How to Be Published and THE PODIUM - New Music Hub / Composers' Corner Volume XXVII

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How to Be Published
THE PODIUM - New Music Hub

with Brett Abigaña

Getting published can be a pain, and as I have mentioned in previous editions of Composers’ Corner, a composer should think carefully about the benefits of self-publishing versus signing with a publisher. But the title of this edition refers not to the process by which one may become a published composer, but rather how to get the most out of the situation once it happens.

There’s a misconception that being published means the composer doesn’t need to work to sell his or her work. While that used to be somewhat true, it certainly isn’t universally true anymore! Publishers do want to sell your music, but they probably won’t sell enough of your most creative work to maintain their own business model. Of course, there are several solutions to this problem, and different publishers handle it in different ways; some may push specific composers or pieces, some request that their composers write more music “like that last piece,” and some may pay the bills by the publication or distribution of older public domain music in order that they can continue to sell your work. I’ve been asked by several composers over the years why their music doesn’t sell more. My response is usually the same: “What are you doing to promote yourself and be an active participant in your publisher’s work?”

Self-promotion is an art, to say the least. And if I’m being really honest, it’s one I have yet to master. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to be published! I don’t have the time to self- promote, teach, write, produce and send scores and parts, and still see my wife and kids. Instead, I rely on my publisher to do some of the promotion and all of the production for me. But it’s not something I take for granted, nor is it something in which I don’t participate. I still promote myself as much as I am able, primarily through maintaining personal contacts and friendships all over the world. I refer people to my publisher whenever they are interested in my music, and talk to my publisher frequently so that I may be of help in whatever way possible. When my publisher does ask for my help, I am only too happy to contribute in any way I can. That’s how this whole Composers’ Corner thing got started, after all!

In the end, I’m not selling thousands of copies of every piece in my catalogue every month; but I’m grateful that when my music is sold, I’m not spending hours printing, binding, and sending scores, leaving more time to be a composer. The more I help my publisher by referring people to their website (speaking of which, you should check out their ever-expanding catalogue at — see what I did there?), and by offering ideas to promote new music, the deeper a relationship I have with them. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to be? As a composer, you want your publisher to WANT to sell your music with the same abandon with which they sell Beethoven, leaving you more time to actually compose. If you find yourself asking, “Why haven’t I gotten a check from my publisher recently?” you might follow that up with asking yourself if you’re actually doing everything you can to be an active partner in that relationship.

Which brings me to my next topic…

One of the most recent ideas we at World Projects have thought up is a reimagining of the typical commissioning process. Many composers out there don’t know how to present an idea to a conductor, and many conductors and educators don’t know how to contact composers, or perhaps think that they don’t have the budget/ensemble necessary to attract a composer. We want to make that easier, so we’re very happy to introduce to you THE PODIUM - New Music Hub! Available soon on our website (, THE PODIUM is a discussion board where composers can post ideas and parameters for pieces or collaborations, and conductors and educators can reply with questions and comments, and even offer a commission! Likewise, conductors and educators can post ideas for a piece they would like to see written, and composers can reply, get more information, and even accept a commission!

For example, let’s say I have an idea to write a 6-minute Grade 3 piece for full orchestra with double winds, and would like $2000 for a commission fee. A conductor out there might have just the ensemble, but wouldn’t necessarily already have a connection with me. With THE PODIUM, they might see the project proposal and request more information, or suggest adjustments to the project, or might want to contact me directly and accept the proposal. Likewise, a teacher may have a fantastic oboist they want to feature on a concert, but don’t have an appropriate piece in mind. They could propose a new work on THE PODIUM, and a composer might jump at the chance to write the piece. This service is absolutely free, and composers don’t need to be published with us in order to take advantage of it. Likewise, conductors and educators don’t need to be clients of World Projects in order to participate! All it takes is a few minutes to create a free profile and login, and you’re in! In this way, we hope to connect more composers and conductors directly, and further promote the creation of new music. I’m not kidding: there really is no catch here!

Finally, if you will be attending the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago this year, I want to invite you to the World Projects booth (#1739) to say hi to Molly, Kendra, Nicole, and myself. If you have questions about THE PODIUM - New Music Hub, we’d be happy to talk to you about it, and we can even help sign you up for your free profile right there in the booth so you can start exploring new projects right away! While you’re there, check out our travel information, and our catalogue of new music for large ensembles. We hope to see you there!

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