Like Downloading Gurbani MP3 Files?

Well…I was just looking at the webstats for my blog and seeing all the bandwidth used from people downloading MP3 files during the past week or so. I didn’t think it would be that much, but then I saw it… about 23 GB of data transferred! That’s a lot for this short period of time. I guess people are downloading away…which is great.

In the past I wanted to offer downloads of MP3 files on SikhNet, however it wouldn’t be feasible doing so for free without significant support from the Sangat. SikhNet gets significant traffic for the Gurbani Archive Section and as a result uses over 1.5 terabytes of data transfer every month, which = big hosting costs for the bandwidth.

We are currently working on a new service to support one of our projects, of Archiving old Gurbani Kirtan from audio reels and cassettes. It takes quite a bit of time to process a single tape (digitize, clean up audio, backup original to DVD, catalog info, identify shabad names, split into individual files for each shabad, convert to internet formats like MP3, upload to servers, add to database, etc). In order to support this project we have to get community funding to hire someone to do this work and actually make progress.

Basically we will be offering an itunes/SikhTunes like service where people can become a “Gurbani Club Member”, add money to their account, and pay something like 40 cents per MP3 Gurbani track. HOLD Up a sec… all those people thinking “How can you charge for Gurbani?“. Keep in mind that this is necessary to support the project and pay for the costs involved with doing it. If we just put up loads of Gurbani MP3 on SikhNet we would end up with HUGE costs for the bandwidth usage and wouldn’t get the needed support to sustain the archive project.

If you are like me and many others, you collect as many MP3 files as you can get. The membership fees would eliminate wasteful downloading, and people would be more selective of Gurbani that they really like. And of course this would enable us to continue to archive Gurbani and make it available to everyone.

I am curious to know what you all think about this idea. If you listen to Gurbani MP3 files, would you pay for a Gurbani Club Membership to download kirtan and support this project and SikhNet? Hopefully there is enough interest to support the service. Of course there is always the potential of someone just giving a grant/large donation to cover the costs and make the files freely available. It is one thing if you are an individual doing this small scale on smaller website, but when you do this on a much larger scale and have the number of people that visit SikhNet, it changes all the dynamics.

27 Responses to “Like Downloading Gurbani MP3 Files?”

  1. Jaspal says:

    If Guru Ji showers me with grace and one day I become a rich man, I would do everything for FREE.

    We do have alot of rich Sikhs, but sadly they do not like giving things away for free, as it hurts profits.

    Gurumustuk I agree with you.

  2. mohinder singh says:

    I had come to believe that the model for SikhNet was a Gurudwara. Everybody is free to partake, those who can afford donate to keep it running.

    If you are running short of funds, then having a paid membership for the whole site is a better idea. Members also get to vote on direction and enhancements for the site, like a committee in a Gurdwara.

    That way you donot have to cross the tricky line of commercializing open source content that was distributed free of cost by Raagis in the first place.

    As always, Thanks for your good work,

    mohinder singh

  3. Anonymous says:

    I like the idea of itunes like service for downloading shabads, but free from the copyright limitations like itunes has thus allowing the users to transfer shabads to different players or computers.

  4. Anonymous says:

    If everyone do their part, even very small it would help to convey Gurbani not only to Sikhs but also to others as well.. I think it is a good idea, but slowly we need to expand in the future to have a TV channel or even a Khalsa satellite.

    Lets start from small and slowly build up.

  5. Man * Inder says:

    I would pay to use it, only if it was somehow more easier to use or had some other benefit that i could not get from a free site. It all about economics.

    Plus a nominal chage for downloading it sounds reasonable to me.

    Even when we goto a Gurdwara, we donate some money, even if its only a $ or 2.

  6. Hari Jap says:

    As a kundalini yoga teacher, having mp3s of the shabds and other older tapes that Yogi Bhajan uses in his kriyas would make my job a lot easier, since some of the older ones (like the Indian “Sat Nam Wahe Guru”) are difficult to find (if not impossible) in CD form.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Great idea. I would definetely pay.

  8. isingh says:

    Gurumustak, I don’t care and i think everyone in the west doesn’t care if you charge ($1)/ recording(cuz sometime it’s 30/40 minutes long). My only concern is the people in the east. Maybe somehow you could have the westerners subsidize for the easterners. maybe say(purely hypothetical:)) i could pay $2/recording to support 3 others? of course it can only be done by honor system. cuz i don’t know if you can tell by checking the IP address block.

    Sat Nam!

  9. isingh says:

    i forgot to mention you have to include sampling…at least 30 seconds to a minute…please! :)

  10. We would have the full clip available to listen in the RealMedia streaming format. You you would be free to check it out before downloading.

  11. Manjit Singh says:


    This is a great idea!! I wouldn’t mind paying to download Gurubani. I pay to buy tapes and CDs already. I was wonderling if you could throw in may be five free downloads to people that donate $10 and 10 free downloads for $20 and so on to Sikhnet. It may be a win-win situation for both Sikhnet and people.

  12. Angad Singh says:

    Sat Nam Jee,

    This message is to GMS and to others.

    GMS: I think you should charge on the size of the file. So that there would be a direct relation between size of the file and the effort involved.

    Others: All of us after Gurdawara rush out to go and by CD’s of famous ragis. We dont mind paying 5 to 6 dollars for a CD which has like 5 shabads. So paying a 1 one dollar to pay for one shabad is perfectly alrite.

    I will for sure sign up for this service and be rest assured when I start working you will be seeing me donate to SikhNet.

    Guru Ang Sang

  13. Thank you for the suggestions.

    Angad: We were trying to keep it as simple as possible. I think the price based on the file size makes sense. We just don’t know what the response will be and how many people would actually use this service. It’s a big project to set this up.

    We would have to get a large number of people using the service to make it worthwhile and cover the costs.

    I was also trying to think of other payment models that might work. I was thinking about a flat monthly membership up to X number of downloads per month max.

  14. isingh says:

    tarun, thank you for sharing those sites. i didn’t even know they existed.

    so i guess ultimately it comes down to “do you want to support Sikhnet?”.

    Since Sikhnet started, the techonological advances has made publishing a web site increasingly easy. now that’s a double edged sword. because it gave the power to people, who don’t know what they’re doing, to publish web sites. They might’ve grown up idolizing Sikhnet and Gurumustak might’ve helped create an unseen competition but in any case they’re now canabalizing. and do you think that if those sites were as popular as sikhnet that they wouldn’t need donations? or if the person/people responsible for creating that site were really that rich that they could go on without any money then why not donate to Sikhnet so that it wouldn’t have to make it’s visitors pay to listen (correction to download) gurbani…and let’s say Sikhnet says okay take Gurbani off of our hands and here’s a list of things we want to do with Gurbani(archives etc…) do you think they would say “ohh okay!” sure and not ask for donations?

    i don’t mind doing something original and going seprate ways but it’s kinda silly and wrong to use Sikhnet for so many years and doing something that would potentially hurt it.

    we only have maybe a million (at the most) “customers” to share. it doesn’t make sense to duplicate our efforts when there’s so much to be done. we’re not Islam or Christianity. we don’t have billions of potential “customers” to share.

    my train is off the track(or some of you might say it’s been off the track :)) so i must say

    Sat Nam!

  15. Anonymous says:

    isingh im not sure if i follow you, are you saying that other Sikh sites should abandon their efforts to promote Sikhi. sikhnet is doing its bit & so are others, its not a competition.

    sikhnet has and still is doing an amazing job in spreading the message of sikhi to Sikhs and non-Sikhs because it is the no.1 Sikh website, but at then end of the day sikhnet is still apart of 3ho which is a samparda, so other samparda’s like AKJ or Damdami Taksal too want to promote Sikhi in their own way, like 3ho is via Sikhnet.

    i support Sikhnet and even though im a student, for the first time i donated money. i love sikhnet and love reading about the way of life SSS promotes, but i do somewhat affiliate myself with Damdami Taksaal and obviously Sikhnet does not. So you can’t expect people to stop their affiliation with certain samparda because Sikhnet came first. I say let Sikhi flourish on the Net.

    Its not a matter of competition, its diversifying Sikhi on the Net.

    GMS its entirely upto you and Sikhnet if you want to pursue this route but sites like have alot of Kirtan available for free, if u feel it is still feasible after research, then go for it :)

  16. Anonymous says:

    Gurumustuk ji,

    I have suggestions for making more competitive or versatile.
    Take these suggestions into consideration:

    1) sikhnet already has Gurbani and katha for down loading and I know this site will continually will be adding Kirtan and katha so people may continue the services

    2) Besides Gurbani, why not have once a week video episode on Vege recipe featured to members or the members could send their Dvds if they think they have a Best Vege recipe

    3) why not share our Meditation Experiences with others so that we can learn more about mediation. I quite sure people at different stages would have experienced something unique. And the obstacles that might hinder or slow down the progression.

    4)Also have a episode on Health issues, Diabetes, hypertension, weight loss. So that people can share their success stories or people can discuss the difficulties that they are having in controlling Diabetes.. etc.

    5) Children could also listen or down load Sikhi stories, learn Gurmuki ( interactive mode). Have small tests to find out if they have mastered…

    6) episode on how taking Amrit has changed peoples lives ….

    I know others might have better ideas! these are only suggestions which will make siknet more competitive and versatile.


  17. isingh says:

    response to [email protected]:03pm, ann ji, i don’t see sikhnet as an extension to 3HO, i don’t see Gurumustak as a “white sikh” i see him as a sikh. i see this as a sikh web site. he’s white and he’s sikh but he’s sikh first. just as i am a jat and sikh but sikh first.

    do you reccomend that i start my own site like Sikhnet with everything they have and call it Would I be spreading Sikhi? I don’t think there needs to be 10 different kinds of “sikhis” on the net. The internet isn’t a physical entity where a person in india would need to travel 10 times as much as the person in the US.

    please, hear my plea to unite. our population is decreasing, our youths rather call themselves “punjabis” than Khalsa/Sikhs. We don’t have the luxury that the Christians, Muslims and Hindus have that we can divide and still prosper.

    Look at the work Dr. Thind has been doing… translating The Guru every which way you can. That’s spreading Sikhi! If i’m not mistaken he has about 3 web sites and all of whom are accessible from Sikhnet’s homepage. BUT he’s not part of Sikhnet or 3HO.

    There’re groups of guys including Sukhjinder Singh Sidhu from UK and Aman Preet Singh Alam from Moga, Punjab who are working on making everything Gurmukhi (software, operating systems)…that’s how you spread Sikhi! and Gurumustak and 3HO people probably have’ never heard of them. btw, they could use your help…google this term Sukhjinder Singh

    We need more people like them…innovative and not duplicating efforts and dividing our religion.

    There are times when you can say “sikhnet isn’t letting my opinions heard” and bam! start your own discussion board for $12/month. i like not being moderated but they have an image to keep and i understand that. they can’t have foul language(like it used to)…it’s a sikh forum that you would want your kids to go to.

    There you go you could divide Sikhi by sex and age on the internet! that’s how you can spread sikhi!

    and btw for those of you who want to post bad stuff about SSS. would you care to post bad stuff about SSS on that you think isn’t 3HO. the answer is no. because you’d be preaching to people who don’t either care or are in your choir. then why try?!

    i don’t know SSS. my father-in-law met him once in Yuba City and he said he asked him some questions and all he said about SSS was “he’s very smart”. I could care less about what he thinks about someone But didn’t he show thousands the way to the Guru?

    There you go you could divide Sikhi by sex and age on the internet! that’s how you can spread sikhi!

    i would love to write more incomphrehensible thoughts on this :) but must attend to my “blessing”…

    Sat Nam!

  18. isingh says:

    >>5) Children could also listen or down load Sikhi stories, learn Gurmuki ( interactive mode). Have small tests to find out if they have mastered…

    Gurinder, we’re(not associated with sikhnet at all) working on this. It’ll be a flash thing. But it’s in it’s infancy stage. Hopefully through my new contacts in Punjab we can get this project going as well. and for this i wouldn’t mind competition because we would offer it for “free” (no matter how much of my own money goes into this, this is my life!)…any freelance flash developers out there?

  19. isingh says:

    >>I know others might have better ideas! these are only suggestions which will make siknet more competitive and versatile.

    Gurinder veer ji, those are really good ideas and you need manpower to do all that. and currently they’re short of manpower and in order to get more manpower you need money.

  20. rk aulakh says:

    Very good idea! There is no such thing as a free lunch :+)

  21. No Langar? We just had free “lunch” today…


  22. isingh: I actually do know Sukhjinder Singh pretty well. He has helped with SikhiWiki and different unicode type issues.

    My mission is not to do everything myself…but work with others and support eachother in doing these projects. That is why you see many other people’s work on SikhNet. It is our way to help support and give exposure. It’s a win win situation.

    I am starting to travel more to network with other Sikhs…so that we can do things more collaboratively and in a more unified way. It helps once you have met someone or had a personal connection.

  23. Man * Inder says:

    I was wondering if there was a software or anything that could translate the gurbani to engligh as the gurbani is playing.

    I would love to use this service. i like listening to gurbani, but don’t understand all of it, so my attention goes away.

    if i knew what they were saying…reading the engligh translation while its playing.

  24. isingh says:

    Man*inder, this page has everything you need:

    but you have to do some “finger work”…find out what the shabad is called(that you’re listening to and then find it’s translation…) and so on…

  25. Man * Inder says:

    ok, thanks.

  26. meera says:

    dear gurmustak ji,
    if you put an entry barrier through memberships, something terirble will happen. the random person who comes for a lark, will never come back and you wd have lost a beautiful chance to enrich his mind. such ppl are really trying to find where the Lord is…and it is through such chance encounters they find Him…therefore, depending on donations is best…the Lord sends lots…and He will send bhaktas who will wish you well, pray for you and send you money…