Farewell to Blue Man Library
// March 11th, 2010 // Joe's Blog
My how ten years appear to fly by, and all of sudden you wake up one day and realize a decade of your life is come and gone. The past ten years has been a wonderful blessing to me, and the chance to do something positive for people has been the greatest experience of my life. In Summer 2000, I conceived an idea that would ultimately change my life forever. Having recently discovered the amazing Blue Man Group I was captivated like most fans, and left with dozens of questions like “How did they do that?” I found resolution at the blueman.com Community section of the old web site, which sadly has been long gone for close to four years now. I remember for the first time introducing myself to the small 300-400 group of message board members and having a sense of safe haven and belonging. I wanted to do so much with the Blue Man Group community, but I was in Kentucky and still had never seen a show live, just on television. Their music from the first album Audio captivated me, as I was diving into soundscapes and melodies uncharted before.
On Valentine’s Day 2001, the decision was made to bring my little fan site from what was then housed on FortuneCity.com (not even sure of that place still exists) to a new web host and plan for bigger ideas ahead. The name Blue Man Library is what I chose because I had a library of video and photos that users from the community message board could download. You must realize, this was long before the era of YouTube or dominant streaming web sites. The web site grew almost daily as fans would flock to my site, download content and I would post updated messages in the community which would energize everyone else to be as excited as I was. It was what I refer to as “The Hay-day” of Blue Man. A time when the company was small, independent and just on the brink of global domination. I met so many wonderful people through this community, and many of them I still converse with almost daily on Facebook or Messenger.
The BML around 2003 expanded it’s web site to include a chat room, message board and small forms of user interaction. It gave people a chance to do and see more beyond the message board on blueman.com. My intent when I created this new version of BML was to make sure that we never mimicked anything on the Blueman.com web site. It was our goal to be unique and carry our own weight within this fan community. It turned out to be a huge success for everyone, and the web site nearly tripled in size between 2003-2004. Our biggest issue to face, since we were expanding so rapidly was web hosting, and finding a means in which the BML could have ample potential to grow. We found a way in 2005, and purchased our first dedicated server and rebuilt a new version of the BML web site yet again. Fans flocked to the web site to download the latest Tonight Show clips, and hurried over to catch the BML Chats that was scheduled weekly. It was during all this, that me and community member John Petty (petro62) starting coming up with bigger and better ideas to branch out.
In 2006, the first Switchback podcast from the Blue Man Group fan community was syndicated on Apple iTunes, and now fans had a productive form of entertainment each week. The collaborative effort was so thrilling, while John and I would make light of almost any situation. The podcast ran for over 2 years, totaling 116 Episodes and thousands of clocked downloads each month. The podcast was for the first time, the true voice of the Blue Man Group fan community. We would invite fans to join us for vocal conversations about topics relating to Blue Man, especially with the touring productions and local theatrical venues. No one expected the podcast to reach 25, but we made 116 entertaining comedic episodes.
Then one day, we just stopped. There was nothing more to talk about. Once you’ve learned all there is about Blue Man Group, you become mentally jaded and take everything in lesser strides. Eventually, the Switchback podcast faded as both John and I went our own ways with Blue Man, but remained close friends even until today. News about Blue Man started getting less and less each month, and it was more of a challenge to keep fans coming back to the site. Without current content, news, interaction and the communal vibe, the BML was heading down some dark and dreary paths. The weekly chats dwindled from weekly to bi-weekly, to monthly to never. Fans lost interest, and I exhausted all means I could muster to keep the community alive. Then in 2007, Blue Man Group launched a pay fan site called RoofDwellers.com. I supported their efforts and was a proud member, but fans felt cheated and started using my BML message board to vent their frustrations. It was a dark time, and eventually RoofDwellers.com closed in 2008 only lasting just a year. I was saddened to have seen this wonderful idea come to life and die so quickly. Maybe I could have done something more to save it, or maybe I could have offered more help or assistance, who knows…
With the popularity of social networks like Facebook, it’s a typical case of “video killed the radio star.” Message Boards are old school it seems these days, and people prefer to communicate with their friends and family via Facebook or Myspace. Fans started leaving BML and resorting to using their social networks to talk about Blue Man, and that ultimately is what killed this fan community of 10 years. That and the fact that we never heard from Blue Man Group anymore regarding news, updates etc. There was a time during the “Hay-Day” that Blue Men actors and the Founders themselves would frequent the BML Community, be a part of weekly chats and talk about new exciting things coming up. Somewhere along the way, that line of communication was lost, and no one started favoring the BML anymore.
So ten years have come and gone. I have finally done the unthinkable, and closed the first original and only official fan base of Blue Man Group. Some have felt my actions have been irrational or controversial, but why keep a web site open when no one ever visited anymore? Every time I logged in, I would be the only on the site 95% of the time. That’s pretty sad considering BML used to have 30-50 fans online at one time searching, downloading, posting and uploading. This chapter of my life was like a door that opened many opportunities for me to see the USA and meet some amazing individuals along the way. I met some of my current best friends, of whom I’m close to today, traveled all over the USA to cities I only dreamed of going, organized multiple fan meets, raised over $5000 for Camp Heartland Charity, had a successful top 10 rated podcast on iTunes and ultimately matured as an adult and person because of it. I am sure all the fans that visited BML would feel the same way with that statement. We’ve all matured now, with other things in our lives needing our attention. Some of us have married, some has had children while others finding their solitude and peace in life of self discovery. It’s been an amazing ride that I will never forget, and if BML has never done but one thing for me, it has brought me a future wife who shares the same passions as I. I met Alexandra through the very web site I made, and she attended one of my fan meets in Orlando in July of 2008. I have the closure I need now as a man to move on, and close this door of my life. As this door closes, I’m sure another one will open for me, because I put my faith and trust in an Almighty God.
To all the fans who helped out with BML over the past ten years in maintaining, donating, giving financially, supporting, being involved, participating and just being there when we need someone to talk to, Thank You!