Cybergrass is celebrating another year of bluegrass music on the Internet. Wow! What a ride its been. We have gone through five iterations, four domain names and we're still here. What started out as just a research project almost a quarter century ago has evolved into the world's oldest bluegrass music web site which, is also the world's oldest music site of any genre. Cybergrass was born 22 years ago when the web was in its fetal infancy. There were no tools and everything was alpha release source code. The web was dark and void and the Internet was still just a research project -- the Research Internet. Bob Cherry, working with electronic documentation at Xerox got his hands on some very early code and managed to put it together with minimal documentation. On September 9, 1992, he posted about 50 songs from the Digital Tradition files on a Xerox PARC web server with a simple HTML index. HTML was all coded by hand in those days. That was the beginning of what has evolved into a premier bluegrass music site on the web.
During the past 22 years, Cherry's bluegrass site has seen a great deal in the evolution of the web. He has also achieved a great many first achievements. Cybergrass became a model bluegrass web site that many other sites evolved from. Cherry also helped many get their start on the web and he's happy that most sites he help get started are still operating today. In 1995, Cherry bought the domain IBMA.org and created the first web site for the IBMA (click for old site), and a year later he created the first web site for the International Bluegrass Music Museum (click for old site). He also created the first web pages for many of today's artists include the first web pages for Bill Monroe, Alison Krauss, Blue Highway, Claire Lynch, Chris Thile, Del McCoury, John McEuen, Fragment, Front Range and many others. He even started the first Martha White web page which ran until 1994 when Pilsbury bought the company. As organizations and artists started to create their own sites and when they required more attention, Cherry graciously turned the sites over to their rightful owners.
The award winning Cybergrass was the first bluegrass music site on the Internet and, as near as early web pioneers know, it was also the world's 7th web site -- the same as the Xerox PARC site.
Cybergrass carried the first data driven bluegrass events calendar that offered search and updates. The technology was also applied to their library of literature about bluegrass music. Over time, the site became a portal offering news, reviews, event calendar, music samples, artist profiles, references and more. In 1997, Cherry and his site negotiated and acquired the first BMI music license (other than BMI themselves) through an agreement Cherry initiated with BMI's New York office.
As the marriage of music and technology evolved, carrying music was a natural for Cybergrass. Cybergrass servers carried the Grammy Awards on the Internet in 1995. Two years later, the site carried the first International Bluegrass Music Awards Show on the net. It has been the only site to carry them every year since 1997. After getting licensing established, Cybergrass carried promotional music online. Record labels and artists enjoyed the huge response and increased sales during this time. The RIAA's Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) was drafted some time later and all promotion ceased. The music was history. With DMCA, Cybergrass went silent but history had already been made. Cherry's site was doing in the '90s what other sites are just starting to do today.
Content on the bluegrass web site changed many times over the years as did it's hosting. What started at Xerox, Cybergrass moved to Infonet Services Corporation's Info.Net service where Cherry created the domain Banjo.com for his site. The name Cybergrass also was attributed to the web site in the mid 90's and a few years later, Cherry sold the Banjo.com domain and moved to his own Cybergrass.com where the site resides today.
The site continues to be an important part of bluegrass music information. The site contains fresh and relevant information seven days a week. With the implementation of the Internet's new RSS syndication, the site now finds it's content more other resources. News aggregators can access the news, reviews and calendar information directly. In the last quarter of 2004, Cybergrass rolled out their Bluegrass Music News Network (BMNN) that is modeled similar to other online press release organizations. BMNN will be tailored to bluegrass music and will be another first for bluegrass.
If you're interested in bluegrass music, you should definitely be interested in Cybergrass. Cybergrass has already made history and is now looking to make the future even better for bluegrass music on the Internet. Help us celebrate by liking us on Facebook, twitter, Tumblr, Google+, and Pinterest, as well as other social media.