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Part One

It didn’t take long.  By the end of 2005, Sputnikmusic was seeing exponential growth in its userbase.

It was technically a new website, but Sputnik didn’t face the hardships that most new domains have – namely, lack of viewership – thanks to its origins in the MX forums.   And although the vast majority of the forum users would come to abandon the site in its infancy, the number of views they lent early Sputnik reviews allowed them to pop up within the first pages of Google searches for music reviews.  A further boon for the website was the fact that it was founded before the demise of MXtabs and was therefore linked on each individual MXtabs page (Guitar, Bass, and Drums).

A link to Sputnikmusic on the MXtabs Guitar page.

Sputnikmusic’s major appeal came from its focus on the userbase, another holdover from its time as a subforum populated by members of MXtabs.  Except for the site’s design, layout, and general coding (which was run by Jeremy Ferwerda [mx]), MXtabs was run by the users.  They created the tabs and posted them on the site, which could then be rated and critiqued by other users (with a 5-star rating system and a link to “Correct This Tab”).  Sputnikmusic was meant to follow this same format, but there was more of a learning curve for the new members.  An amateur guitar player who posted a guitar tab on MXtabs was a lot different than someone posting a music review, purporting to be a “critic” with at least some knowledge of music and the music industry.  Guitar tabs were viewed under the assumption that very few of them were 100% correct; you tried to find the best one to learn from, accepting that there would probably be errors somewhere along the way.  And if you found one that was egregiously wrong, you simply searched for another one.

Sputnikmusic was an entirely new world.  Although it was founded on the same principles as MXtabs, the end result was wildly different.  While a tablature site is meant for learning, it is built on the assumption that there is a lot of trial and error involved in the tabs.  Music review sites, however, feature writings by authors who, whether they intend to or not, will be seen as somewhat of an authority, someone who knows what they’re talking about.  Add to this the fact that one of the primary features of Sputnik was the fact that users could comment on reviews and, similar to the tabs on MX, vote “yes” or “no” in response to “Was this review well-written?”, and it quickly became a perfect environment for disputes and immature jabs.

One of Sputnik's earliest review layouts.

But amazingly, that didn’t happen.  The general atmosphere of Sputnikmusic was one of respect and constructive criticism.  Of course, bad reviews were posted often and the criticism given wasn’t always the nicest, but most of the authors were willing to learn from their mistakes.  There was the feeling that all of the users were leaning how to properly critique music together; the general understanding was that no one sprang into the void of Sputnik fully formed and ready to write an amazing review.  Early reviews were predominantly written on a track-by-track basis; that is, reviewers wrote a description of each individual track, supplemented by an intro and conclusion.  However, within a few months people were writing reviews that were much more professional and akin to an essay, with an intro, body, and conclusion, containing research and conclusive statements.  The evolution of the writing of Sputnik’s userbase was really quite amazing in its quickness; it had a sort of urgency to it.  You got the sense that these kids (because they really were kids – 14, 15, 16 year olds with a blooming love for music and a yearning to learn more) were genuinely disappointed with themselves if they wrote a bad review, that they very much wanted to become better writers.

For most of the writers, practice made perfect, and Sputnik would make a huge leap toward professionalism and legitimacy with the founding of the Sputnikmusic staff in July of 2006…

[As an interesting sidenote, here is the MXtabs shut-down notice that was posted on the homepage in 2006.]





mynameischan
06.28.10
HEY

IsItLuck?
06.28.10
link part one to this please

Electric City
06.28.10
the line about kids being better writers was so me

tinkrbel
06.28.10
"The general atmosphere of Sputnikmusic was one of respect and constructive criticism"
those days mustve been nice

bailar11
06.28.10
cinco'th again

mynameischan
06.28.10
it was nice

link added at the top for u ryan

xharles
06.28.10
post

IsItLuck?
06.28.10
I honestly don't know how I missed the first part, even though it was posted today. Getting a really nostalgic feeling reading this...I can't believe I forgot how ugly the original site was hahah

Masochist
06.28.10
I hardly remember the days from when I first joined, or anyone who was around at that time who wasn't staff.

IsItLuck?
06.28.10
oh, and thanks for the link hah

Poet
06.28.10
""The general atmosphere of Sputnikmusic was one of respect and constructive criticism"
"those days mustve been nice"

They were still happening about two years ago.


Good write up Chan, nice to read about the history of the site.


tombits
06.28.10
I remember seeing that shutdown notice on Mxtabs, it sucked.

AnotherBrick
06.28.10
i was so pissed when i saw the shutdown notice

Yazz_Flute
06.28.10
This is actually motivating me to write more, I better pump out at least a handful of reviews in the next 8-9 weeks of vacation.

bloc
06.28.10
This article brings a tear to my eye

FlawedPerfection
06.28.10
lol guitar lessons

Deviant.
06.28.10
Interesting read. I know the site went through a few iterations back in the day (before my time) and its cool to actually see where all this came from. Nice work Chan

Relinquished
06.28.10
I remember the shutdown notice, but I wasn't paying attention to the site that much at the time

SymbolicActs
06.28.10
That pissed me off when MX got shut down, as that was my main tab site at the time.

SymbolicActs
06.28.10
@sonic
I did. I've been lurking for the last few years and figured I might as well make a profile and start contributing.

Spare
06.28.10
screenshots are making me nostalgia big time

Tits McGee
06.28.10
good stuff back then

Pizza
06.28.10
i miss when sputnik was a baby, this site was the reason i started caring more about what i was listening to and what i thought of it.

theacademy
06.28.10
enjoying this

Tyler
06.28.10
bartender sighting sort of

Skimaskcheck
06.28.10
well gooddd

Powerban
06.28.10
another thing kinda unrelated to the main site that i used to enjoy, was the lyrical battles in the forum. i don't know what happened, but everyone just left and the battles are no more. there was some really awesome poetry there. in particular, i liked reading dancin' man's stuff.

Iai
06.28.10
Lyric battles were awesome, yeah.

taylormemer
06.28.10
I remember this quite well.

Meatplow
06.28.10
Yeah I remember that notice.

Great writeup, looking forward to the next one.

Maniac!
06.28.10
I wasn't here then, but it is nice to see the origins of the Sputnik Mafia ... err... I mean Staff

Thor
06.28.10
I remember when I was in the TOP 15 MOTHERFUCKERS



Ire
06.28.10
thank god that's over

Ayon
06.28.10
Never knew that MXtabs and this site were linked. I always thought they were two sites trying to help each other out. Well, at least back in the day.

Spare
06.28.10
oh back in the day

2muchket!
06.28.10
I remember this dearly.

Still the forums are as good now. The content being produced on teh review site is of a higher standard, but the quality of the new users...hmmm.

Electric City
06.29.10
"so if Sputnik at this point was some sort of prelapsarian paradise, what happened that turned it into the vicious, mean-spirited hellhole that it is today? what was the turning point?"

...

Electric City
06.29.10
nah not really site's been getting really pissy for a while now but to be honest the correlation between improved reviews and a pissier atmosphere is probably pretty strong. think about it: early sputnik was just a place to talk about music and discover new music thanks to decently written reviews, particularly tbts. then when things started getting pro, everything became magnified- the quality of reviews made the music criticism "legitimate" which put the music under much higher scrutiny. Like it wasn't "oh, Iai likes an album I disagree but whatever" to "SPUTNIK likes an album and I don't everyone's wrong I must prove them wrong!" It's like when the site got some of the professionalism it was going for, it got the backlash that came with it.

mynameischan
06.29.10
stfu downer i'm going to explain all of this

DFelon204409
06.29.10
This is a great feature. I joined the extended mx tabs network some time in 2000 and musicianforums in September 2001. Eeep! I'm old.

mynameischan
06.29.10
well MJ it all comes down to growth of the site so technically yes it's the same but i'm going to say it in an un-downer like way

tinkrbel
06.29.10
"but i'm going to say it in an un-downer like way"

thatll be good

pixiesfanyo
06.29.10
i think its weird that chan has been around this long.

sniper
06.29.10
Yeah chan were you like 13 when you joined?

sniper
06.29.10
Wait I'm retarded never mind. I can count I promise.

mynameischan
06.29.10
been watching you this whole time pixies

tvol
06.29.10
i think we need someway to identify each user as an MX OG, because i'd definitely be one. i remember seeing that notice that MX was shut down and getting pissed. yet somehow, i'm still here. damn.

pixiesfanyo
06.29.10
the way to identify if a user is an MX OG is either if he is single or with a girl that obviously cheats on him and / or is fat.

Pizza
06.29.10
shit i fit that description and i've been here forever. damn you sputnik

Fort23
06.29.10
is sputnik really that nasty now?

plane
06.29.10
Jesus has it really been four years 8(

robertsona
06.29.10
haha you guys are old men

DhA
06.29.10
I've been checking the forums on and off since 2002 (originally as Ganondorf), I owe so much of my music taste to this place.

2muchket!
06.30.10
what da fuck

DhA you the same poster who supports west brom and used to post in the footie thread years ago ?

fr33convict
06.30.10
I remember seeing the shutdown notice I was so ---


Oh wait, I wasn't here until a couple months ago.

krig9412
07.29.10
Why do I feel nostalgic? I never even heard of MXtabs before this

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