Nothing new or profound to say, but since I haven't posted in the thread yet, I'll give my two cents to add to the weight of opinion:-
1. There's nothing wrong with Frank making money if he wants to. That doesn't mean people are obliged to pay, of course.
2. If the forum moves to a subscription model where the content producers pay, it will greatly diminish. That will hit advertising revenue (which I presume is intended to continue), and might drive subscription prices up higher, and eventually the forum will fail. That's not guaranteed, though; there are examples of content producers creating content for free and paying to publish it in a reputable location (this is the predominant model in current academic publishing, for example). The reputable location is key, though, and it needs a critical mass.
3. It is not clear how much running the forum costs, or why advertising revenue cannot support it. The clientele here is a substantially above average in terms of socio-economic demographic, known to spend money, and highly targeted and in that sense should be great for advertising.
4. Piano manufacturers are missing a major trick by not sponsoring the forum. Kawai in particular has done extremely well out of the digital forum without question; there are clear cases of people buying Kawai products after seeing good reviews there and for every documented case there are hundreds of others. This is the kind of advertising combined with good reviews and put in front of the ideal demographic that marketing departments dream about. It would be a serious error of judgment for Kawai to let the forum close; they would be much better off (including financially) to fully sponsor the forum and keep it free to use, if Frank were amenable to that.
5. This is clearly the number one piano forum on the internet, with a solid user base. It takes time to develop something like that, and it's a valuable commodity.
I'm not yet convinced that the subscription will happen. The above points must be obvious to Frank as well as to many other members here, and I doubt he wants to risk the health of the forum in such a dangerous experiment. Once people leave, they won't come back.
Broadwood, Yamaha U1; Kawai CA67; Pianoteq Std (D4, K2, BlÃ¼thner, Grotrian), Garritan CFX Full, Galaxy Vintage D, The Grandeur, Ravenscroft 275, Ivory II ACD, TrueKeys Italian, AS C7, Production Grand Compact, AK Studio Grand, AK Upright, Waves Grand Rhapsody; Sennheiser HD-600 and HD-650, O2 amp