Wednesday, March 18, 2015

How to Sell Your Sheet Music on

I have just recently begun selling my own sheet music, as well as MP3s, on

It is a great website with tons of sheet music.  I have recently signed up for the Digitial Print Publishing program to sell some of my sheet music online and have already made my first sale.  I was a little nervous about signing up, because I didn't entirely understand the process, so I wanted to alleviate any concerns for other composers that might be interested in looking into this.

All in all, I found this process to be very simple.  You can sign up at (this particular link will list me as the referrer, so I would appreciate your using it, if you find the information on this blog useful).  Signing up is entirely free.  After signing up, you can upload sheet music as a PDF and may also submit a sample audio MP3.  After uploading, you will be asked to provide a general description of the piece and certain information about instrumentation and copyright information.  Once this information has been submitted there is a 7-10 business day processing period, after which (if everything is found to be acceptable) your music will appear for sale on the website.

Also, you can simply sell audio MP3s.  The only drawback I see to selling MP3s through this site is that they sell for $1.99, which is considerably higher than the typical $0.99 MP3s found on iTunes.  The advantage to selling MP3s through this site is that there is no setup/registration fee as is generally found on other MP3 sales sites.

The Dashboard on your Digital Print Publishing account page will show your sales for the month.  You receive payment on a monthly basis when your sales have reached your payment threshold (which can be set to $20 as the minimum amount).  You may remove your PDFs or MP3s at any time, and may change them at any time, although the latter will require another 7-10 business day waiting period.

If you have any other questions, please post them in the comments section.  If you are ready to get started selling your sheet music PDFs or MP3s at SheetMusicPlus, then click here:

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Tips for creating the best and most useful chord and lyric charts

Many times I've played with groups that set a chord/lyric sheet in front of me.  Many of them or poorly transcribed, and if they are found on the internet, the may be littered with inaccurate chords or other mistakes.  Actually, the best way to learn popular songs, in my opinion, is to figure them out by ear, but in some situations, it is necessary to play a song from a sheet even if you don't know it very well.  For this reason, a clearly transcribed chord/lyric chart is essential.

Here is a step by step explanation of how I put together a very clear chord/lyric sheet:

1) Use "Courier" font or any font that uses the exact same size block for each character. This way it will be easier to exactly align chords with syllables.  Also, if you need to adjust the size of the text, it won't ruin your alignment.

2) At the top of the sheet, notate the style, time signature, and tempo. This can save a lot of trouble in a rehearsal or performance situation where someone is sight-reading the chart.  For example, "Swing, 4/4, quarter note = 132."

3) Transcribe the lyrics precisely as heard in the recording.  Typically, it is best to copy and paste repeated sections, rather than simply saying to "jump back to the refrain" or "jump to the pre-chorus." When performing from a lead sheet, it can get really confusing to try to follow a form that is not presented linearly. Put a space between stanzas and refrains, etc, to make it visually easier to see where sections begin and end.

4) Type in the chord symbols directly above the exact syllable where they occur in the text. This will ensure that all of the musicians change chords at the same time.  If the first chord of the line occurs just before the first syllable of text, space the text over in order to indicate this.  It is also very helpful to put vertical bars "|" to indicate where each measure occurs, as some chords may last two bars or more, whereas chords may also change twice or more in the same measure.  Repeated sections may be indicated with repeat bars, using vertical bars and colons.
||: Cm F7 | Bb     | Gm C7 | FMaj7   :||

5) Tempo changes or significant dynamic changes should also be shown in the chart. The more specific you can be, the more likely all the musicians will perform it the same way. These are often indicated in italics.
p    mp    mf    f    ff    crescendo    decrescendo    rit.    molto rit.

6) Adjust margins and text size (remember to use Courier font) as necessary and use page breaks to make sure that a line of chords has not been separated from its corresponding line of lyrics.  In fact, I personally like to make sure that page breaks only occur between sections, such as between a verse and chorus.

 Final note - the more specific you can be with the chord/text alignment, chord length, dynamics, tempo, and tempo changes, the more likely a group of musicians will be able to execute the chord changes in sync with each other.  Of course, it is best to use your ears and actually listen to the music many times to internalize the changes.  However, even if you have a good internal understanding of a piece, it can be very confusing to play from a poorly transcribed lead sheet that belies what you are hearing in your head.  Anything you can do to make a chord chart make better visual sense is worth saving trouble in a rehearsal or performance.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Marvin Gaye "Blurred Lines" Ruling Leads to Rash of Infringement Suits

A jury in Los Angeles ruled Tuesday that musicians Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams, and T.I. must pay $4.7 million dollars for copyright infringement with their song "Blurred Lines," which was found to borrow from Marvin Gaye's 1977 hit "Got to Give It Up."  This is a significant ruling, which has set a new precedent in copyright infringement proceedings - that even the slightest similarity between two songs can be used as evidence of infringement.  This has quite predictably led to a deluge of similar lawsuits.

The W.C. Handy estate was the first to jump on the bandwagon.  The family of Handy, who is considered to be the "father of the Blues," is now suing every musical artist that has ever used the 12-bar blues form or the blues scale.  Defendants in the case include these individuals or their estates: Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Bessie Smith, the Rolling Stones, and many others, including just about anyone who has ever picked up a guitar.

Also throwing down the gauntlet are the descendants of Adolphe Sax.  Sax, who lived from 1814-1894 was a Belgian musical instrument designer who invented the saxophone.  Although their lawsuit covers a multitude of saxophonists, the primary defendant is Kenny G, who the Sax family claim has not only received millions of dollars in compensation for his use of their ancestor's invention, but has furthermore "given the soprano sax a really bad rap."

It has also been reported this morning that the descendants of Guido d'Arezzo have filed suit against the Rodgers & Hammerstein Library over alleged copyright infringement in the musical The Sound of Music.  The 1959 musical, which won multiple Tony Awards including Best Musical, is perhaps best known for the von Trapp Family Singers singing the song "Do-Re-Mi."  Guido d'Arezzo, who lived c. 991-c.1033 was a Medieval music theorist who invented the musical staff and a system of pitch solmization known as solf├Ęge, where the notes of the scale are sung as do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do.  The d'Arezzo family claims that the song "Do-Re-Mi" is blatant infringement of their ancestor's solmization system.

"We are feeling very hopeful about the lawsuit," states descendant Giuseppe d'Arezzo, "If this works out, we are looking into suing everyone that has every printed music on a staff.  Those five sacred lines are clearly the sole property of my great, great, great, great, great, great... grandfather."