Choral Companies: Stop Wasting Paper!

Choral Companies: Stop Wasting Paper!

newboxesAlmost all major publishers of church choir print music waste TONS of paper annually. Here’s why. Choir directors need to SEE music before they buy it for their choirs. A recording is not usually enough. They need to visually examine the complexity of each arrangement.

The solution down through the years has been clubs. Each publisher encourages music directors to join their music preview club. Some offer more than one club. These clubs typically range from $30-$100 per year depending on the number of anticipated mailings. Most include a coupon to use toward a future purchase that offsets most or all of the annual club fee, so it’s almost like it’s free.

Every so often throughout the year, a box of new music books and/or single anthems along with demo recordings is mailed out to all the club members. After club members listen to the new music, they can select any titles they’d like to order. The rest are either discarded or stored. Needless to say, the clutter accumulates quickly if a music director stores music they never plan to buy.

It’s just the cost of doing business, right? Well, not any more, now that most of us have access to reasonably fast internet service. Most publishers just choose to continue to offer these clubs as the only option for previewing their music in a timely manner.

At this point, we can just label it for what is: WASTEFUL. 

The only major Christian publisher I’m aware of that offers a way to preview all of their new music online is Brentwood-Benson Publishing. Sadly though, their method is not as good as it could be. Those who have signed up can preview PDF files. (These are watermarked on every page to discourage stealing.) After opening the PDF, the music director goes back to the product page to click an audio link. This does not play the audio, but it brings up a player view where the music director can finally click to hear the demo. Then, to follow along, the music director must go back to the PDF view and manually scroll through it as the audio is playing.

Red-Box-Lets-Sing-200_x_101A couple of years ago, LifeWay Worship had a better idea, but they didn’t execute it very well. They started producing a video talk show episode every month or so. Music directors could watch it live or watch an archived version later. They’d interview a composer or someone who worked in the choral wing of Lifeway, but they’d also read through some new music. These readings consisted of a video clip that moved through the printed music line-by-line as you listened. It was all synced up and all you had to do was watch it! But, all this was encased in the talk show format. You couldn’t go to the website later, pull up an anthem title, and preview just that anthem in the same fashion. They eventually abandoned their talk show episodes and those video previews went away as well.

I’d given up hope on seeing anything like that again…until yesterday.

Yesterday, songwriter Rebecca Peck sent me a link to the choral music section of her website. At the moment, Rebecca has just three choral arrangements she is selling direct. She has included video synced to the audio demos just like LifeWay used to do on those talk shows! The difference  is that Rebecca’s video demos are conveniently placed directly on her product pages.

Click HERE to see an example. That link goes to a great song, by the way, that the Kingsmen Quartet recorded last year.cross of grace

Now, if anyone who works at Brentwood-Benson, Word Music, LifeWay, Lillenas, Praise Gathering or any other major music publisher is reading this, you ought to do the same thing Rebecca is doing. Stop wasting so much paper with your choral clubs! I’m not an extreme environmentalist like some, but there’s just no sense in using that model any more!

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Category Church Music, Rant

David Bruce Murray

David Bruce Murray is a church music director in Ellenboro, NC. He is the author of Murray's Encyclopedia Of Southern Gospel Music and the owner of both and David plays piano for Southern Sounds Quartet and the Foothills Community Choir.

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  1. Reply July 01, 10:34 #1 Rebecca Peck

    Just saw this article for the first time. Thanks for the wonderful endorsement of our site, David. We are thrilled with the wonderful response we are getting to the anthems and can’t wait to continue offering more choral anthems. Our site is also smart phone friendly for the music minister on the go. We are encouraged by your comments. Thanks for taking the time to address this topic. Rebecca

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