Thursday, 9 December 2010
I've added a lot of music this week, here are the highlights:
Classical Highlights for Piano with CD
Exploring Latin Piano - with 2 CDs
Tango meets Jazz - again with CD
Chopin: The Easiest Preludes - for intermediate pianists
Angela Hewitt's Bach Book
Amazing Grace - variations for organ by Naji Hakim
Classical Music for Children - very easy pieces for violin, with CD
Variations on a Rococo Theme by Tchaikovsky
A new, one-volume edition of Alfred Uhl's 48 Studies
Monday, 22 November 2010
Kapustin Sonata for flute Op 125 - a four movement work for advanced players
Classical Piano Anthology Vol 1 - a collection of easy pieces for grade 1-2 pianists, in a new collection by Schott
Exploring Jazz Violin and Exploring Jazz Clarinet - as the worlds of contemporary and classical playing continue to merge, these two new volumes (with CDs) help players learn the jazz style
Baroque Recorder Anthology Vol 3 - a collection of 17th and 18th century pieces for treble recorder, with CD
Pop Ballads for Flute - a selection of pop classics arranged for flute with CD
Romantic Guitar Anthology Vol 4 - a collection of pieces for advanced guitarists
Baermann Romance for clarinet -a short and easy piece from the 19th century composer Baermann
Sing Jazz Ballads Vol 1 - famous jazz ballads for medium voice, with CD
Karl Jenkins Stella Natalis - a piece for choir by the well-known composer
Joy to the World - 9 carols arranged for mixed chorus by Karl Jenkins
Macmillan Benedictus Deus - a Latin setting for SATB by the Scottish composer
For wind band, I am starting to fill out this section, starting with some new publications: Holst's Jupiter and Mars, and Lyric Suite by Finzi.
This week I have also introduced a section for study scores, something I have lacked for some time. I've started with some new publications by Eulenburg, including new editions with CD. I will be working on this section over the coming months.
Friday, 12 November 2010
- Bass-Time Beginners for Double Bass
- Fantasy on a theme of Arnold - music for piano based on a theme by Malcolm Arnold
- Three Improvisations for piano by Alan Bullard
- Dog 'n Bone Rag - music for 4 flutes
- Fantasiestucke - Schumann's well-known piece, arranged for bassoon and piano
- Go Fourth - position changing for cello, with CD
- Vivaldi's Sonata in E Minor arranged for guitar
- Bowers Sonata for Tuba
- Bowers Sonata for Trumpet
- Bowers Sonata for Horn
- Callisto...and the Great Moon Turns - a new piece for double bassby Martin Storry
- Well-Tempered Licks & Grooves Vol 1 - jazz styles for piano, with CD
- Pachelbel Selected Organ Works
- Handel Sonatas for Violin
- Smetana From My Homeland, for violin
- Swing Standards for alto sax with CD
There's lots more to come, I've been trying to catch up with all the new publications in the last few months.
On another note, ABRSM has put back its publication of the new Aural Training in Practice series, to at least April next year. The old books will still be available until then. In the meantime, the new Specimen Aural Tests are available and you can find them in the Aural section of the website.
Friday, 22 October 2010
Trinity Guildhall already has an aural test book out, which has been available for some time. It is now a stock item as it has been very popular recently.
A new version of Bach's Italian Concerto for cello has been published, the imaginative title is "If Bach was a Cellist, Vol 1".
A new double bass tutor from Bote and Bock is also now available - Enjoy the Double Bass. Designed to cover all the basics of bass playing up to 2 1/2 position, it is available to order now.
That's it for this week, am just starting to catch my breath after the rush for the new school term. I hope to be adding a lot more to the website in the coming weeks, plus there will be a whole new look to the site before Christmas, watch this space...
Thursday, 7 October 2010
As everyone knows, we are in a recession and the sheet music and instrument business has been hit hard by this. Over the course of the year there have been a number of changes to distribution networks as publishers try to maximise their sales and minimise their expenses. Some smaller publishers have signed up for distribution with larger concerns and some bigger publishers are considering or making changes to the way they work. A couple of them are worth mentioning as I think they are very welcome.
Firstly Chantelle, a guitar music business, has now arranged for distribution in the UK via MDS in Germany, who also handle giants such as Boosey & Hawkes, Universal Edition and Schott. I'm pleased about this as guitar music is very patchily distributed and so I hope to add more titles to the website this autumn.
Secondly, Breitkopf & Hartel has also agreed to distribute its exam syllabus titles via MDS. I've been frustrated by the difficulty of obtaining their music in the UK, so I hope that by the time these titles are available (15th November) I will have added them to the website.
I have done some stocking up for Christmas, and also added some new music, here's a selection:
Flexible Christmas Jazz Duets for Strings
The Bass Clef Book - not new, but new to the website, it's a tutor book to improve the left hand of pianists
The Spooky Wooky Violin Collection
Nifty Shifts - to help young violinists with position changing
And finally, Trinity has now published all grades of the new keyboard syllabus for 2011, you can find it here.
Friday, 10 September 2010
- Bags of Tunes for Viola - similar to the violin book, written by Mary Cohen, tunes ideal for the beginner
- Simply film - film themes arranged for piano, Grades 2-3 and Grades 4-5
- Piece it Together Flute - music designed to improve tone and technique for easy to intermediate players
- Method of Movement for Marimba - not a new book, but a classic which is hard to get in this country. I have located the sole importer and can now offer this book on a special order basis.
Finally, I now have the new Associated Board Piano exam pieces for 2011 in stock here.
Monday, 16 August 2010
- Repertoire Explorer 2 for both flute and clarinet - collections of additional repertoire
- Easy play along flute
- Kapustin Sonatina - from the new Grade 8 ABRSM piano syallabus
- Traffic and Spooky Pieces - both for cello by Mats Lidstrom, who has launched a new company publishing cello music
- Drummer's Text Book - a new guide for beginners
- Tales from the Far North - for double bass
- Simo's Scramble - for double bass by Teppo Hauta-aho
- Exploring Jazz Sax - instruction on playing jazz, with CD
- Improvising Blues Sax - an introduction to the blues, with CD
- Viola All Sorts - repertoire book
- Drum Kit Pieces and Studies for the new Trinity 2011 syllabus
- Best of grade for both flute and clarinet - new collections of repertoire
- The Rhythm of the Mills - clog dances from the Lancashire cotton mills, arranged for string duet/trio
Many prices across the website are now reduced, so drop in and have a look!
Monday, 2 August 2010
I've also massively expanded the Double Bass section, with over 400 books and pieces now listed. There are also a number of new pieces for double bass in preparation, so I'll add them as soon as they are ready.
Friday, 23 July 2010
I have added a number of new pieces for double bass this week - some of them are in the new music section, all of them are in the double bass section. A number of them have playalong CDs too.
Friday, 16 July 2010
Friday, 9 July 2010
Monday, 31 May 2010
This week I finally got around to completing the compliance requirements for the PCI DSS regime which I mentioned a couple of months ago. This is supposed to be about improving security for payments, but as far as I can see it is a paper exercise which will improve revenue for a few companies, to the detriment of retailers.
I use third parties to handle payments - Sagepay and Paypal, two of the really big boys in the arena who have the highest levels of encryption and compliance with the regulations. So I don't keep or process any card details myself - they handle all the security. This is good for me and good for my customers. My payment gateway, Streamline (aka Royal Bank of Scotland) , knows who I use as they handle it, so why do I find myself filling in forms telling them what they already know? Moreover, the forms they sent are written in American English and the instructions in the glossy booklet which tell you how to access and work through the website are inaccurate. The only good thing is that I am allowed to self-assess and avoid paying someone to come and have a look at my computer.
So I've spent several hours complying with this pointless regime, when I could have been doing other things. Are my systems more secure as a result? No, they were already secure to the highest levels in the industry. What difference has all this made to my customers? None. This has to be the very epitome of "red tape"!
Friday, 21 May 2010
Keeping with the brass theme, also new to the website is Fink's Studies in legato for bass trombone and tuba.
For harp I have added Grandjany's 3 Petites Pieces Tres Faciles.
And finally I have added a new keyboard method; Keyquest 1, 2 , 3 , and 4. This is a recent publication and a welcome addition to the keyboard method market.
Friday, 14 May 2010
I have added a few books to the website this week, after customer requests:
Triligence by Mike Mower for flute
Easy Blue Clarinet Duets
Blue Clarinet and Saxophone Duets by James Rae
The customer who asked for the last book told me he couldn't find it anywhere, but he knew it existed. I'd never come across it either; for some reason a lot of the publishers make little effort to let retailers know about new publications. In the summer, when business is slow, I tend to sit with catalogues and add things to the website, but if the publisher never produces a catalogue, I simply don't know about new music, or even the range of music they cover. Similarly, some of the smaller publishers are very poor at telling you which distributors handle their music; I recently opened an account with a distributor and this week got a catalogue from them for a publisher I find difficult to obtain. I had no idea they handled their music, so that publisher will now get more airtime on the website.
Chatting with my customer I mentioned that the music he wanted comes from Germany, and he asked just before I placed an order, which was good timing. He seemed surprised at the Germany thing; but some of the large distributors now have large hubs abroad. Boosey & Hawkes, Universal Edition, Schott, Carl Fischer, IMC, Amadeus, and many more all come from Germany. The problem for retailers is that the carriage charges are not only higher than UK distribution, but they are subject to the vagaries of currency exchange. Two years ago the delivery charge from Germany was £8.40, at its height recently it was £11.51; it's now £10.97 following the fall of the Euro recently.
On top of that, the currency problem has eroded the profit margin over the last couple of years, resulting in a loss of 50p profit per book, on average. As I've mentioned before, the fall of sterling against the dollar has also resulted in price increases for imported goods of 25-30%. Lets hope things start to stabilise a bit now.
A number of smaller publishers or suppliers seem to be entering distribution arrangements with larger concerns too. As profits get squeezed, it can be tempting to utilise the systems of a larger business in order to maximise income. I think there is more of this to come in the music business, so we may see some big changes in the next year or so.
Saturday, 1 May 2010
Thursday, 15 April 2010
So I have been busy looking at ways to develop business - firstly by adding Paypal Express to my website. I did have this some time ago but the interface between the website and Paypal Express was very unstable and caused a lot of payment failures, so I removed it while the kinks were worked out. It's now working very well, so I hope it will help with sales - customers who have previously used credit cards have switched to Paypal, so we will see.
I've also posted a few items on ebay as a test - my seller id is vsmusic2010. There are a few music sellers on there, so I will be selecting items carefully, picking the ones I think most likely to sell. The advantage of this for customers is that I can reduce the postage charge for smaller items, rather than the standard charge on the website. I hope it means I can sell more of these small accessories than previously.
A few weeks ago I had a long letter from my bank about PCI DSS compliance when taking card payments. I've read it several times and still don't understand it. I know I'm not particularly stupid - I used to be a HR Director and I do have a law degree, but why they can't write in English I don't know. Happily, my website hoster (EKM Powershop) has helped simplify things for me. As I don't have my own server or store card details, it doesn't seem to be much of an issue for me as I use third party systems which are already compliant, but I do have to do a self-assessment questionnaire.
We seem to spend a great deal of our lives doing risk assessments of some kind, don't we? As far as I can see, the self-assessment won't make a blind bit of difference. If there's a problem with a payment later, and I got the self-assessment wrong, then I'm screwed; if I got it right but something went wrong elsewhere, I'll still probably have to foot the bill and then sue someone else. Great.
Anway, time to get back to my parcels, need to get the post moving...
Friday, 26 March 2010
- Eleven pieces for clarinet in C - published by ABRSM
- Jazz Clarinet Aural Tests and Quick Studies - also ABRSM
- Beethoven Romances for Violin, in three editions; Henle, Edition Peters (also available with playalong CD) and Schott
Still working on the price changes - some have gone up by a pound or two, some have gone down since sterling appreciated against the euro. Prices for accessories are still volatile as sterling loses against the dollar, so they can change very quickly.
Hope to have more new music in the next week or two.
Friday, 12 February 2010
A new series of books to help pianists with sight reading as been published by the Associated Board, by the well-known Alan Bullard. Volumes 1, 2 and 3 have been issued, with two more to follow.
Trinity have just published Sound at Sight for French Horn, a welcome addition to the collection of books for horn.
And finally, Harry James' Trumpet Concerto, a jazzy piece which Winwood Music has been wanting to publish for some time - it's now available.
A lot of prices have changed and I am gradually working through the website updating them. It's a slow job, which I only really do once a year and it takes a long, long time, so you have a good chance to get a bargain before I get all the changes done!
Tuesday, 19 January 2010
Friday, 15 January 2010
The front runner is DHL - for the simple reason that on 5th January they took custody of a parcel from Oxford University Press for me and, in a stunning demonstration of incompetence, it has still not been delivered by today, the 15th. The reason is "snow" and the closure of the motorway. Yes the motorway between their depot and me did close briefly during the heavy snow on the 5th/6th January. But I also know that on the 5th and 6th January all the drivers sat on their backsides in the depot all day (elf n safety?) - understandable during the worst of the blizzard (Tuesday). All the parcels were apparently put in a warehouse, which seems to be in a different space/time continuum, as my parcel has never reappeared in this dimension.
The publisher has chased it every day this week, but DHL apparently lack all interest in doing their job belatedly and so OUP has despatched a duplicate order. Let's see how long that takes. In the meantime, I have customers waiting for music in that delivery and I have smoke coming out of my ears.
The second contender for worst courier of 2010 is Parcelforce. They also abandon work at any sign of snow or ice. Over the Christmas period they took a stunning 10 days to deliver a parcel which was "24 hour express". The reason? Snow. I was also due a delivery today, but it looks like the driver didn't like the look of the rain and partially melted snow on the road so he hasn't bothered. 24 hour express? More like 24 days.
What I don't understand is why this happens when companies like Fedex, DPD and UPS do get through, with slight delays. You'd think that professional drivers would be more able to cope - people who live here have had to drive on the stuff. Or, they could park up and walk a bit, like some of us have had to do. It's not that hard.