Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Music Publishing Trends, Part Five

Today in our series is a guest blog from MusicSpoke, a very new company started by talented composer/accompanist Kurt Knecht and his wife, the entrepreneur Jennifer Rosenblatt. This company launched in July of this year and has already attracted composers such as Andrea Ramsey, Dale Trumbore, Connor Koppin, and Timothy Tharaldson. MusicSpoke has turned the traditional model on end- they have taken a totally new course in publishing and their utilization of start-up funding, and other help from a business accelerator, NMotion, based out of Lincoln Nebraska, is brilliant. The rate of royalties for MusicSpoke composers is incredibly high! Here is the guestblog from Kurt:

What if getting your music into the hands of a conductor meant you didn’t have to settle? What if the working relationship between composers and performers  simply…worked?

Paul has done a wonderful job explaining some of the frustrations facing composers today. About a year ago, I was dealing with some of the same frustrations. I felt like I should get a bigger cut from my publishers. I was tired of forfeiting my copyright and seeing pieces “die.” I also wanted a closer connection with the people buying and performing my music.

My wife is a successful entrepreneur. One day she said, “We need to fix this problem.  If we can fix it for you, we should fix it for everyone.” That’s how MusicSpoke was born. Above all, MusicSpoke is about creating community between composers, conductors, and performers.

We began by talking to lots of composers. They all had the same frustrations that Paul so eloquently outlined: giving up copyright and control of original works, not receiving a fair share of the revenue, and no way to find out who is purchasing the music. After speaking with composers, we started talking to conductors. The conductors we talked to had two main complaints. They wanted to be able to hear and see the entire score before purchasing it. Too many had been burned by buying a piece that suddenly split into eight parts on the page you couldn’t see. They also wanted a convenient way to interact with composers. So we built MusicSpoke.

MusicSpoke is a marketplace, not a publisher. We are a tool to build community and help composers get their music into the hands of conductors. We put composers’ scores on a website where conductors can search, hear, see, and purchase the music. Best of all, the conductors can rate the pieces, send messages to the composers, ask questions about the music, or even set up a Skype rehearsal.

We let the composers control their own music. Since we are a marketplace and not a publisher, the composers retain their copyrights. If we use Paul’s $1 analogy, [click here for that discussion in an earlier blogpost] we give the composers 70 cents of every dollar instead of 10 cents. We are using the 30 cents that we keep to maintain the marketplace and promote the composers through advertising and conferences.

This summer, we were accepted into the NMotion Accelerator program in Lincoln, Nebraska that came with seed funding and a 100 day intensive start-up program. In addition to the initial $20,000 funding from the NMotion Accelerator, MusicSpoke was recently awarded a $50,000 prototyping grant from the State of Nebraska. Since launching in July of 2014, MusicSpoke has had over 14,000 page views and has increased sales 245% month over month. We have already expanded into art song and will continue to expand into additional genres.

We are the ideal team to create a new model for composers and conductors. I am a composer, conductor, and performer, so I am personally invested in finding a better solution for all of us. If I were just another composer trying to figure out a solution alone, I wouldn’t have much of a chance. I’m fortunate to be married to a very brilliant lady. My wife and co-founder, Jennifer, has already built a successful, award winning business. Her company, Argyle Octopus Press, is in its fourth year of business and was recently awarded the SBA 2014 Nebraska Small Business of the Year for CD1. She has the business and marketing background to make this idea into a sustainable and thriving alternative to traditional publishing. MusicSpoke is what happens when a musician and an entrepreneur get together. We have already collaborated on other successful projects including Zach (age 22) and Avi (age 19). We are excited to build something that creates a stronger community and a more equitable solution for all of us.

Please visit the site at and feel free to drop us a note at to share your thoughts. Most of all, check out our wonderful composers. We are adding new ones all the time. They are super people writing amazing music. When you use MusicSpoke, you can be confident that the majority of your money is actually going to the people who create the music that you love.

Dr. Kurt Knecht

Kurt is the cofounder of MusicSpoke, a marketplace dedicated to musicians. He is also the music director at St. Mark’s on the Campus Episcopal and on the composition faculty at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. Learn more at

Jennifer Rosenblatt

Jennifer is the cofounder and CEO of MusicSpoke. She is an entrepreneur with a diverse background in business, marketing, and sales. Her award winning company, Argyle Octopus Press, helps with the design and marketing for MusicSpoke. Learn more and connect with Jennifer at

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