ACE Composer Toolkit - Best practices


(updated June 2020)

General introduction:

ACA publishes music under the name American Composers Edition (ACE) and also American Concert Editions (ASCAP).

ACA is a composers’ collective, and though publication is at the heart of our activities, we also promote American music (in particular that of our represented composers), by doing things such as sponsoring or co-sponsoring concerts and recordings, and advocating generally for American music. Please connect your music with ACA activities through the ACA Facebook page and YouTube channel.

We seek to encourage music sales and performances by maintaining an informative, easily navigable, and attractive website (, by responding to enquiries from interested parties quickly and professionally, and by providing our purchasers with materials prepared to high professional standards.

Scores are printed professionally from a Digital collection of PDFs. We can also sell secure PDF downloads on request.

ACA is administered by a board of directors elected by its composers. We have a long and distinguished history in 20th and 21st century American concert music. ACA composers play a crucial role in preserving and enhancing the organization and its public catalog of music. 

Details in this document will ensure the best possible success for your ACE-published work. This can be summarized as follows:

  1. Register and Deposit your new pieces (or new editions of older works). Fill out the required online registration request form. Send your materials to ACA as email attachments to [email protected] ACA completes your BMI or ASCAP registration.
  2. Prepare your scores at a high professional level: clean and readable, proper layout, standard page sizes, adequate margins, standard page numbers, proper title pages, standard front matter.
  3. On the bottom of the first page of music, your notice should be:  ©20XX [Your Name]; Publishing license granted to American Composers Edition (BMI)
  4. Convert your score to a high-quality PDF. Obtain necessary permissions for anything copyrighted by others.
  5. Scores that are in conventional formats such as portrait layout, sizes of 8.5x11, 9 x 12, 10 x 13  are most easily processed, printed, and sold. Scores are made into booklets if the number of pages is less than 50. Legal size, landscape, and larger sizes require special size papers and binding that is more costly and thus raises the price for printing and also for mailing. No scores above the size of 11 x 17 should be submitted. 


Each ACA composer has a personal webpage on Your address is most likely

Be sure ACA has your updated biography, photo, and email address. Please also send detailed information about upcoming performances, recording releases, and YouTube videos featuring your ACE-published music to [email protected] so ACA can help spread the word.

Please note that the majority of sales are for RECENTLY composed works and newly engraved editions of older works. You will help yourself and ACA by having ACE to publish your music soon after it is completed. If you have special arrangements with performers for the premiere, we can hold off on listing and/or distribution until a later date.

For composers who have works commercially published elsewhere, ACA has a special section “additional works” on each composer page where these can be listed, if you would like to have ALL of your titles listed in one place online.  Your list of ACE-published works are works that ACA manages as publisher. ACA cannot answer questions from customers about your non-ACA-published works, but you are welcome to list the other publisher contact information.


Score Deposit Guidelines


  • All incoming materials must be provided in clean digital files such as PDF, Finale, Sibelius, MP3.
  • ACA reserves the right to ask composer for corrections or to delay distribution for works that are not submitted in professional, ready-to-print master files. ACA may reformat pages but will not alter any musical elements of scores submitted for consideration.
  • ACA can receive an unlimited number of PDF scores and parts, as well as uncompressed audio files for works that require audio for performance, so long as the materials are for works that are registered and published by ACA. There may be an extra fee annually if your electronic storage of audio and video at ACA exceeds 10 GB of total disk space.
  • If submitting files as part of the registration of a new work, materials may be submitted as an upload within the New Work Registration webform.
  • We also can accept an unlimited number of MP3 listening files for promoting your ACA music. You will be assigned a private secure storage folder online where you can upload any files for safekeeping or transferring to ACA.
  • Paper scores and parts, or audio in CD, cassette, LP, or reels, are no longer accepted for deposit at ACA. We can suggest scanning or transfer services. Be sure you keep single side masters of your scores and parts for reproduction and scanning, not bound copies, which are not useful for our purposes in most cases.
  • If you submit PDF scans of scores, we accept only high-resolution files. Some home-scans are not acceptable and do not reproduce well.  Customers expect professional-looking scores and parts from ACA. Send a page or two test (if you are scanning pages) for ACA review before scanning or uploading loads of files.

At the bottom center of your first page of music, please enter your copyright notice.
©20XX [Your Name]; Publishing license granted to American Composers Edition (BMI)


Layout and page numbering

Page turns should be optimized for the performers. If you place page numbers on the outside page corners, your score has a better chance of being printed as you want it. Professional printing technicians might not be musicians and might not read lengthy printing instructions. ACA tries to ensure that PDF files will be printed correctly. You can help by setting up your files carefully.

Page numbers should be easily distinguishable and separate from music notations and measure numbers. 

Use continuous page numbering through all movements. The 2nd movement of a score or a part should not be another page 1.

If, for reasons of page turns, a part cover is needed to force the first page of music on to the left side of an open booklet, label the first page of your music as page 2, and we’ll know what to do.



  • Your title page itself should contain the title exactly as it should appear in a formal concert program, including appropriate capitalization and diacritical markings, along with movement titles in their order.
  • You should always use this exact title when having the work performed or recorded.
  • You may include page numbers for where movements begin, as in a table of contents.
  • For works with text, include the full printed text in your score as its own page (to be printed on the reverse side of the inside title page). ALWAYS credit the author, poet, or translator, on the text page and title page, even if it is yourself or a well-known public domain source like Shakespeare or the King James Bible. Credit information as supplied by copyright owners should always appear on the page with the printed text.
  • If your work requires audio or video, provide specific instructions in your score. As a general rule, try to imagine that someone is looking at your score 20 to 60 years from now, and create instructions and descriptions that are as general and universal as possible.
  • It helps to get your work programmed if you indicate the approximate duration for each of the movements and the total duration of the work. Indicate if individual songs or movements may be performed as stand-alone pieces.
  • Other information to include, on or following the title page as appropriate: details of instrumentation (including number of percussionists and special instrument requirements, if any), information about recordings of the work, whether a conductor is required (if not obvious), and story source material. 




Every use of a text or translation or other copyrighted material written OR FIRST PUBLISHED since 1924 needs to have permission granted to you by the copyright holder PRIOR to your use of it. Permission must be in writing from copyright owner (e.g., the author, estate, or publisher).

Composers should obtain permission for use, BOTH to perform in public AND to distribute sheet music.

At the time you submit a score to ACA for registration, you are required to provide evidence that rights to any other author's work that appears in your piece have been cleared for public performance and print distribution.

This includes any texts sung or spoken, music tunes embedded, audio samples, etc.  You may request guidelines/template for requesting text clearances ([email protected]). If needed, ACA can direct you to people you may hire for assistance with this. You can increase the sales and longevity of your music by using materials that can be cleared for the uses related to publishing, performing, and recording music. 

We use the ACA account with for delivery of downloads to our customers for multi-media pieces, audio files, MaxMSP files, video, and other formats customers need to retrieve. We can give you access to upload your files there for these purposes. 


Start the file name with your surname, followed by the title. The full legal title of the work is preferred, but you may truncate as needed to keep the file name to a useable length of 12 to 15 characters. Do not use any punctuation or special characters in the file name.  This includes (  or  ) or # or @ or especially any foreign character symbols such as è.  None can be used within the computer file name.  Spell out ordinals such as ThreeSongsforTenorPf, or TwentyFourItalianSongs, etc.  not 24ItalianSongs.

PLEASE BE CONSISTENT with the legal title and your file name.  Don't refer to your piece in correspondence with ACA as "My guitar concerto" or name it guitarconcerto.pdf if the registered title and the wording on your title page is "Concerto No. 1 for Guitar"  or some other name. Give all files connected to one work the same beginning name (lastname_legaltitle_part). Here are examples:


If you have a long list of parts, please put a number on each of them within the file name so they fall into score order. This way we (and you) can easily see when something is missing. 

Howe_6Cl2.pdf    etc etc 

Checklist for submitting:

  1. Fill out online form:

Then, send the items below as email attachments (up to 10mb per email).

EXTRA CREDIT IS GIVEN IF YOU PUT THE TITLE OF THE WORK IN THE SUBJECT LINE OF THE EMAIL. Send to [email protected] Or, use to transfer files to ACA.

  1. All performing materials as PDF, prepared and with file names according to specifications.
  2. Sound recording of performance as mp3, if available.
  3. Written permissions granted to you for use of other authors’ work (texts, embedded tunes, etc.).


Revisions: If you revise a score, please email it to [email protected] and also replace it in your folder if you are keeping a folder there.  Please send revisions all at once, not incrementally. Each revised score will need to be processed into several different production databases.  If there is only one page with revisions, please send just the revised page for replacement in the file.

***Excessive revisions to works that have been printed and sold may incur fees. If we are billed for excessive revisions by  our printer,  the charges will be passed on to you.

ACA will create the Cover file for your works. It helps if you create your own title page. 

If you choose to send out your scores on your own, the following information is required at the bottom of the first page:

American Composers Edition (BMI)
New York, NY



American Concert Editions (ASCAP)
New York, NY