In July 13th I've opened a survey on musical-artifacts.com with several questions about the site's features and user base. The ultimate goal was to better understand the site's audience and the ways in which they would like to see the website to grow. The survey was answered by 47 anonymous visitors and the raw results can be downloaded here.
Without further delay I'll present the results, some charts and some interwoven commentary.
Musical Artifacts close ties with the free and open technologies is no secret so I wanted to get a better sense of the tools people are using. But first I wanted to know how many people actually use free software professionally in their music production:
It turns out 72.3% of respondents use them as a hobby and 25.5% do it professionally. Not a big surprise considering the communities where the website is popular. In the next question though they're were asked to list some of these tools, here's a rundown ordered by number of times each project was cited:
You see some of the usual suspects like Ardour and ZynAddSubFx, and many KXStudio Tools. The prominence of Guitarix and Hydrogen is probably due to the Musical Artifacts integrations with these projects.
Here are the answers for the following questions about the website:
Also some people claimed to "visit" the website via the Guitarix Online preset selector.
Here's a breakdown of the answers:
Some answers cited other types of files, which I'll touch upon quickly:
Yes I know, great idea. The question is, are there some LV2 presets out there? LADSPA, DSSI, VST? Which DAWs support these features, are they compatible with other DAWs?
It's an area which I have never explored before in my music making, but I'd be willing to coordinate with developers so that we can make free software plugin preset sharing better.
Well... we have Github, Gitlab, Sourceforge and other countless platforms for hosting code or text which is what pseudo-code is and I'd prefer to not conflate priorities with this website. However a site with example DSP code and lessons would be pretty cool, specially if it generates sound with the new web audio APIs (and doesn't exist somewhere yet). I just don't think Musical Artifacts is the place for it.
Yeah, I know it's a thin line on what is considered a soundfont, hydrogen drumkit, and wav samples ... BUT I'd like to keep the 'artifacts' constrained to the realm of files which have some kind of structure or use in conjunction with software. The site is currently not suited for single wav files, other options like Freesound or even the Internet Archive have a better track record and good upload and previewing systems for these kinds of files.
Here's the chart:
The big winner is 'freely licensed files', which is probably because so much of the audience comes from the FLOSS community.
One answer described the site as 'Putting a lot of useful stuff in one place'. True that.
What would users like to see added to the website? Here's the results:
More file previews is the big winner and I already have plans for some kind of Guitarix preview, as well as for Hydrogen Drumkits and Soundfonts.
Proprietary to open format conversion is a concept I've been thinking about too. I'd like to start with something like SF2 to SFZ. The idea is to let users upload files in proprietary formats, but have it automatically converted server side to freer ones.
One other answer also suggested: The ability to search with "exclude" feature, (e.g.) YES"linuxsampler" + NO" soundfont". Which is interesting, but in most cases can be solved by creating a different kind of query, for example, in the above case "formats: sfz, gig" would do the trick, so I dunno.
Musical Artifacts is a project which can't survive without community support and contributions,
There's an informal Internet rule called the 90-9-1 Principle which states that 90% of users only view content, 9% edit it and 1% actively create new content. This is probably more easily observable in sites like Wikipedia, but here's the report contribution numbers for Musical Artifacts:
As you can see 10% of respondents have contributed to the site in some form. And here a sub-set of potential contributors explains why they didn't contribute:
Judging by the answers there's more the project could use in the documentation department, from technical details to tutorials on FLOSS formats and licenses (we try!), which I'd love to coordinate together with the community. Most of the 'Other' answers were people promising future contributions which weren't ready... YET :)
Finally I've been looking for ways to sustain Musical Artifacts financially in the long term. The project has been growing slowly but steadily over the last year and for now the development costs (free time) and hosting costs (dollars) come mostly from me. I COULD use advertisement on the website, but I totally hate the idea and have decided not to do it. So I asked some questions about the website users willingness to donate money instead:
So approximately 60% of people answering would consider donating. I'm not sure if this is actually a high figure, but I tend to be optimistic.
But how would people like to donate or support the website financially?
And the big winner is 'One time donations'. As a result of the answers we're currently accepting donations via Paypal, Bitcoin and Gratipay.
I'm also well aware of the Snowdrift.coop platform and would love to use it for Musical Artifacts, can't wait for them to launch!
If you have further comments about the survey you can send me a message here.
If you would like to know more about the project or contribute refer to the wiki.
Thanks for reading!