Jason Robert Brown, composer of Parade and lots of other excellent musical theater music, has a valuable post on his blog today about his attempts to persuade internet “traders” from illegally offering his sheet music for download for free. Brown joined one of the peer-to-peer communities that had a lot of his work listed and contacted about 400 users, politely asking them to stop offering his material. Most complied, some had no idea what he was talking about, and a few resisted. The issue of who benefits and who loses from the widespread distribution of his work is raised in a lengthy exchange he had with a teenage girl named Brenna…ur, Eleanor… which provides some insights into both perspectives of the copyright debate.
I know a lot of composers who are pleased to allow people to download their music free and distribute it to whomever they like because they believe doing so provides exposure to their work and grows their “brand” (to use an overused marketing term). Others believe their music is their intellectual property and they should be paid for any use. Where you stand seems to depend upon how commercially “successful” you are. If you’re relatively unknown and there is little demand for your music, giving it away is a great strategy. If there is a market demand for your work in various forms, it’s not.
Who has thoughts on this topic?