Metal From Finland History

The Beginning

The story of Metal From Finland, though officially started sometime in 2007 but started even before that in Myspace. Any of you still remember Myspace? We had a page there humbly called “MetalGod’s Corner” and we brought the jolly message of Finnish metal already there. Some of the very old followers might remember that picture there on the left. Anyways we kept the page in Myspace and somewhere approached us saying we should make a proper website cause what we are doing is awesome.

Then started the thinking process. Should we actually build a website? What should we call it? What should we include on the website? One thing that was certain from the beginning was that the center of everything should be the bands. And everything else would be built around them. Metal From Finland was always about promoting Finnish metalbands to the world.  We all tend to get wiser when we get older and looking back now there were many things that could have done differently. We could have used a backend where our team could have posted material but being stubborn we built an entire backend from scratch. Well at least that way we could have everything there the way we wanted but it was complete overkill at the time.

Until the release of first version of Metal From Finland though referred to “we” it was actually just one person behind everything. A stubborn Finn who continues to be stubborn to this very day!

Can’t recall just exactly how long it took to build the backend for Metal From Finland but it did take a while. Of course alongside with that we were building the frontend, the actual website too. What made it easier as well was the fact that we could use a programming language our developer used in his work so he was very fluent with it. Perhaps one of the reasons why he felt he should build the whole thing ground up. Cause he could XD

Metal From Finland was always about promoting Finnish metalbands to the world.

Release of the first Metal From Finland version

The first footprint we could find was April 10th 2007 so it was probably some weeks prior when we released, what was to be the first version of Metal From Finland. Watching it now makes one smile. For the ones who made it cause we still remember how it felt and for the others cause it doesn’t necessarily qualify as something someone would call professional. From the first release it was justified to talk about “we” cause by then I had some extra pair of hands helping with the content.

But if you look at the content on the image, click the image for a larger version, you can see that there was already a lot of information from the get go but what stood out always was bands. In this case a featured band that was shown on the frontpage first for maximum promotion.

LATEST NEWSPICKS was of course like it says, latest news. And you can already see from there that Finnish metal was doing great, there were 12 newsitems in just 5 days. Now for a normal metal website there can be 12 newsitems in one hour but our news resources were limited only to news regarding Finnish metal.

LATEST MFF UPDATES was a clever way to get some extra content on the frontpage. It was actually just data parsed from logs and presented in a manner that it was understandable. So basically whatever our team did whether it was updating a band or adding an album just by doing those we would get extra rows of content on the frontpage and our visitors were aware of changes happening there.

TOUR SCHEDULES was actually a huge mistake. Back in 2007 Finnish bands were not touring as much as they did later on and it became a task impossible to handle. It really wouldn’t have mattered how many team members MFF had it was just something that we couldn’t keep track on. Concert cancellations, changes etc made it even worse.

TOP-10 HORNS was a voting system and the most voted bands were listed on the frontpage. Visitors were able to give a HORN to the band they like on the bandprofile page. Again it was just a cool addon to have. I am sure it was abused in many ways since we only had a cookie based control over the voting. Didn’t want to go through the whole IP restriction. Odd lazyness from a person who wanted to build everything himself from ground up lol

FEATURED ALBUM if recalled correctly was just something that kept on changing randomly. Don’t recall much more logic behind that one.

But that was the first version of Metal From Finland. That layout stayed for less than a year. The next version was the one that got Metal From Finland known best and it was actually a version that was copied a lot as well. I cannot take any credit from that layout cause it was a friend of mine who was a graphic designer and he wanted to help me to make Metal From Finland more appealing. And boy did it ever.

Golden era of Metal From Finland

It was around 2008 when we announced the new version of Metal From Finland. This version was to be the one MFF became known for. The version we kept many many years with only minor tweaks. Graphic designer who helped me, I won’t use any names here but if they are reading I am sure they know who they are, was truly a godsent cause he shared my view about what Metal From Finland should be 100%.

With this version I was able to focus only for developing the backend and producing content with my team. Of course I made the frontend layout dynamic from the static html my friend provided me but he was such a professional that doing the frontend wasn’t even a thing. What made this version special was how user friendly it was. Pretty much everything was 3 clicks away maximum which is considered or at least was considered at the time optimal. Also visitors knew all the time where they were on the website so there was no confusions whatsoever.

If you look at the layout you will notice we brought the band profile aspect even bigger with this version. But instead of just showing bands in frontpage we started doing Band of the Week so there would be a band presented on the frontpage for an entire week. We kept rotating bands and tried to put some less known bands there as well so it wouldn’t just be the big ones. As said earlier, the sole purpose of Metal From Finland was to promote Finnish bands worldwide. And worldwide we did. Last time we checked we had visitors from 192 countries which pretty much covered the entire world.

After the Band of the Week we had those 3 magical boxes that ended up serving many purposes. On this picture we had Videos, Competition and MFF-shop boxes. There were Birthdays, embedded Spotify playlists, Polls etc presented on those boxes during the years.

Then came the tabbed content where we presented Latest News, Tourdates, Updates and Future Releases. For Future Releases and Competitions we were co-operating with Recordshop X, one if not the best independent recordstore-chain Finland has to offer and they ship worldwide.

Unfortunately we didn’t have a proper image for the Popular at Metal From Finland part cause it was truly awesome. It was like this stacked photos where you could choose the bandprofile to check. The bands listed there were not based on voted Horns anymore but instead they were based on visits each bandprofile had. We perhaps should have reseted that list on monthly basis cause in the end it became pretty static cause certain bands kept getting the views so much that it was borderline impossible for new bands to get on this list.

Then was the footer-part of the website that contained the basic stuff, links, alphabets for bandlists, some statistics etc.

I knew what I wanted from Metal From Finland and I believe we achieved everything we could have achieved with the resources that we had at our disposal.

This layout stayed until Metal From Finland basically closed down around 2014. This was due to many things, partially on personal matters but also the metalscene in Finland got bit more quiet. It took quite many years to get the spark back to start building something. There was always the hope in the background that we could’ve made Metal From Finland something that would become more than just a supporting website. Ultimate goal was of course to make a living with it so I could have dedicated my whole time on it. I got lot of offers for banners but I was stubborn to reject them all. I would only post a banner if I really felt it was promoting a band or event but it was never about money.

Even to this very day, monetizing websites is very difficult unless you have huge amount of visitors. Then you could of course use the stream of people to get something. But the idea of having my website full of blinking banners and anything that would take the focus off from the actual website never appealed to me. Thinking back all of it I believe I made the right decision by staying true to my ideals. I knew what I wanted from Metal From Finland and I believe we achieved everything we could have achieved with the resources that we had at our disposal.

The Return of Metal From Finland and new project

Metal From Finland v3
It was somewhere early autumn 2017 when the idea of resurrecting Metal From Finland came to mind. The first thought was of course how to do it. Unfortunately I didn’t have the latest version of the database or the code backupped anywhere so I knew I had to start pretty much from scratch. At this point I had been developing websites for almost 20 years so I already had few things clearly on my mind. Biggest of them was to NOT build the backend myself. Second was whether I should use the old Metal From Finland layout. I didn’t have the content and definately wasn’t planning to make all the features the old Metal From Finland had so it was a nobrainer to use a new layout.

I was very much suprised how much things had changed during the few years I had taken a break from actively developing. Finding a tool to manage the backend wasn’t difficult. But to make the backend work the way I wanted was a bit. Also the fact that I changed from Coldfusion back to PHP took a bit of time cause I hadn’t written php in many many years. And PHP itself had evolved quite a bit from days I used it. But starting the project again was somewhat thrilling and I was very excited about it. Even during the time the actual website was out of order we had our social networks in Facebook and Twitter. While writing this we had around 70k page likes in Facebook and around 19k followers in Twitter.

Working with social networks is getting more and more difficult. Twitter has the upperhand cause you can be certain that everyone that follow you will get your tweets but Facebook is getting overwhelmingly retarded. You may have over 70k page likes but when you post something the reach is just a fraction. In other words most people that are liking your page won’t get the updates on their news feed. So basically you depend on those people to visit your Facebook page which most likely won’t happen cause people like many pages and it would be just too much to visit them frequently. I think many still rely on having those posts in their newsfeed and when you don’t have them in a long time and then something shows up once you might think “These are so inactive that I won’t like the page anymore” and there you lost another page like. But there is nothing you can do about it so no use of ranting about it either.

Back to the Metal From Finland version 3 website. As you can see it is different in every sense. White background and overall very light colors. I don’t think our visitors were expecting anything like that. But it didn’t take very long to realize that the metalscene in Finland had changed a lot and having a website focusing only for Finnish metal would not work anymore. So what was there to be done? Well I could stubbornly continue Metal From Finland website or create something new. And here comes a little secret that showed me the path to my next project. Amon Amarth. Band that I had fallen in love with some years earlier and by whom I was completely sold. Of course building a website around Amon Amarth wasn’t the answer but their country was. Sweden. So what if I start something with Finland and Sweden? Then I remembered King Diamond. Denmark. Now the concept started to take shape. Finland, Sweden, Denmark. If I would do a website with those countries I could not leave out Norway either and Iceland could be the icing on the cake. And there was the concept, Nordic Metal.

Now that I had the concept I needed to decide how to execute it. I have been around the block couple of times so I knew I couldn’t pull this off alone. Not even if I would dedicate myself 24/7 on it. Well I had a channel where I could try to find some volunteers to help me but I didn’t want to reveal anything about the project so I placed a really vague post on Metal From Finland Facebook about a new project and I actually got a lot of contacts concerning the post.

Basically since I obviously knew what I needed I had a bunch of questions I asked from each person that contacted me and started sorting them out. In the beginning I had a team of 10 people in mind but it ended up to 12 cause those 12 were simply too good to pass. When those 12 people were chosen they still didn’t know what they were getting themselves into and I had them all in my Skype contacts and I revealed the project to them by putting them all on a specific time on a specific day to a Skype group of Nordic Metal. And from that moment on everyone were truly excited. Let’s not forget they were all fans of Metal From Finland so expanding the horizons for them seemed like a brilliant idea.

Ok now I had the team, I had already done the basics for the website so the team could start working immediately. I knew and the team realized how much work we had ahead of us before we could even release the website so our main focus was to add as many band profiles as possible but without being sloppy. We did eventually set a deadline that we would go live on New Years Eve 2018 but unfortunately that was too optimistic. On second week of January 2018 I felt that we had enough basic content so we focused now on adding news so we have some of that as well when we go live.