Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 311 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by David, and he writes that he is dreaming to play organs for fundraising concerts and for worship accompaniment, but obstacles in the way of his dream is a busy life, and that means that he cannot practice as often as he’d like. Ausra, have you ever played at fundraising concerts?
A: I don’t remember, now, actually. I might have played some in the United States, but that was a long way back.
V: I remember playing for Casparini organ in the Holy Ghost Church in Vilnius for members of a local Rotary club, and they tried to gather funds for the restoration of this instrument, but that was, I think, a small sum of money, in comparison to what was needed at that time.
A: Do you think such a concert is a sufficient way to raise funds?
V: It seems that everybody is doing them, right, like it’s a socially appropriate way of gathering funds involving community, congregation, perhaps. Why not? It’s one of the ways. David has a good idea for that. Of course, it depends how much a congregation is involved in general in the cultural life of the parish, of the church, and how much they feel ownership of the project, right?
V: If, for example, they are alienated by some politics going on inside of the congregation, people won’t bother joining in those fundraising efforts so much. I think the important thing is for them to feel welcomed and appreciated.
A: Yes, for example, in Lithuania, I don’t think you could raise money by playing an organ recital. Somehow, I doubt it.
V: In general, I think, in Lithuania, culturally acceptable ways to gather funds are somewhat different, right?
V: We always see on TV…
A: Usually it’s through pop music.
V: Pop music concerts, which are broadcast on TV.
A: Yes, and advertised all over.
V: Yes, and then people can call in, and a fraction of their….
A: Call would go to…
V: ...amount of the money that they would make on that call would go to that project, but I think it’s a very tiny fraction.
A: I’m not sure about that.
V: I’ve read it, that in general, some of those telephone companies are taking the big chunk. What else can people do to gather funds involving organs? How can we maybe think creatively in today’s environment with technology going across the board globally even, right? When you play a fundraising concert, this is just a local event. How many people will come? That many people will hear, and even a smaller portion of them will react and engage and give donations. But, what if people went globally with this, like.. platforms like Patreon, or Kickstarter, or Indiegogo.
A: Well, I don’t know. That might work, and may not.
V: It works for many other projects, right, for technology oriented projects. Let’s say you are a startup, you have some nice invention in your mind, and you want to gather funds to complete this idea, so you first create a prototype, and then show the people like a demo version, and then people get excited about that, and what happens later, they start to donate because the demo version is incomplete, and that way it could be done. But with organs, I’ve seen people do it for organ restorations, for example, and I’m not sure if David is planning to do fundraising for organ restorations, or just to play organ in fund raising concerts, which is different.
A: Yes, it is! Because, for example, I don’t think you would fund-raise in Lithuania for building an organ or restoring an organ, because in our country, it’s more common to raise funds for poor, for sick people. For example, we have this huge food gathering thing. I think at least 5 each year. There are more than, I think, 100 grocery stores that are involved, and there are two or three days that you can buy long lasting products and donate them.
V: Why do you think this campaign is so successful?
A: Well, I think it’s because it’s so widely spread, and nobody wants to be hungry, so I guess that everybody thinks that, “today I have food but maybe tomorrow I will not have it, and I will need support.”
V: Like, they have compassion.
A: Sure, because truly, we have too many poor people, especially elderly and of course lonely mothers with children.
V: Right. You know what I think, also? Social media might be a good catalyst for inspiring people to donate, but now, social media is no longer that effective as it was before, because Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, they all changed their algorithms in favor of paid advertisement, or communication between friends. So, what you see in your Facebook feed or what I see in my Facebook feed basically reflects my friends to whom I’m connected more strongly, right? I’m not seeing all those pictures and posts from all my network, just a fraction of it. So, if a person has a fund raising event, they might not involve their entire network, just a small portion of it, unless they decide to go the paid advertising way, and pay to Facebook to show the ads. But, somehow it contradicts the idea of raising funds, right, because they don’t have funds first of all to begin with?
V: What about those new platforms based on Blockchain? We’ve been using Steemit for a while now, and just recently, I think since October, we started posting on ONO network. O-n-o it is spelled, and the idea is that with every post, with every like, with every share and comment, you get back cryptocurrency called ONOT.
A: But it is worth nothing yet.
V: Yet… it’s worth nothing
A: So I think it’s like play for adults.
V: But wait until they allow people to trade on exchanges!
A: Well, let’s see. And I think you are judging false hopes.
V: Maybe. Could be. But imagine if I’m right, right? If people can really transfer those funds and convert them into real currencies somehow later on. That would change, a little bit, the landscape of fund-raising, too, because let’s say David wants to raise funds playing organs. All he has to do is just document his life, post in pictures and articles, and then people will like and share and engage, it could be with organ playing, of course, for organists, and he will start gathering cryptocurrency.
A: I don’t think he will get a sufficient amount.
V: We’ll see in the future, but that’s the idea, you see! The worth, of course, of that token “Onot” depends on the market itself—on demand—how many people will buy it.
A: So you see, this is optimistic, and I am pessimistic, or realistic.
V: So maybe the truth is somewhere in the middle, right?
A: I just believe that the world is full of social injustice in general, and some are very poor and the others are very rich—bloody rich.
V: The rich get richer with any system.
A: Yes. And I think we have more poor people with each year.
V: Right, but maybe that’s the reason they created such social Blockchain based networks, that people from poor countries could join in and become more financially independent.
A: Well, let’s talk about it maybe in two years.
V: In a few years. Yeah, we’ll see. Right. Every system has its own flaws, of course, it’s not perfect, and of course people, once they find out that it’s money involved, that you can gather money for your posts and likes, then they try to cheat the system, right, with spam comments, spam content, bots like software, posting instead of humans, and if the system itself cannot get rid of those fake accounts and abusers, then everybody suffers, you see?
V: We’ll see in a few years, how it develops. But, I think it doesn’t hurt to try, right? What if I’m right in a few years, and people will wait for a few years to see the results. Of course, the early adopters like we are will benefit more than late comers.
A: But, you know, if you have needs today, you cannot wait for a few years. So, that’s the problem. If you are rich enough to be able to live well today, you can do experiments and wait for a few years.
V: I read that people in Venezuela, for example, a very corrupt government, and it’s politically unstable, and financially basically very struggling country. People get a monthly salary of about $10 per month. Not per day, but per month! So, with this scenario, earning cryptocurrency, like $10 per month, is pretty easy actually. And I’ve seen people do that from poor countries as well. We’re not talking about hundreds of dollars, but just tens of dollars. So, that could really change the game for those people. And they are changing the game! Maybe there is hope, you see!
A: Well, let’s hope for it.
V: Thanks, guys, for listening. We hope this discussion raised a few more questions, right? Maybe more questions than answers, right now, which is nice, because with this, the more we think about this, the more we can take action and not be a passive observers, but take initiative and maybe take advantage of those new tools. Whatever happens in the future, we don’t know, of course. The value of those cryptocurrencies can go to zero, right? Or they can go to the moon! We don’t know. But, that’s the world. Nobody can predict the future. But, of course, if we sit on the couch, the real result will be nothing. Right? Those who never try, they never lose, of course. And as a disclaimer we have to add we are not financial advisers so you have to do your own due diligence.
A: And now, let's go and practice.
V: Yes, because when you practice,
A: Miracles happen.
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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