I probably got into the recording forum thing fairly late… Around 2006 on RR. I got to watch this happen, and I found it fascinating. From that point, we had about a good 5 or 6 years before it all slowly disintegrated. Here is my (slightly cynical) take on it…
From my perspective, the reasons the “traditional” recording forum format died was because it represented a big hole in the market for online education, which was largely ignored while the last vestigages of the “old guard” of the recording industry while it remained intact… I mean, why would they take any notice of a bunch of rank amateurs and enthusiasts making a racket in their bedrooms? They were no threat; they were “inconsequential” - leave them to share their collective ignorance.
Around about 2008-10, suddenly everyone who had been making a living out of record production found themselves in the situation where they needed to “pivot” (as the entrepreneurial gurus say), because the bum fell out of the traditional record industry. Almost overnight, an extreme poverty of CD sales equated to no budgets for recording and mixing. Studios closed by the truckload. Those who still had clients moved their monitors into their spare bedrooms and continued to mix, albeit for much reduced rates - life in an already cutthroat industry became pretty much impossible.
Almost overnight, mixing “in the box” became ‘de rigueur’ among the crowd who had, only a few years before, sworn black and blue that it was “impossible” to mix a record professionally on anything less than an SSL4000E and a bunch of outboard gear in a million dollar studio.
Suddenly, “rank amateurs” and hobbiests (who, ironically were also mixing in their bedrooms) started to interest the pros… Why? They were still no threat in terms of the quality of their work. A few “weekend warrior” mixers/producers will never match the quality of those who have made it their life’s work, even when the “playing fields” (bedroom studios, ITB workflow) are levelled… So why the interest?
In the throws of a lack of work and income, some of the pros started to take more than a passing interest in the flourishing (at the time) recording forums, even engaging with the amateurs. (Who remembers “Mixerman” gracing us with his presence on RR? - that was fun)
… And it seems the really clever, shrewd go-getters realised that, in doing so, what appeared to be an undisciplined rabble of audio carnage and atrocity on the surface, was actually a glimpse of the promised land…
So the fulcrum of the “pivot” was realised: Rather than talking down to the amateurs, you needed to get on their level, feed them some free videos on YouTube to got them hooked. Why, there were already no-names with HUGE followings on YT dispensing mixing advice for “free”. Imagine the following you could gather if you could drop names at will and dispense tales of a storied career among the rarefied air of the top tier in music?
The path became clear. Follow the now standard Internet “drug dealer” business model (give the stuff away for free at first, then ask for payment for the “really good stuff” once the clientele is hooked). Build your own “communities” of those who now have paid for access to this “truly professionally lead group” who can share their newfound knowledge among each other. (Sound familiar?)
So within a few short years of the recording industry haemorrhaging money to it’s near death, the clever guys and gals at the top had it worked out: “Audio Education” was the new buzz word. All the better that you could dress it up very graciously as some kind of audio philanthropy. Suddenly, everyone from the rarefied realms was only to eager to “give back”!
They effectively co-opted a vast, existing audience into paying for something they were pretty much getting for free before… Only now the information was vetted and approved by “pros” and had the vital stamp of their “authority”…
… I mean, after all, how many different ways can you say “If it SOUNDS good, it IS GOOD”! (Smilie)