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"What will happen to all my music scores and parts?....."
The Custodial Management Plan of the American Composers Alliance provides for the continued availability of the composer’s work for research, publication, recording, sales, and rentals, through the custodial management activities of the American Composers Alliance (ACA), in collaboration with Special Collections in Performing Arts at the University of Maryland.
This visionary program through ACA allows for the preservation of your scores, parts, and manuscript materials, in a state-of-the-art archival facility at the university, where performers and researchers can find your music, in perpetuity.
Access and availability is enhanced when the composer places their materials into a central archive, with an agreement that allows the library staff to manage and provide access.
Many important works of music are lost from memory when they go out of print, or when the composer's family is unable to continue managing requests directly. Permissions not clarified by the copyright holder in advance cause problems later when librarians holding music in their collections do not have permission to copy materials for library patrons and performers if requested. ACA is working with Special Collections in Performing Arts at the University of Maryland on this custodial plan, which we feel will revolutionize the way that 20th and 21st-century music scores can be made available more efficiently in the future.
ACA members, past and present, or their estate may establish custodial membership at any point.
* Provides for the distribution of scores, parts, and other performance materials through sales or rentals of your works in the ACA catalog.
* Provides for the distribution of royalties to the estate contact designated by the composer in accordance with the ACA agreement on all royalties collected on behalf of the composer.
* Maintains, updates, and promotes the composer's online music catalog for sales, rentals, recordings, and other licensed uses.
* Provides a support organization to heirs and estates, on questions regarding aspects of performance, publication, copyright, or recordings of the composer's ACA works.
In order to implement the plan, ACA will:
* Provide for the delivery of the composer's music scores and performance materials into the ACA collection in Special Collections in Performing Arts at the University of Maryland, and to scan works (create a high-resolution digital photo-image of each page) for upload and distribution through ACA’s digital sheet music collection.
* Provide an annual report on sales and rentals and other licensed uses of the composer's music to his/her estate.
* Accept from the estate or heirs, additional music for the purpose of sale or rental.
* Receive assignment of distribution rights to composer's works no longer available through other sources. Once delivered to ACA and registered with ACA, a work will continue to be available through the Custodial Plan, and is never completely "out of print."
* Maintain contacts, references and biographies of the composer for the purpose of providing information for concert program notes, recordings, scholarly research, and journal and news articles.
* Note that ACA does not claim ownership of copyright for any music. Composers or their estates grant an revocable, exclusive license to ACA for publishing services. Custodial members complete a Deed of Gift to the University of Maryland for physical materials only, and stipulate preferences for making their materials available throughout the life of the copyright. Determining access and duplication rules will enhance the prospects for future promotion and dissemination of the composer's works.
Some Questions...Some Answers
"How will people know to come to ACA for my music?"
Primarily through ACA's on-line, searchable internet music database and catalog at www.composers.com. The ACA collection currently contains more than ten thousand titles, and receives more than 100 inquiries per month for information on works listed. The website is accessible to the public worldwide through internet search engines. Enhanced access to composer history files and scanned documents for perusal is being created in a digital archive database at ACA, and will be made available through university libraries, streamlining access to ACA's music collection and historical materials.
"What if another publisher wants to publish a composition distributed through the Custodial Management Plan?"
Heirs and estates may transfer publication rights to another publisher at any time. A transfer form must be requested from ACA and submitted to BMI. ACA requires that physical scores and printing masters delivered to ACA remain in the ACA Collection at Special Collections in Performing Arts at the University of Maryland, for longterm archival security, regardless of changes in publishers or distributors.
"If I establish Custodial Membership with ACA, who owns my copyrights after I'm gone?"
Whomever you specify in your will. As with living composers, ACA does not own copyrights to works in its catalog.
"If one of my compositions earns a large amount of money in the future, who gets it?"
The composer's share of performance royalties will continue to be paid by his/her performing rights society, to heirs as designated in the registration of the work(s) with the performing rights society.
"Will ACA, in effect, be my publisher?"
Yes. ACA acts as your publisher and distributor, for music licensed, sold, and rented, for print and electronic versions, if assigned as such by the composer.
"What if a work published by another publisher goes out of print?"
The heirs or estate can request a transfer from the publisher, to register the work with ACA for future distribution and archiving. The ACA Custodial Management Plan may be established by a composer at any time in order to assure the services herein described. It is also available after a composer's death to the heirs or estate with the same benefits.
How the Plan Begins
The preparation of a complete list of the composer's ACA works, generated by the composer or his/her estate, assisted by ACA and the Curator of Special Collections in Performing Arts at the University of Maryland, is essential and will greatly enhance the value of the composer's catalog. This list will contain information on copyrights for each work, and all clearances (including texts) needed for future distribution. The plan commences upon the composer's death. At that time, heirs arrange for transfer to the New York office any scores and performance materials not previously delivered to ACA. A prior letter of instruction from the composer to the heirs or ACA, or an addendum to the composer's Will may be helpful in this process.
How much does it cost?
The price for a custodial membership is a one-time flat fee, the amount of which is based on the size and condition of the materials provided to ACA. The fee can be paid over a 2-year period, but there are no additional charges after the initial fee is paid, unless the composer or estate wishes to deliver additional materials after the initial plan agreement is signed.
There may be additional fees for larger collections, for the subsequent delivery of additional archival items, and/or for the digital scanning of any or all of the composer’s scores. Scanning will greatly enhance ACA's and its assignees ability to display, print and distribute the custodial member's music in perpetuity. The fees may be reduced for collections that have been pre-inventoried by the estate in a format that is web-ready, and/or presented to ACA in Finale files, or in high-res PDF digital format.
The custodial membership fee has two tiers: one for members of ACA in good standing for 5 years or more, and a higher tier for new members. The exact fee schedule is determined by an evaluation of the composer's collection, and set by the ACA Board of Governors.
If a member composer chooses not to purchase custodial membership, his or her estate may keep the ACA services in place by continuing to pay regular membership dues on behalf of the deceased. All materials on in the ACA catalog at the time of death will remain in the ACA Collection at Special Collections in Performing Arts at the University of Maryland.
Promotional activities on the part of ACA will necessarily cease if a composer’s membership ends through non-payment of dues or the rejecting of a custodial plan. Any further promotion of the composer’s catalog will be up to the discretion of ACA, and most likely, collections will be transferred to Special Collections in Performing Arts at the University of Maryland, who reserve the right to maintain the collection for research, or to transfer it back to the estate or to another institution connected to the composer.
How the Plan is Financed
Funds received from members of the Custodial Management Plan are used to fulfill the obligations of membership services, for website catalog preparation and maintenance, for processing scores at Special Collections in Performing Arts at the University of Maryland, and for professional scanning, printing, binding, and shipping services. Every effort is made to provide all services insofar as the costs are covered by the fees received.
In cases where costs have exceeded this fee, the overage may be billed against the ACA member's royalties. The availability of a composer's works for purchase or rental many years after death is a service that is not widely available. ACA has continued to manage catalogs for many custodial composer members since the 1950s. Preserving the composer’s legacy is further enhanced by the archival collection resulting from this plan and thereby placed at Special Collections in Performing Arts at the University of Maryland.
Scanning/PDF delivery of scores
The ACA scanning and PDF project is visionary, in that it will ensure the perpetual availability of a composers' catalog for years to come, regardless of whether ACA remains its managing distributor. Special Collections in Performing Arts at the University of Maryland is as safe a place as possible for a composer's physical archive; the university is an enduring and sustainable institution. For the digital dissemination of scores, university systems connect databases of information that reach out through the internet to students, the public, and communities worldwide. Access to library materials on the internet is becoming standard.
In every case, the ACA Custodial Plan is designed for the best possible benefit to the composer's legacy, whether materials are in physical or digital format (or both). Electronic music score files can be made available to performers and researchers around the world without printing and shipping. It also allows the publisher to request reprints without moving the physical materials and master scores, which can remain safe in the archive environment.
The ACA Custodial Management Program is an ongoing, long-term project. ACA, with Special Collections in Performing Arts at the University of Maryland, is establishing a firm reputation as a primary source for performance material of American composers of the past and present.
Currently, the ACA archive collection contains scores and papers of its founders, including Aaron Copland, Henry Cowell, and Elliott Carter, as well as the music of Bulent Arel, George Edwards, Miriam Gideon, Robert Helps, Otto Luening, Hall Overton, Dane Rudhyar, Halsey Stevens, Vladimir Ussachevsky, Karl and Vally Weigl, and many others.
Please contact us by phone, or by email at info [at] composers dot com, for more information, confidential consultation, or for a custodial membership brochure and application.