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
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
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,
Ludwigvanweb.com 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
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.