Classical Music Composers Debating The Value Of Free Too
from the free-it-up dept
scott mc laughlin alerts us to an interesting blog post from the composer Kyle Gann, discussing his feelings on posting musical scores as free PDFs online. Gann does this happily, but a publisher he was speaking with was upset that this created “unfair competition.” Gann doesn’t find the argument convincing in the slightest, and explains why he feels that having his scores available for free online greatly outweighs any money he might make from having them professionally published by a publisher:
For me, trying to make money off of scores is just a dubious proposition. The amount I might make seems trivial compared to the wider distribution I get from having interested musicians be able to check out my works whenever they want. There’s also a certain resentment of the music publishing industry involved, since no publisher is likely to accept any music as commercially unprofitable as mine, and my understanding (from Philip Glass and many others) is that, even if a publisher takes your work, the most likely result is that they will print a few copies, keep them in boxes in warehouses as a tax write-off, tie up the copyright, and make your music more difficult to obtain even for those willing to buy it. Of all the friends whose music I write about, the few whose music is officially published are the ones whose scores I have a devil of a time trying to get. When the scores are available for perusal only, I sometimes can’t get access to them at all. I’m also conditioned by my score-starved youth: so many of the scores I desperately needed to see when I was a young, studying composer couldn’t be had under any circumstances. If young composers are burning with interest to see how my music works, I’m happy to satisfy them, and without giving them the hurdle of having to contact me personally. I wish Boulez, Pousseur, Glass, and co. had done the same for me. I bought a ton of scores and would have bought many more i was curious about, but many were impossible to get. I’m just not convinced that the music publishing industry, in its current form, deserves to survive.
The full post goes into a lot more detail about the way Gann views this issue, and is a worthwhile read. Either way, it’s interesting to see these same debates taking place in so many different parts of the creative industries of the world — with people in all parts recognizing that there are benefits to free content and free access over hoarding information and setting up tollbooths for access.