Eliminating sheet music notational errors

When it comes to publishing sheet music, “to err is human; to correct divine.”  A first edition of sheet music can contain errors such as wrong notes, wrong clefs, incorrect rhythms, bars with incorrect numbers of beats, articulation problems or difficult page turns…the possibilities for trouble are endless.  When scores and parts contain thousands or more elements, it is almost inevitable that errors will exist.

Errors can get introduced at any step of the process from the composer’s brain to the printed page…

  • Composition step – the composer may have had sloppy handwriting or written in some wrong notes by mistake, missed rests, added extra rests or had clef issues. If the composer uses notation software, this reduces but doesn’t eliminate the error potential.
  • Arranging step (if there is one) – arrangements and transcriptions can easily introduce new errors such as missing accidentals, wrong notes, etc.
  • Engraving/Copyist step – he/she can misinterpret what is received or introduce errors in a variety of ways.
  • Printing step – Error prone as well. For example, the print shop may start a part on a right page that was intended for a left page start, thereby creating a bad page turn.

How do errors get detected?

For many years now, sheet music has been computer notated with the ability for the person inputting the notes to listen to what has been entered.  I encourage publishers to use the playback capability in their notation software to find mistakes…in tonal music at least where mistakes are relatively easy to discern.  Art of Sound Music has certainly found mistakes this way that we would not have found otherwise.

Players, groups and conductors are pretty good at finding mistakes in printed music.  Luckily most are found at rehearsals, but some only at the performances, especially when rehearsal time is minimal.

Despite all of the opportunities to find and eliminate errors before they get to paying customers, errors do get onto the final sheet music…and quite a number of them.  I queried my friends on the Sibelius music notation program chat board and they offered plenty of examples (publisher names removed to protect the guilty)!

  • Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier (Prelude in C, Book 1) – extra measure
  • L’après-midi d’un faune – Wrong key signatures for transposing instruments, missing rests, extra rests and many more
  • Vivaldi’s ‘Beatus Vir’ – Final C major chord has an A in the violins
  • Vivaldi Gloria ‘Et in terra pax’ movement – Tenors have a G in a B minor chord
  • Handel’s Messiah (Mozart’s parts) – Clarinet in A written at concert pitch for a few bars
  • And many more!

The problem is so widespread that a book was written on the topic by Norman Del Mar called Orchestral Variations.

How do publishers learn about errors in their editions?

Sometimes publishers are notified by their customers about mistakes.   For example, I play in a brass quintet and we recently played an arrangement published in the 1980s.  I found a wrong note in the trombone part and contacted the publisher by email.  The publisher responded that the wrong note was present in the source material and engraved faithfully.  NO ONE HAD EVER CONTACTED THEM about the mistake despite the arrangement being very popular and the error there for decades!

Some of the reasons that players may not communicate errors back to the publisher

  • It takes time and effort that people may not be willing or able to give
  • They don’t know who the publisher is
  • It is not clear how to reach the publisher or the right person working there

How do publishers handle the errors reported to them?

While many publishers produce revised and corrected editions to address found errors, some don’t and the errors persist as the music is sold and distributed for decades or even longer.  Such mistakes become part of musician folklore.  In general:

  • Some publishers don’t fix mistakes because they don’t know about them.
  • Others choose not to fix them.
  • Others may go out of business
  • Some simply don’t have the time or resources to make the corrections, so even new customers get the old mistakes
  • In some cases the original scores are lost and can’t be easily updated.
  • Some publishers do very large print runs and don’t want to throw away that investment, so they keep selling the printouts that have mistakes.

How do publishers notify existing customers about reported errors and fixes?

Most publishers are unable to contact their customers because they sell through distributors and don’t know who their actual customers are!  A handful of publishers and composers maintain “errata lists” on their websites for some works they publish, but this requires the customer to proactively go to the publisher website.  Independent entities will also maintain errata lists but these options are not all public, convenient or known by most people that could use the information.  For example, the errata lists in the OMEC (Orchestra Music Errata Catalog) are only available on the private section of the MOLA site to MOLA librarians.

How does Art of Sound Music avoid the pitfalls described above?

  • There are no large print runs. When we make a fix, the very next customer to buy that piece from us (either hard copy or PDF) gets the corrected music.
  • We have all the original notation files (or can quickly get to them) such that reported errors are fixed on a timely basis. We place a very high priority on addressing known errors and do it quickly.
  • Most of the people playing our publications buy directly from us, so we know how to reach them and vice versa. Customers that bought a certain piece get an email from us with a list of all corrections, and if they bought the PDF version, they get a brand new PDF by email with all of the fixes incorporated.  This process works like self-updating software such as Apple iTunes, but applied to sheet music.
  • Our website address appears on the bottom right corner of every piece we publish and on the sheet music cover. Customers can easily contact us via email about any problems they find.
  • We give customers an incentive to report errors (besides feeling like a good Samaritan). They get a 10% discount off sheet music on their next order.

As you can see, the ability to get correct and corrected sheet music varies on the publisher and their business practices. Publishers like Art of Sound Music have a direct relationship with their customers and do everything possible to provide trouble free, accurate sheet music before AND AFTER your purchase.

Buying a numbering stamp for sheet music parts

Introduction

At Art of Sound Music, we don’t just publish and sell sheet music, but are musicians ourselves. I find that organizing printed sheet music for gigs, storage and musician folders is error prone and time-consuming.  One thing I do to make this easier and faster is to use a database to keep track of which titles I have in my library and make sure each has an ID number (“Chart number”) assigned. These numbers appear at the top of the first page of each part. This system allows me to create, search and copy/edit prior programs to easily and quickly create new ones for upcoming performances (perhaps I’ll do a blog posting on this process for a future blog post).

Here’s an example of a trumpet part with a chart number stamped across the top.

morgen music

Software based stamp

Since much of the music I play is engraved in Sibelius, I wrote a plug-in called Add Work Number to the Top of Page (As of December 2014 over 3,400 Sibelius users have downloaded it) to add chart numbers to the top of parts.  Examples below:

Sibelius plug-in software stamp samples

This is all well and good, but I wanted to buy an actual stamp to number my purchased  music and PDF music that I print out.  I wasn’t able to find such a stamp even though I consider myself a pretty good web searcher.

Physical Stamp

Luck had it that I stumbled upon one of these stamps in the choir loft on a church gig I did earlier this month. I quickly snapped some photos as a way to start to unravel the mystery.  The stamp had no visible model number, but did show the manufacturer name (Pullman).

stamp

Armed with this information, I found the manufacturer’s website.  Although the name on the stamp is Pullman, the manufacturer’s name is actually Cosco (not the warehouse club).  Unfortunately, their site was not up to date and almost useless in finding out more about the stamp.

I found much more useful and detailed information by visiting the few distributor sites I could find:

With these sites, my photo, a ruler and a phone call, I determined that the stamp I needed was:

  • Manufacturer:  Cosco/Pullman
  • Model: “PN 3-4” numbering band stamp (a.k.a.numberer)
    • PN means Roman font
    • 3 means 5/16” inch tall letters
    • 4 means 4 rows of characters, or “bands”
    • There is an extra cost option for metal wheels to switch characters on each band. The standard plastic wheels are fine for printing on paper, so save your money.
    • The characters available on this stamp:
Band 1Band 2Band 3Band 4
BlankBlankBlankBlank
X3/4X/
$1/2-#
#1/4.¢
0000
9999
8888
7777
6666
5555
4444
3333
2222
1111

Stamps are available with larger or smaller fonts, different typefaces and more/fewer bands.  Some bands offer alphabetic characters.  Call a distributor if you’d like to learn more.

Ordering and costs

The ability to order online from the sites listed below runs from totally confusing to not available.  I found it easiest to order by phone and chose The Huntington Park Rubber Stamp Company at (800) 882-0029.

  • PN 3-4 Stamp $33.20
  • #1 Red Felt Pad $3.95 (black could be used instead)
  • Shipping $3.95
  • Total $41.10

My order arrived quickly and below is my first attempt at using my new stamp.

final stamp sample

End notes

Although I wasn’t looking actively, it took me a few years to figure out where to get a stamp suitable for adding chart numbers to the top of music parts, because the information about this practice is almost non-existent.  I hope anyone looking for a sheet music numbering stamp discovers this post to quickly and easily get the stamp they need.

Spanish Brass records 6 Art of Sound Music arrangements

We’ve updated our ScoreFlipper links to feature cuts from the new Spanish Brass CD, SuBLiMe Christmas.  Excellent and inspirational playing of some fun arrangements by Art of Sound Music arrangers.  Six of the sixteen works on the CD are Art of Sound Music publications.
From the pen of Mike Green

Art of Sound Music’s Sibelius Plug-Ins Save Time

Art of Sound Music uses the Sibelius music notation program to engrave the scores we sell. To improve the quality and speed of publishing music, we use many Sibelius plug-ins to assist our work. and there are hundreds of them available (most provided by users).

We have authored many plug-in ourselves, some for private use and some made available for everyone.  Some of our “public” plug-ins are:

Remove Trill Wiggly Lines 

Plug-in removes the wiggly lines from selected trills in a score.

Replace Trill Symbols with Trill Lines

Plug-in replaces trill symbols that don’t play back with trill lines that do playback.

Add Authentic Jazz Flips 

Allows you to add an authentic jazz articulation called a flip.

Make Page 1 of Part(s) Left Facing

Useful for parts with a length of two pages and for situations where starting a part on a left page offers the performer simpler page turns.

Backup Plug-in for Developers

This plug-in allows plug-in authors to create multiple backup snapshots throughout the plug-in development process.

Add Work Number To Top Of Page

This plug-in adds a “chart number” at the top of top of each piece for working bands with a large number of pieces in their “book”.

Format ManuScript Comment For Developers

This plug-in allows developers to transforms free-form text into a nicely formatted comment box to paste into their other plug-ins

Add Turbo Comment

Add Turbo Comments is our brand new plug-in that allows you to add “comments” easier and faster than using the built-in capabilities of Sibelius.  Read more about it in the Sibelius Blog http://www.sibeliusblog.com/tips/new-plug-in-add-turbo-comment/

Use our Performance Notification Form to tell our Composers/Arrangers about your performances

 

Several Art of Sound Music Composers/Arrangers are members of performance rights organization such as ASCAP (The American Society for Composers, Authors, and Publishers), BMI or GEMA. These organizations track music performances worldwide that provide a modest royalty reward that costs you nothing, but allows our Composers/Arrangers to continue creating new music for you to perform. The music we publish of this nature typically has a link on the bottom of the page pointing to our Performance Notification Form at “www.artofsoundmusic.com/notify” to let you know it was created by a member of ones of these groups.

If you have performed any of these works in any public setting, our Composers/Arrangers would be ever grateful if you provided some details about where and when the performance(s) took place.  The form can be reached in two ways:

1) www.artofsoundmusic.com/notify

2) The “Performance Notification” link at the bottom right of each page on our site

notify

Thank you in advance for taking the time to do this and pay it forward.  It will only take about 3 minutes of your time, but will will surely mean a lot to them, and will allow them to continue creating more music for you to enjoy.

Your Sheet Music Rights as an Art of Sound Music customer

I recently visited the Retail Print Music Dealers Association website and made my way over to the copyright info page, where they summarize US copyright law in simple terms.  I wanted to compare these somewhat restrictive Sheet Music Rights vs. the expansive rights you automatically get as an Art of Sound Music customer.

Ability to Make Copies

Rights under US Copyright LawThe Rights AOSM Gives
You are not allowed to copying music for any kind of performance, with the exception of an "emergency".You may photocopy parts and scores you have purchased to serve as a backup copy, to accommodate extra players in your group on certain instruments and/or to give to group members to practice with at home. These rights are granted to the PURCHASING USER ONLY for your own group’s use. You may not copy and/or distribute parts to any other person or entity for any other purpose.
You can do emergency copying to replace purchased copies which for any reason are not available for an imminent performance provided purchased replacement copies shall be substituted in due course.You may photocopy parts and scores you have purchased to serve as a backup copy, to accommodate extra players in your group on certain instruments and/or to give to group members to practice with at home. These rights are granted to the PURCHASING USER ONLY for your own group’s use. You may not copy and/or distribute parts to any other person or entity for any other purpose.

In addition, we give free Part Transportation service and free Lost Part Replacement service.  For more details visit our Parts Policy page.

Part Transposition

You may manually transpose parts to accommodate players with instruments in different keys than that supplied using the parts we’ve provided.  Alternatively, we can transpose the part for you free of charge for scores we have in music notation format and that are still active in our catalog at the time of your request.

Lost Part Replacement

If you’ve lost a part and don’t have a PDF and/or photocopy backup, we can replace the lost part free of charge if that score is still active in our catalog at the time of your request.  The replacement part will be emailed to you.

Summary

It is our intent to treat customers as trusted partners, not criminals.  For this reason, copying of scores and parts are allowed for your own group.  We think that the basic law is too restrictive and puts music directors in an unnecessarily awkward position.

Expedited Shipping and Package Tracking Now Available

Expedited Shipping and Package Tracking

Expedited Shipping and Package Tracking

Several new shipping options are now available to increase the speed and convenience of ordering “Ship to Me” sheet music from Art of Sound Music.

Choice of carriers

We now allow our customers to choose among 3 shipping carriers during checkout:

  • USPS (United States Postal Service).  For customers outside the US, the package is ultimately delivered by your in-country postal service.
  • UPS (United Parcel Service)
  • FedEx (Federal Express)

Class of Service – Standard or Expedited Shipping

  • Standard – The least expensive “1st class” type shipping that the carrier offers.
  • Expedited – This is faster delivery than “Standard” and can cut shipping time by days or weeks, depending where you are.

All shipping delivery time estimates are based on the date the package ships, not the date you placed your order, although these dates are often very similar, as nothing we offer on our website is ever “out of stock”.

Package Tracking

Package tracking is now included with every shipping option (except USPS to the United States).  When your order ships, you will receive an email with a link to track the package online.  You don’t need to memorize or type in the tracking number, just click on the link!

What to Choose?

To see our current shipping rates (based on the “Ship To” region/country), delivery speed and package tracking options, click here.

We are glad to be able to offer customers the power to choose the shipping carrier and class of service options that best meets their needs.

Brass Quintet Sheet Music Purchase Tips

Brass Quintet Sheet Music

Brass Quintet Sheet Music Selection Tips

Whether your group is brand new or has been around for years, there’s always a need for new brass quintet sheet music.  New quintets need to quickly build a library, while established groups should be introducing new pieces regularly to create interest and variety for their audiences and musicians.  It is also important that every group should challenge themselves to play more difficult and rewarding music, as well as music from unfamiliar genres.

Audition Your Brass Quintet Sheet Music Before You Buy

In the old days, I would look for brass quintet sheet music in the printed Robert King catalog and often find several editions available of the same work (with different arrangers with sometime wildly varying prices) and have no idea which to order.  Was the most expensive version the best?  There was really no way to know, so I’d make a selection based on how much money I had or if I recognized the arranger name.  Regrettably, the situation is slightly worse today. The online version of that catalog only shows the name of the piece, and you need to click each record to reveal the arranger or publisher name.  Who has time for that?  Hoping to find a score sample or MP3…fuhgeddaboutit!  It’s a shame because there are some real gems in that catalog.  Unfortunately, without much information, some of the pieces I bought using this trial and error method turned out to be “clunkers”, which wasted my time and money.

Despite the fact the many of the largest and best sheet music stores like Petelson’s in NYC have gone out of business over the last few years, the selection, pricing and availability of brass quintet sheet music has never been better.  While there’s far fewer local shops where you can grab a chair and coffee to peruse a few brass quintet sheet music scores you’re thinking of buying, you CAN get the in-store experience at home…actually better (because not all of us have the ability to hear music in our heads just by looking at notes in a score).

Websites with brass quintet sheet music like Art of Sound Music now provide rich and useful information such as the arranger name, grade of the piece, information about parts provided (and key of the instruments), alternate part availability, sound samples, visual samples and links to YouTube videos of performances.  These resources are extremely helpful for deciding if a piece suites your needs, skills and taste.  On our site, we go the extra mile by showcasing each piece of brass quintet sheet music in ScoreFlipper™, our advanced technology that allows you to thumb through an online musical score as if you were holding it in your hands, with the added ability to hear the music synchronized with the pages viewed.  ScoreFlipper playback features actual live recordings when we have them, and computer generated ones where we don’t.  People find ScoreFlipper extremely useful when selecting music as it removes the risk (that I mentioned above) out of the purchase process.  Click to see ScoreFlipper in action with Tony DiLorenzo’s Fire Dance for Brass Quintet.

Paper or PDF

Having a choice of pre-printed or PDF copies is critical when buying brass quintet sheet music.   Professionally printed score and parts that are mailed to you are attractive when you:

  • prefer the quality of professionally printed music
  • are not in a hurry
  • required to buy hard copies to be reimbursed by your organization
  • order a lot of music at once and don’t have time or facilities to print it yourself

PDF scores and parts that you can download are attractive when you:

  • need the music right away
  • don’t have physical space to store more music
  • prefer to keep music organized on your computer
  • want the ability to reprint music that is damaged or lost

Know Your Audience, But Don’t Bore Them

Are you playing for kid’s concerts?  Senior citizens?  Patriotic events? Recitals?  Each of these situations creates a certain expectation for the type of music played, but this doesn’t mean you need to be totally predictable.  There are many resources available with excellent advice on how to program a concert.   Visit Ryan Anthony’s blog for a list of standard brass quintet repertoire.  You can “stretch” yourselves and the audience by being introducing different types of material.  Even a twelve-tone piece can fit into these performances if it is placed and explained properly.

For weddings ceremonies, more and more pop music is expected (especially for the cocktail hour), along with the classics.  An economically way to acquire brass quintet sheet music for weddings and other events is with large collections such as our Gig Ready™ Brass Quintet Libraries.  If you are on a budget, this is an excellent way to quickly expand your repertoire and cover the basics.

Other Things to Consider

If the brass quintet sheet music site shows grade levels for each piece, be sure to check the legend as they are not standard from company to company.  If your group has a non-standard instrumentation, check to see if alternate parts are provided or if the company will transpose parts upon request.  There are many excellent arrangers in the brass quintet sheet music genre, such as Jack Gale and Ingo Luis…when you buy their music you can never go wrong.  YouTube is also a great place to see brass quintet sheet music works being played and who composed or arranged them.   Luckily, there’s no reason in 2013 to buy blindly anymore, so let your eyes and ears be your guide!

Determining Profitability of Arranging a Copyrighted Work

Arrangement Profitability

Determining Arrangement Profitability

I previously wrote about how to obtain permission to arrange a copyrighted work. However, I didn’t discuss IF you should pursue it, and merely advised that “you need to see if their deal makes financial sense to you.”   Today I’ll discuss how to determine the profitability of arranging a copyrighted work, by walking through a made up example modeled in Microsoft Excel. At the bottom you’ll find a link to download the example as an Excel spreadsheet, that you can use to evaluate almost any licensing scenario.

Let’s Get Started

We’ll start at the point in the process right after the copyright administrator has sent a contract to sign with their deal terms (3 year limit, etc.), and I need to decide if I should sign the contract or not.  In this made up example the work I’ll be arranging is Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” for Bassoon Quartet.

Cells with a yellow background are where I will type in my information; all other cell values will be conveniently populated by Excel formulas.  Although this post is a bit long, the process below only takes about 5 minutes to complete!

Title Block

Title Block

Title Block

  • Title: Enter the title and instrumentation
  • Sales Period: Since this is a 3 year deal, I entered 3 here.
  • Average Discount to Resellers:  If you sell some or all of your works through a reseller (e.g. Sheet Music Plus) put in the discount percentage off the consumer price that the reseller pays to you. For example, if the end customer pays $10.00 and you sell it to the reseller for $7.50, here you put in (10-7.5)/100= .25 or 25%. If you only sell directly to performers, enter zero.
  • Hours to prepare: Estimate of the total hours it will take to arrange, engrave, prepare program notes, update web pages/products, read/sign the contract, etc. for “Poker Face”.

Transaction Costs

The section calculates the overall estimated cost of accepting payments such as Credit Card, Paypal, Check, POs and “Store Fees”.

Transaction Costs

Transaction Costs

  • Total Sales: Enter all sales subject to transactions fees for a given prior period, say last year.  
  • Total Transactions Costs: Put the total transaction related fees you paid during the same period, including credit card processing fees, store fees, gateway fees, etc.
  • Transactions Costs %: This is your average cost of accepting payments.  If you are new to selling and have no historical sales and costs data to reference, you can overwrite the calculation and type in your own estimate here, say anywhere from 2-10%.

 Revenue

There are four covering the most common sales possibilities…

Revenue

Revenue

  • Sales Quantity: The estimated copies sold in the period.  If you don’t plan to sell a particular “Type”, enter 0 in that row.  
  • Type: “Soft Copy/PDF” are sold electronically and printed by the customer.  If you don’t plan to sell this Type for this arrangement, enter 0 in the Sales Qty field.  Hard copies are traditionally printed scores.  Note that some copyright administrators will not allow Soft Copy/PDF sales of any type.
  • Channel:  “Self” are arrangements sold by you directly to the musician with no company/middleman in between (e.g. Retail or Direct sales).  “Reseller” is when you sell to a company (e.g. Sheet Music Plus), and they in turn sell the arrangement to a musician.  Typically you get less for Reseller sales than Self sales.
  • Average Revenue Per Unit:  How much YOU will get on average when these items sell, considering any price changes, different configuration/instrumentations, etc.  If you want to keep it simple, enter the current price.  If you don’t sell products of this type, enter $0.00.
  • Extended price:  Calculated for you as is the total revenue across all sales methods.
  • Example:  I expect to sell 10 PDF copies @ $14.20/ea. and 6 Hard Copies @ $18.00/ea. directly to musicians, and 0 through resellers. 

Costs

Detailed Transaction Fees

This section allows you to get more specific (if you wish) with transaction costs previously entered in the Transaction Costs section.  I kept things simple and accepted the 7.5% value it gave.

Detailed Transaction Fees

Detailed Transaction Fees 

  • Fixed cost per sale (Self): When you sell directly to a musician, if you’re charged a fixed price per transaction (say $0.10), enter that here.
  • Percent of Revenue Per Unit (Self): When you sell directly to a musician, if you’re charged a percentage of the sales price, enter that here (or keep the auto calculated value).
  • Fixed cost per sale (Reseller): Same as above, but for selling to a Reseller.
  • Percent of Revenue Per Unit (Reseller): Same as above, but for selling to a Reseller.

Licensing Fees

Gaga’s people drive a hard bargain!  They’ve offered you a 3 year licensing deal, where you pay them 15% of the selling price for each copy sold and guarantee a minimum payment of $50 ($16.67/year), even if you sell no copies…and after 3 years, you are not allowed to sell any more.

Licensing Costs

Licensing Costs 

  • Flat Rate Licensing Cost: A fixed cost regardless of how many copies are sold.
  • Licensing Period: In years.  Enter 5 if there is no specified term. 
  • Per Unit Cost:  A fixed price for EACH copy sold.
  • Percent of Price:  A percentage of the selling price for each copy sold.
  • Minimum Fee: A minimum guarantee regardless of how many copies sold.
  • Minimum Fee Guarantee Per Year: The minimum divided by the licensing period.
  • Licensing Subtotal: The sum of all calculated costs.
  • Total Licensing Cost per year: If the Minimum Fee is larger than the Licensing Subtotal, it will show the Minimum Fee here.
  • Example:  Gaga offered me a 3 year deal @ 15% of selling price with a $50.00 minimum spread across that time.

When you use the spreadsheet to analyze your deal, enter values for all items that apply and zeros where they don’t.

Commission Costs

If you plan to pay someone to arrange the work or to use sales agents, enter those costs here.  This section is similar to the licensing section in terms of possibilities   In this example, I am the arranger and won’t use sales agents, so all values are zero.

Commission Fees

Commission Fees

  • Flat Price: Lump sum payment to the arranger.
  • Price per year: Flat Price divided by the selling period.
  • Commission per Unit per year: Price per year divided by copies sold.
  • Percent of revenue per Unit (Soft Copy/PDF) : A percentage to the arranger or sales agent for each soft copy sold.
  • Percent of revenue per Unit (Hard Copy) : A percentage to the arranger or sales agent for each hard copy sold.

Print Costs and Cost Summary

 

Commission & Transaction Costs

Commission & Transaction Costs

Many of the values here are copied in from prior sections.

Print Cost Per Unit:  A place to enter your printing costs.  Here my print costs are expected to be the same for Self and Reseller sales.  If you don’t play to sell hard copies at all, set those to zero.

Example:  I used $3.15 as my print price.  Yours could be higher or lower depending on the number of pages, page size, cover type, how it is printed, volume discounts, etc.

 The Profitability of Arranging a Copyrighted Work

After all of that hard work, we finally get to see our profitability!

  PROFIT        $34.97/Hr.    Avg. Profit/Unit $10.93    Gross Margin: 69.9%    Total Profit $174.85

This deal looks pretty good from all financial perspectives:

  • Profit Per Hour:  The profit divided by time spent.  Depending on other factors this can be inspiring or depressing.  Remember, the minimum wage you can get flipping burgers is $7.25/hr!
  • Average Profit Per Unit:  What you’ll take home per copy sold after considering all costs.
  • Gross Margin: Profit divided by gross revenue.  To learn more about the significance of gross margin, click here.
  • Total Profit: The amount you’ll deposit in the bank at the end of the sales period, after all costs are paid.

If the results for your own arrangement are quite not as good, the problem may be with your overall business, not just that particular arrangement.  Some of the options you have are to:

  • Reduce printing costs by printing in bulk, changing your printing supplier or eliminating hard copy sales altogether.
  • Try to increase your market so you can sell more copies.
  • Arrange for a more popular instrumentation to increase your addressable market.
  • Find a less expensive way to host your store or take payments.
  • etc.

Even if you only arrange for the love of it, you shouldn’t be in the habit of taking a loss to do it.  However some not so profitable arrangements can be useful when viewed as part of a portfolio and as a way to attract customers to some of your other pieces.

Coda

I hope that this approach to understanding profitability of arranging licensed works was helpful.  As you can see, you don’t need to have a Masters degree in Economics to see if a deal is worth doing, but it is helpful to understand a few financial concepts. 

You can download my Arrangement Profitability Calculator which contains the example I went through above.  Edit the values in the spreadsheet to analyze your own deals.  

Happy and profitable arranging!

Notes

  • This model ignores shipping (assumed to be “a wash”)
  • Ignores taxes off all kinds including VAT
  • Can be used for any currency
  • The spreadsheet can be used to forecast profitability (as I demonstrated) or to calculate actual profitability retrospectively.

Website Improvements are here!

under_construction_music

Website improvements

The website improvements I mentioned in my first blog entry went live today!  These changes improve usability for Art of Sound Music customers and allow us to post new works more quickly.

Highlights of our website improvements

Easier and faster to add products to shopping cart

Previously, if you typed “soprano” into our search box, you would see a list of many nice pieces, including one especially lovely piece by Barbara Harbach called “Emily!” that you might want to buy and have us ship to you:

Emily Before

Emily Before

In the past, to add the “Ship to Me” version of Emily! to your shopping cart you’d need to:

  1. Click the radio button next to “Ship To Me”
  2. Click in the text box that says “Add: 0”
  3. Type a backspace to erase the “0”
  4. Type a “1”
  5. Scroll to the bottom of the page
  6. Click on the blue “Add selected products to cart” button

Here’s what you see today when you reach that listing after a search for “soprano”:

Emily After

Emily After

We auto-insert a 1 (instead of 0) in the quantity box, and we now place “add to cart” buttons next to Download PDF and Ship to Me .  To add the hard copy to your cart you would simply need to:

  1. Click on the “add to cart” button to the right of “Ship to Me”

Having 1 step instead of 6 allows customers to get things done more easily and quickly.

A dash of color

The earlier version of our website relied heavily on the color blue, and that was giving us a case “the blues”.  Key headings now sport a cheerful dash of orange to brighten your day!  Orange is also the background color for our blog.

Website before and after

Website before and after

Menu improvements make products easier and faster to find

We’ve reorganized our product menus to make things easier to find.  For example, in the past choosing “Brass Quintet” would lead you to a list of the many hundreds of items we have in that category, which could be a bit time-consuming to look through.  Now, when you click on “Brass Quintet”, you can limit the search results by grade, style, occasion or (like before) show every product in that category.

Products appear in multiple categories

Many of our works don’t fit neatly into just one category.  For example, Low Motion by Ingo Luis, a feature for Bass Trombone with 5 trombone accompaniment, now appears simultaneously in the Bass Trombone category and the 6 Trombones category, making it easier to find.

Many new “behind the scenes” features

These enhancements allow us to post new works even more quickly!

Reach our blog from our store

There’s a link to our blog at the top and bottom of each website page.

Improved choral score pages

We have some great choral composers on our roster such as Nancy Wertsch.  We list choral works a bit differently than instrument works – they usually have a minimum order quantity and choirs need lots of copies for their members.  Before, our choral product pages had a drop down list starting from the minimum quantity of 5 and then going up in increments of 5.  This detail took more some time to set up, stopped customers from ordering the EXACT quantity they needed and took up a lot of screen space as you can below with Nancy’s “…with Peace in Mind”:

Choral before

Choral before

As of today, that screen has simplified to show just 2 choices (see below). It uses less space, is more flexible for customer and is easier for us to prepare.  That’s what I call a win/win solution!

Choral after

Choral after

New shortcut URL to reach our website

Need to get to artofsoundmusic.com fast?  Just type “aosmus.com” into your browser.

Coda

We’re working hard to make our website the very best in the sheet music industry, and we’ll be introducing more time-saving features in the future.  We’d welcome any suggestions you have in the comments section below.