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Self-Publishing: A Guide

For the past 150 years in the United States, churches have heavily relied on publishers for their only source of music.  The explosive growth of the hymnal (1850 onward) led to many publishing companies – some of which are still in existence today.  Publishers are, and will continue to be, invaluable.

However, the internet has significantly changed church music.  Affordable printing and digital downloads have enabled the local church to quickly purchase and distribute music whereas before a prohibitive investment in infrastructure was required.  Web designers, creation platforms, affordable hosting providers, and secure methods of payment now enable anyone with determination to create music and self-publish.

This is important for one reason: the arranger – not the publisher – now has the ability to determine what songs can be written.

There are some potential issues:

  • Self-publishers are responsible for ensuring their arrangements’ quality
  • Self-publishers are responsible for copyright laws
  • Self-publishers may not be best-suited for internet security or be able to provide the resources of a publishing company
  • Self-publishers will not necessarily reach the same audience as an established company

Therefore, some writers may seek to do both: write for publishers and also self-publish music.

However, creating a e-commerce web site may be daunting to arrangers.  So, I want to provide helpful suggestions on how to self-publish.  In these few articles, I will outline what I have found works for me and also how I went about it.

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