Call it Grey marketing. Michael Grey, one of the piping world’s most prolific composers, has made his 68-page fifth collection, Music for Everyone, available to all for free on the Internet. The 2006 collection is now accessible via the open publication service, Issu.
The free release of the book comes at a time when music publishing and copyright control is facing great change in the piping community, which has traditionally struggled to gain fair royalties for original music, let alone any kind of profit.
“My stuff is all over the net; you can legitimately buy and download it anywhere,” Grey said when asked why he chose to make the collection free. “But it’s also been heavily pirated, and because of that people can find it and get hold of it free. I gave up a long time ago trying to get my material pulled down from rogue music exchange sites.”
Music For Everyone contains several of Grey’s better-known compositions, including “Coppermill,” “The Eastern Townships,” “Fleshmarket Close” and “Sergeant Malkie Bow’s Consternation,” as well as tunes by other well known composers, such as Allan MacDonald, Gavin Stoddart and Kyle Warren.
“Managing your copyright could be a fairly busy job and one with potentially shaky returns,” Grey added. “In giving it away I’m maybe throwing in the towel on making money from my music and hope that in doing this I might see some return because of my music. It’s a bit of an experiment.”
Grey said that he did not know whether future collections will be offered for free or not, or whether he will make other previous books similarly available.
“We’ll see. I did buy a lottery ticket today so there’s a chance,” he said.
The move by Grey follows other announcements of pipe music on the net being made free to all, including Ceol Sean offering a catalogue of more than 7,000 historical manuscripts and pipetunes.ca posting a repository of some 1,700 audio compositions.