Any composer can now join Mahler’s catalogue

Any composer can now join Mahler’s catalogue

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norman lebrecht

February 03, 2021

Universal Edition of Vienna, prime publishers of modernism, have opened their catalogue to any composer who uses their software. If your name begins with B, you could appear somewhere between Bartok and Berio.

The press release explains how:

Composers are currently facing many challenges in the limited classical music market and have to assert themselves against both modern trends and old established ones. At the same time, they must take care of administrative necessities and rights management.

With scodo, Universal Edition has responded to this situation and is opening up the future of music: With this new publishing tool, the Viennese music publisher is offering all composers the opportunity to appear in its globally established catalogue between such renowned composers as Gustav Mahler, Arnold Schönberg, Pierre Boulez, and Arvo Pärt.

The new composers are provided with a new, easy-to-use and flexible web tool for the publication of their sheet music. With just a few clicks, music makers can publish a new work at any time, which can be obtained worldwide via the Universal Edition website. All sheet music published via scodo can not only be distributed printed but also digitally via UE now.

Universal Edition, the music publisher with a success story spanning more than 100 years, is thus keeping its finger on the pulse of the time and offers the entire range of modern music distribution. With scodo, a long-standing demand on the music market is now being met. The publishing tool sets a milestone for music publishing with the help of digitalisation.

You can find more information at www.universaledition.com/scodo.

Comments

  • My sonata on “Ninety-Nine Bottles Beer on the Wall” can finally have the place of distinction I always knew it deserved.

  • La plus belle voix says:

    So Universal Edition sells out to all-comers, who pay the publisher e.g. 300€ p.a. for the privilege, plus a 49€ one-time Artistic Approval fee. Where is the advantage? It will end up looking like Schott Musik, whose catalogue has 1135 composers listed under “B” alone. Guess UE needs the dosh.

    • John Borstlap says:

      The times for the big publising houses has passed – as it has for the big managements for performers. It’s the boutique type that will survive and be exclusive and quality-ridden.

      • Herb says:

        I also think the time for big publishers has passed and these guys have realized this. So I actually think it’s a neat idea. If you really think you can make it in the classical music world as a composer I think the 150€/year (smallest package) are quite small advertising fees..

        • La plus belle voix says:

          The contract small print says: “Net proceeds under this agreement are the gross fees paid by the end customer to UE minus VAT, as well as external delivery costs (including remuneration of the third party dealers and its contractually authorised representatives)”. These additional deductions are not set fees, neither are they percentages or ones with a ceiling. So n.p. means no profit as opposed to net profit. I’d be very wary.

    • Universal Edition – scodo Team says:

      Hi La plus belle voix! The advantages of publishing sheet music via scodo are the inclusion of all new composers in our catalogue. We will take care of every business transaction (sales, licensing, and hiring). Furthermore, we will produce and distribute everything that is published via scodo, so the composer can concentrate on composing. And new composers will receive 70% of every business transaction (from the 70% only possible printing costs and agency commissions will be deducted, nothing more).
      Everyone will have the possibility to submit sheet music for evaluation by our experienced editors – and if you pass, you can immediately start publishing via scodo and become a part of UE.

      • La plus belle voix says:

        As pointed out below: At § 9, section d, General Terms and Conditions the wording is: “Net proceeds under this agreement are the gross fees paid by the end customer to UE minus VAT, as well as external delivery costs (including remuneration of the third party dealers and its contractually authorised representatives).” Which means the door is open for any and all deductions. You state neither percentage nor one time figure nor a ceiling.

      • FrauGeigerin says:

        Shame on you, Universal Edition.

  • La plus belle voix says:

    PS: At § 9, section d, General Terms and Conditions the wording is: “As remuneration for the distribution via the website UE shall receive a share of 30% of the net proceeds in addition to the service fee mentioned in clause 1. Net proceeds under this agreement are the gross fees paid by the end customer to UE minus VAT, as well as external delivery costs (including remuneration of the third party dealers and its contractually authorised representatives).” Which means the door is open for any and all deductions. Frankly, that clause might be unlawful.

    • Herb says:

      I think they need to be more clear on that, that’s for sure. But I highly doubt that such a prestigious company sneaks some additional fees into such small amounts..

      • La plus belle voix says:

        I agree, and can not imagine that UE would openly indulge in a scam. The wording is neither in the publisher’s nor the composer’s interest. So it would behoove the legal eagle who drew up the text to amend it.

    • Universal edition - scodo Team says:

      Hi La plus belle voix! All of the deductions we make are mentioned in this paragraph: external delivery costs and remuneration of third-party dealers and our representatives. Nothing else is deducted from the 70% of the net proceeds that the composer receives.
      Thank you for the input that this is not immediately clear!

      • La plus belle voix says:

        Your text states you deduct delivery costs unspecified in amount. So anything goes? Please clarify.

  • Jack says:

    Not sure where the fuss is here. Is Mahler less good because Universal is providing this platform? Should I go hide in my fallout shelter? NL must be having a slow day.

    • John Borstlap says:

      It should be understood what a publisher does. He intends to offer quality goods, and his name rises or falls with the quality of his goods. A populist warehouse will certainly be popular with a certain clientèle, but performers who are looking for something interesting will have to look elsewhere.

  • Y says:

    Is this just vanity publishing? In other words, a lucrative way to prey on gullible people? I hope not — I’d like to think well of UE and learn that this is a new and excellent way for composers to do business in the 21st century — but my Spidey Sense is tingling. When the composer is paying the publisher for the privilege of being published (€12/month minimum), then something ain’t right.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Indeed. UE is exploiting the situation and disguises it as altruism.

      • Universal Edition – scodo Team says:

        Hi John Borstlap! scodo has been planned for years, and it reflects interests of both the composer and the publisher. The new composers not only receive a higher share of the profits (70%) but they are also more in control of their representation by the publisher.

        • Blueclarinet says:

          The composer receives a higher share, but at the same time gives UE a fixed income almost free of expenses in the form of a subscription, and has to pay any cost associated with licensing the work, and if there are sales with the cost of printing and binding the material (at whatever cost Universal Edition decides), shipping (whatever UE decides), and taxes. So, basically, UE risks nothing, spends nothing, and gets the subscription money and 1/3 of sales. I find this is awful for composers.

    • La plus belle voix says:

      Quite. It also makes no sense mid to long term. Just devalues the marque.

    • Herb says:

      Guys keep on the ground – normal publishing contracts from book publishers (and I suggest also music publishers) give you a comission of 5-10% of all income.. 70% sounds much better in that regard and of course then they need another source of income…

      • La plus belle voix says:

        The publisher taking 30% is absolutely fine. The composer should think of 70% in terms not of 30% lost, but as a figure that is 100% income. The problem is that the written agreement allows UE to deduct anything they wish with regard to distribution and third parties.

    • Universal Edition – scodo Team says:

      Hi Y! We are offering composers a completely new service model. We believe strongly in this model because it is future-oriented, modern, digital, and it is also flexible. Years of market observation have brought us here. We are determined to continue to offer the best service to composers all over the world. You compose and we take care of the rest.

      • La plus belle voix says:

        Please answer the question, up to now you’ve been giving evasive answers like politicians do.

        At § 9, section d, General Terms and Conditions the wording is: “As remuneration for the distribution via the website UE shall receive a share of 30% of the net proceeds in addition to the service fee mentioned in clause 1. Net proceeds under this agreement are the gross fees paid by the end customer to UE minus VAT, as well as external delivery costs (including remuneration of the third party dealers and its contractually authorised representatives).”

        Which means the door is open for any and all deductions.

      • La plus belle voix says:

        Dear UE Team: If a customer orders and purchases scores for 100€, and based on the understanding that you as publisher take 30€, how much of the remaining 70€ does the composer receive as n.p. after VAT and other so-called “external delivery costs” that include “remuneration of the third party dealers and . . . authorised representatives”? These additional deductions are not set fees, neither are they percentages or ones with a ceiling. So (UE) what is left, in this case, of the 70€ please?

    • Hilary says:

      ” is this vanity publishing”

      To a large extent, yes. The UK based ‘composers edition’ has a not dis-similar model.

      • Hilary says:

        though- on the face-of-it- i ought to add….the UE one is better. Perhaps this is the face of music publishing to come.

  • PHF says:

    Well, I think we already passed the point where a publisher stamp on your music means some sort of status. I don’t think anyone’s music is better based on who publishes it. Actually, I get pretty sad for composers who “sell their soul” to these companies.

  • John Borstlap says:

    I consider changing my name so that it will beginning with another letter.

    The time when it was ‘to B, to B or not to B that’s the question’ has passed. And even so, also in the past there have been occasional commercial irregulaties which forced some composers to change their first letter: Bonteverdi, Bivaldi, Bozart, Bendelssohn, Bagner, Bahler etc.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    UE’s gotta make a buck somehow….

  • JussiB says:

    Just publish your own works on Amazon it’s not that hard. This Viennese publisher is just a mercenary.

    • Universal edition - scodo Team says:

      Hi JussiB! We believe that we have found a way to balance interests of a composer and of a publisher, and this way is scodo, our new publishing tool. For this service we decided that we will use a 70/30 share model, which is far more favourable to composers than “classic” publishing contracts.

  • Herb says:

    Ok after reading through the comments it strikes me how many people don’t realize that times change and either companies change their models as well or they are the next Blackberry or Nokia… 😀

  • La plus belle voix says:

    I’d posted a comment about the 70/30% split, but it doesn’t appear here at the moment for some reason. (Maybe it is being moderated.) The question to UE was: If a customer orders and purchases scores for 100€, and based on the understanding that the publisher takes 30€, how much of the remaining 70€ does the composer receive as n.p. after VAT and other so-called “external delivery costs” that include “remuneration of the third party dealers and . . . authorised representatives”? These additional deductions are not set fees, neither are they percentages or ones with a ceiling. So (UE) what is left, in this case, of the 70€ please?

    • Universal Edition – scodo Team says:

      Hi La plus belle voix! What the composer receives depends on numerous factors, like, for example, where the person who purchased the scores lives. We are working on making the paragraph in our GTC and our general wording on our website concerning this issue clearer at this very moment. Thank you again for your input!

      • La plus belle voix says:

        Thank you UE, finally, for an open and honest answer. Best practice would be that you state in clear terms the additional costs deducted that lie over and above the VAT withholding. Thus either a) a one-time amount, b) a set percentage of g.p., or c) a set ceiling according to a table based on countries around the world. That way everyone will know exactly how much of the original 70€ (in my example) will remain. I’m sure you can post soon the data for a customer who orders and is based in, say, Austria, Germany, the UK, the USA.

        • 18mebrumaire says:

          I wouldn’t worry about this too much, Mme Belle Voix, annual sales of 100 euros for sheet music is incredibly optimistic!

        • La plus belle voix says:

          PS: to those who gave my comment a thumbs down, I fully respect your right to vote that way of course, but fail to understand why you feel that any composer would not be interested in knowing the exact amount of deductions to g.p. Do read the UE GTCs, as they enable the publisher to deduct any costs that incur along the way. My point is that this is neither in the interest of the composer nor the publisher. But feel free to contradict me.

          • GGV says:

            They also say nothing about the precise costs of printing the score. Since they do the printing themselves they can discount anything they want. I have serious concerns about Scodo. Paying for being published is like paying without a fee for tips… No, thank you!

          • La plus belle voix says:

            Spot on. They claim on the website that composers just have to compose and that they “will do the rest”. Pretty vague if they mean by that PR, marketing etc., too.

  • FrauGeigerin says:

    This is an amazing risk-free business for Universal Edition. Whatever happens they will get the subscription money paid by the composer, and if there are any sales or licensing Universal Edition gets 30%, free of all expenses (delivery, printing etc.) and taxes. I find this disgusting and disrespectful with the artists and can only wish Universal Edition they go out of business for damaging one of the most important sources of income of composers. Shame on you!

    • La plus belle voix says:

      UE also built in a swathe of contractual points to the GTCs, such as 2.f: “The composers also commission UE exclusively to license the use of the works in their original version in concert recordings, films, dance performances, and music theatre performances (including ballet). Licence agreements for the use in concert recordings, films, dance performances, and music theatre performances (including ballet) in the original version are concluded individually between UE and, if applicable, its contractually authorised representatives and the licensee. UE is not subject to any restrictions by the composers in terms of content.” A pretty one-sided contract it would appear.

  • Universal Edition – scodo Team says:

    Thank you to everyone who commented on scodo! We have now created charts which visualise what a composer receives under “Pricing & Earnings” in our FAQ: http://www.universaledition.com/scodo/faq-contact

    Thanks again for your numerous feedback!

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