I bought the maxforlive.com domain name on January 15th 2009, the exact day Ableton announced the very idea of Max for Live itself. I remember sitting on my couch, reading the announcement and subsequent forum chatter. The possibilities for such an integration blew my mind. The seamless fusion of custom instruments, audio reactive visuals, with the Ableton Live session view in a live performance setting could be a dream to come true. Literally, without any idea of what I’d do with it, or why I’d want it, I fired up a browser and checked if maxforlive.com was available. It was, but not for long.
It wasn’t until September later that year when I started beta testing for Ableton that I decided what to use it for, after much debate with other beta testers on what was most needed. There is no off the shelf templating systems or web app platforms like word press in use. I wrote every line of it myself as a purpose-built platform, customized to support the idea that the best way to drive innovation and learning of M4L would be a community focused on dreaming, building, and sharing.
In all my free time outside of work (not spent playing with the beta), I coded for ~7 months until March 10th 2010 so that the launch of the community platform could coincide with the official 1.0 release of Max for Live itself. I’ve been the sole builder, maintainer, support guy, you name it, ever since. While I pride myself on being pretty responsive to support requests from the user community, with growing demands of my own career and family commitments, I won’t be able to keep this up forever.
Today I am happy to announce that we’ve decided to take the next step to protect the community by officially transferring ownership of Maxforlive.com to Cycling74 so that regardless of what attention I’m able to put into it over time, it can continue to thrive and evolve to serve the needs of the community.
Though the Cycling74 involvement in the site will strengthen over time, it’s not actually the beginning.
Until August 2012 I actually hosted the site myself, off my home cable modem connection, on a Pentium 500 computer sitting next to my linksys router in the living room. Most people I talk to can't believe it when I tell them I was doing that with over 10,000 monthly active users. But, other than when my IP would change, forcing the site to go down… it worked fine!
In August 2012 the load on the server and home connection got to be too much and I bit the bullet and moved the site to a real host in a real datacenter. Five years later (almost to the day) I was notified that the affordable hosting company I used to host the site was shutting down and I’d have to find a new home for the site, which based on the explosion in traffic, would end up being too expensive to maintain on my own. I reached out to the Cycling74 team who quickly agreed to take over hosting and the hosting costs, understanding the value of the worlds largest community of devices and device builders, and importance of keeping it free and available for the long haul.
Fast-forward to August 2018. The site will officially become part of Cycling74 through an agreement that is centered around our shared values in creative, community-driven innovation; the idea that maxforlive.com should remain a free resource that doesn’t prioritize any commercial or paid content over free content from any other user.
What does this mean to you then as a maxforlive.com user?
You should expect to see small changes on the site itself, removing my contact info, and routing emails to cycling for support assistance. I’m sure at some point an actual lawyer will read the terms and conditions of the site and make a few wording changes there. Especially where I use inappropriate language. :-D There could of course be a few hiccups with unexpected downtime as we change DNS hosts and domain ownership. We should be able to make this seamless but nothing is perfect with the internet… In the short term, the biggest change you’ll see is that we will work to ensure that emails from the site actually work. Today many popular email hosts (like Hotmail/outlook.com) reject emails from the site as spam. As we transition the email services over to the Cycling74 email system we are planning to look into it and work on a solution. Continue to leverage firstname.lastname@example.org to report email issues so we can ensure we’re on the right path there. In the long term, the ownership change means that the site is now supported by an actual organization with resources to keep it going without a single point of failure (me!)
As I sit here and reflect on everything that’s led to this point, the list of people to thank is overwhelming. Though not an exhaustive list, some of the pivotal people in the evolution of the site are mentioned below.
On the Ableton side (both past and present):
Dennis DeSantis for hosting me in the Ableton NYC office way back in the day and introducing me to the team in Berlin.
Martin Fröhlich for introducing me into the Ableton family in Berlin, getting our initial NDA in place, and buying lunch.
Christian Kleine for his technical input and use of maxforlive.com to highlight the power of what can be done by someone who knows what he’s doing!
David Abravanel for the partnership to help curate and highlight the more interesting free devices in the maxforlive.com library more broadly using Ableton’s social media reach.
On the Cycling74 side, big thank you to Darwin Grosse, Lilli Wessling Hart, August Black, and Corey Metcalf for helping us come together to enable the next phase in the maxforlive.com community journey.
And most of all, thank you to the Maxforlive.com users for the passion that enabled this community to come into being, your patience in dealing with me in the past, and for your continued commitment to collaborative innovation with Max for Live and Maxforlive.com far into the future.