Hollywood Renegades Archive

The Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers

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The Charlie Chaplin Music Publishing Company

by J. A. Aberdeen

Letterhead from the short-lived Charlie Chaplin Music Publishing Company.

Charles Chaplin, one of the most versatile of artists ever to work in film, also composed music to accompany his silent films. Much of his music work has been under appreciated—overshadowed by his on-screen ability. Interestingly, one of his early music ventures offers a glimpse at the business side of Chaplin. Even at this formative time in his career, Chaplin had grand plans as an entrepreneur when it came to even an ancillary aspect of his independent business such as music publishing.

One of the few self-published music sheets by Charlie Chaplin in 1916.

In 1916 some of his musical compositions ("two very bad songs," Chaplin later remarked) became the foundation of his own short-lived music publishing company. Headquartered in Downtown Los Angeles, the Charlie Chaplin Music Publishing Company sold few of the two thousand copies of sheet music it had printed, and shortly went out business. It is significant to note that this musical venture, which bore Chaplin's name, preceded the Charlie Chaplin Studio by more than two years.

Like his under appreciated music, there is also an important business side to Chaplin which frequently is overlooked—again, due to his artistic ability, but also because his brother Sydney Chaplin is credited with much of the business innovation in the independent company formed by Charlie.



Music publishing and "two very bad songs": Chaplin, My Autobiography, p. 226. "Oh! that Cello" Written and composed by Charlie Chaplin. Sheet music published 1916 by the Charlie Chaplin Music Pub. Co.

See Bibliography.


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