What is the 311 Hive?
The 311 Hive began as the 311 Fan Club in August 1993, with the current name adopted officially in 1996. The Hive has always consisted of two people (and a cocker spaniel) – Pat and Joan O’Reilly (and Kelly). We are also known as Pat8904@aol.com and Joan8904@aol.com. Joan is Aaron’s mom and Pat is Aaron’s step-dad. (Of course, you know Aaron better as P-Nut.) The Hive is also the home that Aaron grew up in, and is located south of Omaha NE. Over the years, the Hive has figuratively expanded to include the entire community of 311 fans.
Why Was It Formed?
Between 1992 and 1993, 311 moved to California, signed with Capricorn Records, released the Music album, and began extensive touring. We realized that there was no central point (or Hive) where 311 fans could obtain up-to-date tour info and news of 311 happenings.
Joan8904@aol.com — for general 311 questions (pretty much everything outside the website).
Pat8904@aol.com — for 311 website-related items ONLY (e.g. concert corner, fanpixs, fanspeak, radio list, etc.)
The History of the 311 Hive
In The Beginning. Our roots began in August 1993 when we signed an agreement with 311 to start the 311 Fan Club and to sell 311 merchandise to fund our activities. (Our philosophy from the start was not to operate like many traditional fan clubs, e.g. requiring annual dues in exchange for something you may or may not want). In September 1993, we equipped an upgraded computer with a sound board and the 311 Hotline was born. Late in the year, we experimented with using an 800 number so more fans could hear the 311 message, but found within 6 months it was not feasible to maintain. We developed a newsletter to go with our merchandise brochure and in the Fall of 1993, the first issue of “In Your Face” went to press.
First Full Year. Much of the daily Hive activity focused on promoting 311’s tour schedule and the July 12th release of Grassroots. Issues of “In Your Face” were now being issued quarterly. Much time was spent in our merchandise activity to pay the Hotline bills and the overhead. By summer, over 5,000 calls had been logged on the Hotline and we had over 1,200 fans on the mailing list. With the Hive address and Hotline number printed on the Grassroots insert, the Hive was soon buzzing. We conducted a poll of fans’ favorite song off Grassroots and the winner was “Lucky.” (An earlier poll for the Music album resulted in “Hydroponic” being the favorite.)
The Fan Club Grows. In the Spring, we began publishing a combined “News/Tour Dates/FAQ/Merchandise” Update Letter. Each new fan would receive the latest issue and a copy would be sent out with each merchandise order. By summer, fans could subscribe to the Update Letters which would be issued for news/tour changes. Capricorn Records released the Blue album July 25th and it entered the Billboard Top 200 at #56. A rapid increase of mail at the Hive soon followed. The Hive also sent out to fans over 5,000 Capricorn Records promotional postcards announcing the new album. By this time, the Hive had also added to the merchandise inventory a large variety of posters and pictures. In the Fall, the Hive designed a 311 “wallet-size” card featuring a miniature of the “311” poster on one side and 311 Hive info on the back. (Our supply ran out after printing and distributing 300,000). In the publication department, pictures were added to “In Your Face” plus several articles (A European Tour Journal and Adam Raspler’s ’94 diary) got strong kudos. The Hive Mailbag continued to be a strong favorite. By late in the year, the hotline had tallied over 24,000 calls.
The Tsunami Hits. During the first half of the year, most time was spent on filling merchandise orders, answering e-mail, and offering fans special promotional items. The Hive held its first contest, awarding an autographed photo to each person who submitted proof of a 3/11 birthday. By summer, the Blue album took off – “Down” was a major hit on MTV; 311 appeared on the David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, and MTV shows; plus their singles were topping modern rock charts. With the album heading for double platinum, the volume of mail skyrocketed; we were processing close to 2,000 pieces per month. By fall, we had to make a serious decision on how two people could handle the workload. If we answered all the mail, then we would be swamped with merchandise orders, and subsequently get behind in answering the mail. We decided to ask the 311 Organization to phase in a mail-order operation and they agreed. We would be effectively out of the merchandise operation by year’s end. Regretfully, the end of the year also saw the final issue of “In Your Face.”
A New Beginning. Without the merchandise operation, we were free to concentrate on operating the 311 Hotline and processing the letter and e-mail received at the Hive. In January, we converted the Tour/News Update Letter into the monthly 311 Hive Letter. By spring, we began to mail out the official 311 merchandise brochure. When costs to produce the Hive Letter far outpaced subscription revenue, we were forced to drop the monthly letter as of the August 1997 issue and substitute an abbreviated tour/news strip. When Transistor was released August 5th and entered the Billboard Top 200 at #4, the Hive again was inundated with mail. Before the end of the year, the 311 Organization made the decision to contract with a Mail-Servicing Center to handle all the mail-outs, including the merchandise brochures. Since we would no longer be sending out any mail, especially tour/news updates (except for a limited number of subscribers), we decided to develop a website where we could post this information. In late November, we went online. We were shortly linked to 311’s official website through the “News icon.”
1998 & BEYOND
A More Normal Pace.The activity in the Hive began to stabilize. When the mailing center sent out over 40,000 copies of new color brochures/newsletter in the Spring of 1998, the transition of the merchandise and mailing list operations was complete…and the Hive is back to what it loves to do best — keeping 311 fans up-to-date on the 311 scene and having fun.