The start and development of Saker Music Company
Written by Márton Szives
New year, even new decade is upon us, and we were eager to hear the aims and achievements of Saker Music company from Áron. It’s time for a summary!
Márton Szives: The launch of Saker Music Company was a real success and you’ve been growing ever since. Could you please summerize the last decade of the life of the company; where was it some years ago, fun stories, difficulties…
"...we had absolutely no clue what we were doing."
Áron Simon: It has been several years since the birth of the idea, few years since the first steps and only sixteen months since the actual launch of the company website. What I can recall from the beginnings that we had absolutely no clue what we were doing. We bit off more than we could chew on and I am happy to admit it because this is the only way to learn from our mistakes (smiles pridefully).
The basic idea came up around 2011 when I was still in college . I wanted to publish my own transcriptions and arrangements for brass ensemble, trombone quartets, trombone ensemble and brass quintet via my own publisher company. In that very year, the trombone department of the college went on a two-week tour with trombone artist György Gyivicsán to Germany. We stayed in Hochschule für Musik Franz Liszt, Weimar, and prof. Christian Sprenger was our kind host. He heard our concerts where my transcriptions were also played: the Egmont Overture and the Death of Siegfried from the Götterdämmerung. He came up to me at a dinner and suggested that he would like to publish these scores of mine. It was truly a great honour for me! Although, little had I know about publishing, so I asked for some time to decide. But this was the first jump-start.
M. Sz.: Later, those transcriptions were published by Saker Music.
Á. S.: Well, back at home, I was hesitating about it and wanted to wait a bit more. Then I got way too busy with everyday life. I was teaching trombone at a high-school and playing in the Symphonic Orchestra of Szeged full time and my final recital was due. As you can imagine arranging and publishing were off the table for almost three years.
M. Sz.: That’s a really long time. What happened in after that in 2014?
The launch of Szeged Trombone Ensemble and planting the seed of Saker Music publishing company
Á. S.: There had been a concert of the Szeged Trombone Ensemble which turned out to be determining for both of them and me. The ensemble was reorganised and with the new members, they recorded a whole new album selected from my arrangements. These recordings and videos were uploaded to their freshly created Youtube channel. The positive reactions of international comments were unforeseen. More and more users were looking for the scores. Not only amateurs but professional players, trombone festivals, college professors from Europe and America reached out to me online.
The idea of the publishing company was begin to ripen, but it was clear to me that I am merely enough for this alone. On the other hand, I am a man of big ideas and sometimes extremity. My attitude in enterprise is to do it the best or do nothing. I think it is just not worth it otherwise. For these plans, I definitely needed partners. I called some of my friends and they said yes immediately. Now, we laugh about it but they didn't know back then what they are signing up. 🙂
M. Sz.: As far as I know, the official start was in September 2018. Also, all of you were full time musicians. How could you emerge in the world of enterprises and money?
"...work, work, and more work."
Á. S.: Firstly we had to build up everything by ourselves. Not only did we know almost nothing about business, economics, marketing, but we also had nobody to turn to with our questions. So besides of our full-time jobs, we trained ourselves in every possible way: attended courses, read books, watched hours of tutorial videos. Following these I even went on an unpaid leave for a few months to focus on score editing and formatting only. At the end, we built in numerous of our own ideas as well as integrated some from our competitors. One of our first criterion was to make our score musician-friendly. Also they must be unique in appearance and easy to read. I could go on telling stories from this period, but in short: work, work, and more work.
In the fall of 2018, we had our start, meaning that our website was live, our products could be bought, we were online in the social media. Our first sales caused euphoric feelings in me. It was freaking huge deal for us, you know! The fact that in Mexico, Taiwan, Chile, Guatemala, Australia, South-Korea, all over in the USA and Europe people meet and buy and even play the notes that went through my head and were printed somewhere in little Hungary, these things are unbelievably fantastic!
M. Sz.: Many-many ideas fall after the spectacular start but you managed to stay afloat and Saker Music became a big success in Szeged and Hungary. Can you highlight some strategy or one line of development in the history of the company?
"...being present on the internet is not enough"
Á. S.: Well, there are some. But one biggest milestone was somewhere between 2018 and 2019, when we realised that being present on the internet is not enough, it is a must-have to show ourselves offline more. This revelation came after our appearance in Szeged Brass Days in the fall of 2018. After this Saker Music were there on festivals and competitions in Szeged, Debrecen and Szentendre. Being there in the flesh, sponsoring the winners and the participants with our gifts were worth it. In April 2019, we were the only score publisher on the Trombone Festival of Lille. Imagine being amongst those another huge instrument factories alone! Then in May we got to the brass competition in Brno, then the 8th International Wind band Festival in Tótkomlós.
In August, Saker Music introduced its first digital stand on the Hungarian Trombone Bootcamp in Budapest. We met Nico Schippers from the Concertgebouw Orchestra, Brian Hecht from Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Matt Gee from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Hiroyuki Kurogane from NHK Symphonic Orchestra Tokyo, Robert Kaip from Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Zoltán Kiss from the Mnozil Brass… my idols!
2019 was a fruitful year. Despite it being exhausting, we are going to continue this in 2020, too.
Oh, here is a fun story: In one of the festivals, we were standing in the main hall, brass players were passing by, a lot of them. But no one gave attention to us. After half an hour one of my colleague grabbed a pile of leaflets and stood in the middle of the entrance facing the crowd. As people drew near, he put a leaflet in their hands and said some marketing stuff in Hungarian. We were in Lille, France. I was as surprised as they were. But suddenly there was some people at our stand. Then they kept coming, looking at our goods, noticing us.
M. Sz.: You answered my next question already: Were this two year as successful as you planned? So What is the next step? You said your dreams are ambitious. How ambitious you dare to be?
"...there is always room to grow!"
Á. S.: All together, the first two years of the publisher was productive and stirring. Our team gained many experiences and acquaintances. As a result we grew and learned a lot. The projects of 2020 are a new logo, an up-to-date website, and most importantly to publish more works. Also, being present on as many festivals as we can. And of course there is always room to grow!
M. Sz.: What about the CDs on the Saker Music website?
Á. S.: We are only distributors of CDs, and I don't think that we are going to become a CD label in the near future. As we are too busy with music publishing already... However, we will widen our CD collection and grow it as we develop.
M. Sz.: Extremity?
Saker Music to become a cultural ambassador!
Á. S.: Maybe. I want Saker Music to become a cultural ambassador, because my goal is to enhance the company to an art and cultural enterprise. Also, as we are working more and more paper for our scores, we want to join the FSC community, supporting e-scores and e-publishing.
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