Posted On: publishingKoerts Music
So 2016 was a whirlwind year. The year in which I turned 40 gave me no time to pursue a mid-life crises, ha! My first priority has been my family. Our daughter (9 years old) enrolled in a Christian school for the first time this year. She is a social butterfly, and flourishes with friends, schedules and structure. In addition to that, we home school two of our boys, and our three year old continues to bring an overload of joy to our family.
Second has been my church ministry. Things have continued to grow and flourish. We are enjoying the second year of the implementation of our music leadership team, a group devoted to the growth and work of the ministry. I attribute much of the success of our ministry to this group of fellow laborers who love the Lord and are committed. And frankly, that describes the majority of the people I am privileged to serve with week after week. Above all, God is doing a great work at Mikado Baptist Church, and as my pastor likes to say, “we are just glad to be on the bus!”
It’s been a joy to continue to contribute to the online work here at Koerts Music. Here is a list of all the major projects I was able to accomplish in 2016, thanks to the grace of God:
- 2 new Flex Instrumental solos (Jesus Paid It All and Christ Arose) — Flex Solos are instrumentals adapted for various instruments
- A new Easter piano collection
- The new Loved piano collection
- 2 new patriotic piano collections: One Nation Under God
- We launched our new Piano Club, which has done really well. You should join it!
- 3 new African American Spirituals piano collections
- A piano duet collection: Repeat the Sounding Joy
- A new Christmas piano collection: Rejoice
In addition, about half way through 2016 I began recording and making YouTube videos of all music I produce on this website. Please check out my channel, and if you like what you see, please subscribe. I expect to continue this with all future projects.
So, it has been a very busy year, and I give all the credit to God who has allowed me to keep up at this pace.
What can you expect this year? I’m glad you asked. Here’s a few plans I have for 2017
- Continue my current pace of musical output. Perhaps even exceed expectations. There are plans for new piano collections, more duet and duo arrangements, as well as more Flex Instrumental solos.
- Continue to deliver amazing content for the Piano Club members.
- Release a new simple series, with piano collections that include arrangements that are easy.
- Releasing music by other composers, not just that James Koerts guy. 🙂
- A renewed emphasis on blogging.
Let me just park there for a moment. Blogging is, frankly, a chore for me. I find it easier to “do” ministry than to blog about it. But the longer I’m in church music ministry, the stronger my passions in the field have become. There are some things I simply want to say. There are other things that I just can’t figure out, and I’d like your input. I view it as a worthy exercise, and so it’s something I’m willing to commit to do in 2017. I don’t know if it will be once a week or more or less frequent than that. But I do plan on sharing my thoughts more often, and my whole goal is encouragement and engagement.
Taking a risk will inevitably lead to stirring the pot.
I recently wrote this article about self publishing, which sort of outlined my thinking as to why I would do it. Greg Howlett wrote a blog post about it, as well. My post soon became my most popular on my website. Read them both to get the background for this article (be sure to read the comments section).
So… am I rethinking my decision, based on the title of this post? Not at all. In fact, I’m going forward with greater resolve. But the discussion has helped put some things into perspective, and it has helped me consider some things I hadn’t before. You should consider them too.
So here are my thoughts about why self publishing may not be right for you:
1. You need to have an excellent product.
The best way to attain an excellent product is through education, but beyond that, I can’t think of a better way of honing your skill than gaining experience. Any publisher who knows what they’re doing will have a great editorial process that will certainly contribute to the excellence of your product. I’ve been working with publishers for nearly 15 years. You should, too.
We’ve all seen a self published product that made us cringe because it lacked in excellence. We have wished that they had gone with a publisher who would refine their product. (Maybe they tried to, but no publisher would accept them. And understandably so.)
2. There will be additional investments in product development that you may not be prepared for.
Writing good music isn’t enough. You have to have a spirit of excellence when it comes to all the additional elements involved in self publishing your music: music engraving, graphic design, store front, music delivery, etc. All of these are huge considerations, and if you can’t handle them, then you need to pay to have someone else help you.
(Now you’re beginning to see more value in traditional publishers who handle all that, right?)
3. You will need to have an adequate platform.
Comparatively, my platform is very small. But I do have a good base of people who—for whatever reason—follow my every move (I have learned through the years) and who are interested in what I do. For some reason, God has allowed my music to speak to them (or through them), something that truly humbles me.
Certainly, publishers have contributed to my brand and have served as the sponsors of my art. In many ways, publishers have been a catalyst for my ministry. I really don’t believe I would have even considered self publishing if I didn’t have the privilege to work with publishers.
4. You will (however reluctantly) be forced to market yourself.
Sometimes I cringe at how awful this sounds, but the fact is, you will need to market yourself. It’s a balancing act, and I don’t always get it right. You may be accused of being arrogant or self-serving, but marketing is essential if you think you will have any chance of making any kind of decent profit. In my experience, a traditional publisher will keep 90-95% of the profit, but it will all be used in one way or another to produce and market the final product. This is, yet again, another tremendous advantage with going with a traditional publisher, especially if you are more musically inclined than you are business inclined.
Let me close with two thoughts: one about me, and one for aspiring published musicians. First, I have not arrived in any of these areas. I continually feel as though my product is inferior (and depending on who you talk to, it might be!), and I’m always looking for ways to improve. Though I feel more confident in product development, I know there is room for improvement. My platform is growing, but it is still very small. That’s okay. And I have a lot to learn about marketing. No, I haven’t arrived. So if you thought you were reading an article from an expert, I’m sorry to disappoint. No, I’m just a man on a journey, learning along side of you.
Finally, a note to aspiring published musicians. Whatever route you choose to take in your music publishing pursuits, I strongly recommend you consider initially going through traditional publishers. They will make you into a better musician, and they will give you more opportunities than you would have otherwise experienced. They will take care of all these areas discussed, and you will have the privilege of focusing on your craft. After you’ve traveled the traditional route, then consider other options.
So tell me, where am I going wrong here? What do you think?
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