A little over four years ago (in 2002) I founded Magle International Music Forums. Initially it worked as a sort of glorified »guest book« in addition to my personal site. But very soon – within the first 6 months – I took it in a completely different direction and largely removed the affiliation with my person. For example by adding sections where other composers and musicians can promote their music and have it reviewed. Since the launch the forum has grown significantly and consists today of close to 16,000 posts covering a wide array of musical genre and topics: classical music, pipe organs, crossover & fusion, progressive rock, film music, etc.
In the beginning of 2006, my megalomaniac tendencies took the better of me, and I began considering ways to expand even further… One thing I considered was possibly buying other sites, and thus I went looking on the net. I came across a site called Talk Classical, which is a »classical music forum« of very high quality, but at the time it was almost dead. It had about 3500 posts and 200 members, but the level of activity was very low with only a few new posts per week. It sparked my interest – perhaps a chance to revive it? I went as far as looking up the owner of the domain and began thinking about how to approach him by email, but for various reasons I decided to leave it for the time being.
And then the miracle happened, only about a month after I had considered contacting the owner, in the middle of February, I stumbled across a classified ad (post) on a forum about dealing with domain names – completely by chance! It so happened that the owner had put talkclassical.com up for an online auction! That was a sign I couldn’t resist, and it ended up we me buying the Talk Classical forum and domain name. It was the first time I had bought a website but the takeover went pretty smoothly.
To begin with I also took over the hosting account, but it was a so called »shared hosting« (running on a server with maybe hundreds of other sites) causing the forum to run annoyingly – sometimes unbearably – slow. Magle International Music Forums was also running on shared hosting (though at a different company) and also experienced low performance. So, on June 6th, 2006 I finally took the step all out and moved both sites to a dedicated server. It’s extremely expensive and causing me quite big “losses”, but (after some initial teething problems) both sites now run at excellent speed. So I consider it an investment in the future – it better pay of some day! 😀
After taking over Talk Classical I started doing small but significant technical improvements, besides moving it to the dedicated server. I also began a long term internet ad campaign that has brought in many new members. The first 6 months, things went slow. Posting rates improved but only at a relatively slow pace, and I myself had unfortunately only limited time for posting. Then in the fall the breakthrough happened! The rate of new members and posts began to increase exponentially, and here we are today with Talk Classical being a rather thriving and growing classical music forum.
As of recently, some days Talk Classical is even more active than Magle International Music Forums. My goal is of course for both forums to be successful. Originally I contemplated some sort of technical merger, but I have since abandoned that idea and will instead run the two forums as separate but somewhat interconnected »sister sites«. There’s actually a little competition between them on the subject of classical music, but I believe a little friendly competition can only be good thing.
The challenge now is to build on the momentum and keep the growth of Talk Classical and further expand Magle International Music Forums. In fact the latter is probably the one requiring the most work right now as it has seen a slight slowdown as of recently. How do I differentiate the two forums, and how do I use and expand their individual strengths to mutual benefit? Those are some of the challenges facing me.
One thing’s for sure. Running a forum, yet alone two, is a big job. I constantly have to consider how to do it without it taking time away from me composing – I guess I’ll just have to stay awake a few more hours a day 😉 Without the help from dedicated moderators and co-administrators it would be outright impossible, luckily for me (and the communities) there are some great moderators/co-admins on both forums. No matter what, the joy from seeing such a project succeed is immense and will make it worth it all.
I will keep you posted on the progress