Indiana State University Newsroom

Music students get a real-life experience in publishing

May 12, 2009

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- Ever thought about what goes into a piece of sheet music or a book teaching music? A small group of Indiana State University students are experiencing the world of music publishing first hand.

The students, who formed the company 321 Publishing, are currently working on an instructional book by Terre Haute musician and educator Louis Popejoy on how to play the five string banjo.

"Students are jumping into publishing by working with a local artist," said Ted Piechocinski, director of Indiana State's music business program. "It's a terrific opportunity in every aspect and I'm glad we had the funding to get started."

Since late January, the students have undertaken tasks such as writing, editing and layout of the book. They've had to learn new skills along the way, such as how to use software publishing programs. Most importantly, the students have had to draw on what they've learned in the classroom.

"Their training comes in to play several ways. First and foremost, it bridges the musical training they've received with knowledge they've gained through business courses," Piechocinski said. "If they weren't musicians, this would be difficult. That's what I find exciting."

The project illustrates how important it is for music business students to have training in the best of both academic programs.

"Early in the project, their musical training came into play," Piechocinski said. "Later in the project we'll tap into the business side of things."

Getting started on the project was a bit daunting.

"We're the first at Indiana State to attempt a project like this, so it took awhile to get the ball rolling," said Ashley Dowdle, a senior music business major from Hobart.

When the project started, Piechocinski said the students' first impulse was to immediately start editing.

"That's not how we do this," said Piechocinski, a publishing veteran and copyright attorney. "You need to read it through and get a perspective before making changes."

Dowdle was in charge of imputing 80-90 pages of the books' text, making only minor changes to start out.

"It's not my own work, so I was trying to keep the author's intent while making things clear," she said, adding the project is a bit intimidating when she begins to think about changing someone's work.

"You want them to be happy," Dowdle said.

But another student quickly pointed out publishing is more than just making the client happy.

"It's a fine line between making the client happy and creating something that sells," said Stephanie Hinkle, a junior music business major from Greenwood.

While Dowdle dealt with text, Hinkle and others tackled the music component.

"I'm working on the notation, so I'm trying to figure out noteheads," said Hinkle, tapping away on a computer.

Meanwhile, freshman Josh Taylor, a music business major from Evansville, is learning how to use Sibelius, a music notation software, and working with tablature.

Allissa Miller, a sophomore music business major from Evansville is tackling one of the most time-consuming tasks for a project like this - handling copyright issues for the music used in the project.

The students benefit from having expert advice and guidance not too far away. Piechocinski, a 12-year music publishing veteran, previously worked as a music attorney, handling the licensing of works by Metallica, Bonnie Raitt, Barbara Streisand, Trisha Yearwood, Joe Satriani, Dave Matthews Band, Weird Al Yankovic, Dreamworks Studios and many Broadway composers.

Now, he passes his experience along to his students, teaching them the steps to obtain music legally.

"Copyright is a big issue in a project like this," said Dowdle. "We learn about that in class and how to go about using musical works legally."

Miller's task is to see if works used in the book are in public domain, which allows the music to be used without paying a licensing fee.

"There's not a good place to go to ensure that it's in public domain. There's a lot of cross referencing that I have to do." Miller said.

The project is far from finished. The students need to present a draft of the book to Popejoy and they need to make a decision -- whether a CD would be a useful addition.

"That could be a really cool thing," Piechocinski said. "It would give us a new experience with CD production."

A student marketing committee will help market the finished project. Piechocinski is working on a distribution deal to get the book out to the public.

"This is not a theoretical exercise," he said. "This is something we'll offer for sale."

Once finished with Popejoy's book, the students will continue their work with another client who is waiting in the wings.

Piechocinski's students appreciate the real-life experience in publishing, adding it's given them something to think about.

"It's a hands-on project that will help me determine if I want to pursue a career in publishing," said Dowdle. "What's most valuable to me is the fact we're using every program in our major."

Miller agrees.

"It's been really interesting to learn about what's out there in terms of career opportunities," she said. "Having an opportunity like this is invaluable. It has given me a lot of insight."

"I thought this would be a great experience," said Taylor. "It's lived up to that and more."

Indiana State's music business program has been designated a Program of Regional Distinction as part of the university's Distinctive Programs Initiative. Funded in part by a gift from the Lilly Endowment, the initiative is intended to strengthen programs with national or regional reputations for quality, and build programs that have the potential to achieve that status.


Contact: Ted Piechocinski, director of ISUâ€TMs music business program, (812) 237-3008 or

Writer: Paula Meyer, ISU Communications & Marketing, (812) 237-3783 or