As I am celebrating 2 years in business with Opus Cello, my publishing company, I thought this would be a good moment to reflect on the past 2 years. It may be of interest to those who are thinking about doing similar projects.
Get ready to work
Little did I know when I started how much work it would be. Since I launched Opus Cello by myself, I did everything on my own: design of the website, design of the cover for my printed copies, social media, newsletter, music editing, etc.... That's on top of my work as a cellist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Cello Quartet, occasional chamber music concerts, recitals, and teaching. But it was all worth it, and I am sure glad I started 2 years ago and not in 10 years. So far, it seems to work well, and I have had only happy customers, which is the most important!
Luckily, there are great tools online for today's musical entrepreneurs: my website used a template provided by my website company, which I just had to customize ("just" does mean hours and hours of customizations though). My logo turned out exactly the way I wanted it to be for a very reasonable price. And you wouldn't guess how easy it was to design the cover for my printed copies. In other words, I do think there are many ways to get good results by yourself, with everything computers and the internet have to offer, and a touch of creativity.
Downloads or Prints?
When I opened my website, I decided to make my arrangements available only as PDF downloads. It's easy, quick, most people have a printer at home, and since I am already busy with my work as a cellist, I don't have to worry about shipping music every day. I do believe this is the future of the industry, especially with the wider use of iPads or other tablets to read music these days.
Even though most people now shop online, it was still some sort of childhood dream for me to see my music in a regular sheet music shop. Thanks to a successful first year providing only PDF downloads, I was able to invest into the production of printed copies.
I partnered with Black Ribbon, a company based in Colorado, which specializes in music printing. They are great to work with and I am very happy with the product.
The next phase for me was to get in touch with some brick-and-mortar music shops and see if they would be interested in carrying my music. Some were very interested, others took it on consignment, just to see how it goes. So far, every single music store I partner with had to place a second order, after selling out fast. I am grateful to every single one of them for trusting the quality of my work, and you can find their name on my website. You can currently find Opus Cello prints in the finest music stores of Boston, Chicago and Paris.
I could have distributed the prints by myself and potentially make more money, but I also wanted to support those small businesses who need our support to survive. I am a small business too and I understand how sad it would be if one day I was unable to sell anywhere else but on Amazon. So if you want to get one of our glossy Deluxe Editions, contact one of those shops and they will be happy to send some copies to you.
Here are a few numbers from my first 2 years as a business:
-2 Commissions from the Boston Symphony Orchestra
-3 ASCAP Plus Awards
-4 store partners
-Played by the Boston Cello Quartet, the cellists from the New World Symphony, the Tanglewood Cello Ensemble, the Trio Ponticelli, and many others.
-4 Interviews with some major cellists of our time.
I am so thankful to everyone who supported my project, from the customers who order the music, to the music shops who gave me my chance, the great cellists who took the time to talk with me and share their ideas, and the people who commissioned works from me or gave me inspiration for future arrangements.
This is only the beginning, and I look forward to expanding the Opus Cello inventory over the next few years. As for now, cellists, play away!