CONSIDERING THE MARKET FOR CHORAL MUSIC

We wish that Cypress could guarantee sales of a composition. Alas, we have music in the catalogue that has never sold a single copy – even though the music is crafted well – and even though it continues to be presented in the same attractive way as all other pieces in the catalogue.  When that happens the company loses money and the composer feels disappointed/disillusioned. On the other hand, one of our Cypress pieces has sold over 300,000 copies. In effect, music that sells well gives us leeway to publish music that is less marketable. Cypress usually gives a future prognosis – a reality check – to composers during the publishing process. Big sales are certainly not the bottom line for us. 
 
Here are a few thoughts about the marketability of Christmas Music.
 
Please study the choral music pie chart below. Where does your music fit into the spectrum? Here are a few thoughts:
 
1) A wonderful composition for mixed choir – user-friendly -medium difficulty and with relevant subject matter – has a good chance of selling copies. Community choirs – really inclusive, no auditions required – abound around the world.  Some community choir singers have never had a private music lesson and learn by rote. Many community choirs have a huge membership and social interaction is a key reason for joining the choir.  These community choirs need well written music – intuitive voice leading in sweet spot vocal registers.  It takes real skill to craft music with these parameters.
2) A really difficult piece for men’s choir would certainly have limited sales. There are few men’s choirs and few of those are highly skilled.
3) Some composers are happy to write with specific limitations and others prefer to have no restrictions at all. But the most thriving choral composers are happy and able to write effectively for the abilities of any choir; ranging from elementary school youngsters to the best choir in town.
4) Music which requires “music-degree-level” singers and presents “difficult-to-program” subject matter can be challenging to sell. Really skilled choirs are far and few between and the auditioned membership is often small in numbers.  For example, the stellar group, musica intima, has eight very fine singers. 
 
Reading workshops: Each year Cypress music is included in many reading workshop around North America. Retailers make the choices and they are in the business to make money. Generally speaking, the people who attend reading workshops are community choir directors. (see #1 above) So, this is another reason why user-friendly SATB sells well.
Note: Cypress is happy to take a chance on formidable music if it is well written. We’ve seen music “take off” after years of languishing – so we are always hopeful.  Serendipity – the right place at the right time with a special performance – can make a big difference to any composition. For example, this performance of Katerina Gimon’s “Fire” at a National ACDA Convention generated much attention and many sales.
 
With over 330,000 choirs in North America, choir directors are discovering Cypress music every day. We are optimists and champions of Canadian composers!  Did you read our article?: What Can Cypress Choral Music Do for a Canadian Composer?
 

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General Inquiries:
cypresschoralmusic@gmail.com
Dr. Larry Nickel (Editor):
larrynickel@mac.com