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Sending PDF sample copies

Composer ands arranger colleagues --
 
I have come across a situation that has me steaming mad. I was requested by a teacher via email for a review copy of a new version of one of my pieces. As I was just finishing this version I sent the completed copy as a PDF via email.
 
I recently received another email saying he approved of my piece due to having held a rehearsal which went well and to bill him for 20 copies yet hard copies were not needed to be sent. Here is my response:
 
 
"Mr. and Mrs. Requester --
I am curious to know how you held a rehearsal of my piece without permission to copy it or without purchasing it. The fact you state "hard copies not necessary" tells me illegal copies have been made. As flattering as your request is I cannot approve of such actions. The PDF copy I sent was sent as a review copy only, as requested by you. I stated in a previous email I do not sell my music on a buy-one-copy-duplicate-as -you-like basis, but rather as traditional publishers have - ordering and receiving as many as needed."
 
 
This is as far as I've gone as I'm not sure what to say next. I am VERY tempted to pull permission for this person to use my music, but as the piece is already in the hands of his choir I'm not sure that would be effective, rather I fear he may use the piece as a freebie. Please share with me any similar stories and how they were resolved. I am not replying to this person until I see what the wisdom of this list has to say. Thank you in advance for your advice.
 
Craig
 
Replies (41): Threaded | Chronological
on August 23, 2012 8:20am
I'm gonna say something I shoudln't say out loud:  This is a sin but one of those lesser sins, imo.  Let me QUICKLY add that I am NOT a composer and so I've never had my music stolen. If I received a review copy and wasn't sure I liked it, I might well contact the composer and say, may I make 20 copies, rehearse it, and see, and then if I like it I'll pay you?  that's very awkward, though., isn't it?  Obviosuly the best of all worls is to buy it, try it, and if you don't like it, oh well. But... so if you make copies, hate it, and destroy them, you've done no harm.  And if you make copies, lvoe the piece and want to pay for them, you've really done no harm either. Yes, it's a violation of copyright, but ultimately they did the right thing.  So I'd call it a small sin.
 
It's similar, im my mind, to making copies whiel waiting for an order to arrive, even without an imminent performance, then throwing them out when your music comes in.  The worst sin is wasting all that paper!
 
David
 
Applauded by an audience of 3
on August 23, 2012 12:22pm
Hi Craig:
 
I'll share some thoughts, and hope that you will take all of them in the spirit in which they are offered, and not be offended by anything.  I don't know how to be helpful in any other way than by being honest.  Can I say that you are being very wise here, by asking for some feedback before you respond to the choir director, without sounding patronizing or condescending?  I don't know.  But you are.
 
First, I'm wondering if you have a watermark on each of your review PDFs that you send out? Something like: "Review Copy Only--Please Do Not Duplicate." (You can go to www.choralmelodies.com and look at any of my PDFs there if you want to see what I did with mine.) If you do, then the teacher clearly violated your request. If you sent out a "clean” copy that could be duplicated (physically, if not legally) and easily read by the singers, then the teacher may have thought that it was somehow alright to take your piece for a test drive before deciding whether to purchase and use. Did the teacher violate copyright law in any case? Yes, at least temporarily. On the other hand, however, he or she did contact you to request a bill for 20 copies. Does this negate or erase the original violation?  No, but...
 
From various posts I've read here on ChoralNet, it's become pretty clear that many (too many!) choir directors simply don't understand how copyright law works, and exactly what is and what is not allowable under the current laws—not to mention what is fair to a composer (and composers appear to have to fight for fairness all too often). Perhaps you could take this opportunity to educate at least one of them--without losing a current and potential future patron?  I think if I were in your shoes I would respond to the choir director as if he or she truly did not understand how copyright law works, and explain my concerns as matter-of-factly as I could while expressing appreciation for his or her interest in my music.  I'm not suggesting that you take a position of weakness or vulnerability, but that you try to approach the problem as non-emotionally as possible and try to rescue or build up the relationship rather than take a "You done me wrong" approach that would make you feel better (temporarily) but which might end up making your composing life harder instead of easier. 
 
Second, I've never been a choir director, but have sung in many choirs, and I've only been trying to compose choral music for about three years. Although I'm a fairly good sight reader, one line or voice at a time, I am completely incapable of looking at a printed piece of music and "hearing" in my mind what it would actually sound like when sung by a choir.  And listening to a computer-generated playback of a piece is only sort of helpful, to both composers and choir directors, I think—although that is all a lot of us composers have to offer when we try to market our works. Further, it appears that these days choir directors have even less money to spend on new music than they had in the past (not happiness-producing for us composers, for sure), and perhaps being able to test pieces with their choirs is now quite important as they try to sort through what will and will not work with their groups and decide just which pieces are truly worth spending their precious resources on. In addition, this "test drive" ability may be especially important to new choir directors just starting out, or directors who are experienced but have a new job and an unfamiliar group of singers to work with.
 
So, maybe when we are lucky enough to be contacted by a choir director who may be interested in purchasing a piece of music from us, but who really would like to be able to test the piece with his or her choir in order to make a final decision, we could arrange to somehow accommodate this?  I’m not quite sure how I would do it, but maybe some more experienced composers (or choir directors) could suggest some good ideas that would be fair to each party?  As more and more of us composers choose to self-publish and self-market our works, we're going to have to work really hard to maintain our rights and make sure that patrons deal fairly with us, while at the same time try to accommodate choir directors' changing needs and desires.  If we can figure out some good ways to do this, I think it can be only a win-win-win situation for all of us.
 
I hope this has been at least a little bit helpful.
 
Applauded by an audience of 5
on August 25, 2012 9:43am
Julia,  Well-said.  I checked out your marketing page and, as a composer/director, feel that it is an excellent way to go: fair to both parties and put in amiable yet precise terms.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on August 24, 2012 7:24am
 
I have attended ASCAP workshops with noted composers who self-publish. To help avoid unauthorized copying, they use several methods. One is to send incomplete scores. Two other common methods are to watermark and use print-disable. Watermarking has long been done by major publishers, usually a statement across the page that reads "DO NOT COPY FOR PERUSAL ONLY" or something like that. With pdf's, using the print-disable function is a great method. The user can view the pdf on their computer, but is not able to print the document without a password. This password can then be forwarded/emailed if a user has reviewed the score on a computer & decides to make a purchase.  There are several programs that can enable these features, including Adobe Acrobat Pro.
Applauded by an audience of 4
on August 24, 2012 8:01am
To everyone who has responded, thank you for your insights. I realize I cannot undo what I and the director have done, just how to protect my samples better in the future. I will take the reccomendations made by everyone about print-protect, watermarking and incomplete scores. I can honestly say the actions of everyone, from myself, the offending director and your advice has been a learning experience that will stick with me a long time. 
Applauded by an audience of 1
on August 24, 2012 8:42am
Rich- print disable can be bypassed in a few ways with ease. I'm not going to say how, of course.
 
Probably the best thing to do is communicate and work with people and you will have to lay out some trust some or most of the time. My website (www.paulcarey.net) has only partial scores to view, yet if someone asks me for a perusal copy I give it to them, and usually I can tell by their emplyment status (what they do, where they work) if I think I can trust this person. I have had almost zero problems like this (knock on wood). I just think that you don't want to appear paranoid and lacking in trust. I hope that living composers want to work joyfully with conductors, not make them feel like we are distrustful. One further thing, most universities I have worked with are exceptionally good about these issues; in fact at a number of them the professors do not have copier access- ofice staff who know and enforce copyright law do the copying of approved items.
Applauded by an audience of 3
on August 24, 2012 9:24am
Craig -- I understand why you are steamed.  But it could be this conductor honestly thought making some copies and having a reading with his choir was part of his legitimate review process.  That assumes he would then tear up his xeroxes and order legit copies from you, and I guess we'll never know.
 
But the good news is that he likes and wants your piece!  And he's said to bill him for the 20 copies.  So you could do so and send him a business-like letter licensing him to make 20 copies for his own group's use.  That's how I sell my music.  Then you save your hard copies and postage, so maybe it's a better deal for you.  Alternatively, you could send him the 20 hard copies and a bill for their cost and shipping, explaining that this is your business model and requesting he destroy the unauthorized copies.
 
if you need to vent -- who doesn't from time to time? -- here or with friends makes sense.  With your customer, I'd suggest being diplomatic in the "small sins" spirit that David mentions and hope you can build a relationship with this conductor for further performances of your work.
 
Good luck!  
 
chris
 
Christopher J. Hoh
 
 
Applauded by an audience of 7
on August 24, 2012 9:53am
Hello.
 
Craig, I'm really sorry this has happened to you.
 
I found the posted advice here helpful. I usually send full PDFs of my music out to choral directors without diasabling print or using watermarks. I do this because I want so much for my music to be performed and used that I don't want to creat barriers to any possibl eperformances. If a choir dicrector 'seems' interested I just send it to them right away. I haven't been able to figure out how much money 'to charge.' If I created a download for 99 cents and then they downloaded one copy and made as many copies as they wanted on their own; I've just sold all those pages of work for only a dollar. (At least that's $1 dollar more than I"m currently making when I send it out free!).
 
I like the idea of sending incomplete scores but agree with one person's comment that some do not have the imagination or skill to 'hear' a score with just midii, or even a full score in hand. How can we help these people? They need all the support we can give (full PDF and midii...) So, perhaps the diabling print is the best way to go.
 
What I don't like about printing downloads is then you have all these loose sheets falling off the piano and you have to bind them somehow and this creates extra work for the 'potential shopper'. Maybe they don't even get to that point of siitting at the piano with it. Who know? At least that person cared enough about your music to seek it out and try to get a sense of what it sounded like and to see if it was 'possible' for them to take on. I don't think they should have copied something you clearly identified as 'for review only' though. 
 
I agree with the others that trying to keep a working relationship with this person is a good idea- although it will no doubt imply keeping some emotions held back. Good luck, and may many people 'review' your music (only!!) and then decide to buy it from you!
 
in peace,
Heather Seaton,
composer
 
 
on August 25, 2012 12:47am
As a director just new to the idea of trying out and maybe performing works by contemporary composers this has scared me right off.   
 
Applauded by an audience of 1
on August 25, 2012 6:23am
Oh, Jane, please, PLEASE don't be scared off!  I thought about Craig's situation all day yesterday while running errands around town, and as soon as I came home I made a big change to my own website, adding a large notice that says that I would be completely happy to allow choir directors to "test drive" any piece they wished to, before purchasing (or not).
 
So, before you write off all of us not-yet-dead, self-published composers, I would encourage you to post a brief message in the Composers Community here on ChoralNet and just ask how many of us would be happy to allow you or any other choir director to test any of our pieces with your own choir(s) before you decide to purchase (or not).  I'll bet that you will be very pleasantly surprised at all of the composers who jump up and say "I would, I would!"
Applauded by an audience of 2
on September 2, 2012 12:13pm
I just checked your web site Julia and you have made it very clear that you are most happy to have a piece "test driven".  You were very clear and inviting.  If more people followed that outline, there would be less misunderstanding.  We do have to be completely aware that not everyone understands the protocol especially if they haven't composed.  You have hit the nail on the head.  When you are "doing your own thing" then you have to be very forward thinking with contractual language.  
Applauded by an audience of 1
on September 2, 2012 2:26pm
Thank you, Kitty.  I'm very glad that my website is communicating what I hoped it would in terms of both the content and the tone.  I will do my best to encourage other composers to make their websites just as clear and inviting as they possibly can.
 
And I think I can speak for most self-published composers and simply say that we are tremendously grateful for all of the patience and forbearance of busy choir directors as we struggle to not only create good choral music, but try to learn about and master the business side as well.  Composing is really hard and time consuming; marketing is even harder and more time consuming!  So here's a great big THANK YOU to all choir directors who are taking the time to check out what we have to offer.  
on August 25, 2012 6:33am
Please reconsider, Jane!  Without meaning any disrespect to Craig, I think this was a new situation for him, and he may have jumped in without thinking it through first.  It's not a typical interaction between conductor and composer.  As Paul Carey said, my feeling is that most composers want to work joyfully with conductors.  And along with Paul and many other composers, I happily give out digital perusal copies of my scores when asked.  They are complete and printable, but watermarked and low-resolution.  And I always realize that there must be some level of trust, just as a traditional publisher mailing out single reference copies must trust its customers.  
 
I hope you won't write off the idea of doing contemporary music just because of one composer's bad experience!  There are many composers out here who are eager to work trustingly and happily with conductors.  I think I speak on their behalf in saying this.
 
Thanks for reading.
 
Best regards,
Joseph Gregorio
 
Applauded by an audience of 2
on August 26, 2012 5:44am
Mr. Gregorio --
 
This WAS a new situation for me. I've never had someone ask for a "sample" of my music because I use ScoreExchange.com to post my scores online. However, as others have mentioned, there is a lot of buying-a-single-copy for the intention of duplicating later. I suppose I am fortunate that this person did what they did in asking for an invoice. Thanks for your input.
 
Craig
on August 26, 2012 5:46am
Hello, Jane.
 
Although I am angered by the way this was handled on the director's end I believe they thought they were doing the right thing by asking for a bill. As a composer I have to accept (although not LIKE) what was done with my piece, send the bill and wait on payment. Thanks for weighing in.
 
Craig
on August 31, 2012 6:38pm
Jane --
 
Not meaning to sound flip, but does that mean you no longer purchase scores from large publishing houses also? They are the bastien of contemporary composers.
 
Craig
 
on August 25, 2012 7:55am
One solution is CadenzaOne. Although they take 50% of sales, when you upload a pdf it appears with a water mark and technology that will turn the screen black if someone tries to take a screen shot. It also allows you to watch the score at the same time as you hear it. You can also zoom in or out so you can see details or as much of the score as you want.
I'm sorry you had that happen. It's not pleasant to discover that someone has taken advantage.
As a choir director, I dislike partial scores because a lot can happen between the first page and the last.
As a composer, I want to be paid for my music, and want the exposure and possible recordings just as much.
So, I guess there's no guarantee that no music will be safe from theft unless nobody puts it out. One never knows whose hands a piece travels through, and who will hear and want it.
 
Applauded by an audience of 1
on August 26, 2012 5:41am
I already publish most of my music on ScoreExchange.com, where they work similarly as what you describe, Kelvin. I believe this may be where they found my original SATB version of the work in question. I only needed to put some time into finishing up the all-male version I had already begun. 
on August 25, 2012 11:36am
I am a choir director and often purchase music directly from composers and arrangers. I would feel very uncomfortable doing what this director did. My personal feeling on the matter is that musicians are professionals, and professionals should never work for free unless they make the choice to do so upfront. The director was out of line, the music is your intellectual property and ethically they were way out of line. 
 
That being said; and flies, vinegar and honey being what they are, I would call the director and explain to them why you feel they crossed the line. It can be hard to effectively communicate through email in emotional situations. You might also find the director is totally mortified and wants to make amends, allowing you to possibly maintain a relationship where your music can be performed and enjoyed by more people. 
 
Good luck.
Applauded by an audience of 2
on August 26, 2012 2:58pm
What was so startling in this post was the presumption of dishonesty on the part of the director.   And what scared me off is that it could easilly have been me who got confused as to which piece of music went with what method of payment.
 
From my end it is extremely confusing finding that all the composers have different methods of getting the music to the director and different methods again for being paid for the performance of that music.
 
After an enormous amount of music flooded into my inbox after putting out a request for a certain type here not long ago, I realised almost too late that I  should have filed each piece separately with the email correspondence and directions of each composer's detailed instructions of what to do should I want to perform it.     And woe is me if that correspondence detaches itself from the pdf.
 
I'm not sure what the solution is but please understand how massively confusing it is from a director new to the idea, and how easy it is just to go back to buying music from a big publishing house so that one doesn't risk incurring the wrath of a composer.
 
Jane
 
 
on August 26, 2012 8:31pm
Maybe I didn't make myself clear in my original post, but there was no PRESUMPTION of wrong-doing. Rather, I had said in a previous email that I do not sell my music as a buy-one-copy-for-life basis. When I realized what this person had done I was offended deeply for his ignoring my directions with how to handle what is my property. Yes, other composers have other expectations of how their property should be treated. As a single incident, and the honesty shown by the director in asking for a bill, I realize I am fortunate this time and will change how I send PDF samples in the future.
 
 
Craig
on August 27, 2012 4:05am
"... but there was no PRESUMPTION of wrong-doing"? You told us in your first post that you were thinking of writing "... tells me illegal copies have been made". And you were right about that. Still, ...
 
As a publisher of music, I'm probably on your side in this affair, but we have to recognise that "illegal" doesn't amount to much. The letter of the law supports us; the practical workings of the law will do nothing for us at any price that we can afford. People without a conscience will print from PDFs and photocopy without a qualm. Upbraiding and arguing with them is risky, since they have such power to damage our reputation with snide mentions and bad reviews on the web.
 
The best we can do is to run a business model that allows for that, and to be as nice as possible to potential customers like Jane who do have a conscience.
Applauded by an audience of 2
on August 27, 2012 6:39am
One very simple way for self-published composers to help choir directors be able to quickly and easily contact them is to put their permanent email address and/or website address on every piece of music they publish.  I do it, and this has helped facilitate communication. 
 
Again, I would plead with Jane and all choir directors to not write off self-published composers because of one...unfortunate situation. 
 
Contemporary composers find themselves between a rock and a hard place with choosing between trying to publish works the traditional way or risking going the self-publishing way.  If they seek traditional publishing, they must deal with the brick walls put up by most big houses who do not accept "unsolicited submissions" and often simply use in-house composers, and cope with rejection after rejection from the few publishers who will look at works but who are very timid about publishing anything that they aren't very sure will be a big seller (and so an unappealing "same old, same old" list can result).  If a piece is good enough (according to the publisher's standards) AND lucky enough to become traditionally-published, the composer loses all control over copyright and the fate of the piece (how long it stays in print), as well as any pricing/marketing/distribution decisions and efforts (although composers must, if they wish the piece to be successful, continually market the work themselves no matter how it is published), and, finally, the published composer receives miniscule royalty payments (usually about 10%).  When a piece goes out of print, copyright does NOT revert to the composer. The piece is simply lost.
 
When self-publishing, the composer retains the copyright and control over how long a piece stays in print and how it is priced, and retains all proceeds from any sales (yet the phrase "make a profit" is laughable in the face of the enormous amount of time/effort/resources expended in the whole process--most of us, if honest about it, are losing money).  We try to find creative ways to make our works known but not become annoying in the process (extremely difficult to do).  We try to price our works fairly, but as Jane notes we all have somewhat different ways of accepting payments.
 
I'm not sure what the solution is, either, but it is very likely that more and more composers will choose the self-publishing route because modern technology makes it possible and makes the traditional route much less appealing.  I think there is no turning back, and we'll--composers and choir directors--have to try creative ways of effectively working with each other in our common goal of making beautiful, interesting, valuable music available for the enjoyment of as many people as possible.      
 
  
Applauded by an audience of 3
on August 28, 2012 10:16am
Colleagues --
 
I have decided to allow for what the director has done, taking the high road as suggested by Mr. Wexler. My response is quite dry but hoping that that drhyness will result in the director realizing he cannot simply do as he pleases but to read communiques more carefully in the future. Thank you to everyone's opinions and support.
 
Craig
on August 29, 2012 7:03pm
UPDATE: The director sort of ackowledged he did something wrong, but only in order to "expedite the process." In the same email in which he apologized for my thinking he did something wrong (he did) he also asked for a MIDI file in order to create rehearsal tracks.... I told him to do them himself!
 
Craig
on August 30, 2012 7:45am
I have come across a situation that has me steaming mad.  As I am probably old enough to be your mama, and the brave and honest words from Jane B. are still echoing in my mind, I'll just come out and say this.
 
You have the perfect right to shoot yourself in the b.... foot as often as you'd like, but when you're shooting in public you are injuring other composers as well, or, at the very least, splattering them with mud.
 
Put your gun away and go compose something great.
Applauded by an audience of 2
on August 30, 2012 12:01pm
I have to agree with Julia here, Craig.  You might be doing yourself (and other composers) more harm than good by taking what appears to be such a confrontational stance toward this conductor.  You're hardly giving composers a good name when you make it difficult and unpleasant at every step for this poor person--*regardless* of whether he's selfish, lazy, or simply naive--to perform your music (don't you think you'd curry some good favor and get a better performance by giving out MIDI files for him to use with his singers, if that's how they're accustomed to learning?)  But also by going on the record here as a composer behaving in this way, you risk scaring off people like Jane who might have otherwise been willing to engage with living composers and contemporary repertoire.  And that hurts all of us.
 
Plainly, this is your situation, and you must handle it how you see fit.  And, as we in this community value the freedom to speak our minds, you can plainly post anything you want here.  But again, please think these things through a bit more carefully next time.
 
Joe
Applauded by an audience of 1
on August 30, 2012 12:20pm
I have to agree with Julia - refusing to create rehearsal tracks is ridiculous. If you want to make a charge for that, that's fine - you'd be saving him time - but don't refuse a request that will improve the eventual performance of your piece.
Applauded by an audience of 2
on August 30, 2012 2:00pm
Until your most recent update, I resisted the temptation to reply to this thread. I am a conductor and composer and occasionally suggest my published and unpublished pieces. My reactions to your comments:
 
1. You are correct in all that you say concerning your being in the right and the conductor being in the wrong.
2. The conductor, though ill-informed, was trying to do the right thing, and communicated with you.
3. You have convinced me never to consider performing any of your pieces.
4. I am concerned that your comments have damaged the ability of other composers to have their works considered.
 
Good luck to you.
 

 
 
Applauded by an audience of 3
on August 31, 2012 7:48am
Okay, my two cents time...
 
I too have been following this thread and biting my tongue (which is fine, because some version of whatever I'd say has pretty much been said by someone else all the way through)...but just to clarify, I don't think Craig's declining to provide rehearsal tracks for another choir is necessarily indicative of a bloody foot (or elsewhere) injury. I mean, yes, if his email in response to the conductor was, "Dear so and so, Do them yourself, Best, Craig," yeah, that's pretty rude. I'm hoping this wasn't the case ("Dear so and so, I'm sorry, but I am not able to release MIDI files of my music at this time. However, if you wish to provide rehearsal tracks to your ensemble, I would of course be delighted to give you permission to record these tracks yourself and distribute them to your ensemble members at no additional charge. Thank you so much for your interest in my work blah blah..."). In fact, I'm kind of hoping throughout this thread that we have mostly been getting the "unfiltered" version of Craig's correspondence with the conductor in question rather than the absolute direct quotes version. I'm hoping.
 
As a composer, if we choose to make rehearsal tracks available to those who would perform our music, that's very nice and helpful of us. But hardly a requirement of what we do. It's certainly a nice way to build up a relationship with those who would perform our work, but to choose to decline that step (if we do it politely) seems like it's well within our purview. (Of course, I say this as someone who never actually creates MIDI tracks, and who finds them fairly useless for rehearsal purposes anyhow. I stopped giving my groups keyboard or electronic rehearsal tracks years ago; I find when they learn from keyboards, they sing like keyboards, and it ain't pretty or healthy. But that's my conductor hat.)
 
I do think that this whole thread puts out there the necessity for composers to have an Actual Policy In Writing (or one we can say is in writing if anyone asks) about what we are and are not willing to do or permit others to do with our music--even if that policy is more about relationship than business practices. One that is willing to change and shift as new issues come up--like this MIDI file thing, which I'd honestly never thought of. There are ways to claim and maintain boundaries without alienating the always-right customer, and having a policy like this is one of them. (Julia's website, by the way, strikes me as a really good approach--very open, very clear about intention and her way of working, and very warm and personable.) 
 
Also just to throw out there, and different people have come out on different sides of the question: I am a huge fan of the "test drive." There are any number of pieces I might have tried out with my groups but didn't because I was just doubtful enough about their success that I didn't want to buy them and then have them molder in the library. Similarly, there are more pieces I did buy which looked good at first but then somehow in real life with a particular ensemble didn't click, and they ARE moldering in the library. Composers who want to get their work out there, I think using "print disable" for your samples is one of those bullet-meet-foot moves. 
 
The whole "how to market yourself and run a business" skill set is something they didn't teach us in music school, and I at least have found such skills far more important in real life than, say, Schenkerian analysis (Sorry, Dr. Santos! :-))
--Jennifer
 
Applauded by an audience of 1
on September 1, 2012 7:14am
Thank you, Jennifer--you are very kind.  I worked for 30 years as a freelance technical writer & editor before attempting to compose choral music, so I'm fortunate to be able to draw on those experiences when I try to communicate clearly with busy choir directors who are willing to spend a bit of precious time to peruse what I have to offer.  Now, if I can only manage to keep breathing and learning for another 27 years, I might get pretty good at composing, too!
 
Oh, and thank you for telling us that you appreciate the ability to "test drive" a piece of music before purchasing.  This thread inspired me to offer the option to searchers-of-music, and now I'll copy that paragraph in your post, hop over to the Composers Community, paste it in a message with proper attribution, and suggest to other composers that they consider the approach.  I've never been a choir director, but if I were one I surely would appreciate the ability to test drive a piece with my choir before I spent any precious dollars.
 
In addition, we are currently having a conversation in the Composers Community about how to improve our websites and make them as quick, easy, and useful for choir directors as possible (http://www.choralnet.org/view/395563).  So, if any choir directors who are reading this have a minute or two to share information about what kinds of things are most important and helpful to YOU when perusing a self-published composer's website, please share that with us?
 
Applauded by an audience of 1
on August 31, 2012 12:54am
I am sorry, and a bit embarrassed, that Craig imagines he was following my advice. I should have said it more simply. The customer is always right.
Applauded by an audience of 1
on August 31, 2012 6:07am
Christopher Hoh (one of the composers who has contributed to this thread) has a great website. On some of his pieces, you can follow the score while hearing a performance of the work, eliminating the need for "test-driving" with your own choir. I wonder how pricy his system is? If I were dictator of ACDA, I would fund a program featuring a format like Chris':
 
1. Identify ten composers each year
2. Let them feature five works (so fifty works featured annually)
3. Have works recorded by an appropriate choir, include composer's website and ordering information 
 
I think this would be an interesting experiment, especially for self-publishing composers
on August 31, 2012 7:30am
Your idea is a wonderful one, but the ACDA/ChoralNet receives a significant amount of advertising revenue from traditional music publishers and distributors.  
 
Self-published composers, while quickly growing in numbers and embodying increasingly well-known and highly-regarded names, are only able to compete for the attention of choir directors on an individual basis, with mostly meager resources.
 
There are a large number of things that the ACDA/ChoralNet could do, and perhaps even would do, to help promote the works of self-published composers--if we could pay for it.
 
Money talks--and gains access and exposure.  Those without can only whisper--and hope that some will make the extra effort to listen.
on August 31, 2012 7:38am
I think Earthsongs ( www.earthsongschoralmusic.com  )  has the right idea.
Many composers' music is available to hear as MP3s, while the first page of the score - not title page! - can be perused.
Certainly this is the way our editions of Victor Paranjoti's works are shown on their web-site.
Generally one can gauge ther complexity, range USW well enough.
Perusal copies are then available against payment.
 
Nariman H. Wadia,
Chairman, Paranjoti Academy Chorus of Bombay, India.
on August 31, 2012 6:49pm
I am shocked that other self-published composers believe it to be a given that we should just roll over and play dead when someone wishes to perform our pieces any way they can. Yes, I am airing my opinions publically but I certainly didn't expect the anger and concerns as I have read in this thread. I REFUSE to believe "the customer is always right" when it comes to my work. If that were the case the major publishing houses would allow us to duplicate and "try out" their twice-yearly samples and duplicate the full recordings in order to assist our singers. Obviously this DOES happen, but it is certainly not morally correct, which is why their prices continue to rise and put their music further out of reach with our meager budgets, creating a terrible catch 22.
 
Being self-published, I believe I offer my works at reasonable prices and refuse to duplicate any pieces for my group that is anything but public domain, found either on CPDL, IMSLP or getting written permission from a composer offering his/her work up for free on Score Exchange. I work hard to create beautiful, meaningful music, as others do as well. I am not sure why I, or any of us, should allow others to do with them as they please and for me to be content with that.
 
Craig
on September 1, 2012 11:39am
Craig,
 
It doesn't look like anyone is telling you "to be content with that". It seems you may have missed the opportunity to teach in this instance. There will ALWAYS be people who want to get around copyright and "beat the system". There will ALWAYS be people who are simply ignorant of the law. This person was clearly in the latter category (as he did actually contact you to PAY for the piece). IMO you should have been more patient, taking the opportunity to calmly and kindly educate him, then move on. Being a composer myself, I understand the frustration when this kind of thing happens, but how we handle the situation really matters.
Applauded by an audience of 2
on September 2, 2012 9:18am
Speaking as a conductor, not a composer, I think Craig is within his rights on both questions, and I don't understand the outrage directed at him.
 
That aside...I think with many composers increasingly self-publishing, there is going to be an increasing issue for choral directors who wish to obtain scores not for immediate rehearsal, but merely to get to know repertoire for future consideration. I buy significant amounts of (mostly published) music each year for this purpose. I never program a piece unless I have reviewed the score - not just three pages, because I don't want to order the piece and then find a surprise in the remaining pages. I don't program from recordings, because the skill of the choir featured on the recording may make the piece sound deceptively easy - if I hear a piece I like, I order a single copy of the score. Some have suggested here that composers like Craig should send incomplete scores, or recordings instead of scores. If I can't see the score before I order a full set for my choir, I'm not going to program your piece. 
 
For that matter, if I can't get a single copy for perusal without committing to purchase of a full set within a short timeframe, I'm not going to program the piece. I may like the piece a lot, and want to perform it, but that doesn't mean it will fit with my concert plans for that year. The music might sit on my shelf for quite some time until the right concert comes along. (If I'm particularly keen to perform it, I might build an entire concert idea around it - but even that might not necessarily happen immediately. I once built an entire concert around a piece that I thought needed to be performed on Halloween night. I had the idea in 2006. Halloween didn't fall on a Saturday until 2009. The concert duly took place in 2009.)
 
So I would urge composers, as justly concerned as you are about piracy, not to respond by restricting the circulation of your scores - it only makes it less likely that your music will be performed.
 
Applauded by an audience of 1
on September 2, 2012 3:28pm
Simon, thanks for your observations.  It makes sense to me that no conductor would program a piece without having a complete score -- and it could take years until the right moment comes along to schedule the work.  So I show complete pieces on my website, but they are not printable.  Whenever a conductor asks for a perusal copy, I provide either a hard copy or a printable electronic file.  
 
Now my question for you (and I think others also want to know) is this:  how much of an impediment is it if you have to request a printable score, say via email, rather than simply being able to click "print?"  Would you rather face the extra steps/days to get a free printable file or instead have it available instantly for a small price, e.g. one or two dollars?  If you were to receive a printable file with a note or watermark saying it is for a single review copy and additional copies may only be made with a purchased license, would that be a "turn off?"
 
I'd be very interested in how you and others feel as we try to strike the right balance between respecting the conductor's need to review the whole score and to make quick decisions and protecting the composer's intellectual property and rights.  thanks,
 
chris
 
Christopher J. Hoh
 
on September 2, 2012 7:22pm
Hi Chris
 
No impediment at all - if I order single copies of published works from Print Musicworks or Pepper, I'll be waiting several days (or weeks) for them to arrive, and I will be paying for them. I shouldn't expect any different if the composer is self-publishing. The watermark is fine as well, as long as I can still read the music
 
Simon
Applauded by an audience of 1
on September 3, 2012 4:36am
I have said this before but I think it bears repeating:
 
I publish all but a small number of my pieces on Score Exchange.com. I don't see this as much of a way to sell but to get my pieces out there so interested directors can see and hear them, albeit the performances are general MIDI. So when I read that individuals are upset that I am restricting access to my scores, it is simply not the case. I sent the piece in question in good faith after a couple of emails back-and-forth. I believe I had spelled out what my expectations were.
 
I respect the opinions of all of you here, as I've been reading your comments for years. So I have taken to heart those comments that answered my query with correcting my thinking with similar respect shown. From now on I will direct interested directors to my Score Exchange website if they are curious about any of my pieces and then this whole scenario will be moot.
 
Thanks again to all of your comments and advice.
 
Craig
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