Starting and running publishing business

Printing, binding, promotion and the business side of engraving.
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OCTO
Posts: 1036
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 06:52
Location: Sweden

Starting and running publishing business

Post by OCTO » 23 Nov 2015, 12:16

PART ONE.

Hello everyone.
Here I will describe in short how to start and run your publishing business, from my experience, you might have another. Please share your ideas!

I will answer to tisimst questions from our private correspondence:

- How long have you been doing this?
For about 4,5 years.

- Have you had good success?
I can't directly answer to this question, since the purpose of my edition is to publish mostly my music and some other stuff that I like and can afford. It is extremely limited and niched. The fact is that I have mostly sold rights to perform music, herewith including the performance material. Thus the income is mostly by hiring the material, and less by selling just one score to a customer, but it happens of course.

I have developed channels for printing and distribution. I just get an order and submit to the printer, that prints and posts. That I see as a success (it took years to figure out everything). Contact me privately to obtain more direct info.

- What kind of demand do you see?

As far as my music is performed I see demand.

Concerning other music (other composers, arrangements, old music) - it is possible to awake demand IF some conditions are met:

* music must be very well engraved and HiQ printed

* channels for promotion/selling must be established (musicroom, di-arezzo and other places where people search for the most)

* music must be delineated, thus lifting demands for buyers.
Example: publishing Bach's Violin Solo-Sonatas is not good - it takes enormous time to engrave it, and it will be paid back only in the case you sell in 2000 examples, because reprinting costs of Edition Peters are so small. Question is if you will ever succeed.
But if you publish the same piece with well-renomed violinist's fingerings and bowing, than it could be a chance to sell it better. Also, there must be a niche: new exciting arrangements, focus on ensemble or instrument, badly printed music that is re-published correctly, music for schools, theory books.

Once the publishing company is "on the legs", it is important to do networking: finding indie composers, arrangers, teachers who possess extremely good music and material but they couldn't manage to publish somewhere else.

- Where do you see the industry going?

This is the most difficult question but I will reply what I believe is the way. Personally I am not interested in this domain, since I am mostly composer.

1. I believe that the big publishing companies will dissolve in the flowing 20 years. They will probably be transformed partly to some artistic companies, keeping some unique composers on the list of copyrights (Ligeti, Lutoslawski, Messiaen...), and partly they will continue with popular music. They simply don't have solution for digital world of Internet accessibility, business equality, artistic quality, IMSLP, free software and so on.

In 70's B&H director said: "you are not in business because of music, you are in music because of business". The big publishing houses must create demands (living composers), because they need to sell. Unfortunately, publishers don't have capacity for artistic decisions, that is the most problematic for them.
The problem they face:
- the old plate-engraving hi-niche-work is removed, and digital engraving, digital publishing, digital selling creates new possibilities open for everyone. Anyone can establish publishing company, make extremely beautiful scores, print it and sell it with small budget. It will be more pressure on this side. Artists are getting more independent.
- their newly signed composers must create additional new demands, thus for the old (died) ones the chances are not given anymore.

2. I believe therefore that the publishing industry will be granulated. Many small publishing companies will be established (1-5 men company). These new companies must work for and with composers, must have extremely good quality (LilyPond engravers here?) and must have low costs. Cross-over with other companies must be established (like printing, posting, registering rights...). And above all, these small companies must establish new music demands (new exciting music of Indian composers <idea!>, new arrangements etc..), far from this nonsense printing of everything.

3. I believe that printing non-digital sheet will remain as is (to print something like on paper). This is because music is not for one-term use. People want to store their scores, they can be used for decades (will today's PDF-file be compatible with some computer in 20+ years, will your hard-disk be compatible too?). Paper scores can be used and stored at any place.
Therefore I think that publishing business must focus on printed material, rather than selling just digital copies. Now it is to much hype of PDF selling; but I believe that people don't understand what is digital in the whole chain: digital is the business-flow and analog is the product. If you sell not demanded PDF - you will loose money, nobody buys it. If you sell demanded PDF - you will loose money, it will be illegally spread. The only way you can go around it is to create a hardware like Amazon Kindle and sell it only to that hardware. But that can barely do Amazon.
Last edited by OCTO on 12 Nov 2017, 20:39, edited 3 times in total.
Freelance Composer. Self-Publisher.
Finale 25 • Sibelius 8 • MuseScore 2 • Logic Pro X • Ableton Live 9 • Digital Performer 9 /// OS X El Capitan, (side system: Debian 9, Windows 7)

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OCTO
Posts: 1036
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 06:52
Location: Sweden

Starting and running publishing business

Post by OCTO » 23 Nov 2015, 12:17

PART TWO

There are several aspects of the publishing business.

1. Music (Art)
As a product by itself, music scores must have two striking elements.
- They must be well engraved. Here it is important to keep the printed music error-free. Multiple proofreading is needed to fix all mistakes. The best way to make close-to an error-free score is to use it: perform, play.
- It must be demand for them. Therefore niched scores are always better than all-purpose scores. As an example above, printing a famous work with new fingerings is maybe the way. There are many other ways, of course.

2. Technology.
Here are the steps one has to go through to be able to sell as a publisher:
Well done scores, exported and saved as PDF, with good covers, and if needed ISMN or ISBN numbers.
These PDF files must be submitted to the printer. Never use offset or litho printing, as a small publisher. Use Print on demand printing. It means: only one example is printed when you sell it. I print my music at two printers, one for small scores and one for big scores. The quality is astonishing. Send me message if you want more info.
Distribution: do not print, pack, and go to the post office. Let someone do it cheaper and more effective. Both printers mentioned above print and distribute worldwide, both standard and express.
Place to sell: you can make your own web-shop easily. If you know how to edit settings in your Gmail, probably you will know how to make a web-shop. You can either do everything by yourself (costs little) or let some other services do it. You can sell on eBay, Amazon as well, and it can be your web-shop. You can also buy a domain name and install the shop there.
Place to promote: internet forums, libraries, institutions (flyers), cooperation with Musicroom, di-Arezzo and similar.
Last edited by OCTO on 23 Nov 2015, 12:33, edited 1 time in total.
Freelance Composer. Self-Publisher.
Finale 25 • Sibelius 8 • MuseScore 2 • Logic Pro X • Ableton Live 9 • Digital Performer 9 /// OS X El Capitan, (side system: Debian 9, Windows 7)

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OCTO
Posts: 1036
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 06:52
Location: Sweden

Re: Starting and running publishing business

Post by OCTO » 23 Nov 2015, 12:25

PART THREE

Costs.

Publishing company doesn't mean 1000+ employees and big production halls. It is your computer and you.

Here is the minimum possible calculation.

1. Registering the company (if you don't have any) & setting up bank accounts. (=depends worldwide)
2. Buying computer and running the software (used computer + externals about 500$; software: Linux, LilyPond or MuseScore, Scribus, etc. = everything free).
3. Webshop + domain (domain + hosting = 70$/year; webshop = free open source). This you can skip if selling on eBay or Amazon.

So if you have a computer and printer, it is already more than done, you need domain
If you have computer, business and domain, you need just some scores to sell.
Last edited by OCTO on 23 Nov 2015, 12:33, edited 1 time in total.
Freelance Composer. Self-Publisher.
Finale 25 • Sibelius 8 • MuseScore 2 • Logic Pro X • Ableton Live 9 • Digital Performer 9 /// OS X El Capitan, (side system: Debian 9, Windows 7)

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OCTO
Posts: 1036
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 06:52
Location: Sweden

Re: Starting and running publishing business

Post by OCTO » 23 Nov 2015, 12:33

PART FOUR

Pathway.

Here is the road from your machine to the customer.

1. Engrave music, very high quality. Make ready PDF (ready = in according to the printer's needs).
2. Set up the item in your web shop (price, description, pictures, examples etc.).
3. When a customer buys that score (makes order) in that moment send that PDF to the printer service. Do not send PDF to the printer before since they usually charge for the initial set-up. So basically, the printing services I use store my PDFs at their servers, so that in the future I just say what to print and where to send. But to put it on the server that PDF they charge it once (let us say 15$). Therefore, it is not needed to store it at the printers' server until someone buys it. I believe that this initial charge is to prevent publishers to send anew new versions, because each file they need to tweak according to the printing machines (color separation, sizes etc...).
4. After the initial set up of your PDF on the printer's side (usually a few hours), submit the order to the printer, with all information about the order. The printer prints and ships the order to your customer.

You have charged the customer on step 3 and the printer charges you on the step 4.
As you can see, no costs are present for you before the initial sale.
Last edited by OCTO on 26 Nov 2015, 07:07, edited 1 time in total.
Freelance Composer. Self-Publisher.
Finale 25 • Sibelius 8 • MuseScore 2 • Logic Pro X • Ableton Live 9 • Digital Performer 9 /// OS X El Capitan, (side system: Debian 9, Windows 7)

User avatar
OCTO
Posts: 1036
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 06:52
Location: Sweden

Re: Starting and running publishing business

Post by OCTO » 25 Nov 2015, 13:06

PART FIVE

Recommendations.

For COMPOSERS
1. Have ready HiQ engraved scores is the must.
2. Establish relation with the printing and posting service
3. Have somewhere on the Internet to offer your music
4. Extra: you need an agent and if you want only to compose, someone who will run your publishing on simple basis

For ENGRAVERS
1. Find composers or arrangers you want to work with and believe in the artistic quality
2. Establish relation with the printing and posting service
3. Have somewhere on the Internet to offer your music

For INVESTITORS
1. Find composers or arrangers you want to work with and believe in the artistic quality
2. Find engravers who will make HiQ engraved scores.
3. Establish relation with the printing and posting service
4. Have somewhere on the Internet to offer your publications
5. Everything else to run business (bookkeeper, admin, agent).
Last edited by OCTO on 26 Nov 2015, 05:56, edited 1 time in total.
Freelance Composer. Self-Publisher.
Finale 25 • Sibelius 8 • MuseScore 2 • Logic Pro X • Ableton Live 9 • Digital Performer 9 /// OS X El Capitan, (side system: Debian 9, Windows 7)

Knut
Posts: 867
Joined: 05 Oct 2015, 18:07
Location: Oslo, Norway

Re: Starting and running publishing business

Post by Knut » 25 Nov 2015, 18:00

Octo!

Thank you for so generously sharing this 'guide to music publishing' with the members on the forum!
Your 'print on demand' approach is a great idea, and shows that it is possible to establish an outlet with modest means, a focus on quality and the right contacts.

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Schneider
Posts: 58
Joined: 09 Oct 2015, 06:50
Location: Paris

Re: Starting and running publishing business

Post by Schneider » 26 Nov 2015, 06:51

Knut wrote:[...] Your 'print on demand' approach is a great idea [...]
+1 :)
~Pierre

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