Sample Set Hauptwerk in Italy:
is it possible to start a commercial project?

by Andrea Bonzi

There are now dozens of sample-set producers worldwide for Hauptwerk.
The "historical" names - Organ Art Media, Sonus Paradisi, Pipeloops, Prospectum, Sygsoft, Lavender Audio, Augustine, Milan Digital Audio itself - have been joined by many others: the offer is vast and there are many hundreds of instruments reproduced with various sound and graphic quality; RAM requests and the "weight" of the individual sample sets are also extremely variable.
Prices are also extremely variable from one producer to another, going from amount well above a thousand euros to a few hundred, up to sets below one hundred - often without any direct proportion between prices and the size of the sample set itself; there are also those who, like Piotr Grabowski, offer good quality sets that are completely free, sometimes even of considerable size.
Commercial producers are well distributed in the world: the United States, England, northern Europe, Hungary, Switzerland, up to South Africa. It is sufficient to scroll the pages of the information website of Gérard Lefranc to become aware of a booming reality.

And in Italy?

In our country, at least officially, to date there are no commercial sample-set producers for Hauptwerk: comments have also been received regarding this site which express surprise that the sample sets published so far - and recognized as of good quality, comparable to the average of commercial sets - they are free.
For this reason it seemed appropriate to address the issue by trying to focus on some reasons that we seem to be able to identify and which seem to prevent, at least so far, any attempt in this direction.
These are purely technical reasons that concern in particular the Italian tax culture and its conception of "income" almost unique in the world.


The first fact with which we must clash when we consider the hypothesis of a commercial project is that in Italy the law in general is intricate and opaque and above allfully subject to jurisprudential interpretation. That is to say: the law does not lie in the simple application of the rules but in the changeability of the interpretations linked to the sentences that follow one another over time.

Secondly, Italy is endowed with an order that is incredibly pervasive and hyperregulated in tax matters, sometimes contradictory between the civil and tax headquarters and with an exponential increase in rules and constraints unknown to most but which in the last twenty years has taken on dramatic connotations. for small and medium-sized entrepreneurs, increasingly suffocated between bureaucratic burdens and obligations and perpetually subjected to the sword of Damocles of defaults which inevitably lurk in the intricate and contradictory regulatory complexity.

In general, after a minimum of documentation, we have been able to establish that practically any income, even occasional, in Italy constitutes taxable income except for very few exceptions: including liberal offers and donations, even including personal loans that do not come from relatives (the latter should also reported to the Revenue Agency subject to a 4% tax). In the case of the sets for Hauptwerk advertised on this site, it would even be a business activity with all the necessary costs, as we will explain shortly.

A simple Google search (compare the articles here and here - articles only in italian) in fact, it makes clear that a commercial project for the sale of the sample sets for Hauptwerk in Italy lacks the requirement of being occasional fundamental so that the relative revenues do not constitute business income; the repeated sale of the same asset is in fact different from the "one-off" sale of a hobby product.
The possibility of occasional sale as a private individual is therefore excluded; on the other hand, it is immediate to understand that the very low numbers involved, especially for a project in the initial stages, discourage the idea of the onerous investment necessary to set up as a company. How can it be considered realistic to set up a company solely to sell a few dozen products per year, with a gross income estimated at a few hundred euros at most?


One could think of evading the commercial aspect by leaving the sets freely downloadable, without imposing any payment obligation but giving the possibility of a free offer. But even in this case things are not so simple ...
Reading this article (and unfortunately we are sure that it is only one of countless examples: the classic tip of the iceberg) it left us more than surprised: not so much for the extreme rigidity - in some respects to the limit of the arbitrary when it comes to fines imposed compared to a maximum income only assumed but not proven on the basis of reliable data - in the application of tax legislation as for the fact that in the same institutions there are discordant voices and opinions, also in the legal field.

Put simply, there is no choice but to start a business, even if only to sell a few dozen sample sets per year with gross revenues as a result - a situation apparently unequal compared to the charges imposed by tax obligations, tax advice and how much other. Any other road exposes the risk of heavy tax penalties, especially in this historical moment in which the "fight against tax evasion" seems to be the panacea for all our ills and is being heralded as one of the main workhorses not only by certain media propaganda but even in the same political sphere.


Of course, there remains the possibility of publishing only free sets, without requiring any type of compensation: we should remember, however, that we would be the only ones to practice this solution. Piotr Grabowski himself, whose sample sets, to date, are downloadable for free, still requires a free offer in order to subsidize the project: in Italy even this solution does not seem feasible, as the latest proposed article would demonstrate. Unless you set up a non-profit organization, which - provided that it is possible: it is not necessarily the case that our business has the requisites for it - would impose charges and obligations almost equal to those of a company without even giving the opportunity to achieve its profits. .

The production of a single sample-set for Hauptwerk requires dozens or hundreds of hours of processing in addition to the purchase of suitable audio equipment and transfers with often nocturnal recording sessions: a demanding job which, given what has been exposed so far, seems impossible to have a adequate economic recognition.
We leave to the reader the judgment on the fairness of an order that considers the millionaire's tax evasion of the great entrepreneur and the fictitious one deriving from the need to defend itself from burdens and obligations totally out of all proportion to the very modest profits of a project like ours; not to mention the ways in which checks and inspections are often carried out - as any professional or small business owner knows well.
We only allow ourselves to remember how this situation, which has very heavy repercussions on the entire world of work at a national level, has deep roots in a mentality that has increasingly taken hold in recent decades: a mentality in which, whether we like it or not, we are immersed and from which we are conditioned in an increasingly pervasive way.


At the end of this reflection we are keen to make readers and those who have so far appreciated the published sample sets that we reserve the right to delay the publication of the next sets until we can find a more acceptable solution than the pure and simple free transfer. This is so as not to take away value from an activity which is in fact a job, with all the meanings that the term entails.
We are confident that we can count on the understanding of those who read us and who have supported us so far in this project - which we hope to continue with new publications soon.