The sad reality of the music industry now is that individuals like me who operate outside of the mainstream, focusing on highly specialized aspects of music such as historical piano recordings, have very few opportunities to earn income within an industry that is already financially challenged (my colleague Jessica Duchen reports at this link about the declining investment in classical music journalism). I might publish a magazine article or CD liner note once a year (2017 was an exception with 2 articles), or have a couple of lecture appearances, all of which amounts to very little income. Other than these unreliable and irregular sources of revenue, my music work is unpaid and is funded by my work in other fields. There was a period when radio and magazines regularly explored the pianists and aspects of comparative interpretation that I focus on, but that time seems to have come and gone.
However, we are fortunately living at a time when producers and consumers can have direct contact due to the non-physical, non-geographical nature of the internet. Enter a few well-chosen words in a search engine and you can access content that is of specific interest to you. However, it can be challenging for those who are producing such content to be financially remunerated for their work.
The Patreon website helps producers such as myself by providing a subscription platform that can provide income for work expended. While there is the option for payment to be given for each product – a YouTube video, blog post, or radio program episode – I have set my Piano Files page on Patreon for a flat-rate monthly donation to allow for more predictable budgeting for my sponsors. I currently have three reward levels – $1, $4, and $7 a month – as incentives to donate and support me increasing the volume of my activity with my daily postings on Facebook and on this website, and to cover expenses such as the redesign of this website and the Dinu Lipatti website.
I post a YouTube link with a description of the playing to my Facebook page every day of the year, with very few exceptions (I even did so daily when in hospital a few years ago). While it is a great pleasure to make these postings and this daily relationship with music brings me great joy, the fact of the matter is that searching for a recording on YouTube to feature, writing something about the performance, and then engaging with subscribers who post comments all takes time that is unpaid, so there is a limit to how much time I can realistically devote to it. I am of course happy to do these posts and will continue to do so – but in order to be able to add more substantive content to this website in the form of longer articles, podcasts, specialized YouTube uploads, I require some support.
If you break down the daily cost of a monthly donation, the value is evident: a $1 monthly donation would equate to between 3 and 4 cents a day; $4 is about 13 cents a day; and $7 is about 23 cents a day. As an incentive, subscribers get preview – and at times exclusive – access to specialized content: $1/month subscribers get preview access to YouTube uploads that I produce; $4/month subscribers get preview access to blog posts that will later be featured on this site; and $7/month subscribers get both exclusive and preview podcast-style radio programs that I record, featuring great recordings by some of the supreme pianists with my spoken commentary and analysis. You can donate anywhere between or even above these subscription levels to support my activities on Facebook, this website, YouTube, and elsewhere – any donation is helpful and appreciated! And you can also make a one-off donation if that appeals to you more by using the Paypal Donate button on the right-hand sidebar of this page.
Here is a sample of the first ‘podcast’-style program that I compiled, featuring ten great pianists. I have uploaded an episode devoted to Marcelle Meyer which is available for my $7/month subscribers and am currently preparing episodes featuring Solomon, Geza Anda, Joseph Villa, and Dinu Lipatti. Please note that your donations are to support my overall work and that I encourage all subscribers to purchase all of the commercially available recordings featured in these episodes – details of how to purchase recordings is given in each program.
I have thousands of subscribers on my Facebook page – over 8000 to be precise, although Facebook algorithm changes over the years have meant that many of them are surely not receiving updates, and recent reports indicate that this might be more challenging in the future. There are certainly several hundred very active subscribers who regularly click and post comments. While I realize subscriptions might not be within everyone’s means, if the most active members were able to commit to even a modest regular donation, it would go a long way to supporting the feasibility of the Piano Files website becoming a long-standing online resource to great pianists and their recordings.
The first order of business is updating this website from its current dated design and back-end structure to one that is more visually appealing and user-friendly. As you can see from even the first rendering by my new web designer (on the right), the prospect for an attractive streamlined website-online resource is very appealing! The price tag for this upgrade is $1500 – not much more than I paid for this site and the DinuLipatti.com website to be created several years ago. As the website becomes more attractive (and easier to read) and user-friendly for me and subscribers, it will be easier for me to set it up as an online reference point for those interested in the piano and its greatest performers.
I repeat that I will continue to make my daily Facebook postings and to do what I can on this website, and that there is no obligation whatsoever for anyone to make any donations – I am happy for what I do to be available. And simultaneously, the reality is that the greater the number of supporters on Patreon or via donations, the more content I will be able to create. If you regularly purchase books or magazines about music, as well as recordings, and enjoy what you hear and read on my various platforms, please do consider whether a donation or subscription can fit within your allotted entertainment budget.
Many thanks for your continued interest and support!