22 Facts & Figures for 22 Years

Original Story by Aaron J. Sams (2017-04-07)

Today it has been 22 years since we first uploaded a U2 site. Earlier today we published some questions and answers answered by some of the staff as a group, tonight I’m going to answer a few additional questions about the site which we were given. Below are 11 quick answer numerical questions, and 11 longer questions we were asked.

Questions were submitted by Paul Lunn, Tassoula E. Kokkoris of atu2.com, Scott Pattison of the band December, Thomas McKernan the administrator of We Are ONE With U2 and moderator at U2 Friends, Tim C, Zbyszko Zalewski, Angelo D’Arezzo of U2ITNOL2UU2 and #U2NewsIT, and Xavier Balart the author of U2 en España. (Friends chosen at random, we’ll save the rest of you for the 23rd birthday!)

We will start with the figures…

1. Number of Homes: 7.
We started at the University of Ohio State servers, moved to Geocities, and Xoom, and spent some time on my own university servers. For a couple of years we shared space at U2.Org, and in 2000 we finally moved to our own domain at U2Wanderer.Org. We stayed there until 2015, when we moved here. We published continually, although some years it was pretty slow.

2. Year we registered U2 Songs? 2002.
So yes, the name “U2 Songs” predates Songs of Experience by a number of years. We registered the domain while sitting in a friends office in Washington State on a visit to the West Coast in 2002. It took us a number of years to do anything with it, beginning to build the current site in June 2009.

3. Number of books we’ve been mentioned in? 10. (That we know of!)
Proud of each and every book we’ve been mentioned in over the years, or even better, ones we’ve worked on over the years. U2Songs.Com is getting the first mention this spring in Tim Neufeld’s “U2: Rock ‘n’ Roll to Change the World

4. Number of entries in the discography? 797.
Singles. Promos. Solo appearances. Videos. Video games. And so much more.

5. Number of Countries Visiting? 179.
We’ve had visitors from 179 different countries visiting U2Songs.Com in the last 3 months. It always makes us happy to see an international audience. The bulk of our visitors come from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Ireland, Spain, France and Belgium. For visit from individual cities we’re most popular with the folks over in London, Dublin, and New York. Thank you to all of you.

6. Number of Dollars Raised to Run U2Songs.Com? 0.
We do this for free. For 22 years we’ve never asked for a penny from our viewers. And although we worked with ETS / OTX when they were offering ticket packages to fans, that is the only advertising we have run, except for some ads when NextByte allowed us to give away a U2 iPod back in 2004.

7. Number of Copies of the Joshua Tree Aaron Owns: 103.
I’m not explaining this one. I blame it on the discography and attempts to be complete. My favorite version is the one on 8-Track.

8. Number of entries in the lyric Database: 1810.
Yes, Mike does lyrics, and a lot of them. His personal highlight? “Dove of Peace

9. Estimated News Tipsters: 14.
We do a lot of our news hunting and gathering ourselves, but we have a handful of people who routinely pass along information to us. They don’t work for the site, and often wish to remain unnamed, but we have about 14 regular contributors who have always been generous with information.

10. Number of Joshua Tree Tour Rumours we published that didn’t come true: 1.
We published some dates in advance. We published cities in advance. We published news in January that there was a remixed single coming our way. We do pretty good with rumours because we don’t just publish the first things we come across. The one we got wrong? When we first announced a bunch of cities, we included Raleigh in the list, because it was in the list we saw. We later learned that Raleigh was canceled in favour of Louisville. So do we have to count that one?

11. Number of Catalog entries: 4006.
A catalog entry is a unique pressing of a U2 item. The Canadian cassette of Boy is a different catalog item from the American 12-Inch of Boy for instance. We currently have 4006 different unique items listed in our U2 catalog. All accessible through the discography.

And now on to the Facts…

12. While running the site you get “gossip” from all over the globe, what was the most surprising source you got reliable information from?
My mother. In February 2011 she sent me a note on Facebook saying “U2 is coming to Moncton. You must be excited.” I quickly wrote her back and said you must be mistaken, the tour is all announced and they are not playing Moncton. But she was even able to give me a date. So I put on my detective hat and called the Casino NB hotel which I figured would be the mostly likely place for a crew hotel if the band was going to be coming. Asked for a reservation for those dates, and the girl said, sure there will be lots of room this far in advance. She went off to check and came back and said “there’s only two rooms available for those nights for some reason.” I booked the two rooms, and spotted a few other clues it was happening. So yeah, it was my Mom that broke the news on the internet that U2 was coming to Moncton, she had heard it from someone local who was involved in the deal. Thank you Mom.

13. How do you know if a date, chart position, etc. is right or not? What are your sources?
We spend hours doing research on things. The one thing we really wanted to get right with this new site was getting the basic facts correct, even when some of them have been reported wrong on the internet for years. Dates? Charts? For all of that we have been going back to the original sources where possible. For release dates we are using old advertisements for releases, newspaper and magazine ads, dates when items first charted (UK releases typically chart 10 days after release throughout the 80s for instance!) Sitting beside me is a book called “Top 40 Hits: The Essential Chart Guide” by Nanda Lwin tracking two sets of Canadian charts from 1975 to 1999. We have a full set of Propaganda magazines, and a full set of the U2 Magazine that came before it. We try to avoid the internet (wikipedia is full of errors we’ve found) as a source as much as possible unless its from a reputable source.

14. Why the new name?
Giving up U2Wanderer.Org wasn’t easy for me. But in 2009 we wanted to get started on the new site, yet we wanted to make sure we maintained our forum, had a place to update some news, and do some basics around the site (the by songs list was always up to date even when other areas were not.) So we decided to set up shop at a new location, and do the development work there. For a number of months U2Songs.Com was even visible to the public long before it launched. The site had been a favorite of mine since we registered it in 2002, and I had always intended to move more of the content there so it seemed like a good opportunity. In 2014 we were rushing to get it done in hopes to have it ready before the new album came along. The name “Songs of Innocence” was a surprise. All of a sudden it seemed like a really great U2 name to have chosen.

15. Why U2Wanderer.Org?
Before U2Wanderer.Org was registered in 2000, the site discography was called “The Wanderer.” We named it that in 1998. I had graduated University and was unemployed and roaming around, living with friends, and spending every spare minute looking for work, or no…working on a discography. So the name “The Wanderer” kind of fit. But I’ve always had a fondness for that song. U2.Com was gracious enough to post my play list yesterday for those of you who are subscribers, but I’ll include my notes from that piece here about the song:

Anyone who knows me from online circles will know I’ve used U2Wanderer as a website name, a login, an email address, and more throughout the years. My father and I used to clash a lot over the music I would listen to. So when I brought home Zooropa in the summer of 1993, I half expected more cries of “turn it down!” Instead, after learning that Johnny Cash made an appearance, my dad joined me and listened to the album. It led to a wonderful discussion about music. U2 introduced me to the music of Johnny Cash and of so many others.

So it was a special moment for me, one of those moments where you realize you were becoming an adult and moving on. The song became even more special for me a number of years later when one of the girls who worked with us on the site, Stefanie, told me she was spending Sundays at the Cash-Carter homestead and spending time with Johnny Cash. She told him about the site, and he was so impressed to hear there was a website named after the song that he asked her to pass along his thanks, and sent along an autograph as well. Always made me proud to know Johnny had gotten a smile out of hearing about us.

16. What do you get out of it that you’d do this for 22 years?
Well it certainly wasn’t to make any money! Honestly when I started the site it was a simple way to track my collection. I wanted one copy of every song that U2 had ever done. So I set out to make a list of just that, every unique edit of every unique song. Brad started in a similar way. Harry did the same on his Commodore 64. We’re list makers, we’re information gatherers, we love pulling the threads together and seeing how it all fits together.

You want enjoyable? I was sitting on Cedarwood Road with three of my favorite people. Right outside of Bono’s old home. I got an email. And I looked at it, and saw for the very first time the alternate covers of “Boy” that we were able to share with the U2 Community back in September. Bono would have been living there back in 1980 when that alternate cover first was approved, so I was standing in front of the house he probably went back to after seeing the cover for the first time. Just thinking about it I get goosebumps.

The staff isn’t paid. We don’t get any real perks for doing all this. The payment is in thank yous and stories from our readers. And the thrill in uncovering some new facet of the U2 Story that we gladly rush to tell you.

17. How do I join the staff?
We don’t hold staff drives we never have, nor do we advertise for new members. Over the years I think we’ve organically added those who help us out. Those who bring us bits and pieces of information, or suggest fixes, or come up with ideas. Right now we’re still figuring out what this new place can do and building content behind the scenes. If you’ve got an idea for something let us know. Talk with us, communicate with us. Get to know us. And if you’re strange enough, you may just find yourself getting invited. But that being said, we welcome outside content. Look through the amazing stuff Chris contributed through the tour in 2015. Tim has written a few wonderful columns along the way. Cindy did a great look at fan clubs for us and has a couple of other things on the way. But realize we have a bit of a corner we like to stay in as well. We definitely don’t cover everything under the sun, nor will we ever try.

18. Do you all know each other?
Some of us have met, others have not. We’ve all met different people who work for the site as well. The most we have had in one place at one time was for our staff breakfast in Vancouver in 2015, where three of us managed to be in one spot. And it looks like Vancouver will bring a number of us together again this tour.

19. Would you ever do a site for another artist?
Carl and I joked a number of times about doing a PJ Harvey site. PJHarveyWanderer.Org – who knows it may still happen some day. I have worked on a Depeche Mode discography in the past, DepMod.Com, and I’ve contributed some bits and pieces to Madonna sites over the years. Don worked on a discography for the Afro Celt Sound System before starting with us. Harry did some work on a Therapy? web service. So never say never.

20. Are you located in one location?
Unlike many sites that seem located in one country or one area we are pretty spread out. We’ve had people working on the site living in Australia, the UK, Ireland, Canada, the United States, and contributors from all over the world including Germany, Poland, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Italy, and so many others.

21. What’s next?
In the next couple of days we’ll be launching our newest section. It fills out the “Songs” part of U2 Songs a bit further. Really looking forward to getting it finished. We’re continuing to fill in the discography with images, we are scanning every item at high resolution ourselves so its taking a bit of time but usually we’re adding in 20-30 images a week. Mike is finishing up lyrics from before the move and we’ve got a couple of really special news pieces we are working on for the next couple of weeks.

22. Any last words?
Two. Thank you. I can’t say that often enough. Thank you to the people who stop to read a story, or send a comment. Thank you to the people who listen to me ask stupid questions like “what’s the number on the underside of your CD?” and thank you to those who have participated in interviews, helped with articles, contributed scans, said hello at concerts, shared space in your travels.

Yeah I went with nothing Nothing but the thought of you I went wandering.

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