Adding value to the world

I became involved relatively early in the digital public domain preservation movement, though many went far before me… One leader in the field is Michael Hart, who has been the driving force behind Project Gutenberg since it started in the 1970’s.

A man with many idiosyncrasies, Hart has frequently used some mental gymnastics to provide an assessment of the value he has put into the world. He mentions that in the 70’s he was given precious time on a computer, and calculated the cost of that time to be a hundred million dollars. He then set a goal of paying it back to the world by providing free etexts. If each download were worth a nominal $1, then he was able to create value many times that amount.

I’ve always enjoyed that calculation, even if it’s hard to justify the value of a download in such a way. Nevertheless, I am pleased at the growth of Art Song Central. Users now download more than 13 gigabytes of sheet music each month. If we were to set the nominal value of each song at $1, this site gives away more than $50,000 worth of music each month.

In contrast, the site brings in about $15 a month in donations and affiliate income. This is fortunately enough to pay for direct costs of hosting the site. (And I heartily thank all of you who have donated or used the affiliate links… especially the person who bought $300 worth of choral music through Sheet Music Plus this month!) I mention this because the purpose of the site has always been about creating value and expanding access, not making money.

However, there are costs to maintaining and improving the site, as well as a considerable time investment. I’m interested in seeking sponsorships, or possibly introducing some limited advertising on the site. It would be subtle, and only from people or organizations of which I approve. The income, if any, will go directly into improving the site so that even more value can be created for our ASC community. If you are interested in sponsoring or advertising on the site, please send me a message via the contact form!