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Collateral Damage: Stephen Schwartz, Alan Menken, Lin-Manuel Miranda Campaign Against Sheet Music Piracy

by Jon Sobel   Apr 24, 2014 02:59 AM EDT

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Ever stop to think about how musical theater songwriters make a living?

Not the way other songwriters do, from CD sales or iTunes downloads, or from touring and selling t-shirts. And not from getting their songs placed in car commercials.

Two main things keeps them going. The first is productions of their shows. And the second is something so old-fashioned it hardly seems plausible:

Sheet music.

That's right, sheet music. The same stuff people used to buy a hundred years ago when they wanted to play the day's hit songs on their piano at home.

There's a big problem, though, with sheet music in the digital age: It's much too easy to steal. Illegal downloads of sheet music from unauthorized sources have been cutting seriously into Broadway composers' incomes.

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