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Re: Upcoming changes

Posted: Fri Jan 01, 2016 11:59 am
by FluteParfait

Firstly, just to say that I wrote to the forum administrator to say that I hadn't received an email to activate my email address... this did eventually arrive, so I am here at last!

I have no objection to donating by way of membership, though I think perhaps the amount should have been a little less, given that the only advantage appears to be not having to wait 15 seconds for downloads. However, although I registered and paid for my membership last night I am still having to wait for downloads. I didn't receive an email confirmation of my membership, just a paypal notification of my payment. There doesn't seem to be any indication on the website that I am a member. I tried creating an account, thinking that perhaps that would help, but it made no difference. Help please!

Re: Upcoming changes

Posted: Fri Jan 01, 2016 1:40 pm
by leosakel
WIth respect to some major contributors that I happened to collaborate with in the past I decided to remove the content of the previous message after rethinking. I would suggest though an alternative (ads maybe?) instead of a time delay. Please do think also of the situation in less musically developed areas of the world.

Re: Upcoming changes

Posted: Fri Jan 01, 2016 2:43 pm
by Eine Alpensinfonie
We are able to download as much music as we like, largely at the expense of music publishers, which are disappearing fast.

Yet we complain when asked to pay a subscription. I can see no problem with paying for something so valuable, though I would expect the subscription to be reasonable priced.

Re: Upcoming changes

Posted: Fri Jan 01, 2016 3:35 pm
by reccmo
I did notice the new IMSLP logo a couple of days ago, but wasn't aware of the subscription model until I received a private, alarming email saying that IMSLP is now charging! Now that I know about the reasons for introducing a subscription I can indeed follow the arguments for it - even if I'd have liked to know about it beforehand.

As some of you may know I managed my own, quite large classical sheet music site, WIMA until summer 2012 when a merge of all WIMA scores with IMSLP was completed. My reasons for doing so were about the same as Edward's: 'preservation and sustainability'. I'd become increasingly worried about WIMA's vulnerability being completely depending on one single person (me) managing the score collection, developing and maintaining the required software etc. My attempts to establish a staff of volunteering editors were not really successful. On that background I must admit that I've been worrying about the vulnerability of IMSLP as well. To my best knowledge there's only one person (Edward) to develop and maintain the highly complex software behind the user interface with its quite elaborate searching facilities. Even if Edward is considerably younger than me (I assume so) such a dependency is a theat for an organization like IMSLP.

In an overall perspective I see projects like IMSLP, WIMA (or Wikipedia for that matter) as attempts of forcing a socialist goal: an insist on 'Gebrauchsert' (user value) within a capitalist context focused on 'Tauschwert' (exchange value). That will inevitably lead to conflicts: you may try to escape the problem (like I did initially) by hosting your project within academic organizations not focused or depending on 'the market'. Soon enough you'll realize that 'the market' also influences such institutions, pressed by the capitalist state financing them. A scaring example was when WIMA one day was closed down suddenly, with no warning, by a bureaucrat scared by the large number of WIMA web site visitors. That event taught me to not rely too much on academic institutions for hosting projects like WIMA. The IT technical supervisor of IMSLP and CPDL arranged a private hosting which turned out out much more stable. But that also introduced 'Tauschwert' (i.e. money) for keeping the technical infrastructure alive. I had the knowledge required for managing the music collection as well as the site software and did so for years - as an unpaid volunteer.

Meanwhile other institutions like the Royal Library in Copenhagen, Denmark established permanent links to WIMA, later converted to IMSLP links, thereby offering its users access to modern, practical editions of some of its early music sources (manuscripts and printings). The other way round IMSLP benefits from thousands of early music facsimiles copied from the collection of the Royal Library - and mind you with the full consent of the library. I believe that kind of interdependency is what lies behind Edward's words of 'sustainability'. As public library- and IMSLP- resources get interwoven both sides need to consider their responsibility.

So, one way or another, the IMSLP activities must be funded or we're at the risk of seeing them collapsing - all of a sudden. The subscription as outlined may not be the worst thinkable compromise with capitalist conditions.

Re: Upcoming changes

Posted: Fri Jan 01, 2016 5:32 pm
by amdevereux
IMSLP should be the equivalent of an American 501c3 (non-profit) and should publish financial information. Being a non-profit will help with donations and I think that it simply makes sense given IMSLP's goals. Financial transparency will give confidence to subscribers and people who give donations that their money is being used in the correct manner. If there is paid staff, salaries could be lumped into one category to preserve privacy. Getting an accountant to set up a system for publishing yearly if not quarterly financial information would be a good idea and one that I would donate money towards. I want to know how the money I paid for my subscription is being used. I also want to see where exactly the need is. I don't think that people, myself included, would be so up-in-arms over the subscriptions if we could see numerically and categorically the financial needs of IMSLP.

Re: Upcoming changes

Posted: Fri Jan 01, 2016 9:19 pm
by Joëlle Morton
This is a tricky and multi-faceted issue. I am very sympathetic to the fact that IMSLP needs to think beyond the short term, and especially for its sustainability. As it continues to grow, so will the logistics of running the organization, and so will the expenses of continuing to expand and provide services. So in principle, I find the new (low cost) membership fee entirely reasonable, with the proviso that non-paying visitors are still able to access the site's resources, but with slight inconveniences as an inducement to register as subscribers. This being said, what really troubles me is that IMSLP was founded, and has grown to its current size and status, thanks to the great generosity and efforts of many individuals who were willing to donate (without recompense) their time, expertise, scholarship, materials etc etc. Many did this precisely because IMSLP was described as NOT being a 'money-making organization. Surely one of the main reasons IMSLP has been able to collect so many materials (and hence, become so successful) is because of people's understanding and trust that imslp would not be commercially gaining from our efforts. But by now instituting a membership fee, IMSLP stands to start to profit, and potentially GREATLY, from all of our work. The new policy breaks the underlying understanding and trust on which the organization was built, not just for future contributors, but perhaps most importantly, for those of us who contributed in the first place. Huge numbers of materials on IMSLP are actually 'suitable' for commercial publication (i.e. PAID distribution), but where the individual submitter/editor instead chose to be altruistic by making the work accessible to a broad public for free, through imslp. (And yes, my own contributions all fall into this category.) I wouldn't presume to speak for all contributors, but I do feel certain that others will share my sentiments. Many of us shared our materials with IMSLP believing that putting them out there served the 'greater good' of the world at large and we were willing to sacrifice personal gain (both financial and critical) for this greater good. In the process, we understood that the nature of imslp's organization meant there were occasional (shall we say) 'eccentricities' to how our materials were handled - catalogued, described, etc etc. that didn't always align with conventional editorial or bibliographic practices. And lack of editorial policy and oversight meant that not all of the materials would be of a similar, shall we say, quality. But these few shortcomings seemed reasonable, or at very least 'overlookable', within the frame of an organization that accepts materials from a wide 'donor base' without payment and that provides access to these materials to the public for free. However, I personally would want to think more seriously about these things if the organization now stands to profit from my work. IMSLP's turn towards commercialism is one that needs to be more carefully considered, and explained. I'd like to see a 'formal business plan' made available to those of us who have contributed in the past, laying out how much income is expected to be raised through membership fees, and how it is anticipated to be allocated, or spent. Assuming this new income is invested with integrity, that action might go a long way in terms of reestablishing confidence… I believe IMSLP to be a tremendously respectable and admirable organization, and am proud to have contributed (in some small way) to its early success. But I do very much hope that additional thought and discussion is given to this transition. I fully understand that it's a very challenging and complex set of issues, but it's worth doing this right, because as others have already pointed out, the potential backlash could be huge, otherwise.

Re: Upcoming changes

Posted: Sat Jan 02, 2016 1:00 am
by heatherreichgott
I am a professional freelance pianist. For a living, I teach lessons, accompany dance classes, plan and lead church music, and perform in various contexts. Every one of these jobs has been made easier by IMSLP. I have gratefully received free services from IMSLP for years, free services that help me to earn my income.

I have taken from IMSLP for some years now and it's time to give back. I will gladly become a contributing member.

I am also glad to know that my support will help keep score-viewing and downloading free to those who cannot or choose not to pay.

Re: Upcoming changes

Posted: Sat Jan 02, 2016 10:27 pm
by Contratrombone64
I'm just wondering, based on your revenue-raising venture, if you'll now be declaring tax in Canada based on income. Or are you operating as a charity? My only thoughts on this.

Re: Upcoming changes

Posted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 12:45 am
by discophage
As a music lover, not a performer, I've been a big user of IMSLP. It's not so much for the standard repertoire that I use the website - I have in fact a vast collection of "brick-and-mortar" scores which extends all the way to Ligeti, Xenakis, Henze or Maxwell Davies - but for the rare stuff for which I wouldn't find a score even if I was ready to pay what it cost for just browsing through once or twice while listening to a recording. Recent examples include the deeply moving manuscripts of Zelenka's choral works uploaded by the Dresden Library, or the few cantatas available of Johann Schelle, one of Bach's predecessors as Thomascantor in Leipzig. So, from the begining, I've considered the website to be a Godsend, so much so that I made, some years ago, an unsollicited donation (can't remember or retrieve when, and I think the amount was 100 dollars) and even put the website on my will - although I hope this will NOT be a solution to the website's financial problems in the short term, thank you. And of course I've sung the praise of IMSLP, in effusive terms, in all my Amazon reviews of CDs when I had used its uploads. Being able to follow the music with the scores hugely enhances my listeining experience and pleasure, and IMSLP has been invaluable to me.

All this to say that I am very sympathetic to the notion of paying to access this treasury of scores, and not entirely understanding with those professional or semi-professional organizations or individuals complaining that they would now have to pay a few dollars to access the "raw materials" upon which their craft develops, as if free access to all the scores in the world was supposed to be an entitlement. No it's not, we used to pay big sums of money to buy or rent those scores and parts - if even they were availabe - and paying a yearly 22 bucks to access this Alexandria Library of scores is still an incredibly good deal.

On the other hand, I do share the concern voiced by most participants on this forum, that the method used by Mr Guo to raise funds is entirely improper. It's not just that the change is unannounced, undiscussed and, apparently, uncarefully considered, and it's not just that, no, contrary to his claims, Mr Guo did obviously NOT use and exhaust all other methods for raising funds, in particular a public sollicitation for donations, as Wikipedia regularly does (and to which I regularly respond, for the same reasons that I donated in the past to IMSLP: because living up to the ideals of the 18th Century Enlightenment by bringing universal knowledge to the public is admirable, deserves gratitude and must be supported).

The reasons for my concern are two-fold: first, that, whatever its possible justifications, Mr Guo's attempt to "monetize" his website (as another poster has rightly expressed it) is a breach, and even a betrayal of the trust put into him by all the unpaid uploaders of the scores that form the main asset of this website, and this is a form of disloyalty which leaves me quite hostile. And second, that the commercial nature of the company that owns IMSLP, and the obvious reluctance of Mr Guo to disclose his accounts and to be made accountable, are a big problem and a further encroachement on the trust required from any donor. I will add that the nature of some of the arguments used by Mr Guo leaves me VERY uncomfortable, especially when he tries to impress and soften his interlocutors with lachrymose and unverifiable stories about uploaders reduced to dejection and poverty - now please, does Mr Guo really need to make us weep when trying to explain that he needs to hire and retribute qualified staff to durably maintain the website?

I would like to say firmly that what Mr Guo has done so far is admirable and deserves the greatest gratitude. But if he really wants, as he claims, to ensure the long-term sustainability of IMSLP - which is also, I believe, the wish of everybody who posts here - he must radically change his approach, and accept to lose some degree of exclusive control. He must change the owning company into a charity that, ideally, would be administered not by himself alone but by a collective uniting some of the major music libraries in the US and Europe and contributors to the uploads, open his accounts and disclose publicly his financial needs and goals.

In the meanwhile, although the 15-second wait is far less an issue for me than it is apparently for other users, I'll be very happy to become a standard member - it's really the least I can do, and inf fact it's far less than what I would have done if Mr Guo had just raised a campaign for donations in the style of Wikipedia. On the other hand, in view of all that has been disclosed to me on this forum and especially about the commercial nature of the owning company, I will withdraw IMSLP from my will - only temporarily, I hope. I will gladly donate and bequeath to a charity with public goals and accounts, not to a private company.

Re: Upcoming changes

Posted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 7:10 am
by JamesOppenheimer
The fee requested is not at all excessive for the resources made available.
You would think people think that these sites operate purely on good will.
Somebody has to pay for all of this.


Re: Upcoming changes

Posted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 8:13 am
by scoreperfect
Wow, I think having people wait 15 seconds or whatever is a terrible way to penalize users. It's a sort of "punishment" that liken's IMSLP to a lot of websites out there offering torrent downloads with their "Click here for no-wait time premium membership". Scam sites. Who would do that? If IMSLP is going to charge, it should only charge other public libraries using their site who DO have the money to subscribe, but it should never charge the music-loving community. Only other institutions should be charged a subscription if you want to go subscriptions (which I think is not a good idea to begin with). In my opinion, if things get tight financially, you need to do what Wikipedia does: send out the alarm paragraph at the top of each page: "If everyone on the planet gave $3.00 our fundraiser would be over in an hour" etc. etc. I would give $3 in a heartbeat and I'm a contributor already with a 'Standard Membership.' But if I saw the red flag go up, I would give the $3 from my Paypal account without a second thought. The wait-time is a terrible idea. Yuk. Punishment. That's how I see it. "If you don't subscribe, we're going to make your life miserable." That's what it says to me. I would immediately remove these restrictions and simply have a pledge drive. At least try it. It's not that big of a deal.

Another consideration would have composers of original music (me) pay an annual subscription. IMSLP makes my music available to the world. I am grateful for that privilege and opportunity to have that done. I would pay IMSLP $20 a year for that privilege. But I don't want people who are coming to download my music to be held up with 'wait times'. They will be frustrated with time wasted downloading my scores, parts, drafts, mp3's, videos, all of which I have on my compositions. They will likely NOT subscribe. They will simply have their time wasted and deal with issues of impatience. Terrible idea.

p.s. and I don't like the new logo either - the other one with the cool manuscript background was much more in keeping with the notion of old manuscripts, autographs and the Petrucci spirit.

Daniel Léo Simpson
San Francisco

Re: Upcoming changes

Posted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 9:56 am
by reccmo
I do stand by my previously expressed considerations on the importance of IMSLP distributing classical music score on non commercial conditions and on the need for its funding. However I need to say that I dissent from the 'nagging' implementation of recruiting paying members. Until I logged out from my account and tried to access a few scores I didn't realize how non member IMSLP users meet this user interface. To me the forced download delay and the recruiting message displayed during the delay bears resemblance to those freebooter sites charging for scores 'stolen' from IMSLP and other such projects. It rankles me to see the WIMA collection within IMSLP presented like that.

PLEASE reconsider the implementation of the recruitment!

Re: Upcoming changes

Posted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 10:43 am
by discophage
imslp wrote:Unfortunately, IMSLP is no longer at a point where people are willing to do such tasks just because it is new and interesting - witness how we technically have two dozen copyright reviewers but only one is currently active (do you want to help out by reviewing several dozen files a day? serious question).

okay, what's involved in this copyright-reviewing activity? I'm based in France and know a little about French and US copyright law. You can contact me privately, I believe you have my e-mail address.


Re: Upcoming changes

Posted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 11:19 am
by Choralia
reccmo wrote:It rankles me to see the WIMA collection within IMSLP presented like that.

I guess that scores from the WIMA collection are currently excluded from the 15 seconds delay mechanism. As far as I understood, all scores released under CC licenses are also excluded, as well as those available on the regional servers (that have their own autonomous fundraising mechanism).

It is very instructive for me to learn how much some people value their own 15 seconds of time, and totally despise the time of others who spend hours every day to keep this project alive.


Re: Upcoming changes

Posted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 4:40 pm
by John Peacock
I feel that this new subscription policy is an error. I accept the principle that IMSLP needs some funding to operate, but the manner in which the change has been introduced is unpleasantly abrupt. Worse, I don't believe it will be effective in giving you the funding you seek. Like many people, I am a regular user of Wikipedia; I believe this is a Good Thing, and as a result I choose to make an annual donation in response to their well argued annual calls for support. It seems that I download about 30 IMSLP files in a typical year, so your 15-second pause will be a minor irritant for my level of use, and not remotely sufficient to make me need to take out a subscription. On the other hand, had you issued an annual call for donations in the way that Wikipedia does, I would probably have chosen to make a small donation. I still could, presumably - but I am now less likely to do so given the recent developments. My guess is that only a very small fraction of your users will take out a subscription at the level you have set - but a smaller amount coming from many more minor users like me would probably yield a greater total. I'm completely puzzled why you didn't try this strategy first, since it clearly works financially for Wikipedia. Instead, you have taken actions that seem petty and hasty. I urge you to reconsider and experiment with a Wikipedia-style model of small donations. You still have a substantial fund of goodwill among your users, from which IMSLP could benefit - but I fear that this will rapidly be lost if you persist with your current direction. That would be a great pity: IMSLP is a wonderful creation, and I'd hate to see it spoiled.