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Garrett Breeze, the Mind Behind the Selling Sheet Music Podcast

“Sheet music is at the very core of all music making because it is the tool that most people use to learn how to create music.”

 

In our latest post, we shared that Oriol López Calle, our Founder and CEO, was the guest on Episode 39 of Garrett Breeze’s podcast, Selling Sheet Music. Following that, we also had the pleasure of interviewing Garrett Breeze himself.

The interview led to an engaging conversation about creating, sharing, and publishing sheet music. Are you ready to dive into the depths of the sheet music industry?

 

Garrett Breeze: trombonist, composer, arranger… and podcaster

Garrett Breeze was originally a trombone player. Later, he studied a Bachelor’s in Media Music and a Master’s in Commercial Composition and Arranging. Now he specializes in choral music.

Did you choose to focus on choral music, or did this music genre find its way to your professional career? Are there any specific reasons for it?

My original life plan was to move to Hollywood and be a film composer, but while I was in school, I started arranging and orchestrating for various choirs. The work just kept coming, and eventually it got to the point where I realized I could make a serious career doing it. I decided to pursue that as far as it could take me, and here I am!

I still think it’s funny that I played trombone for 15 years and then ended up as a choral arranger. But actually, many of those early jobs were writing instrumental accompaniment for choral arrangements. Having that background as a brass player was my “foot in the door” in a lot of ways.

 

As a composer and arranger, Breeze is known for his catalog of more than 1,500 choral arrangements of popular music. Recently, he also had his first print publication with Hal Leonard, the world’s largest print music publisher.

As a choral-specialized composer, what do you think is the most notable characteristic of choral music writing?

I’m going to sound like Captain Obvious here, but the most important thing to learn (and I think the hardest to figure out) is how to write effectively for the text.

Of course, you want to match the emotion or the style of the text with your writing. But you also have to think on a more technical or practical level. There are all these variables that can make a word more challenging, or more natural to sing.

 

“I still think it’s funny that I played trombone for 15 years and then ended up as a choral arranger […] but having that background as a brass player was my “foot in the door” in a lot of ways.”

 

Selling Sheet Music, the podcast

Selling Sheet Music podcast was launched in 2022 and covers topics related to the creation, marketing, and distribution of sheet music. The show is aimed at composers, music executives, and anyone interested in learning more about where sheet music comes from.

 

Garrett, did you have any specific goals in mind when starting Selling Sheet Music?

It wasn’t like one day I woke up and said, “I want to do a podcast!”. During the pandemic, I decided to really get serious about self-publishing–I had tons of arrangements that I had written for various groups but hadn’t had the time to do anything with. Not to mention that I had lots of spare time to write new things.

There weren’t a lot of resources available for how to publish or market sheet music. I really learned a lot going through this process, and then I realized there was an opening for me to step into that space and create that resource.

Originally I was going to do a YouTube channel, but then I realized I hated being on camera, so that’s what eventually led me to podcasting!

 

Did something make you actually realize that the Music Publishing industry needed more awareness or education?

Well, I think the Music Publishing industry has always been deserving of more awareness and education! It doesn’t traditionally get that much notice because compared to the recorded side of the industry, it generates a lot less money. But sheet music is at the very core of all music making because it is the tool that most people use to learn how to create music. And the reach of the music publishing industry is not small either!

As an industry, it kind of seems to fly under the radar even though there are so many interesting and impactful things that are happening in that space right now! My goal is to shine a light on that.

 

As of today, Selling Sheet Music has released 39 episodes and its collaborators include Phillip Rothman from Scoring Notes; Dave Black, Vice President of Alfred Music; and Lucas Koehler and Jillian Shively, from MusicNotes.

 

Who listens to Selling Sheet Music mainly? And what type of content do you aim to deliver to them?

I’d say it’s a pretty even split between aspiring composers and people who work in music publishing. Which makes sense, because the people who want to get into the industry and the ones working in it every day are going to be the most interested.

I try to make everyone happy, but it does pose some challenges for producing content. I don’t want to be too basic and lose the interest of experienced composers. But at the same time, I don’t want to get so far in the weeds that newcomers have no idea what we’re talking about! Which I think is part of what has led me to more of an interview format for the show.

I will still get on occasionally and just talk, but more and more I’ve been doing interviews. That lets me ask more basic and more complicated questions at the same time.

 

“It’s almost like music education and the music industry exist in two completely separate universes, and neither has any idea what the other is doing. But I see a lot of signs that things are changing and that those worlds are going to come together more and more.”

 

Trends and practices for selling sheet music

When it comes to selling sheet music online, what are the current trends you’re noticing? Has there been a change in products that drive most demand in recent years?

I think the biggest thing is that no one is ever going to buy a piece of music without seeing and hearing it first. Piracy is still a big problem, of course, but being able to see and hear the piece first has pretty much become standard.

I think the other thing that has been doing really well is flexible music. If you have a song that works for multiple instruments or difficulty levels, having those options available will help it sell.

 

What procedures should composers take into consideration while trying to publish or sell their music–other than listening to your podcast, of course?

If your work is high quality, then you don’t need a ton of music to get started as a publisher. But you want to have your music available on as many platforms as humanly possible.

At the same time, you want to use the relationships you already have with conductors and performers that will hopefully be willing to champion your music!

 

In Spain, many composers and songwriters lack a basic understanding of music publishing, and how the music industry works in general, as often it isn’t well covered in school.

As a composer who has studied and works in the US, is that true for you too?

Oh, it’s the same here. It’s almost like music education and the music industry exist in two completely separate universes, and neither has any idea what the other is doing. But I see a lot of signs that things are changing and that those worlds are going to come together more and more. And I think that will be a wonderful thing for both sides.

 

“It’s important for people working in the music business to know about the sheet music industry. But it’s also essential for all musicians to know more about where their sheet music comes from.”

 

Garrett Breeze

 

Selling Sheet Music & My Sheet Music Transcriptions

How did you come across My Sheet Music Transcriptions? What do you find most noteworthy about our partnership/services?

I was introduced to your company by our mutual friends over at Musicnotes! I was impressed by what a streamlined process it was; it was very professional.

 

After hiring our services, do you think we can be an ally to other composers like yourself? Do you think we can be an ally to your podcast listeners too, or only to a portion of them?

Well, one assumes that if you’re a composer you have at least functional knowledge of notation software, but if you don’t, then the My Sheet Music Transcriptions team can certainly help make your music look top-notch! If you’re like me, and you have too many projects going, they can help take some load on the notation side.

Something non-composers may not realize is how many “nonmusical” tasks involved in getting a score ready. Things like editing, cleaning up parts, setting up the formatting, and so on. There’s a lot more to it (unfortunately) than just writing music. It doesn’t matter how good the piece is, if the notation work is sloppy then no one is going to want to play it!

 

We’ve noticed that you collaborate with Philip Rothman, owner and editor of the appreciated Scoring Notes podcast and blog!

How did the two of you meet? What would you highlight about him and your collaboration?

We’ve actually never met in person, so that’s the first thing I’d highlight: the fact that he was willing to collaborate with me, a total stranger, on two different episodes! I’ve been a Scoring Notes listener for a long time, and as I started my own podcast, I certainly looked to them as a model of how to do all of this.

He was a guest on my show (Episode 6) for a discussion about Music Preparation. Then we recently did a joint episode about printing self-published music (Episode 30) both of which I thought were fantastic!

 

There are so many “nonmusical” tasks involved in getting a score ready. There’s a lot more to it than just writing music! It doesn’t matter how good the piece is. If the notation work is sloppy, no one is going to want to play it!

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