A composition entrepreneur, Ryan Main explains the three paths to getting your music published, and tells you what you need to do to succeed in each of them. Through the successes and failures of Kansas City Music Publishing, Ryan learned the nuts and bolts of publishing, and today he shares with you the pros and cons of the three main avenues for publication: traditional publishing houses, an innovative online publishing company, and self-publishing.

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Highlight to Tweet: “The trick to any of this…is to just start doing it, and the pieces will fall into place.” – Ryan Main

Show Notes:

  • Traditional publishers:
    Useful for…
    • A low-profile composer
    • A prolific composer
    • A composer/director looking to raise their profile
    • A composer looking for more commissionsBut…
    • For every 1,000 sales you could expect to make about $200
    • If a publishing company likes your piece they will promote it more, if it barely makes the cut, it may not even be on a reading session
  • Publishing with an innovative publishing company:
    Useful for…
    • A composer with at least some profile
    • A composer who knows they have gold on their hands
    • A composer who wants to make money but doesn’t want to self-publish (For every 1,000 sales, you could expect to make about $1,400)But…
    • If a publishing company likes your piece they will promote it more, if it barely makes the cut, they may not promote it
    • Many don’t offer printed music, specifically with JW Pepper, which is a huge market share
  • Self-publishing:
    Useful for…
    • A composer with at least some profile
    • A composer who knows they have gold on their hands
    • A composer who wants to make money (For every 1,000 sales, you could expect to make about $2,000)But…
    • Time investment up front
    • Financial investment up front
    • Steep learning curve
    • It is entirely up to you to promote your music
  • Things you will need to get your music published through traditional or innovative companies
    • Good writing
    • Good engraving
    • Good recording
    • Thick skin
  • Things you will need to self-publish:
    • Good writing
    • Good engraving
    • Good recording
    • Thick skin
    • An entrepreneurial spirit
  • Things you will need to self-publish printed music:
    • All of the previous plus…
    A commercial printer or a printing company
    A place to keep stock
    Nuts and bolts printing knowledge (paper weight, booklet printing, etc.)
    Ability to fulfill orders quickly and be a good business partner
    Relationships with retailers

Bio:

Ryan joined choir his sophomore year of college and spent most of that year trying to figure out how solfège worked. He’s almost got it now. Ryan loves to write music that is gripping and intense, which probably comes from watching too many superhero movies growing up. In his free time, he likes to spend time with his super cute nieces, walk his dogs, write music, and cook. As a chef, he has been described as “really pretty okay” by a guy that looked kinda like Gordon Ramsay. He has accidentally set two oven mitts on fire and hopes to keep it there.

Ryan is the Artistic Director of the Youth Chorus of Kansas City, the Director of Music at Village Presbyterian Church in Antioch, and is an (extremely) active composer and clinician.

Resources/links Mentioned:

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...on working with changing male voices.

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