A while back I was given a big stack of sheet music, most of it copyrighted between 1920 and 1950. Originally it belonged to a relative who was friendly, fun, and entertaining, so when it was offered to me, I gladly accepted it along with some happy memories. But now, as I am progressing through the deep clean of my home, I find myself wondering what I thought I was going to do with this collection. Seriously, what was I thinking? Stacked in a dark corner of the basement, it’s definitely not providing enjoyment for anyone. So I decided to try and get it into the hands of people who would appreciate it, enjoy it, and maybe even use it. After much thought, and a little research, I decided that the best way to accomplish this goal was to sell it on eBay. And it wouldn’t hurt that I’d make bank in the process.
Because I’m an optimist by nature, I launched the process with the purchase of 100 large envelopes. The “big box” offered the lowest price per unit, and I knew those savings would go right to the bottom line over time. Next, I listed what I thought would be the hottest sellers. It was a time consuming process, but as my eBay skills improved, I became more efficient.
Imagine my surprise when only a few of the items listed received any bids at all. The bidding wars I had been imagining just didn’t occur. I had experienced another Tech Frustration. So I did a little more research and learned that most of the music in my stack was produced in such massive quantities, and sold for such low prices, that it isn’t rare at all. In fact, anyone who owned a piano in 1950 is likely to have a similar collection.
But, I didn’t give up. And now, after three months and ~40 listings, I’ve managed to sell eight pieces of the music. The payments I’ve received don't yet cover the cost of the big box of envelopes and the postage charges incurred to date. But I’m happy to report that the “low sales” cloud has a silver lining; two of the people who purchased the music have taken the time to write and tell me how they will use it. That has made the experience worth the effort and keeps me motivated to continue the quest to get this music into the hands of people who will enjoy it.
One of the eBay buyers is the great-niece of one of the composers of one of the pieces I had listed. The music was from back in the Ziegfeld Follies days. Apparently, as the self-proclaimed “family historian”, she is trying to collect “one of everything” for each of her cousins. That piece went for a whopping $5.00.
The other woman who wrote to me lives in "senior housing" and is the resident pianist for all of their sing-a-long and musical programs. She told me that many years ago, one of her neighbors attended an event featuring Al Jolson singing one of the songs I had listed for sale. Her neighbor attended the event along with her mother, who apparently loved singing the song right until her final days. The woman who purchased the music (for another large sum; $3.00) planned to use it to surprise the neighbor during their next musical program.
These are the stories that keep me from tossing the pile of music into the recycle bin.
In addition to trying to hit the big time on eBay, and as I’ve mentioned before, I’m giving lots of stuff away by using the sites trash nothing!, freecycle and craigslist. These tend to be things that can't be tossed into a 10"x12" envelope and mailed for $1.36.
If you think you could put some old sheet music to good use, just send me a note via the Contact page on this web site. I’d be happy to send you photos of the music I have so that you can let me know if you want any of it. If you find something you want, I will send it you for the cost of shipping … or less!
Do you have any Tech Frustrations? If so, tell me about them on the Tech Frustrations web site.
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