International Choir Festival InCanto Mediterraneo

5 steps to self-publish a choir song for Christmas

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    [This article is a summary of a series that was first posted on my blog Chorus of aproval]

    Step 1 - Write it!

    A friend and I have written a Christmas song for choir. It all started from a throw away comment by a choir member just before Christmas last year that I should write them a song to perform at this year’s Christmas concert.

    The idea “struck a chord” with me, (sorry!) so I asked my friend if he would write some lyrics. Words and music buzzed back and forth between us, but pretty soon we had a song that we were both excited about. We then wondered whether other choirs might be interested in it too. That is when we decided to try self-publishing it and promote it through social media.

    Step 2 – Copyright it!

    We did this by timestamping a pdf file of the score using http://www.digistamp.com“ for USD $0.40. This seemed a good solution to proving when we had written it which is what we would need to prove if it were ever contested. Are there are any copyright lawyers out there who would like to comment, I would be interested in your views…..

    Step 3 - Record it!

    This can be a really difficult task.

    Firstly we had to assemble a choir. They had to be good music readers to minimise the rehearsal overhead and also reduce the level of commitment being asked of them. We wanted the demo to sound more like a choir than a small group, so we aimed for 4-5 people per part.

    We had to identify a suitable venue. After trying a variety of local venues, we picked the church in Eccleshall. This had a good natural accoustic, was well located and had good facilities. However, before making this selection, we did sample recording in a number of different spaces.

     

    Roy and Martin

    Making a test recording with Roy the lyricist in Eccleshall Church

     

    Rehearsing the song. Because we were working to a deadline – we thought that early October was the latest we wanted to release the song, we knew it would not be possible to get all the performers together before the day of the recording so we opted for a series of ‘drop-in’ rehearsals on the weekend before. This was very successful, and by the day of the recording we were confident our singers were ready

    Making the recording. The plan for the day was to rehearse for an hour, making a test recording at the end, have a break then re-assemble for the recording. We did this on a warm September afternoon, and even wore Christmas accessories to get ourselves into the Christmas spirit!

     

    Singers In Festive Apparel

    Singers in their Christmas finery

    Step 4 - Package it!

    Having written and recorded the song, we needed to package it for sale and promotion. We decided that we would post a video of it on YouTube – using still images taken at the recording, and sell scores through the ScoreExchange website. We decided to produce several versions of the song for different potential customers. These were - SATB+piano, SATB un-accompanies and SA+piano, suitable for smaller choir and school choirs. To support the school version, we created a backing track, using the “Band-in-a-Box” product, and shortly after the initial release we we produced a TTBB version for use by the Highfield Male Voice Choir.

    Step 5 – Launch it!

    The big launch involved posting the video on YouTube, then adding links to the ScoreExchange web pages where it can be purchased. The video was promoted using emails and twitter.

    The scores are priced at an introductory price of £9.80 for a print that can then be copied for a whole choir.

    The four versions of the song currently available as scores are:

    There are two videos available of the song. This is the origianl satb+piano version:

     

    This is the SATB piano version:

     

    http://youtu.be/NOBRlhG9v84

     

    This is the SA piano version being sung by the choir of Bishop Lonsdale Primary school, Eccleshall.

     

    http://youtu.be/UcUyjTU8AYA

     

     

     

    Response to the song

    Reaction to the song has been very positive. Members of the choirs who recorded the song really enjoyed singing it, and there have been many positive responses from people who have heard the YouTube recordings. Comments include:

    • “What a beautiful song this is and such a lovely arrangement. It has filled us pleasantly with  premature Christmas spirit”
    • “I love it! Well done.”
    • ” ‘Kisses beneath the Mistletoe’ has a lovely warm feel to it”

    And a number of choirs are including the song in their Christmas concerts. If you would like any additional information, please contact: martin@woodlandquarter.co.uk

    Do you like it?

    Any feedback or comments would be very welcome!

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