So there is Hiveworks
, which is a creator-owned comic collective; it looks like there revenue comes from advertising, and they have various mentoring services and so on.
Could something similar work with sheet music publishing?
When I've spoken to traditional publishers, they've generally not been willing to talk about the Creative Commons thing. From their perspective, publishing something that people are allowed to photocopy, and could even reproduce themselves by downloading the work from online, is no way to make a living.
I think this is a misunderstanding of the market for deadtree format sheet music:
1) When I am performing regularly, I frequently buy scores that are in the public domain, because printing things at home is annoying or inconvenient or, in the end, not much cheaper.
2) There are still a number of people who only really buy sheet music by post or in actual shops; while this is a shrinking market, the problems of e-scores (readers are expensive and run out of battery; you can't write on electronic scores anywhere near as easily as you can paper ones with a pencil, or draw pictures of the conductor with a dragon's head for that matter; nobody has really got page turns right; DRM of any kind at all is really annoying if you're buying a piece of music thinking your choir might sing it again in 5 or 10 years) are not really going away quickly yet, and in the meantime, fewer people who own computers have access to a printer at home.
3) In terms of choral music, at least, you can charge a bit more for a "photocopiable resource": I've seen some publishers experimenting with this with the Christian Copyright Licensing Initiative. (The difference between that and CC by-SA? CC by-SA requires no admin on the part of the consumer, and rather less on the part of the composer, too. CCLI is an awkward workaround, and it shows.)
Further, when people go to download music from e.g. the Choral Public Domain Library or IMSLP, they're usually looking for something they already know to be in the public domain. When they go to a bricks-and-mortar or even an online sheet music shop, they're looking for new stuff. My work is new -- but it's on CPDL. Oh, and Lulu, which also isn't somewhere people go to look for sheet music.
Just as e-books have not, in fact, meant that people stop buying deadtree format books, I don't think electronic scores are going to kill the deadtree format music library just yet.
I think it's also a misunderstanding of the nature of copyright and copyright infringement. In general, if someone is going to photocopy my music, they're going to do it anyway, and sortof hope they don't get caught.
Anyway, I am wondering whether some kind of collectively-owned publishing house which explicitly allows composers to choose Creative Commons licenses -- or not, if the composer in question would rather not -- would be a good idea.
I suppose this is just more fleshing out of this idea about a print-on-demand music publisher
. The difference between that and this? Collective ownership, and a presence (in due course) in bricks-and-mortar sheet music shops where they exist. (I don't think most of the existing small sheet music publishers do print-on-demand -- I think they do a bulk order from a music reprographics company, and then warehouse it and distribute. I know of one print-on-demand music reprographics company that also does distribution, which isn't cheap, but a co-op might be a good way to manage the cost.)
The thing about print-on-demand is that without the warehousing costs, and with distribution being outsourced, you don't necessarily have to play the crappy gatekeeping game of only having a certain "standard" of composer, either (and very often this is more about an old boys' network and the perceived necessity of going for a certain style, than anything else). You can still have the equivalent of whoever it is that decides to send a catalogue showcasing certain repertoire to the brick-and-mortar shops, print that when they order it, and also have ten thousand "long tail" pieces of music that only get printed when someone requests them -- only now, they can request them from brick-and-mortar shops, too. Further, if you have a decent online shop with decent search engine optimisation etc, you can use the sales figures from that to predict what to send to the brick-and-mortar shops; and since it's a composer-owned co-op you can also ask composers to give you some of their social media stats etc (strictly on an opt-in basis, of course) and add some of the more popular ones there to the deadtree catalogue, so that people like me who are mostly focused on free downloads and Patreon can still have offline representation.
I do think hybrid models like this are a way that the publishing industry can stop eating itself, and that artist ownership is likely to be beneficial. However, I do not know how to get there from here, I don't even know many other composers who use CC by-SA, and I'm supposed to be doing a PhD, not starting companies.