We went on the air in January in test mode; kicking the tires on some great programs - Linux, PHP, PHPBB and OSCommerce. These and many other programs are the products another, much larger, community; those that write free software. With their tools, a low cost server (basically, a PC) and a DSL link, it was possible to build a very capable web site with a powerful interactive forum and an online store.
No question about it, this site would not exist if it weren't for thousands of idealistic and dedicated free software developers. They write code for the joy of doing it, and to make the world a better place. The forum code we use was developed to facilitate communication and collaboration in their communities. We thank them. In many ways we model our community after theirs.
On January 31, 2003 the prototype electro-music.com site was running, but in a hidden place, behind an under construction page. The store and forum were not connected, and there was no front page. Bill Fox and Greg Waltzer helped me evaluate the software and test things out. In the process of trying to get the forum and the store to work together, I met Cédric Morelle, who generously gave us key pieces of code that he developed for a great French language site, percussions.org.
By the end of February, electro-music.com was an active publicly accessible URL. The site was mostly empty. I began writing some reviews for some local concerts, including Gate To MoonBase Alpha, The Gatherings, Robert Ashley's opera, Celestial Excursions, and Amy X Neuburg at The Roulette, and the American Composers Orchestra. We started with a handful of members and gradually grew by word of mouth, or of net. By the middle of March we had about 35 members, although several of them imaginary members I created to test out the software.
March 25, 2003 was a most significant day for electro-music.com. That was the day Stein Grebstad, Elektro80, joined. Elektro80 has contributed greatly to this project. He is very much responsible for making this happen. He has brought depth, breath, quality, fellowship and humor. He has reached out to many international artists and brought them to the site to be members. At this writing, he has over 1800 posts. Stein and I have become close friends. In September, my wife and I travelled to Trondheim, Norway, to visit Stein and his lovely wife Anna Irene. Stein shares the vision, and his contributions have been essential.
Since March, many members have joined. In June, Carlo Serafini, seraph, from Florence, Italy, arrived and immediately made his presence felt. He showed us how to use the forum to reference external resources relative to our discussions. He wrote a feature article, and created informative postings about many diverse subjects, such as Futurism, and electronic musical instruments. His postings stimulated the incorporation of the our excellent link feature. He became the electro-music.com Links Editor. At this writing, Carlo has more posts than I. His sense of humor has been a delight. For me, another friend. Thanks, Carlo.
There have been many musicians who have supported the site by selling there CDs on the electro-music.com store. Special thanks to Orbital Decay, by far our best sellers. We appreciate all of our artists. We certainly wish to acknowledge the people who have purchased CDs. Thanks for supporting the artists and the site. Thanks too, for those who have clicked through the link on our front page to purchase equipment and supplies at Musicians Friend.
In recent weeks, we have started up new forums for ONLINE MUSIC and INTRODUCE YOURSELF. We're working in hierarchical forums to better organize the site and to make things easier to find. CD sales are picking up, the number of visitors continues to increase, and new members are joining and contributing.
We all have the feeling that something is happening, even though we may not know exactly what it is. On the forums there is talk of a movement happening. There is excitement. We are each learning more about ourselves by learning more about each other. We are finding that there are many people making beautiful music just for the joy of it. It is becoming very clear that a community can accomplish more than any individual. Our objective at electro-music.com is to help facilitate and empower the community.
Being involved in creating electro-music.com has been personally very rewarding, spiritually if not financially. I've made many friends, and learned more than I had imagined possible. There are, of course, many people I have failed to mention for the sake of brevity, including the many members who have contributed to the forums. Thanks to all of you, for your sharing, and for your encouragement.
Thanks, everyone, for a great year, and for a great future.