Does Apple have two tiers of prices? OF COURSE NOT! Apple leaves the low-priced goods to the rest of the companies, and ain’t it interesting that Apple is the only company that consistently makes money on handsets.

Turns out all those other people, those on Android, don’t want to pay for goods. Yes, Apple has a smaller market share, but almost all of the income from apps. I mean first and foremost, you go for the people who PAY!

Netflix was seen as a premium product. Now the brand has taken a hit. Having a Netflix account was a badge of honor. And maybe it’s less strong since competitors have entered the marketplace, but everybody knows Netflix has the most new product, and it’s all about new product, because new product ultimately becomes old product, and money can be reaped forever, especially with the Netflix model, where they buy out all the rights.

Did people think “Mayberry” was gonna run forever? Ron Howard will be long in the grave and people will be watching the small town shenanigans. Does every series have legs? Absolutely not, but you’ve got to make many to find out. This is the flaw in the Zaslav model. Once you start cutting production, you’re cutting yourself off at the knees. You need a lot of product, because even the best idea on paper might be a turd in the final result. And you never know what will catch on with the public. People will be watching “Stranger Things” for decades. Did anybody anticipate that? NO!

So, you pay attention to the seers on Wall Street and you’re cooked. Look at Amazon. Everybody bitched about its bottom line, but Bezos wouldn’t cut back, he wouldn’t yield. And then came Prime and then came AWS (Amazon Web Services). Neither was in the original plan. In cost-cutting mode you never take the chance, but if you’re willing to spend, new opportunities develop and come to fruition. Once you cut spending to improve your numbers…death. Especially in new model, tech companies.

Netflix shouldn’t cut back production to save money, it should stay the course, because only with hit product will people pay every month.

As for paying, many many people are watching without paying. They’re hooked on the product, but instead of hoovering up that money, Netflix is trolling for those who haven’t opened their wallets, who can live without the service, HOW DUMB IS THAT?

Everybody believes they’re getting away with something when they share passwords. It’s kinda like Napster. Users knew it was free, but there was no modern alternative. Also, staying with Napster, users saw it as a protest against the outdated business model, of $15 for a CD with one good track. If you’re not pissed about the streaming world, you’re not a user. I used to pay one price for everything on cable, it was expensive, but it was my choice. Now I feel like I’m being pecked to death by ducks. I can only watch one show at one time, but I’ve got to subscribe to all these services? I’m not canceling because they’re too expensive, I can afford it, it’s just an insult. Sell me all the services, Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Apple+, Discovery+…never mind Sundance Now an BritBox and Topic…for one price, just name it, I don’t care. If I’m paying for the complete cable package it’s not like I’m pissed that I’m watching one channel at a time.

What’s gonna happen if Netflix cuts off password-sharers. They’re gonna disconnect? THEY’RE NOT PAYING TO BEGIN WITH! People pony up for what they want, and these people already want it. Who do you want to try and convince to pay, those already in your store or the random person on the street? Those inside the store, those sharing passwords, are already interested!

So I’m sitting at home, thinking whether I want to pay $6.99 for Netflix with ads. I’m not paying to begin with. It’s a hurdle I don’t want to jump.

But there are plenty of free services out there: Freevee, Roku… Most of it is junk, but you’ve got to pay for the good stuff. Rolex doesn’t sell a model with a Timex inside.

I just don’t know who the people are who are going to pay for something they aren’t already. I’m not paying for Paramount+, I’m not paying for Discovery+. because they’re complete rip-offs, also-rans. You want me to pay to watch one good show when the rest is recycled dreck? I can live without that program. I want you to go out of business, or merge, or license your product to one of the big kahunas.

That’s what these services don’t understand, WE CAN LIVE WITHOUT ANY OF THEM! Streaming services are not the most important purchases in our lives, they’ve got to earn our money. It’s a yes/no proposition, it’s black and white, it’s not a matter of price. Look, a movie costs fifteen to twenty bucks but I’m going to haggle over paying fifteen bucks for a service with tons of product for a MONTH? No, it’s just a matter of if I’m interested in what’s being purveyed.

You can’t be all things to all people. That’s a bad business model. It doesn’t work for anybody. You’re inherently dumbing-down the product. Want to make more money Netflix…RAISE THE PRICE! You’ve got to give me something for it, maybe one theatrical release a month, free, immediately, but my wallet is open for the desirable, most people’s is. Are we really arguing over a handful of bucks, do they really think that’s why people are not subscribing to Netflix?

And the cable companies make you subscribe for a year, but Netflix is month-to-month. SiriusXM offers year-long discount products. Better to commit the person for a year at a lower price then try to get them pay month by month, it’s one decision instead of twelve. And if you commit for a year, odds are you’re going to watch, get hooked, you’ve made the deal. Do you buy a product, use it once and then discard it? No, if it’s expensive enough you try to make it work, you Google instructions, it’s going to take a lot for you to put it in a corner to collect dust. You’re INVESTED!

So now streaming TV is just like network. That’s the model. Netflix was a NEW model, but now it’s undercut itself, gone backwards.

This reminds me of the early 2000s in the music business. We’d have all these focus groups with teenagers asking them about the value of music, what it was worth. And almost every one said $10-$15 for a CD was fair. But the dirty little secret was when we asked how many people bought CDs at this price? NONE! They were opining about something they weren’t involved in, and they were telling the questioners what they wanted to hear as they continued to download music from Napster. We could never convince these kids to buy CDs again, we had to come up with a new model. It’s not like if the CD was five bucks they’d buy it, THEY DIDN’T WANT IT AT ANY PRICE!

Just like the people not subscribing to Netflix.

Everybody knew there would come a time when Netflix would run out of potential subscribers. Everybody convinced themselves that we weren’t there yet, that we were living in an unending go-go era, but once you have one smartphone, HOW MANY MORE DO YOU NEED?

You saturate the marketplace and if you want more money you extend the brand, like Spotify, or merge with another company. Patagonia doesn’t do this, but it was privately owned. It wasn’t about the short term insanity of the stock price. And Patagonia’s value, financially and in esteem, has only gone UP! And when they limited sales, saying they wouldn’t sell their vests for corporate retreats, owners of Patagonia products felt even better about their purchases, and went out and bought more, Patagonia was something to BELIEVE IN! And still is.

I used to believe in Netflix.

Now I just see a bunch of businessmen bending in the wind to placate the financial community which has its head up its rear end. It was the bleeding edge product that kept me testifying. But they got rid of the person responsible for that. It would be like HBO firing its development staff and hiring ABC’s. MAKES NO SENSE!

We live in a soulless world where brands are kings, even more than people. Ask me who I believe in most. It certainly ain’t anybody in the Spotify Top 50, I believe in Apple more than them. Apple makes the finest products and doesn’t enter every field. I can feel good about owning Apple products. And Apple is the most valuable company in the world! And their products are more expensive than everybody else’s!

So there are Apple-haters. No problem, it just makes my belief in Apple stronger, especially since most of the haters are having a knee-jerk reaction. Sure, you can customize Android more, but how many people actually want to do that? But even worse, most of the phones can’t be upgraded, Android has the greatest market share, with everybody on a different operating system. Which yields a worse user experience. Apple just pushes the update to everybody.

Does Apple make mistakes? OF COURSE!

But at least Tim Cook has balls. When asked why he didn’t make iMessage RCS compatible, that is work with Android, so the person’s mom could see videos better, he said “Buy your mom an iPhone.” He didn’t weasel, he owned it. And I want to tell you, when I see a green bubble I judge the person. They didn’t get the message? You’re still using an Android? Don’t complain, it’s useless, this is how we iPhone users feel, ALL OF US!

Meanwhile, Reid Hastings and Ted Sarandos are afraid of both the Street and the public. Let’s make it more palatable, let’s play by your rules. Didn’t you win by BREAKING those rules?

This is a product few are interested in. But Netflix felt pressured by Wall Street…

Never a good motivation.

Now Netflix is another bottom line TV company when it used to be so much more. Viewers were in bed with Netflix. I don’t want them under the covers ANYMORE!



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A Free Business Block Theme for WordPress – WP Tavern


WPZOOM is coming in strong with its first block theme approved for the WordPress Themes Directory. UniBlock is a beautifully designed theme that is well-suited for businesses and freelancers. The company plans to adopt the concept of full-site editing in other WPZOOM themes as well, following the release of UniBlock.

UniBlock’s default look is sporting a darker color palette in the navigation and above the fold, with a lighter background for the rest of the website. The video on the sample homepage uses the free WPZOOM Video Popup Block plugin, which supports Vimeo and YouTube. It’s a simple, lightweight block that allows users to customize the play button and play icon.

After activating the theme, clicking on ‘Customize’ will prompt the user to install the video plugin. It can also be converted to a Custom HTML block or removed entirely at the user’s discretion.

UniBlock’s 19 custom block patterns include everything one might expect from a business theme but, most impressively, it ships with five full-page patterns:

  • Front Page
  • About
  • Services
  • Blog
  • Contact

Alternatively, users can assign the page template in the post settings to get the same effect.

These full-page patterns are convenient for speedy page building. They make it possible to get a basic business website up in a matter of minutes. Here’s an example of the Services full-page pattern that will instantly embed when selected. Users can delete any sections they don’t need, add more blocks and patterns, and quickly fill in all their own information.

Separately there are patterns for a footer with text, links, multiple arrangements of featured boxes with text and button, multiple designs for call-to-action sections, pricing tables, team members with social icons, testimonials, header cover, sidebar, 404 page, and more.

Users can delve even further into customizing the templates with the site editor, as UniBlock is packaged with nearly two dozen templates and template parts. Here they can also edit the menu and adjust global styles.

WPZOOM is developing a Pro version of the theme to release in a few weeks with support for importing the whole demo, multiple color schemes, multiple demos, premium block patterns, and additional header and footer layouts.

Check out the demo on the WPZOOM website to see the theme in action. WPZOOM has also written documentation for UniBlock, which covers general topics like how to use block patterns, how to set up the front and blog pages, and how to create a menu in the site editor. Since the company’s most popular themes are what would be considered classic themes, UniBlock is new territory for most of their customers. It is so far the only block theme among WPZOOM’s collection of 31 themes.

Block theme adoption is slowly making its way across WordPress’ major theme shops and the official directory is now hosting 160 themes tagged for full-site editing. As more longtime theme companies make their block theme debuts and develop a base for future themes, WordPress users may start to see a rapid acceleration of the number and variety of block themes available. UniBlock is so far one of the few block themes in the directory with a singular focus on business websites. It is available to download for free from WordPress.org or via the admin themes panel.



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George Washington Volleyball defeats Fordham for Sixth Straight Win | WRGW Sports


By Ashleigh Tobin

George Washington University’s volleyball team beat Fordham in three sets on Friday night in front of a lively home crowd to pick up their sixth straight win.

The Buff and Blue took the first set 25-22 against the Rams. After getting out to a five-point lead, GW allowed Fordham to tie the set at 13 before they could extend their lead again. Fordham had two service errors towards the end of the set to keep GW in the lead and then ended the set with another service error to give the Buff and Blue setpoint. Liv Womble led GW with seven kills in the set, as the team hit .282 to Fordham’s .167. Brittany Myers followed Womble, adding four kills to the team total of 17. 

The second set was highlighted by questionable calls and another dominant performance by Womble. Similar to the first set, GW won the second 25-23, though they outperformed Fordham for most of the set. GW took another early lead and was in control for the majority of the set, but the Rams were able to tie it at 23 points after a few calls by the referees in their favor. Still, they could not put together enough offense to win the set. The Buff and Blue recorded 16 kills and hit .256 collectively. Womble recorded another five kills, bringing her match total to 13. 

To finish out the game, GW won the third set in a 25-21 performance, bringing their match win streak to an impressive six. GW took the lead early in this one, but Fordham was able to tie the set at seven. Shortly after, The Buff and Blue went up five points on the Rams, and after a bit of back and forth, GW eventually beat them by four. GW held Fordham to .000 in hitting while they hit .273. Womble added another five kills to her performance and ended the match with 18 kills overall. Myers was behind Womble with 11 kills in the match. 

GW Head Coach, Katie Reifert, described Womble, saying, “She’s such a smart player. She scouts our team beforehand more than anybody else and people are sending more blockers with her. She’s really focused on getting better throughout the season, understanding that people are going to come for her. It’s good to see her get better, as people come for her, instead of cowering because of that.”

The team will play Fordham at the Smith Center again Saturday at 3 pm, and Reifert hopes the team can clean up a few mistakes made on Friday. “When we defend cleaner, we can run our offense cleaner, which is a huge momentum boost for us.”



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Experts disclose technical details of now-patched CVE-2022-37969 Windows Zero-DaySecurity Affairs


Researchers disclosed details of a now-patched flaw, tracked as CVE-2022-37969, in Windows Common Log File System (CLFS).

The CVE-2022-37969 (CVSS score: 7.8) flaw is a Windows Common Log File System Driver Elevation of Privilege Vulnerability. The Common Log File System (CLFS) is a general-purpose logging subsystem that can be used by applications running in both kernel mode and user mode for building high-performance transaction logs, and is implemented in the driver CLFS.sys. Microsoft fixed it with the release of September 2022 Patch Tuesday security updates, the company also states it has been actively exploited in the wild.

“An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could gain SYSTEM privileges.” reads Microsoft’s advisory. “An attacker must already have access and the ability to run code on the target system. This technique does not allow for remote code execution in cases where the attacker does not already have that ability on the target system.”

Microsoft credited Quan Jin with DBAPPSecurity, Genwei Jiang with Mandiant, FLARE OTFCrowdStrike, and Zscaler ThreatLabz for reporting this flaw.

Now Zscaler ThreatLabz researchers disclosed details related to the vulnerability. The experts obtained the info by analyzing a zero-day exploit used in the wild.

“On September 2, 2022, Zscaler Threatlabz captured an in-the-wild 0-day exploit in the Windows Common Log File System Driver (CLFS.sys) and reported this discovery to Microsoft.” reads the post published by Zscaler.

“The 0-day exploit can execute the privilege escalation successfully on Windows 10 and Windows 11 prior to the September patch. The cause of the vulnerability is due to the lack of a strict bounds check on the field cbSymbolZone in the Base Record Header for the base log file (BLF) in CLFS.sys. If the field cbSymbolZone is set to an invalid offset, an out-of-bound write will occur at the invalid offset. In this two-part blog series, we will demystify the vulnerability and the 0-day exploit discovered in-the-wild.”

The root cause of the vulnerability is due to the lack of a strict bounds check on the field cbSymbolZone in the Base Record Header for the base log file (BLF) in CLFS.sys.

The researchers explained that a log file is composed of a base log file that contains metadata blocks, and several containers that store the actual data. The AddLogContainer API is used to add a container to the physical log that is associated with the log handle.

The issue can be exploited using a specially crafted base log file, the researchers developed a Proof-of-Concept (PoC) that triggers a “blue screen of death” (BSOD) crash stably.  

“When the field cbSymbolZone is set to an invalid offset, an out-of-bound write at the invalid offset can be triggered. Therefore, the pointer to the CClfsContainer object can be corrupted. When dereferenced, the corrupted pointer to the CClfsContainer object causes a memory violation that triggers a BSOD crash.” concludes the report.

Zscaler has further made available proof-of-concept (PoC) instructions to trigger the security hole, making it essential that users of Windows upgrade to the latest version to mitigate potential threats.

Follow me on Twitter: @securityaffairs and Facebook

Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, CVE-2022-37969)








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Lefsetz Letter » Blog Archive » The Billboard Article


“Too Many Songs, Not Enough Hits: Pop Music Is Struggling to Create New Stars – Execs say that a deluge of new music — and the difficulty of influencing TikTok’s algorithm — has made building an audience harder than ever for new acts.”: https://bit.ly/3CCHSEz

You know it’s the truth when the mainstream press locks on to the story.

In every walk of life, the boomer-owned institutions profess the inaccurate claim that we live in one homogenous society upon which they exert control. But we live in an era of chaos. And today it’s nearly impossible to gain traction, which really means an audience. You can get noticed, but for a day. Yesterday’s meme is sophomoric today, if you employ it you look bad. Culture moves incredibly quickly, and almost nothing sticks. But the powers-that-be keep telling us they can make it stick, when they cannot.

Want an example? Beyonce’s new album. It was hosannas all around. Queen Bey has come down from her throne with her miraculous creations which all the “tastemakers” have frothed at the mouth over. This is what we’ve been waiting for, a glorified superstar firing on all cylinders.

Check the Spotify Top 50, there’s not a SINGLE Beyonce song! Not one!

Now in the old paradigm they would have sold millions of albums immediately, based on the mania, but today that paradigm is dead. Today it’s all about streaming longevity, and there is none with Beyonce.

As for the “Billboard” album chart, ignore it completely, It doesn’t reflect reality. Streams are king and on that chart physical and files mean more, but even worse, acts release vinyl to bump their numbers and everywhere you see they’re number one, but not in the eyes (and ears) of the public.

And then there’s that fiction that terrestrial radio still counts. That was the majors’ domain, they controlled it.

“‘A No. 1 radio song doesn’t mean fuck anymore,’ laments one longtime A&R executive.”

Whew, when the labels are saying it you know it must be true. This is their ace in the hole. The head of promotion made more money than everybody at the label other than the president. But now he or she has no effectiveness.

Let’s start with the statistics, tracks, where the chart is much more reliable:

“‘It’s a bigger and more level playing field, and everything is getting lost,’ says Chris Anokute, who co-manages Muni Long. ‘Everyone’s an artist, but almost nobody’s breaking.”

“There are many ways to judge — and argue over — what ‘breaking’ means today; label executives tend to use streaming numbers as a barometer, while most managers prefer to look at ticket sales. But the number of new acts vaulting into the top 10 of the Hot 100 has declined precipitously in the last few years. From 2001 to 2004, over 30 first-timers cracked the top 10 annually. In 2019, however, only 15 first-timers reached the top 10, and 2021 had the lowest number of new entrants this millennium: just 13.”

You can’t reach the top of the heap unless you’ve already established a beachhead, and as we’ve seen with Beyonce above, that’s no guarantee.

Acts like Coldplay and Dave Matthews Band benefit from breaking in the last era wherein music television meant something, they were all over MTV and especially VH1. That avenue is now dead. You can post a video to YouTube for free, but that doesn’t mean you’ll gain a mass of eyeballs, odds are no one will see it other than you and your friends!

And even acts like the Weeknd. He broke when insider buzz still mattered and there were fewer acts out there and streaming was not yet established. If Abel comes out today, he’s got much less mass, no matter how good the records are. Furthermore, that which is made for the mainstream, with the usual suspects following the established formulas, tends not to succeed, the public is looking for something new.

Like Zach Bryan. Who has got the #6 song in the U.S. Spotify Top 50.

This guy was unheard of, with no traction, and he sounds more like a singer-songwriter of the seventies than the dreck played on country radio. The public is looking for authenticity, Bryan delivers it. And quality songs, that are recognizable as songs.

The Morgan Wallen kerfuffle has superseded the music itself in the conversation. But if you listen to Wallen’s double album it’s fantastic, a step above. You can pooh-pooh its success, but that just means you’re turned off by a southern accent and biased against those in the south and…

“Dangerous” is #3 this week and I’ll quote from the “New York Times”: 

“‘Dangerous,’ released at the beginning of 2021, has now spent 90 weeks in the Top 10, matching ‘South Pacific’ — the soundtrack to a 1958 film whose songs go back to a 1949 Broadway production. In the 66-year history of the Billboard 200, the magazine’s flagship album chart, only five other releases have logged more weeks in the Top 10, all soundtracks and cast albums from the 1950s and ’60s.”

And Bad Bunny is the biggest act in the world and he’s Latin and Sam Smith might have a number one track right now with Kim Petras, but Sam also broke before the chaos became extreme.

Music is a business. People like to think of it as art, but that’s not how the major labels see it. They look for an edge, just like the people spamming you with e-mails and texts. They employ leverage, trade on their size and catalogs, but in today’s world, everything they bring to the table isn’t working:

“‘The market’s dry as fuck,’ declares a veteran major-label A&R executive who requested anonymity to speak candidly. ‘There’s less and less shit working. The front-line label business, signing new artists, is in trouble.’ ‘I can honestly say right now that nobody — nobody — knows what’s going on,’ another longtime major-label A&R says.”

As for the fiction that streaming playlists are everything:

“‘Now, just because you’re in a top 10 slot on a big Spotify playlist, it doesn’t mean your audience is growing,’ one manager says.

As for the old formula:

“Taken together, all these factors mean that seizing — and then holding — the attention of the music-loving masses is that much more challenging. ‘It used to be that you released an album, got Rolling Stone to review it, got on tour, got on late-night TV, and that was how you broke,’ says one senior executive at a major label. Even if luck was a factor, the path was clear. ‘It was four or five things. Now you need four or five things a week, or at least a month, or else your streams don’t go up.’”

As for the power of TikTok: 

“The rise of TikTok has complicated matters, too. The platform has become a hit-maker — helping Em Beihold’s ‘Numb Little Bug’ and Nicky Youre’s ‘Sunroof’ climb the charts, for example — but it’s an unpredictable marketing tool, less susceptible to manipulation and less responsive to star power than other platforms. Engineering a viral moment is akin to walking into a corner store and emerging with a winning lottery ticket. ‘There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to what breaks there,’ says Justin Lehmann, who manages Aminé and Khai Dreams, among others. ‘And without breaking there, it’s difficult to say what else can cause a big moment to happen for anybody.’”

The lunatics have taken over the asylum. It’s a free-for-all. The supposed gatekeepers, the keepers of the flame, the manipulators, have been stopped dead in their tracks. You can do the same old thing, but you’re not going to get the old result, chances are you’re going to get almost nothing.

So the playing field is being leveled.

And the dream is dying.

You remember the dream, where you start out humble and end up world famous, known by everybody, and rich? Nearly impossible today. You can shoot someone, but you’ll only be famous for a day. Come on, we shrug our shoulders at school shootings now. And if you fight to be in the public eye all the time, it backfires. Elon Musk’s image has taken a huge hit. And the more Kanye and Trump talk, the crazier they look. So if you think you can just spam your way to a career by posting 24/7, buying followers…you can end up with statistics but no career, maybe not even any traction at all. And sure, today’s youth don’t mind you pitching yourself, but that’s if you’re a nobody, an influencer. But it’s different if you’re not a member of the rank and file, if you think you’re better than those on TikTok or other platforms, those are owned by the users, not you, the more you press, the worse you look. And then there’s desperation… No one wants to be close to the desperate.

So…

Today’s paradigm is you’re not a star. If you want to create myth and mystique, if you want to hold back your identity, if you want to do all the crap that worked from the fifties to yesterday, you’re screwed. Your only option is to get into the pit, reveal your warts and predilections, and say you’re no better than anybody else, but this is what you do, create music.

And in order for it to grow, you’ll need the public to adopt it. And you cannot push it, it doesn’t work. Believe me, the labels are in bed with TikTok, TikTok pushes priorities to big time users, but even if they make a video with the song…it does not mean it will be picked up by others and will become a phenomenon. First it must have that je ne sais quoi. AND, the creator/influencer has to add their own spin, so the concoction becomes MORE than just your song. This is anathema to the oldsters who were so afraid that their work tapes would become available on Napster. God, you’re dying to have your work tapes released, you’re dying for ANYBODY TO LISTEN TO THEM!

That’s the hardest challenge.

So we’ve got dinosaurs and…

Everybody else.

Everybody else must adjust their outlook.

Let’s start with the festivals. Coachella is bigger than any act, Coachella has the power, as do Lollapalooza, ACL and Outside Lands. Didn’t used to be this way. But after the festival books a headliner or three, which is harder than ever to do, the slots are precious. It’s the only way to expose yourself to a mass audience live. And the traditional ladder has lost its bottom rungs. The club scene is minimal and sure, arena business is good, but getting from here to there?

And the acts keep complaining, looking for culprits, pointing the finger at streaming services. But the truth is, if you’re not making much from Spotify, YOU’RE NOT BEING LISTENED TO MUCH! And no one mentions that Spotify killed piracy and turned recorded music revenues around. No, there must be a return to the past, where almost no one got a deal, you lived off the advance and there was much less, MUCH LESS, competition.

Do I think it’s going to formalize, turn around?

No.

The internet has the power to reach everybody, nearly instantly. But we’ve found out that there’s so much stuff that it’s hard to reach anybody. Adele had her big moment when CDs still counted. The albums after that, despite the hoopla, did nowhere near as well. And the younger audience…doesn’t care about her, not much anyway.

And in truth most people cut off huge swaths of media. They haven’t heard or seen or read it and it does not bother them at all. They’ve found what appeals to them and that’s enough. And it’s always visceral and human. That’s the essence of TikTok, which the same boomers living in the past refuse to explore. TikTok is where the PEOPLE are, where the INNOVATION is. And Netflix doesn’t have to worry about HBO Max or Disney+, it has to worry about TikTok, that’s where all the viewing hours of the young are spent.

Music was the canary in the coal mine for digital disruption. And for a long time, the powers-that-be thought they could kill Napster, et al, through sheer will. And then the legal system. Nothing worked until the iTunes store and Spotify. You have to deliver it the way the public wants it. And if you want to enrapture the public, you’ve got to GET AHEAD OF IT!

Yes, now is the worst time for me-too, to be playing it safe. Now is the time to experiment, to be different, to be great, because innovation always sparks a reaction. Then again, the old model of hipsters gravitating to the outside act and then it becoming mainstream is gone too, once again, there’s just too much in the channel.

And no one cares.

You think you’re better than me? I don’t care about this, I don’t know that, I came late to the product… WE’RE ALL LATE! Assuming we see any need to go outside our own little satisfying purview. And they’re not making more time. I want to choose wisely, I don’t want to waste twelve hours on a mediocre series.

As for music, listening to the whole album… You’re lucky if you get people to listen to ONE SONG! Stop the blowback, that’s just how precious people’s time is. If you want our attention you must deserve it. And you do it through being truly great and special, and that’s no guarantee of stardom, it’s just the start of traction, which could die out.

Is it depressing?

Absolutely. But that does not mean it’s not reality.

The professionals are throwing up their hands, they don’t know how to manipulate the market, crack it.

The acts are complaining that they can’t be rich and famous like they used to be.

But the public? It’s overfed and overwhelmed, so it chooses its experiences wisely, wasting time is taboo.

You make your own schedule. Just like you choose your own wallpaper on your laptop and smartphone.

And you can’t trust pollsters, you can’t trust anybody telling you the way it is, THEY DON’T KNOW! You only know for yourself.

Becoming a brand? There needs to be a foundation. People were so focused on becoming a corporation that they ignored the underlying product. They don’t want to put that much effort in, they don’t want to be poor, they want it to be fast and easy…

Steve Lacy may have made it to number one, but:

“Lacy’s career began seven years ago, with The Internet, and his first solo album in 2019 had already earned him a Grammy Award nomination.”

He’s been around for years! That’s how long it takes. You want to succeed now or go to graduate school? Short circuit the whole process, just go to graduate school. Your ten year old sings and you believe they have talent and deserve a spot on the hit parade? Then they must drop out of school, work hard for ten years and probably still won’t hit. Better to at least get an education, which will ultimately pay dividends, which a failed career will not.

But the silver lining is the world has been flattened, and the monoliths of old are in the same boat as the pipsqueak in their basement.

And everybody can play. Put their songs online. Market the hell of out themselves, NEARLY FOR FREE!

The new world is definitely not like the old world.

It’s a longer road than ever to the top if you wanna rock ‘n roll.

But the audience still desires music. There’s still a marketplace. It just does not resemble the pyramid of old.



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How to back up your WordPress site


The larger it gets, the more important it becomes to back up your WordPress site. If you don’t, you are taking an enormous risk of losing all your website content and hard work — including your themes and other configuration files — to opportunistic hackers, badly coded updates, and server glitches in data centers. This is especially true if you rely on your website to run your business and make a living. With backup options becoming increasingly affordable, there’s no excuse to regularly back up your work to another server or even your own cloud storage account. Here are some of the options available to you.

Read more: How to edit the footer in WordPress

QUICK ANSWER

The easiest way to back up your WordPress site is if your hosting service does it for you automatically. Check your hosting account to see if they have this option. Alternatively, an easy option is to use a plugin or a third-party backup service such as JetPack. The most difficult and time-consuming method is to back up everything manually.


JUMP TO KEY SECTIONS

Backup WordPress through your hosting service

siteground website backup

The best solution, by far, for keeping regular backups of your WordPress site is if your hosting service does it for you automatically. Most big-name hosting companies offer this service for free as part of your hosting package. Just log into your hosting account and see if they offer this service. Or call their customer support number and ask.

The best thing about your hosting service doing it is:

  • It’s fully automated and done at the same time every day. So you don’t have to worry about forgetting to do it.
  • The backups sit on their servers. So you don’t have to worry about paying for cloud storage, accidentally deleting important files, etc.
  • They offer an easy website restore process. It’s pretty much one click and then leave it to rebuild itself. You don’t have to mess about reconstructing databases and the like. Your website can be back online in as little as 10 minutes.
  • It’s usually free as part of your hosting package. So you’d be silly not to take advantage of it.

Backup WordPress using plugins

jetpack backup wordpress

If your web company doesn’t offer a backup service, you can run your backups through a third-party backup service instead. For this, I recommend JetPack Backup, which is extremely affordable. There are two plans, the cheapest of which is $10 per month — although you have to pay annually. They take the sting out of it by giving you a 50% discount in the first year.

JetPack Backup used to be called VaultPress and worked the same way as a hosting service backup would. Now, they’ve moved to a plugin solution. The plugin keeps your website backed up to JetPack servers every time you save something, and a restore button enables you to roll the site back to a previous version.

Even if your hosting company does offer a backup service, it’s still worth considering doing something like JetPack Backup. If someone has hacked into your website, your hosting account could also be compromised. Therefore, having another backup in an off-site location might prove to save the day.

Updraft Plus

updraftplus wordpress backup

Another excellent WordPress backup plugin is Updraft Plus. This one operates a little differently in that it is a free plugin that enables you to make automated backups to a cloud storage service, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or Amazon S3.

Although the plugin works perfectly, there are some things to bear in mind here.

  • You have to pay to ensure that your cloud storage account is always active and has the required amount of space to handle all the files. As your website grows, so too do your cloud storage bills. Google Drive is quite affordable, but Dropbox? Not so much.
  • You need to use two-factor authentication on your cloud storage account to stop anyone from hacking in and compromising the files.
  • You are completely reliant on the cloud hosting service. If they go down or go out of business, your backups will be gone.

Therefore, you should use this as a backup to the backup. Nice to have, but not the sole backup available.

Backup WordPress manually

The last possibility to back up your WordPress site — and probably the most difficult, tedious, and time-consuming — is to do it yourself manually. Then again, there are probably lots of people who would consider this to be an enjoyable hobby.

The cons, though, are quite a few in number.

  • You can easily forget to do it one day.
  • You can make a mistake in the backup, which can ruin the entire thing.
  • It’s time-consuming.

If this doesn’t put you off, read on.

Backing up your WordPress website manually using cPanel

Log in to your cPanel. This is an area in your hosting account (you may have phpMyAdmin instead.) Go to Files >File Manager.

cpanel files

Mark O’Neill / Android Authority

On the left panel, click the public_html folder and expand the folder by clicking the + symbol. Select the folder with your website’s name. Right-click the website’s folder and select Compress.

public html website folder cpanel

Click Zip Archive > Compress File(s).

compress files cpanel
After the compression is complete, download the Zip file and save it to a secure place, such as a removable hard drive or secure cloud storage.

Backing up your WordPress website manually using FTP

The second method of manually backing up your WordPress website is by using FTP. This involves an FTP client such as FileZilla or CyberDuck (to name two.) Log into your website via FTP and download all your files in the public_html folder. When that’s done, zip them all into one folder for easier storage.

cyberduck

Now go into phpMyAdmin in your web hosting panel. Here, you need to back up your WordPress database. If you only have one site, there will only be one database. But if you have multiple websites, you will have to see which one belongs to which site. When you’ve got it, click it, then click the Export tab.

PMA export WP database

Select the Quick method and SQL for the format. Then, click Go to back up your database file.

PMA databasesql

FAQs

No, there is no free integrated backup. The closest is a backup service offered by JetPack, which is owned by WordPress. But you must pay for JetPack.



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