Friday, June 05, 2009
Setting the Price
A bleg: In my sideline as music publisher, we're having some serious discussions about the price of sheet music. We're not exactly operating in a perfectly balanced supply and demand environment, and there are real costs in materials and time in handling individually printed and shipped orders of sheet music (often with some unusual formating issues), so the calculation is far from easy. For my own music, and the music of some others at Material Press, I'm usually happy to give away electronic copies of scores (knowing that, if all is reported correctly, I'll earn money from performance licenses), but sell paper scores to libraries or others who don't like to roll their own. But setting the price for those paper copies is tricky, particularly (a) when a single piece has a relatively modest — by page count — size, or (b) when text or graphic scores are involved, or (c) the score is published on demand. Peters gets 5.95US$ for a copy of 4'33", perhaps two photocopied pages in a folder. Peer Southern sells Thomson's Piano Sonata No. 3 — 6 pages of engraved music in a folder — for five bucks. Anthologies of smaller works by either of these composers, in an engraved and staple-bound format, range from 5 to 25 dollars. What would you be willing to pay for a single page of instructions for a piece of music? For a piece 5, 10, or 30 pages long? How about a cd of recorded sound required for performance of a work?