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Why you should sell sheet music instead of recordings and how

Mizue Murakami

Writing music on paper

I usually write my blogs to piano beginners, teachers, and regular practitioners. But today, I want to write this blog to arrangers and composers who are considering putting their works out to the public. I've received several interesting questions from some arrangers and composers such as: 

  • I want to sell my music, but how can I do it? 
  • I want to sell my music. Should I give my works to big online retailers (such as musicnotes) so that they can take care of selling and licensing?
  • I want to sell my music, but should I sell audio recordings or scores (sheet music)? 

There are many ways to do it. And it all depends on what's most important to you (composers and arrangers). I haven't experienced all these different options before. So, I can't say which is better or the best for your situation. But I can explain why I decided to sell my arrangements and compositions the way I do through my website,

First, let me tell you why I chose to sell sheet music instead of the recordings. Recordings are becoming cheaper and cheaper, unfortunately. Because of the internet explosion, anyone can create music and put them out for free. Some apps and networks such as Spotify and SoundCloud are convenient, but it can be not so good for artists who want to sell their music (recordings) because each value is getting less and less. Also, for someone to purchase music recording, the person has to listen to the free sample anyway. And sometimes, some listeners may get enough from just listening to the free sample. People's attention span is getting shorter and shorter. But when it comes to sheet music, it is for people who want to use it for them to play their instrument or sing, not just to listen and admire the sound. Sheet music is more "tangible." And when a person wants to buy sheet music, he/she needs to listen to the free sample recording anyway. I upload a complete version of recording for each song for free. This is why I think selling sheet music is much better than selling the recordings.

Second, I chose not to go through a publisher or big online sheet music retailer. Because of the internet explosion, the "middle-men" are disappearing. The middle-men take a massive percentage from your work. You don't have to get their help anymore. You can do it yourself. And also, those middle-men can be very old-fashioned in a way that may not distribute your music well either, while you might be able to do much better.

Of course, it's not as easy as it sounds. My website,, can not show you how much work I put in. There are so many aspects to it; music creation, image creation, website creation and maintenance, social media, marketing, content writing, learning new apps and softwares, and the list goes on. However, it's worth it. I can make it the way I like. I can express the way I want. And in the process, I've learned so much and grown so much. I'm still doing so. But the way I'm doing may not suit your situation. But if your situation is similar to my situation, I highly recommend it. You just need to be willing to put a lot of work to it and enjoy the process.

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