A Case for Micro-Commissions
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    Nice piece in the WSJ on commissioning works for $2000 to $7000, not only to get money to composers and contribute to the culture but to signal to composers that they are in demand and to make their efforts part of the cycle of demand and supply.

    However, no discussion here of rights. A major factor here is to avoid robbing the composer of his property by having the work published by a mainstream publisher. Let the composer retain the rights while share the fruits with the world via creative commons.
  • don roy
    Posts: 306
    my last royalty check was for $2.60.

    woo- hoo!!!!
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    There is real promise here. I'm thinking we need a section of the site on this subject
  • I have commissioned a number of works, both for my church and in conjunction with college classes I have taught.
    I can say that there is almost nothing more satisfying as a musician than to help bring new pieces to light by supporting their composers.
    I have also set up ongoing composer-in-residence situations, again both for church and in academia.
    This is also a good way to help choirs, parishes, undergraduates, etc. value good new music: the personal connection allows non-sophisticated listeners and performers to oversome the 'surface tension' of their resistance to unfamiliar works.
    Shift most of your budget for published music into a commissioning fund: you'll be glad you did and sleep much better because of it!
  • I agree, but allow me this digression (on the same theme)…

    Many top-flight bloggers in different subject niches, as well as freelance programmers who run blogs, give freely of themselves and generally ask for a small donation if you find their content useful (e.g., "If you find the content in this blog useful, buy me a cup of coffee.").

    Even I've received tips for blogs that I've written years ago. Of course, the Paypal button is so unobtrusive as to be unnoticeable, therefore I perhaps shoot my own cause in the foot. Plus, I don't blog with the same kind of volume I did back in 2002–2003, so that may have something to do with my lack of receiving tips with any degree of frequency. There's also the fact that I'm blogging in a niche where people take things for granted—entitlement mentality and sacred music is a no-win situation for the consumer or the producer. Still, I think my last tip was for $75, which goes a long way towards defraying hosting costs.

    Commissioning, tips, etc. seem to me to provide a level of connection to your patron that royalties do not—my last donor e-mailed me directly with he intention, which gave me the opportunity to thank her personally. Try that under a royalty scheme—it turns out being more like a blanket "I would like to thank the Academy" etc., should you post such thanks on your blog.

    Also, you know exactly who's supporting you.

    For freely-published compositions, composers may want to provide an "If you find this Responsorial Psalm setting useful, please support the composer with a donation" text blurb somewhere on the PDF. I don't know how this would reconcile with certain copyright restrictions, but certainly there is a way to do an end-around the current policies.

    For commissioned works, the composer and patron perhaps should agree on a CC–Attribution (or other CC) solution for the completed work, with both the composer and patron receiving mindshare once the score of the work hits PDF publication (on CPDL, the composer's own site, Chabanel, etc.) since both names will be listed on the PDF.

    Here's a good primer on the subject of micropatronage. You've seen this on TV commercials: "For the price of a cup of coffee a month/week/day/hour/minute*", you too can support good music and its revival in the Church."

    *One can dream…
  • PaixGioiaAmorPaixGioiaAmor
    Posts: 1,473
    What is the normal compensation for a "composer-in-residence"? How does the arrangement work?
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,486
    Cash is nice but sabbatical situations and performance venues are crucial!