Everyone's Leaving Recording.Org
"I'm depressed because everyone's leaving my favorite forum. The owner started charging money to use the site..."
My good mate Jules was on the phone from London. A generous Pigface fan named Kurt loaned me his apartment in Hollywood, California, and I was between tours. With nothing but my laptop to amuse me, most days were spent sat on a breezy Southern Cal style armchair as I tapped away on my heavy old notebook. Things had reached an impasse with Invisible Records, the indie label to which I was signed. So I had time on my hands. I told my friend;
"I can create a forum."
Seriously? You can do that? How much would it cost?"
"About $10 for a domain name and $10 a month for the server. I'll run it in my spare time."
Similar to lighting fires, the hardest thing about a website is getting it started. Once it reaches a critical mass, it grows exponentially. But with GS it was different. Within 48 hours of our launch, nearly the entire membership of Recording.org including the moderators migrated over to our new site. So we were in the right place at the right time and Standen had a ready-made successful forum handed to him on a plate.
Neither Jules nor I had expected immediate popularity. We just happened to stumble into Gearslutz like a couple of lucky cyber-drunks. I had not planned to run a big site with a huge membership. For I was a touring musician, not a web developer.
So it was a lucky break for Standen. Only a few months earlier he had confided that his business was on the brink of failure;
"I'm neglecting the Library (his recording studio business). I'm addicted to a forum called Recording.org where I'm a moderator."
Jules started the Library Studio, London with his inheritance. The beast constantly hemorrhaged money. This was no shock as Jules was known to live beyond his means. Fortunately, GS cost next to nothing. We had lived as a couple for a few years between 1985 and 1987 and even after the relationship ended, we remained the tightest of friends. So there was a lot of trust and years between us.
Anyone who's been in a band knows that trust is the glue that holds it all together. If you have to turn up at every rehearsal with your attorney in a briefcase, your band ain't gonna get off the ground. Without my trust in our 15-year long friendship, there'd be no Gearslutz. For there's no way Jules could afford to pay a professional web developer to create and run Gearslutz for the first few years.
My running of the forum doesn't sound like much today. Everyone's got access to a web platform. There's a multitude of new forum providers, cloud services, developers, programmers, and systems administrators. But back in 2002, you'd be hard-pressed to find a friend who knew how to create and run a forum for peanuts.
Just ask Recording.org who were forced to charge membership in order to cover costs.
Success often begets success and the winner takes all. Nowhere does this manifest so clearly as the internet. Google indexes data that drives people to the site. These visitors create more content which in turn drives more folks to the site.
Rinse and repeat.
With its jumpstart of a blazing power-up, Gearslutz expanded like a force of nature. The site continued to grow rapidly and exponentially with a life of its own.
But eventually, it would go to Julian's head.