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Help us buy music and release it to the public., without copyrights.
Help us buy music and release it to the public., without copyrights.
1,276 backers pledged $68,359 to help bring this project to life.

Recent updates

November Update

Quick update.

Apologies for my silence and also thank you for your patience. While I have several quotes from orchestras and a list of music many of you have voted on, I have decided to start with a small recording to get a sense of what we can expect in terms of quality of the recording set up, the ability for these players to sight-read tough music and what the actual balance between recording time and breaks is (breaks are included in "recording time").

I am also still discussing recording with the London Symphony but there are several possibilities that will make it much easier. For example, in addition to finding a very generous conductor who will work with us for free, I am talking both soloists and board members at several orchestras who may help us save even more money. A soloist for a concerto is much more expensive than if we find someone who knows the piece already and will do it from free, this includes music professors at conservatories, some of their students, and members of orchestras. Having the funds at hand gives us the leverage to approach so of these organizations, which is one reason I haven't jumped right in quite yet.

I believe I will be able to nail down the performers, schedule and works to be recorded in the next few weeks and will send another update then.


Voting Begins

Voting is now open for the music we are going to record. I've built a Digg-like system so you can submit or vote on a piece of music you want. Later I would like to open this to all Musopen visitors so we can keep a long list of wants for future recordings.

If you haven't already, please sign up for a Musopen account before logging in (its required to limit the # of votes per person):

Then go here to vote:

Next Steps:
We are in the process of finding orchestras and getting prices. After I have a better sense of what music people want to buy, I can get better estimates and we can compare offers. At that stage I will share recording samples and we can narrow the groups that way.

If anyone knows a designer or other people interested in volunteering, we need help creating amazing t-shirts so I can mail you decent thank you gifts. Here is our volunteer form if you know someone:

Main Survey Results:
Very good number of responses, thanks for your input. Here are the results

Before hearing any samples, what is your preference for the orchestra hired?
*54% less well known orchestra
13% Brand name
32% Mixture of the two

70% are willing to forgo a physical disc for a digital version. This does not affect people who still want a disc. We will need to run a final survey before committing to music so we know how much money to save for making and mailing DVDs.

*67% would prefer email updates, 47% the Musopen blog, then Twitter 17% (multiple choices so its above 100%). We will stick to those three primarily so to follow us on Twitter: or watch the blog for updates. We will use KickStarter just for larger announcements.

If we met your expectations for this project, would you consider donating annually?
* 74% Said yes (amazing!)
12% no
14% maybe or other

If yes, would you consider donating a minimum of $50?
*56% said yes
33% no

For those wondering, I'm thinking of adding an annual membership at $50 a year. If Musopen can get just 2-300 people at the $50 level, we can do this project every year, even without this size of a kickstarter project. So something for us to think about.

And finally, much to my surprise:
Admit it, did you donate because you liked our picture of Beethoven?
*69% No
29% Yes


Survey Results

Results of the survey:
( Image Summary: )

* Most people preferred recording 1, 39% to 34%. 26% couldn't tell the difference.

* 34% Thought they sounded the same (31% said #1 was brand name, 33% for #2)

For those who didn't look, #1 was recorded by the Prague Philharmonic, #2 was the London Symphony with the very famous Bernard Haitink.

If this shows me anything, it is that talented musicians sound good no matter where they are. I also think it shows the importance of the hall selected and recording equipment used, which based on the comments, is the only thing people really noticed.

I'm still contacting orchestras, its a very involved process. I'm hoping we may get to do both. I think it would hedge our bets for both the quality/quantity of recordings and future publicity.

Other potentially interesting ideas include turning the brand-name recording, into a public concert. This means local publicity + the potential to charge tickets and recoup the costs (or some of it).

I will announce the results of the main survey when voting for the music begins, in a few days. Link for those who have not yet voted:


Remember to Vote for us on PepsiRefresh:
Volunteer Form:

Blind Audio Test

I've seen quite a few comments back and forth regarding what kind of an orchestra to hire, so I've put together a blind audio test to help. The results from this will not decide the final answer, but will help us make a decision.

Also, many of you have not filled out our survey covering a number of questions related to this project, if you have a moment, I would appreciate this data as well as it helps us moving forward:


Thank You

I had originally wanted to send all the donors a hand written letter, thanking you for your contribution, but that would now cost me $561 in stamps. So please accept this digital version instead. I'm humbled by your generosity, not only for the money you gave but for your help spreading word of the project and personal encouragement. For what has been a solitary endeavor for the last five years, this is a dramatic and moving development.

I want to take a minute to describe the process moving forward, and clear up a few things.

What this is not:
After reading the many comments here and on blogs all over the web, I understand this project means many things to many people. I just want to set expectations that we are not going to record Leonard Bernstein recordings, and we are not attempting to. That level of perfection isn't what this is about and I want to focus on that so no one is disappointed if the interpretation is "played well, but not unique" or "lacks flair" or whatever. Even Lang Lang has his critics (and many of them).
This project is about releasing our shared cultural heritage to the world without constraints. That is not to say we won't try to make the best possible recordings, or that we won't hire the best orchestra, because we will. Since I could not donate through KickStarter, I will be paying to fly myself wherever it happens, to personally ensure we get the best possible recordings. So I'm asking that we accept that there will always be a "better" interpretation or nicer studio to record in, but there may never be anything else in the public domain, of a good quality, created by all of us as a community.

What this is:
Well, to be honest, at first this was my 11k attempt at letting the world know Musopen existed, with the eventual hope of raising more. Since we are already there, this project is no longer about money or more recordings to me; that was way back at 11k. More than money, you have all given the project 1276 supporters, world-wide recognition on some of the most visited websites, and the potential to realize many more projects that don't require funding. All we have shown here is that the hardest goal, hiring the London Symphony, only takes about 3 days. Imagine what we can do with a network of supporters for our ideas that don't require money. I'll speak more on this later, to those who fill out a survey to follow, requesting volunteers.

I mentioned PepsiRefresh a couple of times. For the remainder of September, this competition will be a focus of mine, as it allows us to be even more creative. For example, we can use the money to hold a composition contest to get new music into the public domain. We could also just use that money and hire any orchestra in the world for a one-time concert. Given that it's free and that we only need to place in the top 10, I think it's worth shooting for. I won't write about that here though, so if you want a reminder to vote please add your name here:

For the main survey:

Moving ahead, I am going to start with a survey for some top-level details. I want to keep this as transparent and democratic a process as possible, down to where every penny of your money is going to be spent. (One caveat is some orchestras may not be keen on publicizing what we negotiate with them, but we will see.) After the survey, maybe in a day or two, I will start the voting process. Though we will heavily rely on your votes, the final decision will be made by the Musopen advisors (consisting of conductors, music professors, and others) and me. There are pieces that I would love to do now but that may be too risky for our first time. I know people will also suggest pieces we can't do, because they may not be safely in the public domain. I will try to make it clear when I remove such pieces, but please accept this as part of the process. As Alex, one of our donors, wrote to me, "It's important to emphasize to backers that while their favorite piece or orchestra might not appear from this particular funding drive, that Musopen is an ongoing project." When the "final" decisions are made, we can discuss them as a group and go from there.

After the pieces are decided, we will start budgeting precise amounts and figuring out timelines. Expect a little while before recordings are done. Our conductor(s) will need time to study the scores, and orchestras could be booked for a while or playing overseas. We are also going to be trying to amplify our efforts with corporate sponsors and conservatories that might be interested in working together, which will take time to put together. Other things to consider include making one of the orchestra recordings a public concert, so we get a recording and more publicity. Lots of potential here.

I am having a forum installed on Musopen so we can talk at length about all the details of our campaign, and to store all the wonderful ideas people have had ("You should create free master classes!" was one, for example.)

A couple people wrote about receiving too many messages. To those of you who feel that way, I apologize; my excitement these past few days may have gotten the best of me. In the future, I will separate large updates from smaller, more frequent ones.

If you are interested in helping beyond your donation, I would love your help. I might actually NEED your help. Here is our form to volunteer if you are interested:

You are all welcome to email me at any time for a comment or suggestion, or to ask for an update if it has been too long. Thank you all again very much; I expect great things to come.

(818) 334-4873