Self-publish & Flourish
By Jan Loquet Westlake

(Written for the ” Sounds Australian ” journal, December 2000, published by the Australian Music Centre).

Rimshot Music is our down – home, organically – grown, desk – top music publishing business formed specifically for the reproduction & distribution of the works of Nigel Westlake. I take care of the books & business & my partner Nigel writes the music. Our decision to maintain independent control of the Westlake catalogue is the result of many years of accumulated collaboration & experience in the music business, resulting in my becoming Nigel’s manager, agent & more recently, “publisher”.

In the late nineteen seventies, in between playing clarinet for legit gigs with orchestras & film sessions, Nigel wanted to explore alternative forms of music making. He expressed a desire to form a band that would play the music he was writing at the time. Being from a non – music background myself, but having an involvement in the women’s movement, & on the tail end of the Whitlam era, my response was “GET A Grant” which we did, albeit a tiny one. Five thousand dollars to form, rehearse & tour a 7 piece band!! Hard to imagine really how it was done on such a pittance, but such was the optimism of the founding members of the somewhat infamous “MAGIC PUDDIN’ BAND”

This group developed quite a cult following performing original compositions which could best be described as “electro-acoustic fusion”. We hired halls for concerts & did our own publicity rather than perform in pubs & clubs.

From this position, Nigel fostered his interest in composition & I, in my role as manager of the band accumulated a knowledge of the general workings of the music business.

After 4 seasons of performances & tours over a three year period from 1980 – 1983 we were ready to move on, however the Puddin’ Band gave Nigel’s writing just enough exposure for him to be offered his first commissions in circus, radio & theatre. Following selection for the first ever course in film music at Australian Film & Television School (with Bill Motzing), he started to work in film & T.V. He maintained his profile as a clarinettist throughout this period, studying overseas & returning to join the Australia Ensemble as resident clarinettist. By this time his energies were equally divided between playing & writing.

As his composing profile started to gain momentum, we had our first experience with a real live publisher. With the promise of dramatically increased royalty revenue, record deals, ongoing support & promotion, Nigel had no hesitation signing on the dotted line. This particular publisher was not in the business of print music, (which is often the norm in the film & pop industry) & unfortunately didn’t come good with any of his other promises, so when the contract lapsed we went our separate ways.

During this time the Australian Music Centre began reproducing & distributing Nigel’s concert print music, paying us the standard 10% or 15% of sales. After receiving a couple of cheques for $100 or so, we were prompted to do our sums & consequently decided to take control of the reproduction & distribution of the catalogue, small as it was at the time. The AMC gave us their blessing & indicated they would like to see more composer’s taking control of their works in such a way. We hired a new photocopier, bought a binding machine, covers & paper, put together a catalogue with price list & we were ready to roll!

Ten years on we are now sending out orders for print music every week, many of which come from the AMC & also directly from overseas.

Percussion works are the most popular, in particular the marimba quartet “Omphalo Centric Lecture” which seems to have become standard repertoire for many percussion ensembles. We have literally sold hundreds of scores & parts for “Omphalo”. We also hire out the orchestral materials for symphonic works, enabling us to keep track of performances.

All the orders come to us without promotion or publicity, simply on the reputation of the work. One of the main sources of interest is from the educational sector. We get some nice feedback from teachers saying that their students really like to study Nigel’s compositions.

We have recently had most of the catalogue typeset into Finale. Our web site & I-net shop has had an unbelievable number of “hits” so we are pleased that information regarding Nigel’s work is so easily accessible throughout the world, & offers the option of buying c.d.’s directly & scores by ordering via email or fax.

As the years roll by & Nigel’s catalogue continues to grow, we look forward to distributing his ever growing list of concert works works to ensembles & students all over the globe.