I was thinking about my work as a self-publishing composer the other day and how it compares to a manufacturing company, since indeed I am making something: pieces of music.
I am in charge of product development, that is composing the actual pieces.
Then there’s manufacturing, which in my case means using a software program to make nice-looking publishable sheet music. I can’t begin to explain all the rules for formatting that exist for every type of piece, whether a solo piece, choral piece, or orchestral piece. I make two versions: one to be printed out on 8-1/2×11 paper on a home printer and one that is the standard size for the hard copies of the type of music I am making. If I sell a hard-copy, I need to print those. If I sell a digital copy, I need to put my licensing agreement on it before sending out the PDF.
I’m in charge of marketing. I built my website and maintain it. I am slowly building a business presence on various online social media. I work with local musicians to get pieces performed. I am hoping to place hard-copies for sale in local music stores.
I’m in charge of sales and accounting. Whether I sell to a store, an organization, or an individual, all the sales come directly through me.
I do the shipping. I may use a carrier service to get my piece to its location, but the fact is that I’m in charge of making sure everything gets sent out on time, whether digitally or or physically.
I’m also in charge of professional development. I read books, study scores, go to conferences, and get feedback from colleagues and other professional musicians. None of this is planned for me like a professional day at a workplace. No guest speaker comes to me. I have to search it out or take time off work to attend myself.
Someday when I have enough money, I will then be in charge of training new hires and teaching them how to do most of these things so I can spend more time composing.
I could try to get my work published by a regular publishing company instead of doing it myself. Though the publishing companies generally take 50% of the sales, it is completely understandable why. The company would handle all the work except for composing and professional development. But for now, I am sticking with running my own company. The main reason is so that I can pass the company and the rights to my work on to my kids. I hope that it will have some value by the time that day comes.