The August 2023 issue of Choral Journal is online and features an article titled “Perspectives on Traditional Choral Publishing” by Dan Forrest. Following is a portion from the article.
“How should I publish?” is one of the most common questions asked by choral composers today. The traditional publishing route of transferring ownership and receiving traditional royalty rates may seem outdated; retaining ownership and receiving higher royalty rates via self-publishing (whether independently or through one or more of the available marketplaces/collectives) offers an intriguing alternative, especially in the internet age where composers can connect directly to customers. Some may wonder if traditional publishing is past its prime, and whether the whole industry is heading toward self-publishing.
Yet many widely known and respected composers still work with traditional publishers. Full disclosure: I operate in both worlds, publishing my sacred/church anthems with Beckenhorst Press (where I also serve as vice president of publications and editor) but self-publishing my concert choral works through The Music of Dan Forrest.
It may surprise some to hear that J. W. Pepper, who sells music by thousands of self-publishers under their My Score service, still recommends that composers work with traditional publishers whenever possible. According to Kathy Fernandes, Pepper’s Chief Sales and Marketing Officer:
We witness the benefits publishers provide composers as good stewards of their works. We believe every composer grows through honest professional feedback for the piece submitted and to wisely build their future portfolio of works, and certainly benefit from the established business practices…and services publishers provide.
Both traditional publishing and self-publishing have helpful roles, and we’re all in this together! This article was created with input from the editors and owners of several traditional publishers and will discuss the services and benefits that traditional publishers provide, examine the drawbacks of traditional publishing, identify traits of a good publisher, and offer composers practical suggestions on publishing from our vantage points.
Read the full article in the August 2023 issue of Choral Journal. acda.org/choraljournal