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  • avatar
    49 sounds
    98 posts
    The future sustainability of Freesound


    Dear Freesound community,

    We would like to give you an update about the current situation of Freesound funding and to get your feedback about some of our future plans regarding its sustainability. Be prepared for a rather long read wink

    As most of you will know, Freesound was started in 2005 at the Music Technology Group (MTG) of Universitat Pompeu Fabra. The initial aim of the project was to create an open database of sounds that could also be used for scientific research. However Freesound became bigger and bigger and turned into a wide and active community of users which grew well beyond any initial goals. Freesound currently hosts more than 4400 hours of audio and serves around 50000 sounds per day. For more statistics, have a look at this blog post.

    As you can imagine, the cost of maintaining Freesound has been increasing as the site has grown, and it is not an easy task to find resources (both human and machine) to maintain and keep improving Freesound. Freesound has always been developed and maintained by researchers at the MTG and, as hard as it might seem to believe, Freesound has never had a single person fully dedicated to it (with very few exceptions). This is because Freesound’s current sustainability model is based on maintaining and improving Freesound as a “side-effect” of other research projects.

    Our current sustainability model only allows us to maintain Freesound and does not allow us to spend time working on adding new features or improving existing ones. To change that, we need to rethink the current sustainability model and get to a point where Freesound can generate enough to be partially sustained by itself. This means to generate enough regular income so that we can dedicate more resources to Freesound and make it a *better place* both for its user community and the research community.

    Because of the nature of Freesound and the philosophy of openness, sharing and reuse that we promote, we think that the sustainability model that best fits our case is one based on user donations (similarly to Wikipedia). Even though Freesound has been accepting user donations since the beginning, it is something we have never promoted. Currently, we are *only* raising around 2000€ per year in user donations, but we think we could raise much more. Considering the huge amount of users that regularly download content from Freesound, we estimate that with a very small yearly contribution from some of these users, we can collect enough to keep Freesound in good shape. For the sake of total transparency let us mention that, ideally, we want to raise enough to be able to maintain a couple of people dedicated full-time to do research and development with Freesound. We also want to be able to cover some of the expenses related to hosting and server maintenance. We estimate that this could be covered if we raise a minimum of 100000€ a year. This means that we need to increase current donations by a factor of 50. Please note that we are not thinking of imposing any yearly fee for the use of Freesound. What we are suggesting is that if we reach a significant number of donors, donations as small as 10€ a year would be enough to reach our goal.

    In order to increase donations we are planning to start a campaign to actively promote them. We will do that by using banners and pop-ups, and occasionally sending some emails. Our main target is to reach those users who regularly download content and try not to impact users who are already contributing to Freesound by uploading sounds, by writing in forums or being part of the core community. We will also publish a regular report on how much money we raised and how we spend it.

    Before making further steps with the donations campaign we wanted to share this with you and get your feedback. So please tell us, what do you think?

    the Freesound team,
    Alastair, Andrés, Bram, Frederic, Sonia, Xavier

    frederic
    the freesound team
  • avatar
    229 sounds
    182 posts


    A good idea, respectful with FS's core values. I would promote donation, and I would also donate. Thrilled to see what could be done with proper funding, in terms of features for example.

    Good luck!

    Jaume Ferrete www.jaumeferrete.net
  • avatar
    567 sounds
    107 posts


    I'm still relatively new here in the grand scheme of things, but I'll say my piece:

    This site is excellent; it is incredibly useful for sound enthusiasts both in content and the community (although it would be great to see the forums a little more active!). I'm certainly in favor of extra promotion to bring in further income for the site.

    I think the addition of a banner would be a great method for this, but a popup might perhaps be a little too intruding on the visitor (personally I get frustrated when a popup devours the screen on visiting a site), unless you mean a popup of some other sort?

    I wonder if the donation button should be added to each sound's page as opposed to simply being on the main page? That would certainly increase the awareness of donations (and hopefully encourage more of them!). If not, I'll definitely add a link to the donations page on some of my more downloaded sounds to try and help a little with that.

    Just some suggestions!

    -J

  • avatar
    49 sounds
    98 posts


    InspectorJ wrote:
    I think the addition of a banner would be a great method for this, but a popup might perhaps be a little too intruding on the visitor (personally I get frustrated when a popup devours the screen on visiting a site), unless you mean a popup of some other sort?

    Just to clarify, regarding popups we are thinking of a popup that would appear in some specific situations (e.g. after downloading N sounds), not at every page load and completely blocking the content.

    frederic
    the freesound team
  • avatar
    567 sounds
    107 posts


    frederic.font wrote:
    Just to clarify, regarding popups we are thinking of a popup that would appear in some specific situations (e.g. after downloading N sounds), not at every page load and completely blocking the content.

    Ah, good, that is very reasonable. (I sure wish other sites would take a similar approach!)

  • avatar
    1850 sounds
    1099 posts


    Hi Frederic and friends of freesound.

    I think it's a good idea to place a banner on each of my pages.
    Make sure that payment is easy. Now I can only pay via PayPal and I do not use that.
    Just add a regular international bank account with IBAN and BIC, as usual in the EU.

    You can send me an email every year with a free quote to deposit voluntary contributions. I think that is not an objection.

    Up-loaders themselves can put this piece of text into the comment field of their sound;
    "When you use this sound, it would be nice if you spent a voluntarily donation to freesound". I've been doing that for years.
    Sometimes I get a request from someone who wants to pay for a noise from me. I send them this suggestion.

    In the past, I always had a link to the freesound donation page, but do not use it anymore, cause the link is different every year and I do not feel like replacing all my old links every year. Find a solution.
    Maybe it's an idea to make such a link editable on my personal page. As a result, the link will be accurate on each of my new and pending sounds.
    I know people who have used my link to your page.

    Ask commercial departments of the universities to work in order to make this recruitment of money effective. There should be students who want to do this. Study: Make our Freesound self-supporting.

    The core of my argument; Make a voluntary contribution easily and inviting.

    Succes

    To hear, you first have to listen
  • avatar
    2005 sounds
    2167 posts


    what about advertising?

    I can't think of a better place to advertise recording equipment!
    And also instruments (Acoustic and electronic), effects, sound software.
    And, since sounds will always be infinite... even makers of paid-for sound packs could be interested in advertising here.

    I want to believe.
  • avatar
    14 sounds
    1 post


    I too would donate; but I too distrust PayPal. (This makes it a problem donating to many worthy causes, not just Freesound.)

    I also appreciate Freesound's community and philosophy. Thanks for that!

  • avatar
    7 sounds
    1 post


    Hi freesounders!

    I would try to take advantage of micro-funding innitiaves like these:

    https://www.teaming.net/que-es-teaming
    (this one works with monthly donations of just one euro/month; think about how "ridicule" could be but how powerful it might become provided thousands of freesound users subscribe the scheme!)

    https://www.patreon.com/
    (this one is frequently used to support artists and artistic proposals)

    Good luck!

  • avatar
    0 sounds
    1 post


    This site is invaluable! I would make a yearly donation.

  • avatar
    0 sounds
    1 post


    Glad to contribute. The freesound site is one of the most valuable and culturally important sites on the internet. What would be an appropriate amount? Monthly? Semi-annually? Yearly. Many thanks for the wonderful service you folks provide!

  • avatar
    328 sounds
    2766 posts


    It's understandable that changes have to be made to accommodate a new sustainability model. We trust that Freesound however it needs to change will remain as much a sanctum as possible keeping annoyances to a minimum. It's about time for FS to grow.

    To that end, I must say I have no real objection to advertising as long as it's not intrusive and is actually relevant. So this is perhaps something to consider, though, it will have to be carefully deliberated.

    Really glad to hear that changes are coming.

    👍


    I am the thing that goes bump in the night...

  • avatar
    573 sounds
    25 posts


    I'm on board.

  • avatar
    0 sounds
    1 post


    Thank you. Please post a link for donation and accept payments via paypal. You provide a great service. Many users will donate to your site if you ask. However, the donations should be voluntary and not mandatory. Many users who find this site useful will donate to your site. Thank you for your service and thanks to those who crested the sounds. They're very useful and serve a good purpose.

  • avatar
    121 sounds
    1565 posts


    Re. advertisement, hmmm, I wouldn't like this personally. There is a reason why I have ad-block installed. And, it might be quite some effort to find the "right" advertisement. I.e. if we just open up for google ads it would mean you will get cat-food offered via Freesound, that might be ... nasty.

    biz001: https://www.freesound.org/donations/donate/ wink

    Admin | Support | Freesound Benevolent Dictator For Life | ...
  • avatar
    567 sounds
    107 posts


    klankbeeld wrote:
    In the past, I always had a link to the freesound donation page, but do not use it anymore, cause the link is different every year and I do not feel like replacing all my old links every year. Find a solution.

    I wonder if it is worth experimenting with a sort of 'sound description signature'; effectively a forum signature, but for sound descriptions. Thus each user could have a tail at the end of their descriptions which will always have the same text, in which a link to the donations page (and in my case, the recorders used/request for comment etc.) can be placed without having to tweak each individual sound if it changes.

    I am completely coding illiterate, so I have not the slightest idea if a feature like that is a challenge to implement - but just more food for thought.

  • avatar
    0 sounds
    1 post


    I totally support the proposal, and would be pleased to make an annual donation to support the site's maintenance and ongoing development. In fact, it would make me feel better about downloading audio because I'd feel that I was 'giving back' in a small way.

    Suryamani
  • avatar
    0 sounds
    8 posts


    klankbeeld wrote:
    Up-loaders themselves can put this piece of text into the comment field of their sound;
    "When you use this sound, it would be nice if you spent a voluntarily donation to freesound". I've been doing that for years.
    Sometimes I get a request from someone who wants to pay for a noise from me. I send them this suggestion.

    In the past, I always had a link to the freesound donation page, but do not use it anymore, cause the link is different every year and I do not feel like replacing all my old links every year. Find a solution.
    Maybe it's an idea to make such a link editable on my personal page. As a result, the link will be accurate on each of my new and pending sounds.
    I know people who have used my link to your page.

    With our new donations system, the URL to donate is always the same! We understand that some people don't like using Paypal. Unfortunately, when finding a solution which works well for us as well as potential supporters, we know that we probably can't do something that's perfect for everyone. We'll keep looking at other ways that we can improve this (and if we get more donations we will have more resources to do that!)

    AlienXXX wrote:
    what about advertising?

    I can't think of a better place to advertise recording equipment!
    And also instruments (Acoustic and electronic), effects, sound software.
    And, since sounds will always be infinite... even makers of paid-for sound packs could be interested in advertising here.

    We've thought a lot about advertising in freesound. Our preference is to not have blanket ads like what google adsense provides, because we have very little power in choosing what kinds of ads would appear on freesound.
    If we choose to go in the other direction and build our own ads and choose them manually, there is a balance that we have to make between the cost of doing this and the value we get out of it (and the value we give to potential advertisers).
    We are still thinking about the best way to approach this, but for now we are interested in focusing our effort on donations.

    I make freesound!
  • avatar
    0 sounds
    8 posts


    biz001 wrote:
    Thank you. Please post a link for donation and accept payments via paypal. .

    We currently have one on the front page! -> https://freesound.org/donations/donate/

    I make freesound!
  • avatar
    328 sounds
    2766 posts


    Bram wrote: if we just open up for google ads it would mean you will get cat-food offered via Freesound, that might be ... nasty.

    I get you. It's hard to do advertising right. Usually if we are to opt into ad placements it's kind of just like opening the flood-gates right.

    It could be done right by offering an ad package to relevant sellers/merchants rather that going down the google ads route. Food for thought anyway.


    I am the thing that goes bump in the night...