Managing Your Own Music Publishing

September 29, 2017

ASMAC’s First Wednesdays event titled “Managing Your Own Music Publishing” was presented by a panel of five industry professionals (Gregg Nestor, Jill Ferguson, Abby North, Dave Black, and host Jeannie Poole). The event took place on September 7, 2017 at Evergreen Studios in Burbank.

The commentary was well thought out and informative, and covered a wide variety of subjects and scenarios pertaining to the current musical climate. There were many pertinent questions that were addressed at the event, and there was even a music lawyer in attendance who was gracious enough to answer several questions from the audience. For those in attendance who have thought about self publishing, the panel offered some excellent tips and advice on how to manage your own music publishing. Some of the many topics discussed during the event included the following (in no particular order):

(1) Copyright your compositions and arrangements. 

(2) Register all your material with a licensing organization such as ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC, who will track your performances and pay quarterly royalties.

(3) Tune into the patterns and opportunities that exist in whatever music market you’re aiming for. In other words, “What kind of material are composers not writing, for which there is a definable need? ”

(4) Digitize your scores. Scanners are relatively cheap.

(5) Every cue in a movie score should be specified as a separate entity. Make sure you title and designate them as such.

(6) Make a list of your copyrights and designate the location so others can track them down in your absence, or in the event of your death.

(7) Use free services such as YouTube and Spotify to showcase your work. Be visible and accessible, and make it convenient for people to hear your work.

(8) Maintain a website where you can sell your work, and post updates about your career.

(9) Even though we live in a digital age, printed music still accounts for a large part of what people buy, so don’t discount the commercial value of printed music.

(10) Finale and Sibelius are the only engraving/scoring apps accepted by the major publishers. For the most part, they no longer accept hand-written manuscripts.

(11) Digitize your old cassettes, 8-track tapes and VHS tapes for prosterity. You’ll be amazed at the material you may have forgotten about.

(12) Include a sound recording of your scores on your website so people can hear a sample of what they’re buying. 

The three hours went by quickly, and the audience was enthusiastically engaged the entire time.  Many of the panelists stayed after the event ended to answer additional questions from audience members who didn’t have the opportunity to speak during the event, or who wanted more specific information on some of the topics discussed.   This was a very well-attended, interactive and informative event. Please check the members only video page for a full event replay that will certainly be one for the history books.

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