Dolly Parton Fan Site Celebrates 10 Years On-Line

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Internet savvy music fans are helping lead the digital revolution in the music industry by creating fan websites dedicated to their favorite artists. Chris Walls started running a Dolly Parton website back in the late 90s when the music industry was largely uninvolved in the digital realm. Now ten years later, his site is celebrating a decade of being live on the net and showing that fans can make a difference in promoting their favorite musical artists.

In the mid-to-late 90's, there were a lot of music fans out there like myself that picked up on the internet long before the music industry ever took it seriously. Now many of the labels out there are still trying to catch up. And with CD sales on the decline and digital sales on the rise, the industry knows that it has to stay on top of any new technology or trend if it wants to survive.

Chris Walls still remembers when the internet was just a niche technology for geeks and computer nerds, widely unused by mainstream society. Today, with the ease of blogging and internet publishing software and the explosion of on-line social networking websites such as Myspace and Facebook, it seems everybody has some degree of an on-line presence.

"It's amazing to see just how far the internet has come just in the past ten years," Chris says. "I guess you'd have to be a true computer nerd to be doing this as long as I have! When you told people ten years ago that you ran a website, they seemed amazed as if you were doing something magical. Now today it's commonplace."

A long time Dolly Parton fan, Chris Walls has been running and operating his own Dolly Parton website (http://www.dollyon-line.com) for a decade, a substantial period of time for a technology that is still relatively young. Now 24 years old, Chris's internet hobby has turned into an unexpected career path. He currently works in digital marketing for a major music label in New York while still running his Dolly website in his spare time. But when his site started back in 1998, Parton and the rest of the music industry were largely unaware of just how big of a role the internet would come to play in the entertainment industry.

"In the mid-to-late 90's, there were a lot of music fans out there like myself that picked up on the internet long before the music industry ever took it seriously. Now many of the labels out there are still trying to catch up. And with CD sales on the decline and digital sales on the rise, the industry knows that it has to stay on top of any new technology or trend if it wants to survive."

"As far as my Dolly site goes, I consider myself very blessed because the work I've done over the years has been very well received by both fellow fans and Dolly's people ever since the site started. I've been able to connect with hundreds of fans around the world, many of which have helped contribute to the site."

But it wasn't until Parton's latest album that she fully embraced the digital age. In 2007, Parton left behind the labels in Nashville to create her own record company, Dolly Records, which put the internet and other new media at the top of its marketing strategy. Out of this new venture came Parton's first official website (http://www.dollypartonmusic.net) which debuted in Fall 2007 to coincide with her label's first single, "Better Get To Livin'". The move proved a success and turned some heads in the industry back in February when her self-released Backwoods Barbie album debuted at the No. 2 slot on the Billboard Country Albums chart, making it the highest album debut of her career.

"It all started out of just loving Dolly Parton and her music. And I think it's the same for anybody who runs any kind of fan site," Chris says. "There's never been a more exciting time to be a music fan, especially if you're digitally inclined. Fan sites are a unique way for fans to not only pay tribute to their favorite artists, but to actually help promote their work and possibly make some money at the same time. I think anytime a fan can help increase the exposure of an artist, it's a good thing. To look back and know that I was able to play an active role in promoting music that I love is really exciting."

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