The ChoirCommunity Story – Part One

April 30, 2018 - By 

It’s estimated that the number of choirs in the UK alone has risen to over 40,000 in recent years. A large proportion of those have been formed purely to share the enjoyment of singing – and perhaps performing – music within a local community, workplace or other environment.

One of the challenges faced by the growing number of choirs is finding a good source of quality music to work with which is both accessible and enjoyable for everyone to sing.

It was this challenge that inspired the idea for ChoirCommunity some 18 months ago. In this first part of a short series about our story so far, let’s go back to the beginning…

With 30 years experience of leading choirs, Craig McLeish recognised the problem of finding good quality music. And he realised at the same time that he’d partially solved it for himself.

As a writer and musical arranger, Craig had created dozens of arrangements which he had developed with his choirs over the years. Unfortunately, they were mostly stuck away in drawers (or on computer drives) and not easily sharable with anyone else.

Craig reached out to other choir leaders and found that, for the most part, they were in the same position.

The biggest problem was that most of these arrangements existed without any consent from the publishers or rights owners. Other than sharing copies of these over the internet or via photocopies, which is a breach of copyright, getting permission to offer them to other choirs was a real challenge.

Meanwhile, amateur choirs of all types faced a dilemma: they either bought music from established online retailers, where each copy is often priced at £2.50 or more; or they looked for other sources, which were often ‘grey’ in terms of their legitimacy.

Craig was convinced there must be an opportunity to solve both problems: the difficulty of distributing arrangements without breaching copyright; and providing easy access to those arrangements for amateur choirs of all kinds.

He discussed the idea with his brother, Piers, whose years of experience in business and information technology provided the perfect complement to Craig’s musical expertise.

And between them, ChoirCommunity started to take shape.

As their plans developed, it quickly became clear the biggest challenge was going to be securing the rights to distribute the music legally. There was still a mountain to climb…

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