If you are reading this, it is because you clicked a link or did a search or otherwise went out of your way to find out how you could me support me in my activities. So I thank you for that. And as Andy says in The Shawshank Redemption, “if you’ve come this far, maybe you’re willing to come a little further.”
I don’t mind tooting my own horn a bit in some contexts, but this one is harder. Let me try to be as direct as I can here.
I have been contributing to the Internet community since, well, before the World Wide Web, back in the bad old days of terminal windows and anonymous FTP servers, and of PLATO for those of you who go back that far. My Jazz Improvisation Primer was one of the first significant music education resources ever made available on the Web when that hit the scene in the early 90′s, and it was and remains free. Shortly after, I helped create the newsgroup rec.music.makers.jazz and produced the rec.music..bluenote sampler CD, featuring what is most likely the first released recording of current Jazz Artist of the Year, Vijay Iyer. Over the years, I have posted enough helpful information to newsgroups and web forums to fill several books, on topics ranging from programming to music to painting to photography. My own web site is one of the more comprehensive personal sites you will find. I am a moderator for PentaxForums and for ACDSee’s forums, and I act as an unofficial support person for MuseScore through my many contributions to their forums as well as my technical contributions to the project – plugins, templates, configuration files, documentation, etc.
My latest project – the one that has finally prompted me to post this donation page – is a system to manage the insertion and editing of notated musical examples in text documents. This is a real boon to music educators like myself who are constantly putting together handouts that include both text and notation. And perhaps more importantly, the utility can automatically convert these examples to a form that blind musicians can “read”, allowing ordinary music teachers to create educational materials that are fully accessible to the visually impaired. You can’t imagine (OK, maybe you can) how huge this is. My own tools rely upon free and open source tools provided by others, so I am making my work free and open source as well.
Again, if you’re reading this, it’s presumably because you value my contributions in one or more of these areas (or perhaps some other area I have forgotten to mention), and some part of you is wondering if there is some way you can thank, repay, or support me.
Well, there is, and it is quite simple: PayPal.
I am not going to try to tell you I have never received one cent as a direct or indirect result of the work I have described above. I have benefited in that way, if not that much. Having my Primer available for free led me to a contract with a small independent publishing company, and the printed version sells “tens” of copies a year (was hundreds in the early years). My contributions to rec.music.bluenote led directly to my first CD release on a small independent record label, which has perhaps done a little better than breakeven on its recording costs. A fellow forum participant once let me trade on my my CD”s for a camera lens that was worth several times more than the CD. I have received a couple of free software update in exchange for my contributions to some companies’ online forums. And so forth. But we aren’t talking about major financial reward here.
Not that I am complaining. If I were in it for the money, I’d be doing things very differently – and doing very different things. As it is, I love doing work that interests me and can help people, and it feels great that people seem to value it.
But, if I haven’t bored you to death or talked you out of wanting to help support my activities, there is no getting around the fact that money can make a difference. I mean, when being a musician and teacher is what I do to support myself, you know I am not exactly rolling in cash.
So, if you can find it within you to send something my way, it will be most appreciated.
How much? That’s up to you, of course. I really have no concept of how many people might choose to donate. Maybe I will see a steady stream of people sending a couple of dollars each. Maybe a small handful with deeper pockets will choose to see themselves as a “patron”, like Emperor Joseph II for Mozart.
Why PayPal? I know, I could probably create a Kickstarter project and raise all sorts of money for it. But there are all sorts of rules and procedures to follow, starting with idea that I have to have a single well-defined project I am funding, and that is just not the case here. I’m not interested right now in doing anything differently than I already am. I am just hoping to maybe have an easier time of it.
What do you get? Like I said, I’m not doing the whole Kickstarter thing right now, so I can’t promise anyone autographed T-shirts or anything like that. I can tell you I will appreciate whatever you can do for me.