I have had conversations with several of my composer friends about the direction of music publishing in terms of print or digital distribution of music. I know that not only are composers concerned about these things, but music publishers are as well.
My favorite inspirational newspaper, the Wall Street Journal, has a piece entitled Magazines Team Up to Tout the Power of Print that has some interesting perspectives on this point. Of course, a magazine’s competition is online newssources so the issue is slightly different. But certainly these things are related. Just last year the magazine industry was still very concerned that their medium was disappearing due to the popularity of obtaining news from the internet.
But, new figures have come out to show that magazine readership has actually increased by 4.3% in the last 5 years and magazines are launching a multi-million dollar ad campaign about the “power of print.”
One of the five ads that will be run in magazines is displayed on the WSJ online article with a picture of Michael Phelps. I think the last paragraph should be interesting to composers and publishers alike:
What it proves once again is that a new medium doesn’t necessarily displace an existing one. Just as movies didn’t kill radio. Just as TVs didn’t kill movies. An established medium can continue to flourish so long as it offers a unique experience…Which is why people aren’t giving up swimming, just because they also enjoy surfing.
So the question then is, what “unique experience” does a publisher or printed medium offer a musician or teacher? There are obvious answers to this, but I think the forward thinking composer and publisher should ask how else they can offer a “unique experience” to their customer. Surely there are many more creative ways to do this not yet explored in the industry.