Mstation's 10th Birthday - March 2008

Mstation's 10th Birthday !!!

Powered by something beyond the usual commercial forces, we are still here after ten w_h_o_l_e years! Can you believe it? We have changed a bit in that time but in a meta-way we're still about the same things and still talk to much the same sort of people.

When we started as Linux MusicStation on one of those free webpage platforms (which we left after a couple of months because, after saying they wouldn't ever put ads up, they did) we had some tips, an interview, and some vaguely funny news items - and of course, as we were new, fairly close to zero visitors. This changed quite quickly though as word got around from the likes of the Linux Audio Developer's mailing list that we were covering their world.

In the time since our coverage has broadened considerably - we have an arts section, a travel section (our Portland feature is one of the best city guides on the web in our humble opinion), video games coverage from a lofty viewpoint, Pop/Rock and classical music commentary and reviews, and our music section itself has grown very large with a rich variety of people being included. And podcasts too! Not to mention our interestingly varied Hardware section, book reviews ... quite a lot. Have a browse around the menu up top, if you haven't already.

The ties that bind the old Linux Audio only Mstation and the newer, bigger and broader Mstation are considerable. The newer thing (and "newer" has been happening since 2001 or so) is powered by the same ideas as the old - the idea that people matter, that media doesn't have to be dumbed-down and bought and paid for by advertisers or pressured into compliance by the PR sections of large companies - who routinely demand hype and positive reviews if you're to stay in the loop.

Needless to say, such a road isn't paved with cash and Mstation gets by and keeps going on the basis that is mostly powered by love. This is worth saying, not because we think the world is all wrong but because it underlines the thank you's due to those who've helped out over the years - contributors, review and commentary writers, interns, people who sat down and answered email interview questions.

Our latest arriving contributor is Michael Powell from Berkeley, California. He's recently given us and you a couple of nice band interviews and with more coming up. We haven't had an intern just lately but our standout was US college educated Nika, who lives in the Ukraine, and who's attitude and efficiency could be a model for anyone attempting this sort of thing. We had less successful ones as well - a fellow who thought he'd been appointed President, a kid who had the biggest chip on their shoulder we've ever seen. A couple of times we've tried kids as we liked the clear precosity of their vision, and why shouldn't kids have a voice? In the event though, the combination of a kid usually not being able to organise their own time plus a tendency towards microphone (or, in this case, keyboard) fright when the chips were down. Solvable, but we haven't tried again for a while now.

There are others: Peter Wells, who had a break from us, and who will be back soon with his impossibly learned but very readable classical music reviews, Baron K, Ed Walton, thunderfinger ... Miriam Rainsford who did a series of high-quality things before becoming a free music advocate and disappearing. Laura Conrad, the dance-music expert the Skruff who left in anger - all deserve thanks. Make that Big Thanks. And deserve a mention too. We moved to them when we had the free place start serving ads and after spending a couple of days searching the web for likely places, and we haven't thought about moving since. Although we pay normal rates, they've been very kind to us in lots of ways.

Another aspect of the thing was its internationalism - I wanted the focus to shift from country to country without being a booster for any place in particular. By geographic and temporal accident, Mstation was started when I was in Australia just after a contract programming stint in the UK and some significant other travels. I have some muted family ties there but my main ties have been with the US and the UK ... and now Europe, where I'm currently living. It seemed to me generally that the less nationalist tub-thumping there was, the better - more understanding, less war - and maybe, someday (we can all dream) less of the ridiculous people who use nationalist and racist grumbles to pollute the minds of others. Ah yes, these people will always be around, but if no-one listens, who cares? If we are to have free speech, that's the way it has to go - real free speech, not the little bits that coalesce around the politically correct, or incorrect, or whichever way of thinking has current power in politics.

Whether this attitude has helped us have readers from over a hundred different countries remains to be seen. If it didn't, the idea remains good anyway.

What about the future? The plan is to keep doing what we do which is, I guess, a sort of non-ghettoised indy view of music, tech and tech culture, art, people ... and stuff! Financially, we hope to expand our ad revenue without polluting the site too much and, sometime this year, we'll introduce an odd sort of subscription system whereby you won't get much extra (and no-one else will get less) which might be, perhaps, a more effective thing than just asking for donations. We'll see.

Finally, and most definitely not least, big thanks to you. Your emails have kept us going on more than one occasion when the sky was dark and cloudy and the world seemed a bit bleak and unfriendly.

John Littler

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