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Question for self-publishers about pricing music

I am looking for guidance regarding appropriately pricing my scores that, up until now, have all been offered for free.  Although I will not starve if nothing ever sells, I work nearly full time at composing and would like to receive some sort of reasonable compensation for my efforts if or when a piece sells.  So, I would greatly appreciate any insights or formulas or guidelines that you could provide that work for you.  I would also appreciate knowing if you have modified your pricing strategy in the face of current economic conditions that have probably reduced most choirs' budgets for new music. 
 
on February 13, 2012 1:22pm
Hi Julia,
 
This is a thorny one. If you are famous you let your publisher set a rate. I'm not, tho I think I write good stuff. I used to think print copies should be priced at a dollar a page not counting covers and Notes and  Works lists, etc. But that made longer pieces seem pretty expensive (of course conductors are comparing it to the cheap Schirmer Messiah at $5 a copy for a 100-page reprint. . . .).
 
Now I offer both print and cheaper .pdf sales. For choral music I don't try to make the money on the master .pdf, just sell it somewhere between $4 (for few pages) and $10 for the master (for longer works, full scores, etc.). With a few higher exceptions for say a 30-minute oratorio like my Principles on Thos Jefferson texts.
 
Then I charge a per-copy fee for them to make their own copies; used to say 15 cents a side, then stopped asking them to do the math and just set up a per-copy (whole piece) fee, try to keep it under a dollar except for 10 pagers and up. Mostly folks are pretty happy with that. (Let's not go into the side issue of losing control over the quality of the copies they make, vs. ones you'd make or have made . . . heavy paper, nice layout, 11 x 17 two-sided 4-page booklets stapled at the spine, etc., vs the stacks of 2-sided flimsy letter xerox with a staple in the corner that they usually make their graduate assistant or librarian produce).
 
And yes, if folks indicate hard times, I do haggle, considering standard price break issues (try to keep an order under $100 total, they feel better, etc.). And I give educational discount of 15%. And of course with .pdf there is no shipping cost. And if they lose a .pdf master I willl provide a replacement free.
 
That's about it so far. What *I'm looking for is a way to increase sales and performances to a flood - - -  but I don't write the kind of etude that gets picked up for the Texas high school all state conventions .
 
Best wishes,
 
David Avshalomov
davshalomov@earthlink.net
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