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What does Internet Have to Offer for Contemporary Composers?
To begin with, I would like to define the notion of publishing itself, to make it fully clear in simple words. So, basically, publishing your music means putting it OUT THERE in order for people to hear it. As with any kinds of media, you can find a publisher who will have the whole work done for you, OR you can do it yourself, which is called SELF-publishing. In this article I tried to outline how you can do it in both ways.
Recent Trends in the Music Industry
Within the last decade the way music industry functions has significantly changed. Be it for the reason of growing accessibility of online resources or for the redefinition of priorities, but today the former strict attachment of a musician to a third party is no longer that evident. The number of alternatives keeps enhancing and the choice is being diversified. Let's take a glance at the new aspect the music world has taken on.
Imagine a Situation
Suppose you are a purposeful and committed composer. Or arranger. Or both of the above mentioned together. You have some good pieces of music in your repertoire but you have no idea how to let them be known by the public at little or no cost. You need to find out how to publish your music. The task is clear, let's look at the options.
Traditional Methods of Music Publishing
Those who may still consider traditional music publishing a rather safer and more secure way of promotion can stick to the standard scenario of cooperating with one of the renowned providers of these services. These can be Performing Rights Societies – like ASCAP, BMI, GEMA, Kobalt (to name just a few) – that would take charge solely of your performing rights and gather money from certain types of public performance or reproducing of your music (e.g. concert halls, TV, cable, etc.). Or, you could contact Music Publishers (Alfred, Hal Leonard, Boosey) that would handle the material side of your work: printing and distributing of your sheet music. Of course, most of these companies will make sure your rights are secured, your music is distributed and your persona is promoted, with the least effort needed on your side. There might be differences in contracts but the idea is like that. However, such organized activity requires fundamental funding, so don’t be surprised when eventually you get just 15% commission off the sales at best. Sometimes, the revenue might not reach you at all. Moreover, they usually prefer to deal with people who have already ‘earned a name’.
Getting a Personal Website
If the cited method is not what you think would suit you best – here is what the new technologies have to offer you. First of all, you can try to go on a so-called solo self-reliant sailing. Absolutely on your own. That would imply creating your own website and entail constant update of its contents – posting news, links, samples and what not – in other words, being consistent. A simple site doesn’t present many difficulties, however, if you like to create something more refined, like establish an online store – that would demand more knowledge and efforts. What regards marketing techniques, you will have to begin with as simple and direct ones as spreading a word among your friends, relatives, acquaintances. Social network activity will be fine too – uploading some of your works on a MySpace page could do the job. Thus, your site = your risk, your responsibility. That’s where you begin the self-publishing.
Websites to Help You Get Published
Yet there is another scenario you could go for. Out there in the open scope of the Web one can come across a number of websites that represent the new trend in music publishing. They vary by the type of services they provide, but all of them are useful in their own way and are no doubt a new word in this sphere. That is a big cake that can feed all the talents of the music community.
Talking about the opportunity to publish your sheet music online, a huge slice of the cake belongs to a group of web platforms that provide tangible support to new composers.
Those websites like www.musicaneo.com, www.mystorescore.com, www.scoreexchange.com, www.musicalion.com all have one thing in common - they give a chance to shine and to be heard.
Of course, there are nuances in functioning of each of them. Let's look at the chart below where I tried to systematize a bit the evaluation of main services provided by these websites.
Let's Compare the Figures
As you are able to observe, all these websites allow the author to reserve the full copyright and serve just as platforms for distributing (publishing) his/her music. The good thing is that most of them don't charge any fee for membership. As for the services available, one can get a unique URL at www.MusicaNeo for free and also at musicalion after paying the full membership fee of 29 EUR per year. Such pages will serve you as your own websites. Only one of the analyzed sites offers composers to sell not only sheet music but also the rights for its performance, either for a singular or for multiple performances (MusicaNeo). The same site also provides its users with the service of transforming handwritten sheet music into printable digital format. What regards the payment procedure, it's necessary to mention two aspects that usually cause clients' concern. First, the amount of commission that a composer earns, and second, timing/method of payment. In two cases the author receives up to 80% of commission off every sold item (ScoreExchange - 50%-80%, and Myscorestore 80%, excluding VAT), MusicaNeo charges 33% for its service, and Musicalion lets the composer get all he/she sold after charging either 9 EUR per 2 months or 19 EUR per 6 months or 29 EUR per year. The earned money usually is transferred to a PayPal or a bank account, and the transaction is performed at the end of each quarter (ScoreExchange and Mystorescore) or month (Musicalion). MusicaNeo transfers money immediately (or on request). Eventually, to get a better understanding of the whole procedure (which is not at all complicated) and to learn how to self-publish music, you can pick any website and go directly to their web address. Finally, to draw a line to the conducted analysis, it's essential to say that all the websites under consideration present interesting resources to use.
However, if I were to pick one, I would highlight Publish Sheet Music at MusicaNeo as the most innovative and an easy-to-use platform, judging by the selected criteria.
Other Ways of Self-Promotion
Alongside with such publishing platforms, the world networks bulks in online music stores. The most well-known include SheetMusicPlus, MusicNotes, MusicRoom or JWpepper.
However, these websites mostly offer sheet music distributed by the publishers and do not let composers publish their works. We’ll get to them next time, as for now your main aim is to sort out a different task.
Am I going to get rich now ?
Having set their choice on one of the publishing platforms, some of you may think their job is done here and relax waiting for millions of banknotes to flow to their account. A-ah, too early. Virtual world conceals too many illusions and surrenders only to those who know how to get use of it properly. In the first months after your sheet music has appeared online, get ready to run down the problem of low traffic, meaning there will be few visits of your personal site. But don’t get upset.
Consider this: would you yourself buy music scores of some unknown composer? Doubtful. Even offering your works for free access does not at all guarantee hundreds of downloads. That is why you are to adopt an important thought – Internet is just a bonus-tool: effective but additional. Working a name – this is where you are to depart from. A sequence like ‘giving a concert – entering a music contest – video recording the performance – posting it online’ is sure to bear perceptibly more fruit than uploading the unknown music scores and leave them hang out there like a dead weight. Extend the ‘live’ audience of your music: if you snatch out their interest, people will try finding you online for more music, photos, news, personal facts, etc. You need to acquire some level of popularity before online promotion turns into a helping hand for you.
How do I Acquire the Desired Popularity?
To earn a name (exactly to ‘earn’, as it’s hard work in fact) you’d have to follow a step-by-step scheme. No one can get you better promoted than you yourself. And you have to keep that in mind all the time. There is no need to rush the events and be flashy in self-advertising. Success comes to those who are considerate and thoughtful in acting. That’s why after publishing music one had better focus on the most basic things at the beginning: the way of its presentation. That involves a number of things but can be generalized in one simple phrase – quality content. This is what is going to be promoted in fact, so it’s better to make sure that all the data you put online is worthy.
After the needed level of quality is reached, it’s time to proceed to linking. The more often you are mentioned online, the more ‘liked’ you become by both search engines and people’s Internet community. Moreover, just like you get ‘social’ in real life, you can be social in digital world. Being spotted in all possible social networks, forums, blogs, videos, articles, etc. would surely broaden your own network of useful contacts and would eventually start building the needed online reputation. And that, in its turn, is easily transferred into the live one.
15 years earlier - would you believe in such an opportunity? What used to be incredible and too remote now comprises the present. If you are up-to-date and are ready to bring your creative work to the next level, it's about time to grab the chance. Contrary to the well-spread prejudices, it doesn't take a fortune to get 'published'.
Self-publishing has taken its turn. But do not forget that to bring your name to the top, you need to work hard both in the real life space and in the digital world. Whatever promotional tools you may choose to apply, the key to your success is your MUSIC. So please, do write it well.
What About a Poll?
Obviously, there are many ways of getting promoted. I would love to find out what it feels like for you - which ways do you take to get to the top? Please, vote!
How do YOU prefer to get your music
Books on music publishing
Thank you for reading my lens. I would appreciate it if you left a word down there - would be great to know what you think on the topic! It's a controversial one, isn't it?