A Louder Voice for Sheet-Music Composers

A Louder Voice for Sheet-Music Composers


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The global music publishing market is worth more than $11 billion, and choral sheet music makes up about $1 billion of that.

MusicSpoke, an online marketplace for self-published sheet music, provides a platform for composers to tap into that sizable market.

Jennifer Rosenblatt and her husband, Kurt Knecht, a music composer, conductor and educator, established MusicSpoke to address a widespread problem in the sheet music publishing industry.

Traditionally, composers earn royalties of 4 to 10 percent from music publishers. They also must sign over copyright, relinquishing their intellectual property.

“The composer makes the least amount of money and has the least amount of power,” Rosenblatt said.

Knecht and Rosenblatt realized this inequity 20 years ago after he published several works and earned nominal royalties.

Fast-forward to the advent of the internet, digital self-publishing and e-commerce. The couple’s online research revealed that no centralized, searchable database or online marketplace for self-published choral sheet music existed. Further, too many composers’ websites weren’t set up so music educators and other potential customers could easily buy from them.

“We developed the idea in 2013 when Kurt went to a conference,” Rosenblatt said. “At a seminar on self-publishing, there was a backlash from composers that didn’t want to give up so much money.”

MusicSpoke was designed to be a hub that connects buyers and sellers, while delivering a consistent, user-friendly experience.

Rosenblatt and Knecht formed a startup within the Lincoln, Nebraska, accelerator NMotion and set to work validating their business model.

MusicSpoke would not act as a publisher that issued royalties. Rather, composers upload work to MusicSpoke’s site, reach a network of buyers, sell digital downloads, retain copyright and earn more with a 70-30 split of sales with MusicSpoke. As an add-on service, MusicSpoke fulfills and ships printed sheet music orders for composers.

“We have two sets of customers: composers and buyers,” said Rosenblatt, who relocated to Kansas City with Knecht in July 2016. “Composers can earn income and focus on making art. Buyers are able to have a simple, consistent experience.”

Today, MusicSpoke features 130 composers, 1,100 scores and 11,000 buyers with a waiting list of composers seeking to join the platform.

“When we launched, we thought the market would be wide open and democratic,” Rosenblatt said. “We morphed into a standard of quality for self-published music. We have an editorial board that curates our composers as we build a reputation for quality on the platform.”

Musicspoke recently won a $50,000 grant at the 2017 launchkc competition.

Entrepreneurs // Jennifer Rosenblatt and Kurt Knecht

Company Information // MusicSpoke

210 W. 19th Terrace, Ste. 200 | Kansas City, MO 64108 | (844) 687-7653 | www.musicspoke.com

Type of Business // Digital marketplace for self-published choral music

Year Founder // 2014

Written by

Pete Dulin is a freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. He is also the author of Kansas City Beer: A History of Brewing in the Heartland, KC Ale Trail, Last Bite: 100 Recipes from Kansas City's Best Chefs and Cooks, and Expedition of Thirst: Exploring Breweries, Wineries and Distilleries in Central Kansas and Missouri. // www.petedulin.com

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