To: Christopher A. Hest <hest@SFSymphony.org>
Subject: fundraising for CDs
From: Dave Yost <Dave_@_Yost.com>
Date: Sun, 5 Jul 1998
I have a fundraising suggestion for the Symphony.
Each year, the Symphony releases on CD a small number of the pieces it plays. But how do you know which ones will pay back? What about the great performances you don't release?
We in San Francisco are fortunate that our orchestra's concerts are syndicated for broadcast, but unfortunately, FM reception is lo-fi for most of us in the Bay Area, and for various reasons we can't always catch what we want from the broadcasts onto tape.
There are a couple of possible new approaches to funding the distribution of Symphony recordings:
The Symphony could set up a system whereby people can contribute toward the production of CDs of works performed by the symphony. On the web site, post a list of candidate pieces from the season's program. An excerpt of such a web page might look like this:
La Mer, Debussy
The "Pledge..." button takes you to a screen like this:
This would be a very interesting experiment. We would all learn a lot from it. Maybe people prefer live performance CDs over recording session CDs. Maybe they prefer different repertoire than you'd expect. Maybe there is a generous minority willing to put up a lot of money to make certain repertoire available. I think it is highly likely that some CDs would be funded that would otherwise not have been produced, and that's good for everyone.
Here's another idea: put the broadcast recordings up on the web in high-quality compressed digital format for downloading via the web. After downloading a sound file, the listener can then either listen to it directly on the computer or record it onto a writable CD. This may seem way out to you today, and certainly it would be for the majority of concertgoers today, but such sale and distribution is already flourishing on the web, and the day will come soon when this sort of thing will be commonplace, even for symphony recordings. Why not pioneer it in San Francisco, the world capital of media technology? Even if you don't implement the previous suggestion, you could use the statistics gathered by this approach to better gauge which repertoire to release on CD.
The broadcasts are free, so perhaps the downloads could be free with sponsor web ads on the download page. There are various options if you want to collect payment for downloads.
For example, a 15-minute piece is only 8 megabytes when compressed with excellent, near-CD quality using Yamaha's SoundVQ technology which is readily available for PCs and Macs. This audio quality far exceeds anything from RealAudio or NetShow. It and MPEG Layer 3 are the only truly high-fidelity high compression schemes available todaty, and VQ beats Layer 3 in my opinion.
Thanks for listening,