Music Publishing Podcast

Nuts and bolts discussions on the business and practical aspects of being a composer in the 21st century, with host Dennis Tobenski.
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Music Publishing Podcast


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Feb 13, 2017

For this week's episode, I sat down to chat with David and Matthew Maslanka. David is a renowned composer, often known for his extensive catalog of works for wind ensemble; and Matthew, David's son, is a euphonist and engraver, and handles the operations for publishing David's music.

During the course of the conversation, we talked about the trajectory of David's career and the important changes he made and risks he took along the way, how Matthew handles publishing David's works, and the importance of being true to your music and yourself.

Feb 6, 2017

In her first appearance on the show, exactly 30 episodes ago, Dale Trumbore mentioned How to Go On, her secular requiem commissioned by Choral Arts Initiative. She explained the plan to premiere and record the piece with the ensemble, and promised to be back to talk about the process.

So this week, she and CAI Artistic Director Brandon Elliott join me to talk about the process of the preparation and recording of the album: from the project's genesis through fundraising, marketing recording, and post-production, up to the impending release this month.

Jan 30, 2017

Joshua Gersen is, in addition to being a composer, the Musical Director of the New York Youth Symphony and Assistant Conductor of the New York Philharmonic. An advocate for new music, he helps to oversee the NYYS’s annual composer competition, which awards commissions to three composers under 30.

During the course of our conversation,w e talked about the role of youth orchestras, the nature of orchestral writing, and the annual NYYS composition competition.

Joshua Gersen
New York Youth Symphony

Jan 23, 2017

Scott Tegge, tubist for the Gaudete Brass, knows how to hustle, and he's genuinely an awesome guy. We met at the "composer hang" coordinated by Frank J. Oteri during the Midwest Clinic, and I knew right away that he had to be a guest on the show. In addition to all the work he does for the quintet, he also teaches an insane amount, and is in the process of creating a new non-profit to help generate more opportunities for brass players.

During the course of our conversation, a few of the things we talked about were: collaborations (both good and bad), having diversified revenue, and knowing how to fundraise effectively.

Jan 16, 2017

William J. Lackey is one of the many cool people I met at the Midwest Clinic. In addition to his work as a composer, Billy has been the Administrative Director at the Mizzou New Music Initiative, and served on the Boards of the newEar Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, the Odyssey Chamber Music Series, and the Kansas City Electronic Music and Arts Alliance. He’s currently a Vice President of Programs at the American Composers Forum, and he brings all of the skills he learned in these various positions to bear in his composing career.

During the course of our conversation, we chatted about transformative teachers, learning administrative skills, and a host of opportunities available for composers through the American Composers Forum.

William J. Lackey
American Composers Forum
Mizzou New Music Initiative & International Composers Festival

Jan 9, 2017

In Part 2 of my conversation with Frank J. Oteri, we talk about reconciling different genres, thinking about audiences and their (lack of) preconceptions, and amateurism.

Jan 2, 2017

To say that Frank J. Oteri has a multi-faceted career in music is a gross understatement. In addition to his own work as a composer, he has been the Co-Editor for NewMusicBox since it was created in 1999, where he writes and reports on all manner of topics relating to the realm of new music, and he bears the unique title of Composer Advocate at New Music USA. He works tirelessly on behalf of composers in the US and abroad, and has a breadth and depth of knowledge of living composers and their works that is, quite simply, staggering.

I’ve been friends with Frank and his wife Trudy Chan (Ep. 25) for years, and it’s always a joy to hang out and chat with either of them. So for this week, Frank and I sat down with a bottle of wine, and talked for over two hours! Rest assured, I’ve split the conversation into two parts so that the second half will come out next week.

In Part 1 of this lengthy conversation, we talk about pushing artistic boundaries, the nature of “originality”, and what it means to be an advocate for new music.

Frank J. Oteri
Frank’s writings at NewMusicBox
Andrew Norman: On Being Named Composer of the Year by Musical America

Dec 28, 2016

Composer Reena Esmail ( joins Dennis to discuss a range of topics, including being a woman composer and a composer of color.

Dec 24, 2016

After several weeks of emailing to set up this episode, Stacy Garrop and I met in person at The Midwest Clinic, and had a wonderful time getting to know one another between Clinic events. A few days after I returned to NYC, we sat down for this conversation. Stacy’s a great composer, and I had the pleasure of hearing her fantastic brass quintet Legends of Olympus performed by the Gaudete Brass while I was in Chicago.

During the course of our conversation, we talk about:

  • The Midwest Clinic
  • Planning for conferences
  • Writing music for different levels of ability
  • Email newsletters
  • Having advocates for your music
  • Consistency in sending your email newsletters
  • Being shy
  • Stepping into a more outgoing persona
  • Reaching out to new ensembles
  • Formality and proper forms of address
  • Tailoring your bio to the occasion
  • Sending emails at the appropriate time
  • Going freelance full-time
  • The potential pitfalls of being a freelancer
  • Planning your freelance finances
  • Assessing your tolerance for risk

Stacy Garrop
Composer Inklings
Rusch: The Freelancer’s Survival Guide

Dec 19, 2016

I’m joined this week by a number of friends and colleagues to break down The Midwest Clinic, which we all just attended – most of us for the first time.

Trudy Chan returns to the show, then Frank Oteri (Trudy’s husband, and the founder/co-editor of NewMusicBox) joins the conversation, then Sean Perrin of the Clarineat podcast and Garrett Hope (the Justin Timberlake to MPP’s SNL) have a nice chat about our first experiences at the conference.

In short: it’s HUGE, it’s overwhelming for a first-timer, and it’s an amazing opportunity for composers and for musicians of all stripes to network and to explore a wealth of music, most of it new.

The Midwest Clinic
Clarineat with Sean Perrin

Dec 5, 2016

After we spoke in Episode 19, Scott mentioned that we should have looked at one of my previous NMUSA Project Grant applications as an example to help other applicants, and I immediately started kicking myself for not thinking of that earlier.

So this week, that’s exactly how we start the episode – we look through two of my previous applications (screen-capped below). Then we go on to look at a few applications from the String Orchestra of Brooklyn (with the permission and at the behest of Ep. 23 guest Emily Bookwalter), as well as a broad look at some previously-awarded projects. It’s a great talk, and I absolutely learned a TON in the process.

On a personal note: great job to all of you who have been emailing Scott and his team about your applications after he was on the show earlier this Fall. That’s exactly what I was hoping for, and exactly what we all need to do to make our applications better!

Scroll down for screencaps and audio samples from the applications that Scott and I talk about.

The Portfolio Composer: Ep. 11 – Missy Mazzoli on Grant Writing and Marketing Yourself

Nov 28, 2016

Jay Venute is the wit and talent behind Jerk Birds and the webcomic Doodle Park. He’s also a very close friend, a regular listener to the show despite not being a musician, and a constant sounding board for my myriad harebrained ideas.

This week, we commemorate the six month anniversary of the show by talking about how it came to be, the trials and tribulations of all the behind-the-scenes machinations, and the various lessons I’ve learned along the way.

We also spend time talking about our artistic common ground, showing appreciation, support systems, and the importance of being publicly vulnerable.

Jerk Birds
Doodle Park
Kristine Kathryn Rusch: Freelancer’s Survival Guide
The Portfolio Composer
Garrett Hope

Nov 14, 2016

Angela Myles Beeching, author of the well-known book Beyond Talent: Creating a Successful Career in Music, has created and run entrepreneurship programs in a number of major music schools throughout the country, and now is a full-time career consultant for working musicians.

This week, she joins me to talk about her work with musicians, and some tips for composers and performers.

Also, Angela has made a very generous offer to the MPP community: between now and December 14, 2016, she is offering a free 30-minute career consultation! Just email her at, and mention that you heard her here.

During the course of our conversation, we touched on:

  • The perceptions of entrepreneurship
  • Using entrepreneurial skills appropriately
  • Teaching the entrepreneurial “mentality” vs. concrete skills
  • Listening to your critical voice
  • Time management
  • Setting up creative blocks
  • Forming habits
  • Setting a pre-creative ritual
  • Minimizing distractions during creative time
  • Being in a space conducive to writing
  • Setting regular creative habits
  • Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art
  • Describing your music
  • Angela’s generous offer to MPP listeners
  • Going to conferences
  • The Chamber Music America national conference

Angela Myles Beeching
Beyond Talent
Steven Pressfield: The War of Art
New Music Box: You Need a Better Bio
“Inside Morton’s Head”: Morton Gould on the creative process
“Success & Legacy”
“Five Productivity Hacks”

Nov 7, 2016

Trudy Chan has had a multifaceted career in music. The former Senior Manager of Promotion at Boosey & Hawkes, Trudy now heads her own boutique composer management company, and works as a collaborative pianist, most notably as one half of the Cheah Chan Duo, which puts on six concerts of art song and piano music each season.

Trudy and I have been friends for years, and we’ve had the pleasure of performing together several times.

During the course of our conversation, we touched on:

  • Friendship as the basis for working relationships
  • Working for a traditional publisher
  • Approaching performers and ensembles
  • Doing your research
  • The Virtue of Patience
  • Being judicious in mailing materials
  • Preparing for conferences
  • The importance of showing up
  • The dance of building relationships
  • Business partners
  • Some advantages and disadvantages of traditional publishing
  • Submission tips
  • Program notes
  • Follow-up emails
  • Black Tea Music
  • The differences between promotion and publicity

Black Tea Music
Cheah Chan Duo

Oct 31, 2016

My friend and fellow podcaster – and MPP Superfriend – Garrett Hope is back this week to talk with me about an idea that’s not super-well-known within the music community, but has been helping artists, professionals, and small business owners for nearly a century: Mastermind Groups.

Garrett and I are members of a small mastermind group of music podcasters and bloggers, and it’s in large part thanks to this group of wonderful musicians that I’ve continued to improve this show over the past few months.

What is a mastermind? Let Garrett explain it to you in this week’s episode, where we discuss the benefits of creating a group of peer mentors, how to gracefully accept criticism, being accountable, and building a base of support.

And head on over to Garrett’s show The Portfolio Composer, where I’m this week’s guest: Episode 99 – just before Garrett’s landmark 100th episode!

Garrett Hope
The Portfolio Composer
Napoleon Hill: The Law of Success
Napoleon Hill: Think and Grow Rich

Oct 25, 2016

Emily Bookwalter is a violist, the Director of External Affairs for the String Orchestra of Brooklyn, and the Executive Director of New Amsterdam Records. In short, Emily does all the things.

This is a fantastic conversation where we riff on marketing, storytelling, the dargers/usefulness of -isms, community, musical citizenship, and how the viola is the best instrument. Soap-boxes abound.

And then Google Hangouts lost the last six minutes of the broadcast. Seriously. Fortunately, I was talking for most of those six minutes, so very little of import was lost. 

Emily Bookwalter
String Orchestra of Brooklyn
New Amsterdam Records

Oct 17, 2016

Kathleen Supové is an excellent pianist with a flair for the theatrical and a deep love for new music. Although she studied within the classical tradition, she feels the need to forge new paths and create new traditions for new music.

We spoke a few days before The Debussy Effect, Kathleen’s latest album of works written for her, was released on New Focus Records. During our conversation, we talked about:

  • Virtuosity
  • Curation
  • Marathon concerts: the good and the not so good
  • Having long-term relationships with composers and other colleagues
  • Recording projects
  • The Debussy Effect
  • Recreational listening

Kathleen Supové
Kathleen Supové & The Exploding Piano on Facebook
The Debussy Effect

Oct 10, 2016

Seth Hanes is Philadelphia-based horn player and entrepreneur, and runs the excellent website The Musician’s Guide to Hustling, where he helps musicians get more gigs and create more – and more rewarding – connections with other musicians. I met Seth when he invited me to come on his site to talk about the differences between traditional publishing and self publishing, and I was impressed with his level of knowledge on marketing and effective promotion.

Seth just released his first book, Break into the Scene: A Musician’s Guide to Making Connections, Creating Opportunities, and Launching a Career, today, and I think that it’s a great addition to the library of any musician who wants clear, actionable advice on how to improve their career.

In the course of our conversation, we covered:
Having a versatile skillset
Scarcity vs abundance
Reaching out
Connecting with contractors
Marketing fundamentals
Considering the challenges of your prospective collaborators
Breaking into the Scene

Seth Hanes
Seth on Twitter
The Musician’s Guide to Hustling
Break Into the Scene on Amazon
Dennis on The Musician’s Guide to Hustling

Oct 3, 2016

In June 2005, my composition teacher at the time, <a href="" target="_blank">Daron Hagen</a>, told me that he was having his <em>Pianos Variations</em> premiered by a pianist named Marc Peloquin at the Bloomingdale School of Music, and that if I was interested, I should go. I arrived rather early, met Marc, and ended up helping him to set up chairs for the recital. The concert was wonderful, and in addition to Daron’s <em>Variations</em>, included some works by Virgil Thomson and David Del Tredici.

Afterward, I was invited to a post-concert dinner a few blocks away with Marc and his partner (now husband) Seth, Chester Biscardi, and David Del Tredici, and the five of us have been good friends ever since. (I like to tell the story of how I only ordered french fries, claiming that I had eaten before the concert, when in fact french fries were all I could afford at the time. The life of a young artist!)

Nine months after that concert and dinner, Marc and I performed together for the first time on the inaugural Tobenski-Algera Concert. We perform together regularly, have toured together, and formed a small record label to release our recordings of new vocal music. Marc was also the Best Man at my wedding last year.

During this week’s conversation, we talked about:
<li>The value of recording previously-unrecorded works</li>
<li>Approaching promotion from a project-oriented standpoint</li>
<li>KeyedUp MusicProject</li>
<li>The economics of recording</li>
<li>Finding a label or self-releasing your recordings</li>
<li>Learning from experience</li>
<li>How we run Perfect Enemy Records</li>
<li>“Life Rolls”</li>
<li>Rolling with the punches</li>

<a href="" target="_blank">Marc Peloquin</a>
<a href="" target="_blank">KeyedUp MusicProject</a>
<a href="" target="_blank">Perfect Enemy Records</a>
<a href="" target="_blank">Kristine Kathryn Rusch: One Phone Call from Our Knees</a>

Sep 26, 2016

For this week’s episode, I sat down with Scott Winship, the Director of Grantmaking at New Music USA to talk about the organization’s Project Grants, and answer a few listener questions. It was a great conversation with a lot of really great tips for making your application the best it can be.

Some of the things we talked about were:

  • The American Music Center & Meet the Composer merger, which created New Music USA
  • How the NMUSA are a reaction to the ways that artists make their art today
  • The grant application process
  • The panel process
  • The general breakdown of the awards
  • Effective work samples
  • Making use of collaborator profiles
  • Narratives & project descriptions
  • Giving yourself time to put together a compelling application
  • Getting feedback
  • Question: When is the music “not enough”?
  • Your budget
  • The private description
  • Question: Why does it seem like the “usual suspects” seem to get awarded every round?
  • Question: Is there a weight to individual, ensemble, or organization applications?
  • The new grant deadline for 2016/2017
Sep 19, 2016

Recently declared by Opera News to be a “game changing” company that is redefining American opera, New York City-based Rhymes With Opera started just like most new music ensembles – as a handful of like-minded friends who just wanted to do good work – and have become a well-established, well-respected organization creating a whole new set of operatic repertoire for the 21st century.

I was thrilled to sit down with all five of the founding members to talk about the company’s successes and growing pains, and their advice for new music ensembles that are just starting out.

During the course of the conversation, we talked about:

  • The history and mission of Rhymes With Opera
  • Deciding your path as an organization
  • Not over-extending your ensemble
  • Finding organizational stability
  • Rhyme With Opera’s beginning steps and missteps
  • The importance of forming a solid Board of Directors
  • Limiting your organizational activities to core competencies
  • Surrounding yourself with talent
  • Outsourcing effectively
  • Taking incremental steps toward your goals
  • Knowing your budget in order to fundraise effectively
  • Crowdfunding
  • Cultivating a donor base
  • The current state of American opera and concert music in general
  • The DIY mentality in concert music today
  • Supporting new music as an organizational goal

Rhymes With Opera
George Lam
Ruby Fulton
Bonnie Lander
Elisabeth Halliday
Robert Maril
Opera News: Indies Ascending

Sep 12, 2016

Rose Marshack is a professor of Arts Technology and Music Business at Illinois State University (my alma mater), as well as the bass player for the indie rock band Poster Children. I met Rose when I spoke to her Music Business students for the first time in 2013, and immediately loved her enthusiasm for giving her students the skills they need to survive post-graduation.

During the course of our conversation, we talked about:

  • Giving back
  • Maintaining connections with your alma mater
  • “Band Karma”
  • The different approaches to teaching music business
  • Different ways to make a living as a musician
  • Teaching as a form of learning
  • Surrounding yourself with talent

Poster Children
André Gide: The Counterfeiters
The Smarter Artist: What Do You Mean by DVD Extras?
Self-Publishing Podcast: Forging Unbreakable Bonds with Readers Who Love You

Sep 5, 2016

In addition to being a talented composer, Daniel Gilliam is the Director of Programming for WUOL Classical 90.5 in Louisville, KY. We got to know one another a number of years ago on Twitter, and finally met in “meatspace”, along with Dale Trumbore, over drinks at the 2012 Chorus America conference in Minneapolis, MN.

During the course of our conversation we touched on:

  • The responsibilities of a classical radio Program Director
  • Having a day job outside of academia
  • How your paycheck doesn’t define you as an artist – your art does
  • Building relationships
  • Being able to talk about your music with non-musicians
  • Neil deGrasse Tyson as an ambassador of science
  • An overview of classical radio
  • Audience, data and fulfilling mission
  • Defining the audience for classical radio
  • How most new music performers aren’t the target audience for classical radio
  • Submitting recordings to classical stations
  • The quality of your materials
  • Follow-up techniques
  • Doing your research
  • The importance of having a broad and deep knowledge of the classical repertoire
  • Playing the long game and having patience

Daniel Gilliam / Fictive Music
WUOL Classical 90.5
MusicSpoke: “Just Relax” by Daniel Gilliam
Q2 Radio
Second Inversion

Aug 30, 2016

Garrett Hope is a composer, entrepreneur, and business coach, as well as the podcaster behind The Portfolio Composer (originally titled Composer on Fire). Like me, he loves helping other composers to navigate their careers, and he’s currently putting together an online course, which will launch in September, to teach composers how to market their works more effectively.

During our wide-ranging conversation, we talked about:

  • The Portfolio Composer (née Composer on Fire)
  • “Done is better than perfect”
  • Believing in yourself and having the courage to go out and pursue your dreams
  • “What does it mean to market and sell yourself?”
  • Thinking like a small business owner
  • Some basic marketing principles and advice
  • How your art becomes a product after you’ve finished creating it
  • No matter what kind of music you write, there is a market for it
  • Garrett’s Marketing for Composers course
  • How marketing doesn’t have to lead to financial benefit – it can just help to secure more performances
  • Legacy
  • “Know your why”
  • Surrounding yourself with talent
  • A bit about podcasting
  • Non-musical marketing
  • Be yourself & be genuine
  • The benefits of sharing your process with your audience
  • Development diaries: how they help you grow as an artist, and how they can help or inspire your audience
  • “DVD Extras”
  • “Like, Know, and Trust”
Aug 23, 2016

Three months after his first appearance on the show, entertainment/copyright lawyer and MPP Superfriend Marc Ostrow is back to talk some more about Fair Use, with me supplying a few hypothetical situations. But more importantly, Marc lays out the Department of Justice’s recent and unexpected ruling that PROs must abandon 70+ years of established industry practice and adopt a 100% Licensing regime, and what that means for you.

During the conversation, we covered:

  • A history of ASCAP, BMI, and their consent decrees
  • Rate courts and “reasonable rates”
  • How consent decrees allow new streaming services to operate without paying for a license
  • The differences between the ASCAP & BMI consent decrees
  • How the PROs want their consent decrees to be relaxed to allow for sync and mechanical licensing
  • How the Department of Justice ruled on 100% Licensing rather than addressing long-standing industry concerns
  • An explanation of 100% Licensing vs. Fractional Licensing
  • Who owns what in a collaborative effort
  • “Absent a written agreement”
  • How 100% Licensing impacts working musicians, the heirs of musicians who have passed, and musicians working outside the US
  • How the DoJ’s ruling vitiates existing contracts
  • The Copyright Office’s reaction to the DoJ’s ruling
  • How the DoJ’s ruling might prevent many artists from collaborating with each other
  • Who benefits from 100% Licensing (hint: it’s not you)
  • The PRO’s challenges to the ruling, and potential outcomes
  • A recap of Fair Use principles
  • Some Fair Use hypothetical situations for composers, performers, and educators

Marc Ostrow: 100% Licensing summary and reaction
Marc Ostrow: Letter to DoJ
U.S. Copyright Office’s reaction to 100% Licensing ruling
MusicTechPolicy Podcast explaining 100% Licensing
Marc Ostrow: “Do You Have The Chutzpah To Take A Gamble On Fair Use?”

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