Questions and Answers


Who is this site for?

Swirly music is for composers wishing to make their music available to the greater community of musicians without having to manage orders, printing and fulfillment on their own. While all composers are welcome, it is primarily aimed at professionally trained composers who are actively pursuing performances and opportunities through a variety of means.

Submitted scores are subject to light review for quality assurance purposes.  We do not make artistic judgments, but we do expect the presentation to be at a professional level.

My Music Isn't Written Down. I just have recordings.

The service provided here is limited to printed music, (although sometimes in electronic format).

Can I also sell my music as a download?

Will Swirly Music help me get “discovered”?

It can. Our goal is to become a known destination for musicians seeking interesting new repertoire, and having a presence here will mean that your work can be discovered. We do what we can to promote the store as a whole with that goal in mind, and composers benefit from this collectively.

But the main purpose is to be a service of convenience to you as a self-publishing composer, taking some of that heavy lifting off your hands of getting your music to people who are in a position to perform it. We hope you are doing all you can to promote your work, and that Swirly Music provides you with an easy place to point folks to when they want to acquire scores and parts.

Why should I sell my work through Swirly Music?

Selling printed music requires a combination of skills and equipment not within the reach of most of us. Placing your music for sale on Swirly Music requires relatively little of your time and ensures that you are compensated for your work as a composer.

Can I continue to list my work at other venues if I sell on Swirly Music?

Yes. This is a non-exclusive arrangement. The only stipulation is that you not sell anywhere else at a lower retail price. Of course we hope that you’ll see that this is the most friendly service of this kind, both to consumers and to composers, and you’ll want to only list your works here. 🙂

I already am self-publshed, do I need to change my score layout or put the Swirly Music logo on my music?

Definitely not. Think of Swirly Music as nothing more than a channel for getting your work to musicians who want it, and it could be one of many. This service should not be confused with publishing. We would be happy to see you include the Swirly Music logo in your front matter, as distributor, but it is not required.

I'm also a web designer. Why not just sell my work on my own web site?

Even if you’re a very sophisticated web developer, consider that there is strength in numbers. Listing your work here among other composers means more exposure in the long run. Through the kind of basic merchandizing such as we see on sites like Amazon, for example, buyers of Paula’s Violin Sonata will also be presented with the opportunity to examine Martin’s Violin Sonata, etc. If participating composers promote their work here, we all benefit.

Why is Swirly Music better than other sites that do the same thing?

Well, first of all, there aren’t that many sites that do the same thing. But, to answer the question, Swirly Music does a better job of presenting your work, giving the buyer maximum information upon which to base decisions. If you have a recording of your work, it is placed prominently on the page. Optionally, the buyer can view a full-screen perusal copy of your score in a manner that cannot be copied or downloaded. View an example product page.

What type of paper stock, sizes and binding are used for printing?

There is a wide variety of options, and it is open to your preference. Typically saddle stitch (center stapled) binding is used for chamber music scores and other types up to a certain page count at a variety of sizes, including 9″x12″. Coil and tape binding are also available. There are choices for paper stock as well. Printing will be done according to your specifications.

Printing is carried out by folks with years in the music preparation business who know the standard requirements and practices around professional music printing. When in doubt, specify nothing, and they will know the best paper and binding to suit your particular score.

Am I required to use the Swirly Music covers I see on this site?

This is entirely optional, but available for composers who would prefer not to spend time thinking about cover design. Custom cover design will be a future added service of Swirly Music.

What is the financial arrangement?

Composers receive a competitive 50% of the net revenue from sales of their work here.  For downloads, the split is a simple 50/50, while for print it is 40/60, with printing expenses covered by Swirly’s portion. (Through traditional retail publishing, composers may get as little as 10%.).

Can I track sales, and how do I get paid?

Composers have access to a “dashboard” where they can track sales and manage the written details for each of their pieces. There is also email notification to the composer when a sale is made. Payment takes place automatically on a monthly basis via an ACH bank transfer.

How are items priced?

Pricing, as in any retail environment, is a matter of cost and what the market bears. Pricing for each score will be determined in collaboration with the composer. The primary factor will be the page count, but market factors are also in play.

What does it cost to list my work here?

There is a nominal charge per title added, which scales down if titles are added in larger numbers at a time.  This is described in more detail on the How It Works page.

Why should I donate money to Swirly Music?

The expenses of time and resources that go into maintaining this service outpace the revenue generated by sales and membership fees.  Classical music is sadly not a profitable undertaking, and profitability is not our goal. If you are a supporter of new music, whether as a composer, performer or listener, please consider helping Swirly Music to continue running and improving. More info on the Donation Page.