Meet the Editor: Interview with Stanley Hoffman
FEBRUARY 12, 2018
As of February 23, 2018, Stanley M. Hoffman will have been Editor at ECS for a full twenty years! We spent some time getting to know him and his experience working in this field for two decades.
HOW DID YOU END UP AT ECS?
From 1990 to 1998, I worked as Editor at Scores International, a Boston-based music engraving company that is now defunct. We served world class composers, commissioning music organizations, and music publishing companies. ECS Publishing was one of our main customers; I helped to establish the ECS house style. In 1997, I decided that it was time for me to seek a new challenge, so I asked Robert Schuneman, the owner of ECS Publishing at the time, if he could use a full-time editor. Six months later, on February 23, 1998, I began working at ECS Publishing, which has since grown to become ECS Publishing Group.
TELL US ABOUT WHAT YOU DO AS AN EDITOR.
My primary role is to evaluate submissions for publication as part of our Editorial Committee. For the titles we agree to accept, I take composers’ and arrangers’ music from manuscript to press. This involves sending rounds of proofs to writers until they sign-off on my editorial work. Today, a manuscript can mean anything from photocopies of handwritten music to computer files engraved using music typesetting software such as Sibelius and Finale. Usually, I receive music files to which I apply our house style and industry standard notation to generate publishable quality editions. My other duties include writing music publishing agreements and negotiating agreements for copyrighted texts and tunes.
WHAT ARE THE MOST CHALLENGING THINGS ABOUT THIS ROLE? HOW ABOUT THE MOST REWARDING THINGS?
Turning away submissions is not always an easy thing to do, and one must always handle it tactfully. The most rewarding things are helping to launch composers’ careers, watching their catalogs grow, and getting to know them as a professional and an individual. Most composers are grateful for the editorial service I provide with respect to speed, accuracy, and aesthetic value. I also enjoy watching finished editions get launched into the world and seeing how they fare.
HOW HAS THE COMPANY AND INDUSTRY CHANGED SINCE YOU STARTED?
When I began as Editor, the DOS program Score was the music program of choice, and it ran on Windows 98! (IMHO, the look of Score has never been topped. However, it is anything but user friendly.) The process of creating a publishable edition was painstakingly slow back then. My productivity is much greater now. In the late ’90s and early ’00s, I mostly received handwritten music or Finale files, as Sibelius was just beginning to come into its own as a viable music program for music publishers. That program has come a long way since those days. Now, I usually use the music files I receive from our writers.
The online economy and digital publishing have caused a seismic shift in the music publishing industry. Some music publishing houses have either gone out of business or have been purchased by larger companies. The same is true of music distributors. The market for compact discs shrunk drastically as download-based and streaming services took control of the audio market. This affected how we worked with our record label, Arsis. I consider myself blessed to be working as part of a great team and especially for Mark Lawson, who is keeping the company healthy and nimble, and is thoughtfully and rapidly taking it in directions I had only dreamed of previously.
YOU ARE ALSO A COMPOSER AND ARRANGER. HOW HAS WORKING AT ECS INFLUENCED YOUR ARTISTIC WORK?
When I started, I was writing esoteric works that received few performances outside of the graduate school music programs for which I wrote them. Within the first two years of becoming Editor at this company, I learned what kind of music the serious music consuming public desired and, to my delight, a sizable segment of it then and now still values quality, both in terms of craftsmanship and aesthetics. I began composing, arranging, and publishing music that received many performances. I have also been influenced by the music and text choices of various composers whose music we publish.
IF YOU HAD TO WORK DOING SOMETHING NON-MUSICAL, WHAT WOULD THAT BE?
Growing up, I wanted to work in the space program. I still enjoy following the progress made in space exploration. More realistically, with enough time and effort, I could be a writer/correspondent for a reputable, non-mainstream news organization, or perhaps a think tank or institute. While I have no formal training in political science or journalism, I have grown knowledgeable about current events in our complex world in relation to their historical context. I could also work for a non-profit organization with which I feel a connection.
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU’RE NOT AT WORK?