The young composer mafia organizes to sell its wares.

Gwon, Kerrigan & Lowdermilk, RSO, Blaemire, Iconis, Pasek & Paul . . . these are not only the names of some of the most promising set of next generation Broadway composers, these are also the names of the smarties behind a brand new sheet-music selling site called www.NewMusicalTheatre.com.

These composers and lyricists have written some great tunes as they’ve been working their way to the adults table over the last several years.  And some of those tunes have become viral hits thanks to YouTube, etc. inspiring singers all over the country to want to sing them, as they work their way to the adults table.

But where oh where do singers get the sheet music for such a song if they aren’t published?

Back when I was a sophomore at NYU, I wanted the sheet music to “The Kid Inside” by Craig Carnelia, I tracked him down through the phone book, sent him a letter (yep, with an actual stamp and everything), and 2 weeks letter he sent me a hard copy.  Not only did I sing that sucker to death, I kept that note and told that story to everyone (and here I am, telling it again!).

Thanks to the C/Ls behind NewMusicalTheatre.com, there are no stamps and no phone books required. The songs you want from these fresh fingers are all easily available for your downloading and auditioning pleasure.

So simple, but so smart, right?

By collaborating with what some would consider to be their own competition, and establishing this central site, these entrepreneurial writers hit the marketing trifecta.

1 – it’s a revenue stream.

2 – it gets their music out into the world (getting sheet music out and about is almost as important as getting demos out – nothing markets your stuff better than people singing it).

3 – it provides a legal alternative to sheet-music-sharing sites like PianoFiles.com (think Napster or Limewire but for sheet music).

Oh, and as a bonus, they’re generating a great list of their hardcore fans which they’ll no doubt use in the future to market their shows, concerts, seminars and more.

My only complaint?  I think they’re charging too much. Prices on the site range from $4.99 to a high of $9.99 for the songs that people are really going to want.  If marketing is your goal (and this goes for sheet music, shows or socks), then you want to sell a higher volume.  (Also, $9.99 for a single piece of music is a bit high since I can get “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” on sheets for only $3.95).  And, if you really want to shut down the free-sharing-sites, then you have to compete with them.  iTunes stopped millions from sharing because the tunes were only $0.99.  Money shouldn’t be the mission . . . it should be about marketing, and market penetration.

But regardless of the premium pricing, these business-minded maestros deserve some serious kudos for their DIY spirit.

I have no doubt we’ll be “hearing” a lot from all of them in the future.  And frankly, what I’ve heard already is pretty damn good.

Listen for yourself.

Comments
  • Marshall says:

    In all fairness: NewMusicalTheatre.com allows you to make as many copies as you like via pdf. At musicnotes.com, probably the biggest on-line sheet music store, you’re required to print right from the website. You only get 1 copy. (Which I suppose you could photocopy or scan.)
    So maybe the extra $$ can be justified? Not to mention; where else in the world are you going to find the sheet music for these songs?
    On the other hand (going Tevye), $10 IS mighty steep for one song.

  • Randy Bobish says:

    In 1997 I bought the cast recording of “Songs for a New World” and was completely energized by the entire CD. And since I was always on the lookout for good baritone songs, I was particularly interested in working on “She Cries” but couldn’t find the sheet music anywhere. Reading the liner notes it occurred to me that this Jason Robert Brown guy seemed to be relatively young, just beginning the climb up the ladder of notoriety, and perhaps still approachable. I took a chance and searched the White Pages (remember those?) and there was someone with that exact name. What the hell? I gave him a call…it was the right JRB. I explained that I loved his songs and was looking for the sheet music for “She Cries.” He explained that it wasn’t available yet but the vocal selections book was forthcoming. He then asked for my address so he could send me a copy. I was floored. I thanked him, gave him my address and we hung up. A few minutes later I realized something else and called him back. Embarrassed, I apologized for forgetting to ask how much I owed him for the music. He said I owed him nothing, “Just be sure to let people know who wrote it.” No problem! A couple days later the music arrived with a little note written at the top: “Randy, Good luck with this. Jason.” You never know unless you ask.

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Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

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