Sunday, August 5, 2012

Music Business

It's an exciting day when the music arrives from RBC Music Co.! The order that I completed at TCDA arrived on Thursday. Newly printed music is so FRESH! For me, it's like receiving warm copies from the old duplex machine with smelly purple ink - good feelings!
This is not ALL of the music, there is still a bit more to be ordered - Men's Choir Concert music and the rest of pop show. The music laying on this table is worth $1700. If you are a choir director, you understand this well. If you are not a choir director and reading this blog - choral music is getting more expensive every day.

Here is the way it works:
One single copy of music ranges in price from $1.80-2.25 - depends on the publisher, the number of pages, etc.. Doesn't sound like much, huh? Multiply that by the number of students that will handle each piece (25-40 for each group)....well, one class set of music costs as much as 1 English textbook ($45-65). Plus S&H, of course. In 1 year, the entire choir program sings through 35-40 pieces of music. Choir students do not buy their own music. The school district pays for the music and it is "checked out" to the student during a concert season. When a concert is done, the music is checked back into the choir library. After 5 years of Krimmel being open, I have about 180 titles in the library. I recycle pieces every few years because my $1800 Reading Materials annual budget only goes so far. Just one more facet of my job is to build a choir library. My budget is relative to my choir program (the number of students and the age of the school) - some schools have more, some schools have less (much less). For instance, a neighboring school may not receive as much because the program enrollment is about 50 students and the school is almost 40 years old - they have almost 900 titles in that library.

Let's do some math....
Song Title:   My Heart Is Offered Still To You
Composer:   Orlando di Lasso
Publisher:    Alfred
Cost:           $2.25
Quantity:     45 
(32 students, 2 copies for director, 2 copies for accompanists, 3 copies for judges, 3 copies for clinicians, extra copies for incidental purposes)

$2.25 x 45 = $101.25 + S&H + 10% Trade Discount from RBC Music Co. = ~$95

That is 1 set of 1 piece of music for a choir who will perform this piece 3-4 times during the year. The piece is 2.5 minutes long.

Where does the money go? A whole pyramid of people - from the editor of the publishing company to the printer to the paper company to the composer. Ultimately, does the composer make any money? Orlando di Lasso does not make a profit from this song because he died 418 years ago. The arranger or editor of the piece would profit...maybe. If the piece were written by a contemporary composer, one could assume that he/she will make about 10 cents per copy of music ordered.

One of those pieces of music in that picture is by a contemporary composer. It costs $1.80 per copy. 25 copies were ordered. The composer will make approximately $2.50 from that order. If 250 copies are ordered, the composer profits ~$25.

For the composer, getting music accepted for publishing, printed, read, & ordered by the masses is a LONG process. Getting 1 piece published is sometimes a 2 year process. Receiving the profit often happens 1 year after the piece is first published.

I suppose I could buy the composer a gallon of milk instead.

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