Most Phish fans can be categorized into two groups. One that has 'The Spreadsheet' in their browser bookmark bar and the other that is yet to experience the "Holy Shit!" moment when they discover it for the first time. A labor of love & dedication, the Spreadsheet is one of the definitive sources for Phish MP3's and catalogs every known circulating show since 1983. A mere utterance of the term, "The Spreadsheet", and most fans instantly know that you are talking about Kevin Hoy's Google Doc. But how did this amazing resource come about? And who is Kevin?
I spent some time recently asking Kevin all about the Spreadsheet.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions, before we get into the nuts & bolts, tell me a little bit about yourself. How long have you been listening to Phish, what got you interested in them, where are you from, and all the jazz.
Well, I was born and raised in Milwaukee, WI, and other than a 4 year stint at the University of Dayton (in Dayton, OH), I have lived my entire life here in Milwaukee. My wife, Maggie, and I currently live in the suburb of Glendale with our cat, Monkey, and new puppy, Rubicon. As for my first Phish experience or what got me into Phish, that came in 6th or 7th grade, which was around 1994. A friend of mine had made me a copy of a mix tape that his older brother had given him, and on it was the studio versions of both Down with Disease and Golgi Apparatus. Sidenote: the rest of the tape was filled with the likes of Regulators (Warren G), Fatastic Voyage (Coolio), Lodi Dodi (Snoop), and Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia) (Us3). From there, it took me until the beginning of high school to really figure out what this band was all about. By this point A Live One had come out, and I was listening to it constantly. I quickly found a group of kids at school that were heavily into tape trading and I just thought it was the most amazing hobby in the world. I quickly became obsessed with it and would spend countless hours/days/weeks tracking down tapes that I didn’t have (either through friends or B&Ps). It’s bringing back great memories just thinking about it, actually.
How did the Spreadsheet come about?
Actually, the genesis of the Spreadsheet can be directly tied back to one man: Scott Marks (Bizzaro Jerry on PT, currently @bizarchive on Twitter). Back in late 2007 or early 2008, Scott had a series of threads on PT called “Bizarro’s Phish Thread.” In these threads, he would go through his entire Phish collection and post mediafire links to his personal archive of shows, in chronological order. In the years since my tape trading days, I had obviously adapted to the digital world and had a pretty good collection of my own at the time (around 400 shows), but this thread was the Holy Grail!! I was grabbing early shows like it was my job when Scott first started this. Anyways, there was talk in one of these threads about creating a better way to house all of the links. As most will remember, the PT search and archiving tools were a little lacking back then, so as these threads went on, it was becoming increasingly difficult to find a specific show. It was mentioned that a shared Google Doc may be the way to go and that someone should work on getting that set up. Google Docs was pretty new at this point, so after reading that post, I decided to do some investigating. After emailing with Scott and getting his nod of approval, I started putting together a very rudimentary version of what the Spreadsheet is today. Scott and I had a great thing going at this point...he was uploading his shows in chronological order from the beginning and I started uploading my shows, starting in 2000 and worked backwards. At a certain point, Scott started working on a major setlist overhaul project for Phish.net and I eventually took over the Spreadsheet maintenance by myself.
What is your process for adding links/updating? How do you determine which sources to add?
When I was going through it all initially, I re-downloaded everything from the shnfamily hub in lossless format (prior to this, the majority of my collection was in mp3 format). I did my absolute best to get the best possible sounding source of each show. I would compare the different sources myself and look at the comments for each source on etree.org to come up with a final decision. I can’t say that it’s 100% perfect, but I definitely did my research, as best I could, to get only the best possible sources added.
I try my best to keep up with new/upgraded sources that surface, but it seems to be a never-ending battle. I also rely heavily on the users of the spreadsheet to let me know when there is a better source out there, when links are dead, when something isn’t properly labeled, etc. You have no idea the amount of emails I get every day regarding the Spreadsheet, and I don’t mean that in a bad way at all. I love reading the thoughts, ideas, praise and even the complaints from time to time...
Do you keep copies of everything you upload? How much storage space to have devoted to Phish?
I do...all in lossless format too. I currently have about 1.8 TB of Phish audio stored on my hard drive.
How much of your downloads to you listen to?
A lot...I am as obsessed with listening to Phish as I am collecting it. Why else would you have it all, right? I try to listen to entire shows from start to finish rather than just random tracks. I guess I am purist in that respect. I’d say I listen to about 4-5 complete shows per week. About a year ago, I started tracking all the shows that I listen to, along with any highlights from every show, and keep it all in another spreadsheet. The goal is to listen to everything, literally everything that circulates, and have my own little bible of all the setlists and my highlights. Something to pass down to the kids, right? (laughs)
How quick is your goal to get recent shows up on sheet? A couple days? Week? Do you take first source up or wait for known quality tapers?
The goal is to have them up the very next day, assuming I am not on tour. Most of the time this happens, but sometimes, you know, life gets in the way... I usually look for the most downloaded source from etree and use that one. However, I will upgrade the source if I am made aware of a better source out there afterwards.
How many shows are now indexed on your sheet?
At this moment in time there are:
1,319 Phish shows
276 Trey shows
143 Mike shows
27 Page shows
58 Fishman shows
22 From the Archives shows
77 remastered shows
Of the missing shows that no known sources exist, are there any in particular that you have your fingers crossed for that will surface some day and be part of the Spreadsheet?
Well, I’d love to see the few years that are missing 1 or 2 shows get completed...that would be 1993, 1995 and 1999.
The shows missing, that I’d love to see circulate are:
3/8/93 - the only “regular” post-1992 show that doesn’t circulate, as far as I know (Sante Fe, New Mexico)
5/14/95 - at Fishman’s house...would love to hear that one
6/24/99 - the infamous Carreystock
Any contingency plan if MediaFire goes away?
Not really, no. Scary, huh?
How much time to you spend on average per week on maintaining? Are there others that help?
Since completing it last summer, the only real work comes when the band (or side projects) are on tour. During these times, I probably spend 5-6 hours per week downloading, comparing sources, tracking, converting and uploading. During the “off-season,” I just keep my eye out for anything new that pops up on etree, which will mostly be side projects. For example, I just added 4 new Vida Blue shows the other day.
At this point it is a solo effort, but, like I said before, I get great help/feedback from the users through email, which is greatly appreciated.
How can fans help with your efforts?
All I can say is for them to just keep doing what they are already doing. Fans have been great at contacting me when they find something that isn’t posted or when a link goes down. I really couldn’t keep it as up to date as it is without them. I suppose if everyone who used to trade tapes could dig them out of storage and make sure they don’t have anything that doesn’t currently circulate, that could yield some interesting/exciting results. But really, everyone has been great, so just keep it up!
Do you have Google Analytics and can share with us some of the interesting stats?
I don’t have Google Analytics, but Mediafire keeps some basic upload/download stats. Since March of 2008 when I created my MediafirePro account, I have uploaded 418.55 GB from 3,626 total files and there have been a total of 783,427 downloads from my account. These stats always amaze me...every time I look at them.
Tell me a little bit more about the remasters page. Are these all submitted to you or do you hunt them down?
I take zero credit for the remasters page. All remasters that have been posted have literally been delivered to my inbox and I just turn around and copy and paste them to the Spreadsheet. Big thanks to Kenny Powers, phishjam10 and Paul Shapera for the links!
How about Worcester’s sheet...do you know him? ever thought of collaborating?
I am very familiar with Worcester’s amazing Rare Material spreadsheet, and I have to admit that I have used it in the past as a source for some of the side projects shows that are on my page. Though I do not know him personally, I know the hard work and dedication that goes into something like that and I really appreciate his efforts. I don’t really see the need to collaborate the two, because they are both very different. My spreadsheet is more directed towards complete shows in audio format, while his tends to be the more obscure/rare stuff and videos that he comes across. Both serve their purpose very well, separately, and that’s what fans have grown accustomed to, so why mess with a good thing, right?
Do I remember correctly that you also have a blog detailing updates to sheet?
I do. You can find it at http://phishspreadsheet.blogspot.com/. Every time I post a new show or upgrade an existing show, I will update the blog.
What do people say to you when they find out you are “the spreadsheet guy”?
Well, I don’t really go around shows advertising that I am “the spreadsheet guy,” so, I can honestly say that I don’t have too much experience with this type of situation. I can say that fans are extremely gracious and appreciative in the comments that they send by email. In fact, I get a handful of emails every week that just say “thank you for what you do,” or something to that effect. Look, I don’t do this for the praise or the notoriety. I do it because I love being able to help a community that has giving me so much over the years. That’s enough for me.
What are a few of your favorite shows?
Oh, man...that’s always been such a hard question for me to answer. A few that come to mind immediately are:
8/7/93 Darien Lake
Thoughts on summer tour so far?
I’ve been really enjoying it. It’s been a slow tour for me, as I was only able to make it to the little Midwest swing (Pine Knob, Blossom, Cincy), but have listened to every note. Pine Knob and Blossom were an amazing time and I thought they were fantastic shows. Other highlights for me (from listening to the shows) have been Bethel 1 and 2, Charlotte, SBIX 3 as well as the soundchecks that have been released (Bethel, Darien, SBIX) and the amazing Storage Jam. I’m headed to all 3 UIC shows in August and really looking forward to some indoor Phish!
Any thoughts, reactions to the Phish.net blog post on taping last week?
I thought it was great! I wholeheartedly agree with the fact that AUD sources do capture the “essence” of a show a lot more than the soundboards are able to. It is for this reason that I hang on to all my AUDs of shows even after purchasing a LivePhish release. I really appreciate everything the tapers do...that takes a lot of time and dedication, much more than I spend on the Spreadsheet, and my hat is off to them. Without them, the Spreadsheet would not (could not) exist.
How about the future? Any plans for enhancements, additions, etc to the Spreadsheet above and beyond continuing to add new shows?
I’ve been thinking about somehow adding the option to download album art for each of the shows. A couple months back I went back and forth with someone who has been creating and posting some great cover art that they created over on PT. It didn’t go anywhere, at the time, but I’d love to revisit that idea in the future.
The other thing I have been thinking quite a lot about doing is adding the option to download everything in lossless format (FLAC). Now, I’ve been thinking about doing this since completing the mp3 uploads last summer and it obviously hasn’t come to fruition yet, and that’s for a couple of reasons. First of all, logistically, it would be a challenge. Obviously, lossless files are much larger than mp3s, so it would take a great deal of time and online storage space to make this happen. Currently, Mediafire only allows files under 200 MB to be downloaded by non-MediafirePro users. This would mean that a lossless show (which is usually close to 1 GB) would need to be split up into 5 separate files. So, in order to make it less of a pain to the user, I would have to start looking for a new site to move to for these shows (Megaupload would probably be the solution). `
But, the main reason why I think I haven’t started this massive undertaking, aside from the time it would take, is that I don’t want to eliminate the use of etree.org. Having been part of actual tape trading, I know that with getting a new show/tape, came interacting with people and the community. I feel like etree.org is the one last sacred place where people go to get shows while still interacting with each other, all in one place (albeit at a very minimal level when compared to actual tape trading). I feel like having a Spreadsheet of mp3s doesn’t detract from etree because they do not offer mp3s as an option, but if I went and dumped lossless copies of every show onto the Spreadsheet, that would be an entirely different story.
Thanks for the time today, Kevin, anything else you’d like to add?
Well, thanks for the opportunity! I guess I would just like to express a huge amount of thanks to Scott Marks for really getting this whole thing started. There would absolutely be no Spreadsheet without him. Also, thanks to everyone who has emailed me additions, thoughts, comments, praise, etc. I am still blown away by how gracious and giving the Phish community is...I’m just glad to be able to give back in any way possible!
Want to thank Kevin for all his work? Please use comments to thank Kevin, share your story about finding the Spreadsheet the first time, suggestions, or any other comments about the sheet. Of course, should you have any of the missing shows from the Spreadsheet, don't forget to let Kevin know!
email address for additions, suggestions, and praise: email@example.com
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