Forty-five-year-old Berklee Press in Boston is hoping to strike a chord with general readers this February when it publishes its first trade titles: Getting Signed! An Insider's Guide to the Recording Industry by George Howard and Making Music Make Money by Eric Beall.
The press, the publishing arm of Berklee College of Music, alma mater of Quincy Jones, Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks, and Brad Whitford and Joe Kramer of Aerosmith, among others, will continue to publish books by faculty and alumni. However, explains product marketing manager David Goldberg, former marketing director at Tuttle Publishing, "we will be branching out into trade as well as growing the education market."
For Dave Kusek, associate v-p of Berklee Media, which includes the press, the changes are driven by two major shifts in the music business as a whole. "The online distribution of music and the advances of music technology hardware and software are creating opportunities for musicians and aspiring musicians to produce and modify music themselves. For these reasons," he said, "Berklee is pushing to expand our distribution beyond our traditional markets." The process of reaching a wider audience began five years ago when Berklee contracted with Hal Leonard for distribution. As a result, some of its 75 backlist titles are now available in music stores and large booksellers with strong music sections.
The press's all-time bestseller is an educational guitar series by William Leavitt, A Modern Method of Guitar, which has sold over 500,000 copies. Many of Berklee's technique books got an additional push at the beginning of this year with the launch of the school's online classrooms at www.berkleemusic.com. The classes use Berklee Press books; the book-and-CD set Producing in the Home Studio with Pro Tools, Second Edition, for example, is assigned in the pro tools courses. In 2004, Berklee will publish 20 books, including six trade titles, many packaged with CDs, and 20 DVDs.