October 5, 2020

How we started the UK's biggest Music website and hit 3 Million YouTube subscribers.

10 years ago

It’s been over 10 years since i got a message from aspiring rapper Posty, telling me to call him regarding his idea for a new grime blog, “World Star Grime.” Post and I had been exchanging messages about working together for various projects such as his mixtapes and his myspace design for a while, and i quote he “needed a sick one like J2K’s”.

At this point in time i was becoming heavily involved in the grime scene, spending every waking hour either listening to it, commenting about it on forums or pitching artists to make their mixtape covers and build their MySpaces.

I fell in love with the music after coming across garage hits from heartless, so solid crew and oxide and neutrino from the ever expanding list of SKY’s music channels. The second i caught the UK sound it stuck, and when Dizzee dropped “I Luv U” i was hooked. I’d spend hours each day in the depths of limewire finding sets, freestyles and tracks from artists I’d barely heard of, risking computer viruses all the time and from there, it snowballed.

The Myspace era

When myspace came along, i found an outlet and purpose for my graphic and website skills. At this point in time, 2006-2009, the UK scene was poorly represented visually. There was a lack of polish and professionalism unless an artist was signed to a major record label, which apart from already mentioned names were few and far between. The truth is, it really was underground. And that excited me. I wanted to help take the artists i was a fan of and help them step it up. Myspace enabled me to do this and make a unique portfolio for myself online, and when i entered J2k’s album artwork competition and won, the course of my life changed. It gave me a platform to work with other artists and i went on to do myspace pages and mixtape artworks for the likes of Ndubs and roll deep to name a few.

This is how i made my name, and when Posty said he wanted to make the World Star Grime of the UK i thought yeah, why the hell not. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the formats a lot of the blogs were taking and to be honest it was just difficult to consume the content from chronological posts and thread after thread of forum topics. I really saw the gap and thought it would work but never did expect that much from the project, i just new whatever happened it would scratch my own itch. So much so that what little money Posty and Pierre clubbed together for the site, i think around £1000, I spent 90% of getting someone to help me build the thing.

The first website

I soon as I took the project on my ideas for the UX spiralled out of control and within no time we were building video ratings and view counters, all which stretched my coding skills. I needed to get someone more technical to help me code it. So i focused on the branding, web design and the the front end whilst i got help on the rest. We’d later discover just how stretched our budget and website would become.

It turned out that this was just the start. It felt like Grimedaily became an overnight success, and in many ways it did. Posty spent days spamming DJ’s Facebook friends and other myspace users with links to this new site “grimedaily.com” and in a relatively short time we were hitting thousands of users each day, and I’d spend days improving the graphics, the header images and keeping it fresh. The problem however, we were running out of content. There was only so many old freestyles and DVD clips we could recycle, and soon enough we had to start making our own content. My J2K link came in handy and one interview later the ball was rolling and Post and Pierre were churning out content. It felt like the first time ever the scene had a real time narrative. At this time YouTube really wasn’t a thing, know one knew how to use it, it was just a place for either random funny viral videos or to host videos to embed on on your MySpace and in our case, host them to put on our site.

The website was the destination. Grime daily was born, and soon enough, we had daily content.

Scaling issues

The problem? Traffic. We were soon hitting 10s of thousands of hits each day, and the real big challenge came in. The one that any business faces in any industry. Scaling. We couldn’t keep the site up. Our heavy bloated wordpress site packed with plugins on a cheap server just couldn’t handle the bandwidth, and with no income or cash to put into a new server, we were stuck in a constant uptime battle. This wasn’t a short term issue, it was one that plagued us for years. Every time we upgraded the server, we grew the traffic and the loop started again. It felt like a constant issue and just as we were getting on top of it, Giggs happened. Arguably the hottest rapper at the time, he was giving us content to premier on regular basis but the problem was he was sending us too much traffic. Every time we dropped a Giggs exclusive, the server dropped us!

The Great depression

It wasn’t until 2012 we managed to grow the operation up, and not by choice. We were a roaring success, and with all good businesses being overwhelmed with customers was a good headache to have. And it really was a headache, we were hitting millions of hits a month and although keeping the website alive was a constant battle, it was the best problem to have. Until it was the least of our problems. Our YouTube channel got terminated.

Whilst we were focused on the website, our YouTube channel had creeped up to 150K subscribers. At this point in time we were hitting 4 million views a month, and no other platform in the country was doing this, although SBTV and a couple of others were on our heels. In what felt like the longest week of my life, our channel had vanished. The plug had been pulled and everything had gone. An archive of legacy videos, cult moments and history, all to never be recovered again.

The next evolution

The irony of all this? This story continues 8 years later as a YouTube Original. Together We Rise. Watch how the growth of the entire scene grime unfolds through the liens of GRM Daily here.

Part One

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