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Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

A Few Home-truths from MusicWeb


After having posted last weeks reviews to the mailing list subscribers I received this e-mail.

The reason I never , ever order anything from you is that seemingly 2 or 3 times a week FOR MONTHS I have opened your e-mail, and all I've seen is someone trying to unload the same "Hoffnung" over and over again.

I own hundreds of classical CDs, listen to them every day, and haven't got a clue as to who or what a "Hoffnung" is. Nor do I particularly care. I suggest you try to peddle some Bach.


I found this ungenerous and staggering in its lack of comprehension of the service offered by MusicWeb. Time for a few home-truths I thought.

MusicWeb is not an overtly commercial site. It is run by unpaid volunteers who have a burning desire to communicate what they feel about current recordings which may well be at odds with other opinions. Because they are unpaid there is no pressure on reviewers at all. They say what they like - often to the discomfort of the record labels.

MusicWeb does not carry any commercial advertising - only in-house products. I would love to have Rolex and Mercedes-Benz advertising on the site but I would have to pay an advertising agency or employ a business manager and I cannot afford to do that.

Although I have up to 60 volunteers who can be called upon MusicWeb has no staff. However it does have an office, a phone, a business broadband connection, a business bank account, insurance, rates, heating, lighting, computers, office furniture etc and enormous postage bills as I post up to 300 review discs all over the world each month. So it does require an income.

Last year you may remember that I had to make three appeals for donations to keep MusicWeb going. These brought in hundreds of pounds (gratifyingly) but it was not enough and I posted a loss for last year. Just this week I was pleased to receive a cheque from the Inland Revenue instead of the other way round.

So each review does carry sale links for the disc to Crotchet and two Amazons. If a disc gets sold through using that link or from the general sales page I receive from 17-40p (before bank costs and tax). MusicWeb would need to sell a staggering number of discs to break even. I do manage to raise a few thousand pounds a year that way. As any record retailer will tell you there is no money to be made in classical music! Recently I have formed associations with small labels to give them greater exposure (CD Accord, Gasparo) etc. These sell in very small quantities but it is a constant trickle and you now have a means of obtaining those discs.

Gerard Hoffnung? I am sorry my correspondent has not heard of Gerard Hoffnung as this is one of the achievements of which I am most proud. Interest in Gerard Hoffnung slowly declined from the 1960s to the point where it was difficult to find anyone who had heard of him. I managed to get in contact with his widow, Annetta, and together we built a site to commemorate his work. As the Official Gerard Hoffnung site I am able to sell two CDs directly from the site. I make a proper retail margin on these and they have made a substantial contribution to the MusicWeb coffers so I will continue to head my weekly lists with a banner promoting their sale.

The rest of the income that keeps MusicWeb afloat comes from that unsung hero, There are plenty of links from MusicWeb to that site so please go and explore because if they do not survive we do not survive.

As a final point, MusicWeb welcomes around 50,000 unique visitors per week (now that is an enormous server download!). The temptation is to apply a subscription charge to the site. £10 a year would bring in half a million pounds - except of course that only about 1% of you would pay. Even that would bring in an interesting sum of money but we would disenfranchise most of our audience - many of whom are abroad or students or simply could not pay. We prefer to keep things the way they are for the moment and explore other ways of supporting the site.

I hope this satisfies my corespondent and, of course, the subscription list is just that - you request it. I do not force it upon you.

If you have any comments to make please use the bulletin board.


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