The old way of doing music publishing is outdated and slow.
It is not rare for me to experience a period of two years between the time I finish a work and the time I actually see it in print. In an age where the internet provides so much instantaneous content, I find the speed of the music publishing industry to be unbelievably lethargic.
One May, I received a commission to write a piece to be premiered by an All-State chorus at a convention. It was under time constraints. The conductor needed professional copies to purchase by August. Since it was Summer, I had the time to write. I woke up from a nap with a flash of inspiration and wrote most of the piece in one night. I spent the next week revising and sent a score and a midi file to the conductor in early June. He loved it. So, I called the publisher.
Publishers usually love getting pieces on state-wide conventions because it helps them sell copies. When all the different high school directors in a state hear a piece they like, they tend to buy lots of copies. I said, "Look, this piece is going on a state-wide convention. We will be able to move some copies. The only thing is, it's the beginning of June and they want to be able to order it by sometime in August. That gives us three months. Can you do it?"
They talked it over and decided that it would be impossible to print the work in three months time. It was too much of a rush. In this case, I decided to do it myself. I had professional quality octavos printed, sold them to the state of Louisiana for $150.00 for about 75 copies. To make $150.00 through a traditional publisher, I would need to sell around 1000 copies. (I covered the financial issue in a previous blog which you can read here.)
It is silly that I can print a copy from my computer in seconds, but a publisher won't print a piece in three months time.
My friend, the amazing composer, Sydney Guillaume, has been selling his music from his website for two years. He doesn't have to wait for it to be available. In addition to being instantly available, he makes all the profits. Go visit his site and buy some of his stuff!
At MusicSpoke, we are working to build a new fast model of music publication. Publication and marketability will be instantaneous. There will not be a two year turn around. We are trying to set up a vehicle so that you don't have to hire a programmer to build a website and a store. Visit our page, sign up, and we'll keep you posted on what we are doing.