When you work in and around the part of the music industry that deals with copyrights, there are constant conversations and contracts spelling out exactly who owns what, how much and who gets paid first. Here in Nashville, the song writing capital of the world, every songwriter fights to keep as many and as much of their copyright ownership as they can, while signing away just enough to get a publishing company to pitch their songs to artists and TV shows and alike. The name of the game is royalties or residuals. This is where the money is made; every time a song is played on the radio, every time part of it is used in a commercial, movie soundtrack, etc, there’s a payment to be made and that’s split up among all the various entities that have a claim on that particular work. It can be a bit of a strange system at times (just trying reading a little bit about copyright law if you want a nice bedtime story) but it works, sort of anyway.
So what about all the other sides of the music industry that function, more or less, on the “gig economy”. What about the music preparation companies, don’t they work with publishers and TV shows to make the music? What about their rights and their piece of the pie when it comes to ownership and copyrights? Well, the short answer is… no. The long answer is…. still no, but there are many ways in which music preparation and engraving companies have put their stamp of ownership on the projects they work on.
Often, this comes in the form of keeping the Finale or Sibelius, or whatever notation system they are using, for themselves and only giving clients PDFs of the finished product. In this way, the music engraving company is claiming its ownership over the production of the sheet music and trying to protect own proprietary processes to create the sheet music. The music engraver does not get residual payments in this way, but often what happens is that when there is a 2nd edition of a piece of music that is created or a re-arrangement of the original work, the engraver will charge again to make all the edits and reproduce the PDFs. This is their form of a residual payment; every time a change has to be made, you have to pay the engraver again. In a world where you didn’t write any of the music and have had no creative input with the creation process, this kind of claim of ownership is common; the music engraver is just trying to find a way to create future income for potential future work based on the work they’ve already done.
I THOROUGHLY DISAGREE AND ABHOR THIS PRACTICE. Engraver’s Mark Music has never and will never, claim ownership in any way over the projects we work on. We did not create, artistically anyway, anything when it comes to engraving a piece of music. Our job is to make the music that already exists into a form that can be read and used in any way the composer or publishing company wishes. We are paid a fee for this service and then we hand over ALL the files, Finale, Sibelius, XML, PDF; everything goes back to our client. Why, because it's not ours, IT BELONGS TO THOSE WHO HIRED US!
1. We didn’t create the programs we use to engrave this sheet music. While Engraver’s Mark Music has worked with music notation software companies to improve and ask for new features in their respective products, we have never written one line of code, designed a feature of the program or had anything to do with the development of the notation software we use. It’s not ours! So to say that Engraver’s Mark Music owns the Finale files we created as a part of our work when engraving a piece of music is ridiculous and even more ridiculous to say we own these files and therefore you must pay more to have them.
2. We didn’t create the music, or had any creative input, in the music we work on. Engraver’s Mark Music is a music preparation company, not a composers collective. This isn’t our music and we can have no claim of ownership on any aspect of it. We were hired to create sheet music or edit sheet music, that’s it. There’s no logical argument that since we engraved a piece of music we now have a claim for residual payments every time its used. Engraver’s Mark Music was paid for our work and that’s the end of it.
3. When music preparation companies won’t deliver the Finale or Sibelius files to a client at the end of a project without an additional fee (if they will do it at all), they are engaging in a sort of “protectionism” of their work, instead of letting the quality and value of the service they provide stand for itself. Imagine a publishing company that wants to make a few changes to a piece of music published a couple years ago. If that music engraver did not provide them with the Finale or Sibelius files, they MUST go back to that engraver, ask them to either make the changes and then incur additional fees or to purchase the files from the engraver, at a cost of course, and then make the changes themselves or assign another engraver to do the job and then get charged again! This is crazy. In affect what the original engraver is saying is “you might own the right to sell the sheet music, but I own the process of creating the sheet music and therefore any changes must come through me so that I may profit.”
Engraver’s Mark Music is a SERVICE, I repeat, a SERVICE for our clients to increase the productivity, the excellence, and efficiency in creating sheet music for use in the studio or the marketplace. Another word closely related to SERVICE is the word SERVANT. We are, in a sense, here as servants, to offer assistance, expertise and value. We do not own anything. Our goal is always to ENHANCE THE VALUE OF OWNERSHIP that our clients already possess, making it possible for them to be more creative, more efficient, more profitable, and more in control of their music.
Engraver’s Mark Music has learned through the years that the best way to protect our business and build our future business is to serve and not claim ownership; to serve and not hold back; to serve and give our clients back the best possible version of the music they created in the first place. Our goal is for each client to always CHOOSE to use our services, for any small or major project at any point in time, because of the value of the SERVICE we provide, not because they are forced to by our business practices.
If you have ever worked with a music engraver and they won’t provide you with all files and pieces of your project without charging additional fees or giving you the run around for weeks until they respond, know that they are not here to serve you. They are trying to protect what they feel is rightfully theirs and claiming ownership of it. That’s not how Engraver’s Mark Music works. We work on the principle that we are here to serve, to create such value for our clients that it will result in loyalty to our services. No matter what though, we don’t own the music. Its YOUR music, always was.
When I started out writing this blog, one of my goals WAS NOT to make this blog focused on techy how-to’s or another Finale or Sibelius tips and tricks blog. There’s nothing wrong with those, and there are certainly plenty of great ones out there like Scoring Notes , Avid’s own Sibelius blog , and of course Robert Puff’s Of Note blog . I just didn’t feel there needed be another one of those blogs out there in the interwebs. That being said, I also reference these at times and certainly have learned a few things now and then from them.
My goal for this blog has always to been to tell the story of Engraver’s Mark Music, how it's grown, changed, and adapted, with a few fun stories from various projects thrown in there now and again. I knew that sometime along the way, however, I would have touch on some tech stuff. We do things differently at times around here; just part of our history and how Engraver’s Mark Music has evolved to meet the needs of our current clients and developing new offers for future clients.
And in that light, here’s a confession:
ENGRAVER’S MARK MUSIC USES PCs AND MACs!!!!!
There I said. Wow, that felt liberating!
I know many of you will scoff, gasp in shock and probably just go back to watching cat videos on youtube now that I’ve admitted such a shocking thing. Well, I got one more for you:
I ACTUALLY LIKE USING PCs FOR FINALE BETTER THAN MAC!!!!
Well, now if there’s any of you still out there still with me or have been revived with smelling salts, let me explain. In the music world, and probably many creative fields, MACs are all over the place. There’s a certain mystique about them, and everyone has stories for when they bought their first Macbook Pro and horror stories of updating operating systems. Its just part of the culture. Traditionally, MACs just worked better with the different programs we use like ProTools, Abelton Live, or for that matter Finale or Sibelius.
When I started Engraver’s Mark Music over 12 years ago, quite frankly, I didn’t have the $2k+ needed for a Macbook Pro, or any desktop Mac. And I certainly don’t now, when those prices now start at $4k or more for even a basic machine, that doesn’t even count the new iMac Pros (though I do drool over those). So, I had to make do with my old Dell PC. And you what, 99% of my clients never knew I was on a PC. It was actually a shock to them. Eventually, a Mac mini (I love these) made it into our arsenal, but primarily, the PC kept its place of prominence.
Why you ask, well here goes:
There are actually several advantages to using PCs with Finale and Sibelius, but I’ve found the differences in Sibelius between PC and MAC to be much more minor. So, read the rest of this with a open mind all of you and just you might learn something.
1. Price point entrance is so, so much better:
I know this isn’t exactly related to Finale specifically, but come on Apple. They force you to buy an extremely expensive premium product, won’t let you upgrade the hardware and are very heavy-handed with how they handle the OS updates and it could be years before the software you use to make your living will work or be stable on new OS. I’ve built my last 2 PCs here at Engraver’s Mark Music, they are smokin’ fast, run 4K displays on 50in monitors (now that’s something to drool over!) and cost me a total of about $1,500 each time and I can upgrade them in any way I want to at any point (and have). I’ve gotten over 6 years out of each machine and they certainly could have gone for months longer. I don’t have stability problems and generally speaking, have very few issues with OS updates ever affecting my workflow. I’m just not going to be constantly trying to keep up with Apple fashions. ‘Nough said.
2. Keyboard shortcuts in Finale on PC are vast:
One of the best things that can speed up your workflow with Finale is using key commands instead of constantly dragging the mouse all over the screen. Programmable meta-tools are a great example of this that can be used in Finale with either MAC or PC. However, what if you are in the Edit Filter menu and want to select a of series of different items using Finale with a MAC, you have to click each different option. Not so with PC.
Take a look at this screenshot from my PC:
Notice all the little underlines, like under the “u” in articulations. Guess what, all you what to is press the “u” key and it toggles the articulations. You change the filters all with a matter of a few keystrokes and in a menu like this with dozens of options and combinations, using the keyboard instead of the mouse is so much faster and accurate. Every menu, sub-menu and window in Finale on PC has these kind of interactive elements and can be triggered from the keyboard. Mac does not. This kind of function is also extremely valuable when programming Finale Scripts or different macros, as simulating a keystroke is insanely fast, while getting a machine to move a mouse cursor is much slower, less accurate and at times more difficult to program or control.
3. Remapping and creating new keyboard shortcuts:
Honestly, this might be the most important feature that keeps me using my PC more than my MAC when it comes to Finale. There’s this wonderful little tool in the TG Tools plugin called “Menu Shortcuts” and this tool can allow you to program new key combinations to access any of the tools, menus and functions in Finale. Its so powerful and flexible.
Check it out here:
This is only available on PC. I’ve used this to remap tons of keystroke combinations to access different tools and functions I use all the time without even having to change my hand position on the keyboard, granting me major time savings and I hope keeping the dreaded affliction of carpal tunnel syndrome at bay.
Now, before you get all in a huff about all the various different programs one can purchase on a MAC that might provide some of the same functionality, I know they exist and have used some of them, i.e. Keyboard Maestro (which I do think is a great program). The major disadvantage to all these additional programs, besides the initial setup and learning curve which can be steep, is the risk that all these different layers of programs have to all work seamlessly together or its all for naught. That can happen, but not always. What if just one of these doesn’t work with the latest MAC OS update? Well, you’re back to doing everything by hand again. And then, there’s the cost of all these additional programs and hardware. One major advantage to a smaller overall operating budget here at Engraver’s Mark Music is a direct reduction in our fees to all our clients.
Will this ever settle the great PC vs MAC debate, nope. Will you think less of me since I kinda like my PC more than my MAC? Well, hopefully not. Just some food for thought. I have an orchestrator I work with frequently who has 3 programs running simultaneously, and his iPad setup as an extra controller to achieve the same functionality I can with just my PC and Finale. I bet you can imagine the good natured discussions we have over a pint or two at the end of a long day of working together!
Engraver’s Mark Music prides ourselves on the flexibility we offer to all our clients. We can operate in any system or structure or workflow you need us work in. Even better, we can design one for you at the same time we transcribe and engrave a simple PVG project or prepare a major film score for the studio, that will give you all the advantages of our experience and variety equipment. Just know that Engraver’s Mark Music is here to serve and we have all the tools to make your music a success.
Sammy Sanfilippo, CEO of Engraver's Mark Music