Thanks to everyone who has contributed so far. Our last Kickstarter got 40% of its donations from word of mouth, so please take a minute to vote up our stories or submit your own:
And bug your friends!
We can't edit the gifts now that they are live, but we will be adding the following anyways:
$50 pledgers: in addition to the current prizes, you will now also be getting the beautiful letter-press printed hardcopy listening guide.
$75 pledgers: Also get a custom designed Musopen T-shirt, printed on high quality American Apparel cotton.
Set Chopin Free.
I'm excited to announce Musopen's second Kickstarter project. After the unexpected success of our first fundraiser, we have spent the past few years brainstorming what we could do next. We wanted to do something more challenging and with greater lasting impact.
Our first Kickstarter was really a proof-of-concept: would it be possible to to hire an orchestra, record a bunch of famous music, and release it all for free? Would anyone care?
The response was amazing, positive, and far beyond what we expected with our original $11,000 goal. Since it has been a few years, here is a sample of what we heard the first time around.
Now we are asking for your help to move beyond proof of concept and tackle something much more ambitious. We believe this project goes beyond just classical music, and encapsulates what the open culture movement is all about.
We are asking for your help to free the life's work of Frédéric Chopin.
It is 164 years after Chopin's death. His music is well into the public domain, yet most people consume it as if it were still copyrighted: from CDs, iTunes, or Youtube videos (many of which are copyrighted).
We think Chopin deserves better.
Most public domain music is limited to the classical genre (1920's and before), but the goals of Musopen are not limited to one genre, so we want an artist that has broad appeal. Among the most enduringly popular composers, Chopin stands out. He also composed an amount of music which is manageable for us to record. If we had chosen Mozart, our funding goal would have to have another zero at the end.
We also wanted an artist that would be versatile, enabling many projects to make use of his music.
It doesn't hurt that he just celebrated his 200th birthday three years ago. This is a belated gift but one we think he would appreciate.
1.To preserve indefinitely and without question everything Chopin created. To release his music for free, both in 1080p video and 24 bit 192kHz audio. This is roughly 245 pieces.
2. To ask (and try to answer): how should one preserve and experience the life's work of a person? A static list of links does not do justice to the immense gravity of Chopin's artistic output. We have a few ideas which we address below.
We have some incredible musicians lined up. One or two have even placed in one of the most prestigious piano competitions in the world. Our musicians are students at some of the best conservatories in the world, professors, professional pianists, and recording artists.
- $85,000 - We will hire composers to create and release new music into the public domain. This will not be limited to any genre, and all composers will be asked to donate their submissions so that we will benefit from much more public domain music.
- $90,000 - Music request system - A system to match artists with requests for music recordings. Collaborative bidding so costs are distributed to all interested.
- $95,000 - Desktop streaming radio app (like Pandora but lossless, and includes commercial content).
- $100,000 - Videos of all performances in 1080p HD + behind the scenes + interviews from the musicians.
- $135,000 - We will live-stream the performances.
- $200,000 - We will pair all recordings with free public performances. Let's turn free recordings into free civic art.
But wait, there's more...
Given the response of our first Kickstarter, we want to aim higher than a single set of recordings. Kickstarter is an amazing platform for creative projects, but we want to leverage the energy and support everyone showed last time as an opportunity to indefinitely sustain Musopen, so that it independently contributes music on an ongoing basis.
All backers for this project at the $50 level and above will get a "Supporting Membership" free for one year. Our goal is that you consider continuing your support after this first year, so that we can reach 1,000 supporting members. This is the minimum required for Musopen to be able to do a recording project every year. This goal removes our dependence on one-off projects and allows us the best of all possible worlds: ambitious and innovative projects via Kickstarter, regular contributions to our library, and music educational materials from our base of supporting members.
Now on to the good stuff...Rewards
We want to use this project as an opportunity to see how we could explore Chopin's life. So we've designed our prizes to be the manifestation of our quest to represent and explore Chopin's life and his work.
Print. Chopin - The Listener's Companion.
The only thing better than listening to a Chopin Nocturne is following along to the music with images of his first edition prints, notes about the piece from the performer, and things to listen for. This listener's guide will contain a mix of all the above and more.
The guide will be printed on high quality paper using letter-press printing.
Digital. Chopin: A Life In Music
We believe that a digital experience, optimized for a tablet, will be the best way to explore Chopin's music. We are thinking of this app as an extended version of the booklet, including all Chopin's music, original first edition scores, sheet music, videos, and notes about each piece.
In addition to shuffling through his music and recordings, we will create an interactive timeline so you can explore what he wrote, when, what was happening to him (and the world) at the time, and listen to his music while doing so. We'll also include information about his contemporaries, so you'll learn who was around at the time and what they thought of each other.
The app will be developed by Musopen's in-house dev team including our lead developers Ivan Anishchuk and Eugene Naydenov. They've built Musopen.org and a beta version of this iPad app.
E-book. Classical Music - An Introduction
Given that we are asking for you to back a project about classical music, and many of you may not be very familiar with this genre, we'd like to create a primer to ease you into what makes this music so special, what to listen for, and how to listen to classical music.
All of Chopin's music will be recorded in lossless FLAC, MP3, M4a in 24 bit 192kHz. As with the previous Kickstarter, this music will be hosted for free on Musopen.org, Box.com, Archive.org, and seeded via a BitTorrent link.
1080p videos of every performance + behind the scenes footage + interviews of the performers.
Please consider supporting us and spreading the word. We would love to tackle this with your help, and have it be just the beginning of what we can create together.
- Aaron + The Musopen Team
Risks and challenges
Given our previous experience doing this, we're confident that this project will go smoothly, much more so than the previous. We will vet each individual musician and will hire 2 musicians for every single recording.
The biggest risk I see is the ability to include the two piano concerti. Given the level of quality we want this music to be at, we will be attempting the concerti last, which means either not including it or going with a cheaper orchestra. This all depends on how much we ultimately raise. It's not an easy choice for us, but otherwise it's almost necessary to have two 75k projects, one for the solo piano work and one for the concerti. However, we have some people interested and partnerships that could give us everything we want, so stay tuned.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (45 days)