Ok, confession time… I know the title of this post is a bit of an attention-getter. But I doubt anyone would click on a boring title like “The Process of Publishing Music”
Plus, I see a lot of people looking for free music. I get it, times are tight and we all like free stuff. Nevertheless, I thought I’d do composers a good turn and take the time to give you a look at what it takes to get a piece of music out into the world.
Read on. You may be surprised at just how much work is involved. Depending upon the length and difficulty of the music it can take hours, even days, or weeks to compose and publish a piece of music that is ready to be taught.
Musical Knowledge and Expertise
A composer must have the knowledge and inspiration to be able to compose a quality piece of music.
In the case of piano pedagogical music, the composer must be able to write for students of multiple levels using a variety of genres and styles.
Being able to do this requires a special type of composer, one who knows and understands the needs of piano students and can compose music specifically designed for their motivation and advancement.
In addition to composing the piece. A composer must also know how to use music notation software and recording and mixing software. The music must be published somewhere, that is, hosted on a website or other platform.
Getting the music out in front of teachers so they know that it exists, requires that a composer be able to play well enough to record the music or pay someone to do it.
The pdf must be published somewhere for teachers to be able to access it. This means the composer must have the ability to operate a website or publish on Amazon or another platform.
A video or mp3 of the music requires that the composer has the know-how to turn the music into something that can be watched or listened to. This also must be hosted somewhere requiring further knowledge including how to publish on Vimeo or run a YouTube channel.
Marketing and Advertising
This may seem extraneous but making people aware that the music exists is one of a composer’s greatest and most labor-intensive challenges.
In order to do this, a composer must post and advertise on social media in music-related publications, and on the internet. In most cases, composers maintain an email list. Most composers I know also conduct webinars and podcasts, write blog posts, (like this one that I have already spent three hours working on) and offer training and courses.
Think of Facebook Live events, free webinars, YouTube videos that offer free training, etc. Things like webinars may be free to the teachers who sign up for them, but composers must pay for the ability to host them.
This step is crucial, without marketing, a composer can write music all day long, but no one will ever know about it.
There is probably a lot of beautiful music that has been written that we will never hear. (sad)
These are the steps I take to deliver a piece of music to teachers and students. (To save time I will bullet point these steps) Free piano teaching games you can use online.
Composing the piece
- Sketch out the form, and the musical ideas I will be using.
- Go to my computer and begin to notate the music using Finale music notation software.
- Format and edit the piece, adding dynamics, articulation, and the worst part, fingering.
- Send the music to be proofread and proofread it myself.
Recording the Music
- Go to the piano and make a perfect recording of the piece. (Keeping in mind, that professional piano teachers are going to be listening to it.)
- Master the recording using Logic or Garage Band.
- Transfer the recording to iMovie and turn it into a video that can be published on YouTube and my website.
- Alternatively, I can turn the midi file into an mp3 and master it and post just the mp3 file or use it to create a video.
Publishing the Music
- Using the Adobe Acrobat I must create a cover page, do any last-minute editing and then optimize the pdf. (The pdf must be optimized, or it will come out looking messed up when it is downloaded.)
- Log on to my WordPress website upload the music.
- Add a description of the music and tags to the download page.
- Choose artwork and create a cover for the piece using the Canva software.
- Format the recording using iMovie so that it can be hosted on YouTube.
- Upload the music to YouTube tag it and get the link.
- Using the video plugin on WordPress upload the video and create a link and post it on the download page so that it can be viewed.
- Create screenshots of the music for the download page.
- Link the download page to the page where the music can be seen by teachers.
Marketing the Music
- Post the piece on my Facebook Page YouTube and in Various places.
- Purchase advertising.
- Send an email to the teachers at Paloma Piano.
Selling the Music
- Maintain a website and PayPal account to take payments from customers.
- Deal with customer service issues to make sure teachers are getting what they need when they need it.
A few thoughts
As you can see there is a lot going on behind the scenes.
Although there are different means to the end, all composers must compose, publish and market their music.
We love it but make no mistake, it takes hard work.
You can get free public domain music on sites like IMSLP however, these are older additions because the engraving and editing music also be in the public domain. If I want to publish a Bach Minuet I need to engrave and edit the music myself.
I and other composers enjoy giving away some free music to help other teachers and give them a chance to sample what we have to offer.
Changes in Music Publishing
Music publishing has changed a lot since the digital age, and it is still changing. Going through major publishers and buying single copies of music used to be the only way to get sheet music.
Composers who publish with these major publishing houses have the strength of their advertising and distribution behind them. But they receive pennies on the dollar for their music and it is difficult to get them to accept new music.
The music publishing industry has changed a lot with the ability to download copy and print music. In many ways, it has gotten better for all of us. There is so much more opportunity for great music to be written, taught, and played.
Today, there are so many wonderful composers working hard to publish music that helps students and teachers be successful. Each one deserves to earn money for their work just as each teacher deserves to be paid for the work that they do.
A Big Thank You!
When I began Paloma Piano, I must admit I worried about people being able to join the membership download all the music, and leave.
I am happy to say this has not been the case! I have found my fellow musicians to be amazingly fair, honorable, and professional. I in turn am thrilled to be a part of such a great community.
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