|Type of site||Music website|
|Created by||Jeremy Ferwerda|
Sputnikmusic, or simply Sputnik, is a music website offering music criticism and music news alongside features commonly associated with wiki-style websites. The format of the website is unusual in that it allows both professional and amateur content to co-exist, distinguishing it from similar music websites such as Pitchfork Media and Tiny Mix Tapes, as well as collecting and presenting a wiki-style metadata database in a manner comparable to Rate Your Music and IMDB.
Over time, the site has come to be established as a credible source, earning mentions in mainstream print, becoming a featured reviewer on Metacritic, and being used as a news source by other websites. As a general rule, the staff writers tend to focus on new releases; however, any user is welcome to submit a review of any album that has been officially released. All genres of music are covered by the site, with dedicated subsections for metal, punk, indie, rock, hip-hop, and pop; an 'Other' section also caters to electronica, jazz, reggae, trip-hop, classical music, and soundtracks.
The musical focus of the site's staff has often been on non-mainstream artists, with the likes of Burial, Kidcrash, Cynic, Kayo Dot, Off Minor, and The Tallest Man on Earth performing strongly in the staff-voted Best of 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2010 features.
Sputnikmusic was originally launched by Jeremy Ferwerda as an offshoot from the Mxtabs network, which also included MusicianForums; the reviews that existed on the website on launch day had been imported from the latter's CD Reviews subforum. At this point, the site was simply a source of amateur content; it is also worth noting that due to its association with MXTabs, the site's focus was noticeably skewed toward guitar-based music, notably metal and rock, at this time.
In June 2006, following claims made by the MPA about the supposed illegality of music tabs, MXTabs was closed, later to be acquired by MusicNotes. At this time, Sputnikmusic became its own separate entity, with MusicianForums renamed as the SputnikMusic Forums. It was at this point that the focus of Sputnik began to shift toward providing professional content, with a news page added, and a stratification system implemented for reviewers. As part of this shift, several features have also sporadically been provided by the site's staff writers, including live reviews, interviews, exclusive MP3 streams, and year-end features.
Currently on Sputnikmusic, four classes of reviewer exist that demarcate whether content should be considered professional or not.
- Staff Writers are the writers who contribute the professional-standard content, which includes featured articles in addition to reviews. There are currently 25 staff reviewers, three of whom also act as moderators and administrators for the site.
- Contributing Reviewers can contribute features, but are not eligible for inclusion by either Metacritic or Wikipedia, yet are acknowledged as being good writers who generate content of a high quality.
- Emeritus is a status given to former staff writers who no longer contribute to the site. Reviews by these users are acknowledged as professional.
- Users includes everybody who has not yet been promoted to any of the higher levels. Despite this, they can still contribute new reviews, artists, and albums to the database, edit data already present, and submit journals and lists.
Sputnikmusic operates a simple 5-point rating system, starting at 1, that allows .1 intervals for staff writers and .5 intervals for all other users. As a guide to new reviewers, each of these values is assigned a word, ranging from 'Awful' (1.0) to 'Classic' (5.0).
As well as showing the score a reviewer has given to the album, a review page will also show the scores given by other individual reviewers, and the average rating given by all users. Should enough users have rated the album, a bar chart will also be shown indicating how many votes each rating has.
Sputnik Music is home to a very well known often notorious message board, with the same name, which is divided in subsections that host very different kinds of users within themselves, the community in this forum is composed of highly regarded sputnik reviewers, as well as some other music "aficionados" that discuss modern society philosophy and other high arts. The story of the forum started with MxTabs. MXTabs was a very popular tablature internet site but in 2006 due to copyright issues it was shut down, the forum however remained and was later named as SputnikMusic, in fact some members still call the current forum MX as a homage to the old days.
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