Do you think its fun to play the songs you wrote? Then, rest assured, some of your fans will to. Transcribing your songs will give them a way they can jam along with your CD. In fact, it may actually give them another reason to BUY your CD!
Offering sheet music or tablature makes good business sense. You can offer up the chords or a single song’s tablature for free, in exchange for the person’s email address…or you can offer PDF’s of your song transcriptions for sale. You can even group them into song books for sale online and at shows. The thing is, offering transcriptions also provides creative satisfaction…I mean, in addition to keeping your notation chops in shape, you would also have the satisfaction of getting a legion of musicians singing and playing your tune. I mean, how cool would it be to have other musicians learning and playing your songs? Answer for me: very cool!
Don’t underestimate the power of this idea. It has been used by some major indie artist successes–including David Nevue and Jonathan Coulton (both of whom have made the transition to being full-time musicians). David Nevue, for example, considers his transcriptions a significant stream of income. He sells PDFs of his sheet music online, and he often sells printed sheet music at his house concerts. The thing is, he doesn’t even read or write music. He actually pays someone to transcribe his songs for him, and he just offers them for sale. Meanwhile, Jonathan Coulton gives away the chord sheets for his songs; and his fans respond by creating youtube videos of themselves performing them. Talk about viral!
Probably the best reason to provide notation of your songs is that it opens up a whole new potential audience for you: aspiring musicians. While members of your existing fan base may jump at the opportunity to buy the notation or tablature of their favorite song of yours, there are also plenty of forums, mailing lists, and online communities targeting musicians where you can find new fans. David Nevue uses his connection to piano players as the main pillar of how he has built an audience and created a music career online. He found them in forums and via his online radio station that only plays piano music, and his connection with them help him build an audience.
If you don’t feel like you have the notation chops to transcribe your songs, hire someone! You can probably find a music friend, a bandmate, or a student at the local university willing to do this for cheap…like maybe $25 to $50 per page. If you can’t find anyone locally, maybe post your request on a site like ehire.com or odesk.com.
I know this sounds like a bit of work, but in the end…if it brings you one step closer to making music on your own terms and getting paid for it, it’s a bit of work worth doing!! Don’t cha think?
I now offer the tablature for Daily Grind for sale on my website…Check it out! Let me know when you can play it all the way through. (Maybe I’ll come over to jam!)