MusicSpoke Looks to Disrupt $1 Billion Sheet Music Industry with Marketplace for Artist-Owned Scores – Forbes

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What do choirs, orchestras and bands run by schools, churches and professional music organizations around the world all have in common? They all need sheet music in order to perform.

In the U.S. alone, musical score purchasing is a $1 billion industry. Five hundred thousand organizations buy new sheet music each year, but their choices are limited by the constraints of traditional music publishing.

“Some publishers only publish ten pieces a year, and that’s because there’s a long production cycle. It can take anywhere from 12 to 18 months for new music to see the light of day, and publishers will let pieces go out of print or sit on backorder indefinitely,” explained Jennifer Rosenblatt, CEO of MusicSpoke.

MusicSpoke is a first-of-its-kind online marketplace that gives buyers a much wider selection of musical scores to choose from. All sheet music is uploaded and sold as digital documents, which means it never goes out of print and is delivered instantaneously upon purchase. Additionally, every score on MusicSpoke is sold directly by its composer—not through a publishing company—which results in unique benefits for buyers and sellers alike.

Watch Rosenblatt’s pitch below to learn why MusicSpoke has the potential to disrupt the entire sheet music industry with its modern marketplace model :

Unprecedented Benefits for Musicians and Composers

Digital sheet music by itself is nothing new; Sheet Music Plus and J.W. Pepper, two prominent U.S. sheet music distributors, each sell a variety digital scores on their websites. But no other company has applied a marketplace model to sheet music sales, which is where MusicSpoke’s true value lies.

As mentioned above, selling direct-to-consumer circumvents the delays associated with traditional music publishing, providing customers with easier access to new and original music. The people who create the music get an even better deal out of the arrangement, though.

When a composer sells their score to a publisher, they lose copyright privilege of their work, are entitled to only 4–10% of the royalties and have no control over who purchases and performs their music. In contrast, selling a score through MusicSpoke allows a composer to retain copyright privileges, earn 70% of each sale and make personal connections with buyers, which can often lead to repeat purchases and commissions to compose new work.

“Our composers love MusicSpoke because they get connected directly with musicians who purchase and perform their music. In fact, our composers rave about performances they’ve had all over the world and connections they’ve made that were not otherwise possible,” Rosenblatt said.

Solving for the Growth Equation

Today, MusicSpoke has 125 professional composers and nearly 10,000 buyers on its website. The 1,000 musical scores currently available for purchase are curated to ensure high quality and are primarily in the category of choral music.

As MusicSpoke begins to focus on scaling its operation, the team will have to strike a delicate balance between curation and growth. Expanding the bases of buyers and sellers will be equally important, as composers will need to have a large audience to make up for the publicity they lose by not selling through a publisher.

To this end, the company is hard at work growing its selection of choral scores, with short-term goals of expanding more heavily into band and orchestral music. The team is leveraging relationships with “influencer” music conductors to increase their industry exposure and attract more buyers and sellers to the platform.

Disrupting Music Sales with a Global Sheet Music Marketplace

MusicSpoke is doing all of this on a mostly bootstrapped budget, although it has received $120,000 in grants and funding from Invest Nebraska, NMotion, Prosper Women Entrepreneurs and the government of Nebraska. Additional seed capital could be a useful tool for attracting new customers and automating some of the platform’s manual components.

More than 85,000 sales have already been transacted through MusicSpoke’s marketplace, benefitting composers and musicians from America to England and South Africa. If the company can continue to scale its website and gain more recognition in the music sales space, it could capture an enormous market thanks to its unique business model that empowers musical artists around the world.

“MusicSpoke is building the premier marketplace for artist-owned sheet music by professional composers,” Rosenblatt said. “We support living artists—because the dead ones don’t need it.”

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