Friday, February 27, 2015

ACDA 2015 Music In Worship Reading Session

Hey friends! Here is the Music In Worship reading session material we sang though this morning. It was a great session. Bravo to Terre Johnson. national R and S for Music in Worship.

Composers present who conducted their own piece: Terre Johnson, Philp Stopford, Mark Hayes, Howard Helvey, and Eric Nelson. Also Dan Forrest played the piano on his piece.

Noteworthy composers who blew us off because they were maybe eating crepes Suzette or drinking German beer: Johannes Brahms, Nathaniel Dett, Heinrich Schutz.

EVEN HERE (pub. Hinshaw)

by Mark Miller, lyrics by Laurie Zelman

MAGDALENA (G Schirmer, Robt Shaw Series)

by Johnny Brahms

CREATE IN ME (MorningStar)

by Terre Johnson


by Ekaie Reitan and Michael Burkhardt


by Paul Carey


by Nathaniel Dett (nice job of conducting by Tony Leach!)


by Philip Stopford


by Ryan Murphy


by M. Roger Holland II

CLEFT FOR ME  (Soundforth/Lorenz)

by Mark Hayes


by Hank Schutz


by Howard Helvey

ARISE, MY SOUL, ARISE  (Beckenhorst)

by Dan Forrest


by Eric Nelson

Eric's piece was my favotire of the session, but really, everything was pretty great stuff!

So, now dear blog readers- would you consider taking a look at my music as a tiny payback for all the blogging I bring to you? If so, please visit   And I am now working with the new kids on the block MusicSpoke, a really cool new company! Visit them  here

From ACDA 2015- Creating Safe Space: LGBTQ Singers in the Choral Classroom

 Creating Safe Space: LGBTQ Singers in the Choral Classroom

An interest session at the 2105 ACDA National Conference

This was a Wednesday interest session by Paul Caldwell and Josh Palkki. It was heavily attended even though there were two concerts going on at the same time! In addition to presenting their research, Josh and Paul commented succinctly on various aspects of this subject and took some very thoughtful audience comments and questions at the end. This is ground-breaking for ACDA- to my knowledge no one has ever done an interest session on this important topic. Bravo to ACDA decision-makers on choosing to include this session at the conference.

Paul Caldwell

At the end of the session Josh and Paul handed out 1,000 Safe Space stickers for teachers to place on their choir room and/or office doors. Bravo!

Josh Palkki

Also, Josh and Paul never professed to know how to address/solve every nuance of this issue. But just getting it out there and talked about (and research very well by them) is an important first step.

Here is a link to their very fine handout:

Tim Sharp's State of ACDA speech at the 2015 national conference

Hey blog followers! Here is the address to Wednesday night's Kings Singers/Real Group audiences at ACDA in Salt Lake by ACDA executive director Tim Sharp. I am so honored to call him a good friend, and we ALL owe him a big debt of gratitude for what he has done to truly bring ACDA into the 21st century and grow our membership, especially among our younger people. I sometimes wonder if this man sleeps- he is so busy accomplishing so much!

Tim has allowed me to share this with you now- it will also appear in the April Choral Journal.

State of the American Choral Directors Association
Delivered to the 2015 ACDA National Conference, Salt Lake City, UT
Tim Sharp, Executive Director

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the 2015 National Conference of the American Choral Directors Association. Like prophets and pilgrims of former times, we have come to the mountains to renew our commitment to our collective mission of inspiring excellence in choral music education, performance, composition, and advocacy. Our team of outstanding conference leaders have scaled this biennial mountain, and are architects of a magnificent conference design we will experience together. Here in Salt Lake City this includes 5,000 of us that are here as choral directors and members of the choral profession, 5,000 additional singers and supporters, and on Saturday evening, 21,000 of us will participate in the largest singing celebration in ACDA’s history.
Our ACDA Executive Leadership offers me this opportunity to give a brief survey of the state of our association. As a result of the success of our “Sing UP!” membership campaign and the hard work of our ACDA state chapters, ACDA currently has the largest membership in its 55 year history at over 21,000. If your state experienced the growth that contributed to our current robust health, we have our state leaders to particularly thank for their dedication to our mission. More members in ACDA simply translates to more choral leaders inspiring excellence in our artistic field.
This past November, ACDA launched a program that is the first of its kind for an association such as ours, which is the ACDA National Mentoring Program. This was the number-one outcome from our strategic planning work over the last four years, and I am pleased to say that as of today we have 125 mentors registered in the program, and 100 plus mentees registered, with 35 mentor/protégé matches.  This National Mentoring program will grow in size and importance as more of you discover this resource, and as you register for the benefits of this program. 10 percent of those attending our National Conference are retired choral directors. This program was built for you, so that you can contribute your expertise to a mentee who wants to learn from your experience. 25 percent of those attending our National Conference are registered as students in the choral profession. This program was also built for you, so that you don’t have to go it alone as you begin your work in this incredibly rewarding field. For the rest of us, including those in the first years of teaching or choral professional work, we too are both mentors and protégés in our work. This is the ongoing reason we attend this conference, the ongoing reason we read ACDA’s publications, and the reason we remain active in our beloved association; it is also why the ACDA National Mentoring program was built--for you.
The analysis of our needs as an association brings new energy to the specific work by which we engage in the choral profession. This conference is iconic in demonstrating ACDA’s attention to excellence in education, performance, composition, and advocacy. Our attention to choral composition has created not only great buzz at this Conference, but it has resulted in ongoing attention to the choral composer and to choral composition. Coupled with our dedication to choral research, ACDA will host three additional national events this year, speaking specifically to the topics of composition in the USA and composition in Latin America.
As you see in evidence throughout the 2015 Salt Lake City National Conference, our international outreach for ACDA is at an historic high level, with ACDA members from over forty countries here with us. We welcome over 200 registrants and many ensembles and singers from outside the US with a particular welcome to our International Conductor Exchange program conductors from Sweden that are here with us, along with former exchange conductors from China and Cuba, and future hosts that are with us from South Korea and South America.
While I am pleased and inspired by all of this progress, I am also restless as I think of the work that still needs to be done and the areas of need we have identified through our strategic planning process. We are committed to moving forward as we address the following challenges in an innovative manner. Innovation will be in evidence this year as ACDA reaps the hard work of innovative leaders and members who will address additional areas of our strategic plan.

In the coming year, we will look to innovation to address the following tasks:

*ACDA will redefine the organizational structure to better accomplish our mission.
To this end, after three years of study and membership interaction, we have had richly productive leadership retreats that will now lead to concrete recommendations to our Board at this summer’s ACDA National Board Meeting. You can expect to hear about these structural recommendations early this fall.

*ACDA will encourage and expand grassroots events, inspiring excellence.
This deliverable will come from a restructuring of how we view, and how we do, our choral work at the grassroots level. It will come as we encourage ACDA members to be micro entrepreneurs and innovators in their choral leadership in our state, student, division, and international ACDA chapters.

*ACDA will develop a successful urban outreach initiative.
In order to do this, we need resources, and ACDA is in the process of gathering those resources through our newly established “Fund for Tomorrow”. By the end of this year, we will have over $100,000 in this fund that is designated for new choral work and new initiatives aimed at growing new choral singers and developing new choral directors. This fund is already at work with scholarships provided to students to attend this Conference, and here in Salt Lake City as we work with the United Way and local school district.

*ACDA will balance its efforts between choral education process and choral performance.
You are seeing those efforts working out before your eyes in our National and Regional conferences. You have seen the structure for this established as we expand our publications to include the International Journal for Research in Choral Singing, ChorTeach, ChoralNet, Choral Journal, and a soon to be announced publication for those working in faith communities.

*ACDA will embrace cultural diversity in membership, and will be welcoming and relevant to all races and ethnicities.
As we advance our relationship with our choral colleagues in Canada, Central, and South America, and with other colleagues in the United States, you will see this diversity continue to take place in our membership. New collaborations, proactive attention to this strategic imperative, and the growing presence of African-American, Latin American, and Asian American choral leaders within ACDA will help us make this a reality. As we look forward to hosting America Cantat VIII in 2016 with our partners in the Bahamas, Canada, and Central and South America, we also look forward to the possibility of our first ACDA chapter outside of the United States.

Along with ACDA’s leadership and all of you, I look forward to leading our efforts at accomplishing, through innovation, these strategic goals that are in front of us. I would like to call on all ACDA members to become micro entrepreneurs in each of these areas as we establish ways to address these strategic imperatives. Our membership efforts are never ceasing, and I call on all of you to identify and encourage ACDA membership in your area, as we becoming increasingly relevant to everyone working with singers. We have asked the right questions, discerned the right direction for our future efforts, and now it is time to go to work as we seek to make choral music making the uncommon core for our society.

The 2015 ACDA Conference--Wednesday

Hello, kiddies. It's Wednesday- the very first day of ACDA in Salt Lick City. The weather is gorgeous- about 50 degrees and that strong sun you get at elevations like this. We Midwesterners and Easterners who have been hit hard by snow and/or epic frigidness are already enjoying being  here.

Caveat- I'm blogging while crazy busy here- if my grammar and syntax isn't perfect, please forgive! Also, as attendees, including myself, become more and more sleep-deprived we sometimes say idiotic things- so you might see this here as well.

So let me say this right out- the Salt Lake Convention Center is HUGE. You have no idea! And thankfully the whole city is on a total grid- so it's hard to get lost.

I started the day off visiting the booths here. Plenty of 'em, also giving away lots of swag. Everybody seems super-energized but-hey, it's Wednesday! And honestly, I have NEVER seen this many people already on site for an ACDA on Wednesday. Tim Sharp, our fearless leader, says that  pre-registration is at a record-setting level. I believe him. I'm also seeing a TON of attendees between 20-30 years old. Yay!

After just milling around and seeing plenty of friends in the booth area I went to the MusicSpoke reading session at noon. MusicSpoke is a new venture by Kurt Knecht and Jennifer Rosenblatt. Pete Eklund from U of Nebraska led the reading session which held works by Andrea Ramsey, Kurt Knecht, myself, and some young up-and-coming composers like Josh Rist and Connor Koppin. The session went very well--and honestly, it was some of the best sightreading I have ever been around at a conference!

After that, I attended the first blue track concert. Here are the groups that sang and their repertoire:

Univ. of South Cali Thornton School of Music Chamber Singers, directed by my friend Mike Scheibe,

Batter my Heart, Three-Personed God, by Richard Nance

The Heart's Reflection, by Daniel Elder

De Circuito Aeterno, by Petr Eben (1929-2007)

Trois Chansons Bettones, by Henk Badings (1907-1987)

Alleluia, by Jake Runestad

Micro-review (the opinions expressed on this blog are mine only, and if you want to disagree, do so, but don't hassle me about my right to express my opinions--thank you very much)
MIRANDA sez "no haters"

A beautiful, deep, rich sound from the USC Chamber Choir, especially on the first two selections. A warm, velvety sound you just want to collapse into, like sinking into a brand-new five thousand dollar leather sofa which has been lubed up with cocoa butter. Bravo, USC.

I was really thrilled to hear the Eben and the Badings (I actually know Badings' music fairly well). We just don't hear this kind of mid-twentieth century repertoire at ACDA conferences, which is unfortunate. So bravo, Mike, for sharing these very rich, full-dimensional pieces with us, and they were pieces which really showed off this choir's strong points. I can't overstate how happy I was to hear some music that has been sort of forgotten about featured in front of a large audience.

BYU Womens Chorus, directed by Jean Applonie

Psalm 100, Rene Clausen

Wie Lieblich sind deine Wohnungen, Joey Flat-Nose Rheinberger

Reflections from Yad Vashem, Daniel Hall

Amazing Grace, arr. Michael Hanawalt

Adon Olam, by Eliezer Gerovitsch, arr. David Zabriskie

Micro-review: Jean pulled an amazing variety of dynamics from a choir which, I am guessing, numbered 120 or maybe way more. A gorgeous sound all around- bravo. The harpist on the Rheinberger, Anamae Anderson, was fantastic. This is a very notey harp part, which can be a real challenge (I used to play harp, btw), but Miss Anderson was spot-on throughout. And let me add, Rheinberger has had a resurgence in performances lately, which is a good thing. I love his harmonies and the fact that they exist within a (modest) contrapuntal framework- best of both worlds.

The Metropolitan Chorus of Tokyo, directed by Ko Matsushita

Sacred music in Latin composed by Ko Matshutshita

Japanese folk songs arrgned by Ko Matsushita


You either loved or hated this performance.

Pluses-- the music by Matsushito isn't shy-- it's bold and full of tons of divisi. There was no safety net. Dynamics were extreme, especially on the high end. Kind of like a double IPA or beyond, if ya know your beer talk. Or a big Cab at 14.5%.

Minuses (where I pretty much weigh in- though some people totally disagreed with me and I punched them in the larynx)-- I felt they never tuned any of this often quite dissonant music due to their method of sound production -- all way back in the throat. The murky, turgid hyper-divisi issues just made it even harder to hear intonation and also scope the arc of the pieces. The lack of tuning, to me and a few other friends I polled, was extremely distracting. I also felt that the Latin on the first few pieces was simply bizarre to the ear. It could have been Yiddish and I wouldn't have been able to tell the difference.

What was very good is that this choir and its composer/conductor challenged us and provoked a bit of discussion. You have to ask- do we want pretty all the time and nothing to argue about? Or something else at times? And do we really always have to agree?

The Evening Program

Kings' Singers and the Real Group

Heavily attended, especially by the young folk, those precious and endearing cute and cuddly millenials (sorry, I'm being very silly)! ACDA is no longer so heavily populated by old folks. We needed this youth movement and in the last 3-4 years it has really happened!

Fearless ACDA leader Tim Sharp gave a state of the organization speech. It was pretty great and I hope to share it with you soon, thanks to Tim. You will like what he had to say abut where we are and where we are going!

Micro-reviews: Hmmm, do I want to diss "institutions"? Nah, not right now.  But I do wish Kings' Singers would add something new to their gig. Something, anything?! I feel Swingle Singers has evolved over the years, so it proves evolution is possible, ja?

Real Group- I am a HUGE fan, especially of the true vocal jazz they become famous for back aways. This night was more about new tunes with a rock beat, I guess you could call it. Many of these songs had great, social  issues lyrics which were not cheesy. So I dug that as did most of the audience.  I just wish that they would have done more of the stuff that absolutely kills me- fer instance something like this:

And this was amusing- they launched into Chili con Carne and every 15 to 30 year old went crazy- and then they only sang 8 bars and morphed into a different one of their hits over the years. It was pretty funny to see them fake out the audience! All in all they were great fun and their love of music and performing shone through.

NEXT: Thursday at ACDA, including an absolutely stunning performance by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The 2015 ACDA National Conference Post Four

Hi all,

I'm sitting in the Phoenix Airport waiting for my connecting flight to Salt Lake City. When I left Chicago at  #%*#* 4:45 A.M. it was about 5 degrees out- here it's 70 and I see palm trees outside!

I thought I would share a few of my blogs again from the 2013 conference in Dallas. I hope you may want to read them. I will also try to blog during and/or after the conference in Salt Lick City. I do expect this conference to be amazing. However, it won't be able to rival Miami 2007 in a few areas:

1) mojitos and Cuban food
2) clothing optional beaches
3) almost naked guy parading around South Beach with his thirty-foot long albino boa constrictor wrapped around his body
4) spring break kids really drunk, then passed out all over our hotel lobby (amateurs!)

Oh, and I made a miscalculation on my FB post just before leaving Chicago this morning. I posted that I was sitting there in my seat on Frontier Airlines (Frontier, the other F-word) and a slender man took the seat next to me, thinking that was a plus. It turned out he was as wiggly as a three-year-old. Oh well, better a wiggly, slender, man than this guy:

Anyway, here are some of the posts from 2103 in Dallas, an awesome conference in so many ways. Of course one of the highlights was the Britten War Requiem.

Here are some performance reviews, especially choirs from the Pacific Northwest:

And here is info from my interest session on new trends in e-publishing by swaggy composers. Lot of resources in here, if you are interested.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The 2015 ACDA National Conference Post Three

Another post in anticipation of the 2015 ACDA national conference in Salt Lake City.

I'm going to gab about my carol book here, since my arrangement of "What Child is This" from the book is in the women's choir reading session next Thursday morning. The session is chaired by Iris Levine and I am sure there will be some awesome music for all to hear and read through. I am especially in awe of Iris's choice in literature.

My book, "Carols, distinctive arrangements for women's voices" has been a pretty big hit. I'm proud that I did all the work myself--I wrote all the music (traditional carols, plus some new compositions on trad. texts), worked with a cover designer and printer so that I would have complete control of the product, as well as not give away my copyrights or sales income. It was a daunting task, but I survived it! I think I spent about nine months straight living and creating Christmas carols! Ho ho ho!

 The carol book is available at this link

It is also available through Musical Resources of Toledo, OH. They will have a booth at the conference and copies of the book on hand.

Here is a soundcloud track of the piece on the reading session. The artists are the Seattle Girls' Choir directed by Jacob Winkler

Here are some more tracks from Jacob. This is a new melody for In Dulci Jubilo

The Wexford Carol- a lovely Irish tune

A fun one- "We Wish you a Merry Christmas". Performed here by the Young Women's Choral Project, directed by Susan McMane.

And finally, here is a youtube of  Mandala directed by Sean Ivory singing four of the carols. The soloist on "There is No Rose of Such Virtue" (a new composition on the old text) has an absolutely amazing voice, especially for a high school singer.

So there you have it- my carols book which will be featured a bit at next Thursday morning's women's choir reading session. I will start that hour at the children's choir session and then try to get to the women's session about halfway through. And if you'd like to meet up with me, I will be at booth 8014 (the great new company MusicSpoke) Thursday afternoon from 3 to about 5. You can also sign up to talk to me during the meet the composers session later that same day.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The 2015 ACDA National Conference Post Two

Continuing today with post number two leading up to the ACDA National Conference in Salt Lake City which starts next Wednesday.

On Thursday morning next week  I will have pieces on two reading sessions. I'll start off at the children's choir reading session (chaired by Cheryl DuPont) where my arrangement of  "Clap Your Hands" (SA/piano/opt glockenspiel) is on the session. I will be conducting this piece, which I found in Ruth Crawford Seeger's American folk song collection from around 1940 (Seeger was a gifted modern composer and the mother of Pete Seeger). The tune is "Old Joe Clark" but the words are about clapping your hands, tapping your feet, and other such fun stuff. After I finish this piece I will have to run off to the women's choir session where I also have a piece represented. Dear children's choir directors- I'm not being rude when I run off- just trying to be in two places at once, basically.

There is a sweet little glockenspiel part (optional) which gives the piece some added sparkle. And you know, sparkliness is important!

Series: Henry Leck Creating Artistry
Publisher: Hal Leonard
2-Part w piano (tambourne, optional glockenspiel)
Arranger: Paul Carey

Clap, stomp, shake and sing this lively variant of the American folk tune! With rhythmic twists, percussion and movement suggestions, this is a fun treble chorus showstopper that will be a fantastic closer for elementary, middle school and children's choirs.

This was my first piece in Henry Leck's Creating Artistry series. Henry is such a great guy and such an influential conductor over the past thirty or so years. I'm honored that he has included some of my music in his series.

Here is a youtube video of the piece, recorded by Courtney Connelly and her wonderful choir At the time, the piece was still in manuscript. There are some slight differences from the final published version. s far as learning moments - this piece is highly syncopated, yet feels very natural. I think the piece also gives kids a chance to do some handclapping and so on and learn to not rush these percussive elements. I am always shocked at how much rushing happens during pieces like this. In fact, I usually shy away form writing in claps and so on-- but I went ahead and gave it a shot on this piece.

If you are in Salt Lake City I hope you can come to this reading session next Friday morning!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The 2015 ACDA National Conference Post One

Yes, little ones, it is yet again time for the ACDA National Conference, beginning next week in Salt Lake City, which appears to be much warmer right now than my hometown of Chicago (it's five degrees here today- supposed to be five or ten below overnight-brrr).

As many of you know, I try to blog during ACDA regional and national conferences,but I'm not sure how active I will be this year. I have a funny feeling I will be too worn out from all the music and activities and pub-crawling to blog as it all happens. So I may just return to Chicago and do it after the fact. I do know that many people who can't get to a conference love hearing about what went on Maybe I can twitter a bit, we'll see.

Anyway, I am pleased to have pieces in three different reading sessions this year. And I have some details on of one of them, the Music in Worship reading session at 8:30 AM Friday, Feb 27th in ballrooms B and D of the Salt Palace Convention Center (wow, I guess you could take ANYTHING ANYONE says there with grain of salt, huh?)

Ye Olde Salt Palace, Salt Lake City, Utah
So, if you are in Salt Lake City, please drag yourself out of bed Friday morning and come to this reading season if you can. It's a bit of an all-star lineup, and this is all great music- you'll want to hear this! There are a few composer/arrangers and conductors attending that I haven't met yet, but hope to accomplish that (Philip Stopford, for one).

My piece, a gentle little anthem called Late Have I Loved You (text by my bud St Augustine, we used to play bocce ball together) is now being published/distributed by the new company MusicSpoke. You can visit MusicSpoke's website here, read a recent blog about it here, visit their booth at the conference (booth number 8014) anytime, and you can actually come visit with me at the booth Friday afternoon betwixt 3-5 PM.

Here is the reading session info:

Terre Johnson is the R and S national chair. The accompanist will be the very talented Jonathan Crutchfield.

Terre Johnson

Here is a list of composers who will either conduct or be at the piano for their composition:

Terre Johnson
Philip Stopford
Ryan Murphy
Mark Hayes
Dan Forrest
Eric Nelson
Howard Helvey
Paul Carey
Johannes Brahms

And here are the remaining composers of the other pieces as well as the conductors.

Mark Miller
Vicky Thomas
Michel Burkhardt
Randall Bradley
Nathaniel Dett
Tony Leach
M. Roger Holland

Hope to see all y'all at SLC. It looks like an amazing conference!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Music Publishing Trends, Part Seven

In this series we've examined the old model of choral music publishing and also focused a lot on various  new and new-ish ventures in the choral music publishing business.

Part one examined traditional sheet music publication, including some fascinating videos on the laborious craft necessary to create music scores before the advent of music software

Part two was an in-depth exploration of both the artistic and financial issues today's composers face when they choose to publish through traditional companies.

Part three through five were guest blogs by some great folks creating companies which are blazing new, more composer-friendly, trails.

Part Three: Fahad Siadot (See-a-dot Music Publications)

Part Four: John Muehleisen, Karen P. Thomas, Reg Unterseher (Northwest Choral Publishers)

Part Five: Kurt Knecht (MusicSpoke)

Part Six featured Deborah Simpkin-King as guest blogger, sharing her amazing venture,

Today, let's trot on back to an issue I brought up in Part Two of this series (if you want to read that whole blog entry, click here):

Here is what I said:

Let's look at where each dollar of gross income goes from the sale of a typical music score. These are approximate figures.

In traditional publishing:

$1.00 is broken down this way:

90 cents to the publisher
10 cents royalty to the composer, who must sign over copyright ownership of the music to the publisher

If a living poet's copyrighted text is used here is the breakdown:

90 cents to the publisher
5 cents to the composer, who must sign over copyright ownership of the music to the publisher
5 cents to the author, who will  not be asked to sign over any copyright ownership

Here is a rough idea of how that 90 cents on the dollar that the publisher takes breaks down:

30-40 cents reserved for discounting to retailers
20-30 cents "engraving" and printing
20 cents publicity
20 cents profit

Here now, continuing, are my various thoughts:

Now as you recall I also have been pointing out the modern composer's significant role in score preparation, and the high visibility many composers now maintain. Composers should be rewarded for these things. Further, I have bemoaned that many publishers want quick, easy hits that may generate strong, money-making sales for one or two years. In other words, the old school model desires quick turnover of merchandise, yet most composers are trying to NOT compose throw-away music. I propose that publishers reward composers for creating music that sells well and amasses long term sales. Publishers could also help composers further their career and work together for mutual benefit. Thus, a further proposal- publishers would reward composers who have become identified as a quality "house brand" for that company.

So let's simply take that good ole 10% the composer's are usually given as a royalty and see if we can suggest bonuses the composers could and should be offered (and actually, publishers should first take the steps to license the right to sell music from composers, and STOP requiring that composers sell the copyright ownership to their creations).

Some bonus ideas:

an additional 5% royalty on each piece where the composer provides a professional electronic engraving of the score (requiring only very small tweaks by the publisher's staff). Publishers could easily provide the company score-layout template(s) to composers to work inside of- this is crazy easy to do (you might want to go back and read Part One of this series- the videos there are fascinating!).

an additional 5% royalty to a composer who is very visible promoting the music at conferences, publisher reading sessions, guest appearances as composer and /or conductor at large events, etc.

an additional 5% royalty which kicks in after a piece reaches 10,000 copies sold (or other figure the publisher decides to arrive at)

an additional 5% royalty for any composer who reaches 20 titles in the publisher's catalog

In other words, publishers would reward composers for writing quality music which sells well over the years, as well as rewarding composers for composer/publisher longevity/partnering over the years.

If we start at that paltry old 10%, and then add in all of the above, a composer, working in healthy partnership with a forward-looking publisher, could be rewarded at a rate as much as 30%. This seems high compared to 10%, but look at all the work required to kick in these bonuses. It's not a small task, but worth it for both the composer and the publisher- both parties would benefit.

This could also be added- for pieces sold directly to the public, without a retailer middleman, an additional 10% royalty on those particular sales.

If publishers started doing something along these lines, perhaps so many composers wouldn't be so quick to bolt and start self-publishing, start co-ops, and the like. Of course, I like the co-ops- I'm not saying they should go bye-bye.More and more co-ops re popping up all the time, with some great composers banding together to do so.  And of course, any of these various old or new models can work- I am just pointing out that the old model could be revised to become more realistic about how IT can survive in the face of all the new models out there.

What do you think? I'd like to hear feedback!

Let's also examine another reason composers choose to self-publish or start co-ops--it can be more than just the money. It can often simply be the fact that the composer maintains control over copyright, the actual piece, and promotion.

Example One:

ACDA's executive director Tim Sharp has published music with Hal Leonard and others. Yet he and musical partner Wes Ramsey especially chose to publish their very popular High Lonesome Mass by themselves. Tim tells me that it was about control of the product- they simply wanted to make all the decision themselves about the piece and how it got out into the world and not have someone else by given the power make those decisions. It appears to me that Tim and Wes have been really successful in this endeavour- they have had a lot of well-received performances of the piece all across the country. It's a great success story! Btw, if you would like to read my review of the piece you can click here.

And here is the FaceBook page for the piece:

Example Two:

A couple years ago Nancy Menk of the famous Saint Mary's College in Indiana commissioned me to compose or arrange some music for her women's choir annual holiday madrigal dinners. I wrote three of these for her and decided to just keep writing. The project grew to include 18 carols (some original, some arrangements) for women's voices. I made the conscious decision to control this collection of carols myself. Thus, I chose all the tunes, did all the composing, arranging without an editor looking over my shoulder, collaborated with a cover designer and printer and so on. The finished product has become very popular and sells very well. You can read a very positive review of the collection that was in the Choral Journal issue from August 2014 here.

Carols, distinctive arrangements for women's voices

My printing costs are quite low and I make a significant profit on the book and was even been able to scale down the original asking price of the book in order to make my customers happy. I sell the book myself through my website, Paypal,, I have one deal in place with the great folks at Musical Resources in Toledo, Ohio to sell the book there in the store or online, plus also handle any wholesale deals that come up. It is currently a featured item  on their website. I control everything about this book. It was a lot of work, but it was well-worth doing that way! And I should add, I had a bunch of great musical friends help edit it and cull out bad notations, etc- thanks to them all!!

So you see, when composers talk about publishing models of the past and the need to reinvent things, it isn't always just them griping about the usual old-school 10% royalty- there are other significant issues as well.

I hope you have enjoyed this series. Please share it with others and consider leaving a comment on any part of the series.