I mentioned yesterday that I had an announcement about the Monthly Hymn Arrangement Club and it is this: I am shutting it down in May, 2019.
I will talk about why in a second; but before I do, here are some important things to note:
- June, 2018 will be the last month that you can purchase the club. If you purchase in June, you will receive a full year of arrangements.
- Auto-renew has been turned off. From now on, no subscriptions will auto-renew. Frankly, auto-renew has been a mixed bag because some customers apparently did not realize they were signing up for an auto-renewing membership.
- If you have a membership ending between now and May, 2019, you are going to get the extra months free. In other words, I am not going to delete anyone whose subscription ends between now and May, 2019. If you are in the club as of right now, you will be in the club through the end even if it means your subscription technically ends next month.
Now that I have that out of the way, I want to talk about why I am making this decision. From a financial perspective, it probably does not make much sense. Writing an arrangement each month is actually quite profitable if you have people in the club. Look at it this way: at $19.95/year, I essentially get paid $1.67 for each person in the club for each arrangement. If you have 700 people in the club as this one does, that translates to $1150 per song. It takes about 4 hours to write, record, build the video and get a song onto the site. That is not bad rate per hour for any occupation.
Here is another thing that I really like about the club: it forces me to regularly write and it forces me to record. If I am not forced to write and record, I often just don’t. The club provides needed discipline for me. To be honest, I am a bit worried about losing that discipline, especially when I am in sort of a relaxed mode anyway with no planned recordings over the next year.
So why am I doing this? The biggest reason is simply that for whatever reason, those four hours feel like a burden right now. I am not enjoying it very much and very often, I feel like the club puts some additional clutter in my life at a time where I am trying to declutter.
Am I saying that I don’t like music anymore? No, of course not. Maybe I am just saying that I am tired. I have written a lot of arrangements over the past few years and it is time for a break. I think it is feasible that I may start the club up again in a few years. To be honest, I sort of want to take lessons again so that when I write new arrangements, I am writing better. I would suspect that I am going to study jazz for a while. Jazz is what unlocked a ton of doors for me when I was studying it a decade ago; and I still have a lot that I need to learn from that genre.
There is a second and third reason why I want to take a break and they are related. For one, I can’t shake the fact that I am one of maybe a few hundred piano arrangers covering public domain hymns. You can find hundreds of arrangements of every single song I arrange. I tend to question the value in that. That is one of the biggest reasons why it took me so long to start selling arrangements in the first place. Teaching improvisation is probably more in line with my general philosophy of music.
And then, I am just going to be honest: I am running out of songs to arrange. It is starting to take me a bit of time to find something suitable. Yes, there are lots of possibilities but for the monthly club in its current state, I need public domain and I need songs most people know. Those are big limiters in themselves and on top of that, not all public domain hymns are really good candidates for arranging.
If/when the club comes back, I suspect the financial model will be different, and I will be arranging copyrighted songs at least half of the time. I can’t stay in the past with the same old hundred hymns just to avoid royalties when the church is moving forward.
I know it is a bit strange to be talking about the end of something when it is still a year away but due to the nature of how people pay for the club, I need to announce it now. Remember, if you want the last (for now) year, you have to purchase in June. If you do, you will get May (the arrangement released yesterday) for free immediately.