Want to create a community website

Hi there,

So my friend and I are both learning web development while we finish our music degrees. As you can imagine, making the transition from music into tech is an interesting place to be in! It is sort of isolating, therefore we crave a community of people who are in the same circumstance.

What we want to do is create a website where musicians in tech can go to talk, share advice…basically create a community. The reason we want to create a website rather than a subreddit or facebook group is simply because we want the experience creating it.

My question is, what technology should we use to create the website, particularly a FORUM? I should mention that we both have experience with HTML, CSS, and JS and know how to create a static website and put it online. It’s only the part with the forum where we are unsure how to progress. Do we make it from scratch and deal with all the back-end stuff ourselves? Creating a database and whatnot. (I know very little about that) Do we use software like phpBB or bbPress?

We want to pick a route that is accessible but will also give us the opportunity to learn.

And if you’re a musician in tech please shoot me a message! I’d love to hear your story!

Thankful for any advice and/or suggestions.

Pinging @kevinSmith, as a muso techie :slight_smile:


Hi :slight_smile: I did a music degree (percussionist and composer) and am now trying to teach myself web development. I was really involved in various music programs and projects while in college, but have since then kind of lost it all. I know what you mean when you say it feels isolating.

Hello stressstressstress! (Hope you don’t feel that way) I’m currently getting a Masters degree in composition (last year). It can be fun to go back and forth between development and music but it’s definitely difficult to do both, especially when my professor wants to see more music and I’m up at night coding o_o. I’m sorry you’ve lost it all when it comes to music :(. I want to try to hang onto my music even once I’m graduated, as best I can. What are you doing now and what made you want to get into web development?

I know what you mean that it’s difficult to balance composing and anything else, especially if you’re passionate about something so consuming as coding. Depending on what type of composition you are into you could maybe incorporate some tech and programming skills into it. There’s electronic music, live sound processing, algorithmic composition, and all kinds of stuff. (I’ve dabbled in this world but am no expert.) But since this is your last year of a Masters, it’s probably not the best time to start something totally new!

My advice for you in regards to hanging onto music after you graduate is that if you want to make it happen, you can. You just have to put yourself in the right environment and keep your musician friends nearby, which is what I didn’t do. But it is very doable if you work at it.

Here is my long story of music and programming, so don’t feel obliged to read it all… :sweat_smile:

Besides music which was my main passion growing up, I’ve always been STEM-inclined, so I wanted to do a music and science double major for undergrad. I started with chemistry, but then found out that I don’t like lab work at all. I dropped the chemistry major and just took as many math and science courses as I could on top of the music major classes. (It wasn’t easy at all! But I think I needed the STEM classes to fuel my compositional inspiration, so I just made it work and never slept, haha.) I finally took two Computer Science classes (which used Java) and really really loved it, but at that point it was too late to start a CS double major. But learning those skills (especially object-oriented programming and algorithms) have helped me a lot.

But after so much stress(stressstress) in college, I had to take a break. So I traveled abroad by myself for a year and got hooked on it, so I trained as an English teacher and worked abroad which was a great experience. But now I want to settle in an English-speaking country where English language teaching jobs are hard to get. So I thought for my next move I would try programming since it really captivated me in college. That’s where I currently am. I’m staying with family to help them out and spending all of my time studying web development.

As far as the music goes, what I really enjoyed was organizing concerts with other musicians, and that just isn’t very easy to do when you’re always traveling around by yourself (especially in countries where you don’t speak the language). I also made the mistake of going to college very far form any place that I would want to live permanently. So all the networking and contacts I made there don’t help me now. My goal is to learn web development, move to the place I want to live, find a job, and THEN finally get to join some music communities or start some projects of my own on the side. But for now it’s hard.

1 Like

Wow, thanks for sharing your story! That’s definitely an interesting path you’ve taken. Thanks for the advice too. Yeah I can relate with your goal for sure. I just need to get that development job and strong foothold so that I have the freedom to pursue my music as a hobby. The whole reason I’m also going into development is not only because I enjoy it but also because I don’t want to give my music the pressure of sustaining my career. That takes away the joy of it for me, as well as most of the creativity lol. But yeah man keep it up, we can do this!

1 Like

TLDR: use an existing platform, modify or extend small portions as desire and need dictate.

If I were in your position with your stated goals, I would adopt one of the existing platforms to run my forum. (Though personally I would lean toward a discord or slack or similar, but that’s just me).

You’ll always have more to learn than you actually have time to tackle. Building and managing a community - rarely do they self manage - is going to eat into that time even further. Attempting to build that community on a partially implemented stack while you learn the basics (and the architecture lessons, and the scaling issues, and so on) strikes me as a rough time for you and your users/community.

I personally think you would be better off avoiding the ‘reinvent the wheel’ step initially. Use what already exists, build your community, and then tackle projects with members of that community. If you encounter shortcomings in that prebuilt stack, you and your community members can address them (and learn!) without having to cover absolutely everything right from the start. As your knowledge and experience grows, you can replace larger parts of the stack as needed or desired. The point is that you take it incrementally, while maintaining a fully functional setup. I don’t think building a (hopefully) large communication platform from scratch as an early project offers you that.

1 Like

Thanks for you reply, partylich. That makes a lot of sense!

Hey, sorry I didn’t get on this - I’ve been very busy.

Me, I have an MA in Classical Guitar performance and spent decades playing jazz guitar and occasionally show bands and cruise ships.

Yeah, I would say to take heart. There are a lot more people in dev word with unexpected backgrounds than you’d expect. I’d say that most of the devs I work with at my current job didn’t come from a CS route. (Of course some places tend to lean more strongly on traditional CS educations, ymmv.) I was just talking with a manager the other day about the affinity between music and dev work. I always say, “It’s difficult to convince my music friends how creative programming is and I can’t convince my dev friends how technical music is.” Obviously some places will favor a tech degree, but some places want a mix of people with a mix of backgrounds. Just getting a degree, any degree, shows that you can learn. In the end, for many places, it’s far more important what you can code.

As to playing, I’m afraid I’ve sluffed off a little. I’ve been so busy learning my new job. And being in North West Arkansas - well, there aren’t a lot of jazz gigs up here. But we’re hoping to end up in Barcelona in a few years, so there will be a lot more jazz there.


Thanks for your input, Kevin. That’s very encouraging to hear.