Music Publishing Essay

Music Publishing has always plays a vital role in music business since mid- 1400s. The earliest printed music is known as religious chant from 1465. In fact, almost all the music printed before the 16th century belongs or owned by the Catholic Church. Since the 14th century until present times, Music Publishing has experienced a long progressive evolution. (SongCast, Inc. 2013) With the invention of the lithograph in 1798 which allows massive amounts of sheet music could be cheaply printed, it brought along a massive, palpable shift in lifestyle and production in the music market. ibid 2013) In America, Over 10,000 popular songs were printed and that was the time when Publishers did not need to promote individual pieces as the homes were filled with the same music. (ibid 2013) Looking deeper into modern music publishing, the roots can be traced back to the “Tin Pan Alley”, a name given to a group of music sheet publishers who collected on West 28th Street in the late 19th, early 20th Century in New York City. (B. N.

Shrum, 26 Nov 07) Tin Pan Alley was a major publisher during the time and they consists of publishing staffs included piano demonstrators, arrangers, composers and lyricists. Hence, Tin Pan Alley became an assembly line creating popular songs. (J. Flattum, 3 May 06) The Success was measured by the sale of sheet music. Around sometimes in 1913, the first sheet music sales chart was started by the Billboard Magazine, and the sales of sheet music and music related books was further boosted by the Vaudeville an Broadway, leading to the open up of new markets for sheet music. ibid 3 May 06) On the other hand, the invention and introduction of Thomas Edison’s Gramophone and the phonograph cylinder coincides with the happening of Tin Pan alley. (B,N. Shrum, 26 Nov 07) Since then the advent of recording technology at the turn of 19th century contributed to a shift and change in the way popular music is produced and consumed. (D. Furini. 2011) However the, dramatic shift from printed music to recorded music did not occur until the development of the ”talkie”[1] (B,N Shrum, 26 Nov 07).

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Sheet music hung onto its popularity for some time, and was outpaced by records around the mid-1900s. (SongCast, Inc. 2013) Stephen Foster- one of America’s earliest and greatest songwriters is know to have died penniless. Despite its popularity, as royalties were nor recognized and unheard at the turn of the late 18th century. (J. Flattum, 3 May 06) An organization ASCAP was then formed in 1914 to protect the copyrighted music compositions of its members. (B. N Shrum, 26 Nov 07) Slowly in 1920’s, the organization expanded with the introduction of the new invention called radio. ibid 26 Nov 07) In 1926, the first radio network was formed by The Westinghouse Broadcasting Company which also opened KDKA[2]. (J. Flattum, 3 May 06) Due to the owners of radio stations that did not like paying what they considered exorbitant license fees to ASCAP for the performances of musical compositions, the broadcasters united and formed their own organizations called BMI[3] in an effort to drive the license fees down. (B. N Shrum, 26 Nov 07) After the vaudeville era, when more audiences were listening to the radio, airtime became a precious commodity. D. Jasen, 2 Nov 1988) Slowly, along with getting a star to use a song in the act or on the air, the publishers discovered that early in the history of Tin Pan Alley, the song’s cover played a vital role in selling of the popular music sheet. (ibid, 2 Nov 1988) Starting from the mid-1890s, publishers started to took great care and attentions with their covers to served as an incentive for the performer to retain the song and to encourage fans of the performer to purchase the sheet as a souvenir. ibid, 2 Nov 1988) Symbolically, Tin Pan Alley died on April 12, 1954 as the era of Tin Pan alley was over and taken by international rock ‘n’ roll star Elvis Presley that stirs up the new trend. And slowly the music business market were dominated by teenagers who valued the performance more than the written music and words. (ibid, 2 Nov 1988) And so it evolutes along with the time progressively until the present times. Music Publishing, in another way of expressing it is literally making music into money.

In present time frame, music publishers are concerned with administering copyrights, licensing songs to record companies and others. Besides that they collects royalties on behalf of the songwriter. The royalties are divided into a different categories such as Mechanical royalties, Foreign Monies, Synchronization Licenses, Public Performance royalties etc due to the evolution progress of the market and era, the royalties formed for each and individual use and conditions. (K.

Alan, 2013) However, with the change of time and era, most of the Music Publishers are facing challenges as the a lot of songwriters in present time are increasingly becoming as their own music publishers, cutting out the “the middleman” which is the music publisher and dealing directly with managing and promoting their own catalogs. (Z. kevin 2013) Besides that, with the rise of the technology, royalties and copyrights are more violated than before hence causing the gradual down fall and increase of hardships for Music publishers.

Furthermore, Piracy has becoming one of the biggest issue in current time comparing to the past when technologies such as internet have not yet exist or popular. Leakage of the copyrighted materials goes viral everywhere on the internet causing a great amount of lost for music publishers. Hence, Music Publishers hangs on more to organizations such as SESAC, BMI, ASCAP or PRS. These are a form of performing rights organizations (PRO) in the US representing songwriters and music publishers and pays them performance royalties whenever their song are played in public. (Z. Kevin 2013)

In my personal opinions, in may be just a decade of time or two, it will be harder for smaller music publisher to stand firm alone not depending or branch under the major music publishers. This is due to the increasing of of independent musician and self music publishers. Hence it will contribute to decrease in clients or customers of the music publishers as they are less in demand in the market. However, the major music publishing will still remain standing firm as it still holds on the main market in the music field as they are now. And they can creates and lead different trends in the future.

Popular music are getting in a way that everyone listens to and follows as a trend. Hence I believed the Major Music Publishers will still hold their place leading and manipulating the trend. Bibliography Songcast, Inc. 2013, File Under: Artist Resources “A short History of Music Publishing. Available from: http://blog. songcastmusic. com/a-short-history-of-music-publishing-selling-music-online-wasnt-always-an-option/ [Accessed on 6th May 2013] B. N. Shrum, 26 Nov, 2007. Music Publishing 101, Law on the row. Available from: http://lawontherow. com/2007/11/26/music-publishing-101-part-1-a-brief-history/ [Accessed on 6th May 2013]

D. Furini, 2011. From recording performances to performing recordings. Recording technology and shifting ideologies of authorship in popular music. Available from: http://www. sibetrans. com/trans/a11/from-recording-performances-to-performing-recordings-recording-technology-and-shifting-ideologies-of-authorship-in-popular-music [Accesssed on 7th May 2013] J. Flattum, 3 May 2006. Musesmuse, Regular Columnists. A brief History of Music Publishing and Recording in America. Available from: http://www. musesmuse. com/00001088. html [Accessed on 7th May 2013] D. Jasen, 2 Nov 1988. The Golden Street Corner, Music Facts Page, Home.

A Brief History of Tin Pan Alley. Available from: http://www. thegoldenstreetcorner. com/tin_pan_alley. htm [Accessed on 7th May 2013] K Schilasticus, 2 Nov 2011. Tin Pan Alley History. Available from: http://www. buzzle. com/articles/tin-pan-alley-history. html [Accessed on 7th May 2013] K Alan, 2013. Music publishing overview. Part 2. Available from: http://www. alankorn. com/articles/publishing_1. html [Accessed on 7th May 2013] Z. Kevin, 2013. The Changing Face of Publishing. SESAC EDU. Available from: http://www. sesac. com/EDU/faceofpublishing. aspx [Accessed on7th May 2013] ———————–


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