The GMG website costs almost US$2000 per year to run. There are server hosting fees, domain registration fees, hardware and software costs to pay for. It also takes up large chunks of my time to keep it online and running smoothly.
The forum is a labour of love for me. It will always be free to access, and never become a pay site. However, there are ways members can help offset some of the costs of the forum.
You will notice a small banner for Amazon.com near the top of every page. I would ask that if you already buy your music, or any other items, from Amazon, please access Amazon by using these links. Amazon tracks the refering website (in this case GMG) and credits the site with a small commission on all items sold (currently about 6%). It costs you no more to buy from Amazon using this link, but that commission helps defray some of the costs of the forum.
Non-US members can use the flags to access the international versions of Amazon.
Advertising pays for some of the costs of the forum. I have tried to limit the format and tone of the ads to minimise disruption to the layout of the forum page.
Another way to support the forum is to become a subscriber. All funds collected from subscriptions go into a specially-created account that directly pays for the costs of running the website. By becoming a subscriber, you get rid of all advertising. That's right - subscribers see a clean forum sans ads. At the request of subscribers, the small Amazon link at top right remains for those that want to buy CDs from Amazon and still support GMG.
Subscribers also get a nifty "subscriber" icon below their username in their profile, a larger Personal Message storage box and a warm glow that they are directly keeping the forum going.
Simply click on the "Subscribe" tab in the top menu, and you will see all the subscription options. Payments are secure and processed through Paypal. You can choose to pay via your Paypal account, or if you do not have a Paypal account, you can pay via any credit card or bank account. Of course, subscriptions can be cancelled at any time.
Of course, I understand that not everyone can afford to subscribe or even have the inclination to do so. And that's fine too.
I think that you should make this site into pay site, if you have some problems handling the fees associated with keeping this site online.
I went and looked around the members who actually subscribed, and I must tell you that I didn’t find anyone, maybe there are some, but I didn’t find them, and by the way that’s including me.
I believe the hesitation of some members is the cost of the membership, The Silver Subscriber comes out to be around $50 dollars a year. And that’s not so little considering that I personally actively pay every year for my own website and domain name and also pay every year to be a member of Deviantart.com.
Now DeviantArt has an interesting concept, it charges its members $25 dollars a year and it gives its members certain privileges that other ‘free members’ don’t enjoy. Things like been able to sell your artworks on their site, creating an individual artist’s page and a few other things that free members just don’t have.
Perhaps you can also use this kind of an idea to persuade members to join and contribute to the site:
1. Free members on GMG will only be able to access certain areas within the forum, but the Diner for example would be only for paying members.
2. The cost of a full member on GMG should be about $20 a year, and paying members will enjoy all the benefits that you listed above and full access throughout the site.
Its better to lower the price and get more members supporting the site, then keeping the price high, with the majority still thinking whether to join or not.
All you need is about 70 to 80 active full members , and that will generate between $1400 to $1600 and you can add the monies that will come from Amazon for those who really can’t even join for a fee of $20 a year, and that should solve the financial concern of the site.
I for one am willing to pay $20 a year if you’ll turn this site into a Pay Site.