Why sell piano sheet music in the first place?
Sure, it’s a nice way to make some extra passive income, but it’s (currently) a fraction of what streaming brings in. Not to mention to potential upside for things like sync licensing. After all, only a fraction of the people who listen to our music are piano players. And only a fraction of them would ever be intrigued enough to come buy our music to learn. (If you fall into that category, thank you so very much)
So “why sheet music” is a hard question to answer in its own right. But really the question I’m asking myself is “why am I absolutely fixated on sheet music”? That’s what I’d like to explore and understand about myself. Coming from a background in choral music with aspirations to be a composer, it’s a concept that I’ve been familiar with since I was a kid. After all, Eric Whitacre was (is?) an A-list celebrity in that nerdy choir kid world. You just knew that he had to be making a killing with his published pieces. My high school choir director had a few pieces published in that same vein.
The indie music ethos
It was around that time that I became fascinated with independent music in general. 2007-2009 was approaching peak upheaval of the music business…before Spotify crowned itself king. Enough had changed about the default assumptions of what a music career is supposed to look like, and you could tell the balance of power was shifting away from middlemen and gatekeepers (at least in their traditional clothes). I was attracted to the growing number of industry voices who were championing the indie model. Maybe I’m overly-armchair-therapizing myself, and really I’ve just always like being in control. Whatever the case.
After college, I moved to New York with a composition degree, and unpaid internship, and a couch to crash on. For a 6-week period in that first year, I found myself working as a PA on a TV show (I don’t know if it ever survived past the pilot). In between my frantic trips to the grocery store to buy cheerios and cookies for the set carpenters, and my cross-town traffic jams to deliver payroll to the production office, I wound sit around dreaming about how I was going to self-publish my way into financial freedom. I was focusing on art song at the time. If I contact voice teachers who want to teach my songs to their students, it will spread like wildfire! If I sell 1,000 pieces a month…times 12, carry the 1…
The Lake Isabel mission
Nowadays there’s a bit of that. I really would like to grow our little store. But now there’s a real live audience of people seeking us out. On purpose! It’s surreal. I want to serve them (you) well. There’s an ethos to it.
From the beginning of this artist project, I wanted Lake Isabel to be the best of both worlds: accessible to the average listener, and easy to appreciate without a music degree or special Classical Music Snobbery credentials. But I didn’t want to water the music down for the sake of an audience…to race to the bottom and find the bare minimum amount of creativity required to communicate “this is calm, pretty music. Just don’t hit the skip button and you’ll be fine.” That’s the closest thing I can picture to selling out in this very un-flashy genre.
I think we’ve achieved that.
I want students to have access to new music that excites and motivates them to practice, but that encourages good technique…music that won’t bore and infuriate teachers, and can provide some music theory nuggets along the way.
In a clumsy nutshell, that’s “why” sheet music. Or once again maybe I’m over-explaining something that’s really simple.
I think scores are aesthetically beautiful. I love the look, the feel, the language, the craft. So I wanted to share it. The next step would be….
Who wants hard copy piano sheet music in the mail? That’d be the next step, and I’ll do it if there’s interest. Anyone? Bueller…?