Professional Composing

Published by The Association of Professional Composers


Printed music of all types is published for people who play, perform, learn or teach music and musical instruments. This appears both as sheet music and in album form as well as in tutors or method books and much of it can also be played by most musical instruments. Some tutors are accompanied by a cassette or video recording to help with the learning or teaching process.

Although much of this music comprises arrangements of existing music, there is also a great deal of original music accepted or commissioned by printed music publishers.


A large proportion of printed music is classified as educational and is directed primarily towards students and teachers of musical instruments. Covering all classroom levels from primary school upwards, this music provides a good foundation for many musical skills as well as catering for GCSE music projects, A level exams, Scottish Standard Grade & Higher Examinations and the various examination boards.

As GCSE and SSG emphasis is on performing, listening and composition, the range of music required covers all styles including pop, rock, jazz, Latin, ethnic and classical and the instrumental works can be written for solo instruments (with or without accompaniment), instrumental duets, ensemble and flexible ensemble music, orchestral and string music, brass and wind bands and choral works. There is also a demand for purely vocal or choral works.


Composers are paid either through an initial one-off fee or else by royalties. In the latter case, the royalty rate can vary according to whether the music is original or an arrangement, whether third party royalties are payable and where the sales are made (royalties on overseas sales are usually paid at a lower rate).


Self-publishing is an alternative composers working in this field of music might consider although, as publisher, the composer will have to take the financial risk of preparing the manuscript for publication and of printing sufficient copies to cope with the anticipated demand. The composer will have to take into account advertising as well as other marketing and distribution costs.

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