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Questions regarding budgets, etc. for new music

As an "emerging composer" of secular, all a cappella choral music (perhaps best characterized as modern folk songs), I am interested in learning much more about the potential market(s) for these compositions.  So, a few questions for all of you:
 
1.  What is your typical yearly budget for new music, and has the current economic recession had a large negative impact?
2.  What are the primary ways in which you learn about new music from contemporary composers?
3.  What are the best ways for a composer to inform you about new works?
4.  Are new works that are offered for free of any interest, or do you associate "free" with "not very good"?
 
Any additional information or advice that any of you could share here in this forum about this would be greatly appreciated by me, and probably by many other composers who visit this website, as well.
 
Thank you very much!
 
Julia Laylander
 
Replies (7): Threaded | Chronological
on May 20, 2011 11:01am
This response is from the Jackson Chorale in Jackson, Michigan.
1.  During our season that we just concluded, we purchased over $2,000 of octavos.  We have never commissioned a choral work for us to sing.
2.  Through our Music Director.  She is an active member of ACDA.
3.  Notices on ChoralNet plus however the word gets to active music directors through ACDA meetings, etc.
4.  If our music director likes what she hears, she will probably order a copy for review and decide if our chorus can perform it well.  If the cost per copy is much over $8, purchase of it will get a critical review by our Board of Directors.
William MacMillan
Jackson Chorale Office Manager
on May 21, 2011 9:42am
Julia,
 
My answers are interspersed below:
 
1.  What is your typical yearly budget for new music, and has the current economic recession had a large negative impact?
 
For our chorus of currently 15 singers, our 2011 budget for new music (including part-predominant learning media for each song) is $1110. The recession has not impacted us. We exceeded our 2010 budget by 45%.
 
2.  What are the primary ways in which you learn about new music from contemporary composers?
 
I keep my finger on the pulse of the acappella singing community. Subscribing to email lists, surfing websites (CASA, Chorus America, Choralnet, Barbershop Harmony Society), and monitoring the work of some of my favorite learning media producers like Tim Waurick (www.timtracks.com).
 
3.  What are the best ways for a composer to inform you about new works?
 
Via email, or send me to a link where I can hear a sample. However, our music plan and budget for any given year is finalized far in advance. We introduce, learn, and commit to memory about one song each month. Our current repertoire is approxmately 28 songs. Most of my new music decisions for 2012 has already been made. However, I am looking to diversify the genres of music we perform. We tend to lean towards songs that our audiences already know, so new works have a harder time making their way into the plan. Bottom line: Composers need to make a great first impression and be patient.
 
4.  Are new works that are offered for free of any interest, or do you associate "free" with "not very good"?
 
New works offered for free are always welcome. I do not associate the word free with "not very good."
 
Todd Wilson
Executive Director
Director of Music
Nashville Singers, Inc.
www.nashvillesingers.org
615-669-TODD (8633) cell
615-523-TODD (8633) fax
615-825-7778 voice mail

The philanthropic mission of Nashville Singers
is to provide resources and support for music education
in our schools and the community.
on May 21, 2011 10:54am
1. We commission every year and pay between $1500 and $3000 USD.  We don't have a budget for "new" music, just a budget to purchase music, some is new, some is not.
2. Word of mouth, mostly.
3. Best way for me is to get portfolios (usually digital) from a composer.
4. Free is always good.  As a part of a portfolio (here's my works, you may use this one for free) would be best.
 
Thanks!
Garrett Lathe
Sartell High School
Youth Chorale of Central Minnesota
on May 22, 2011 6:39pm
Hi,
From the Managing Director of the Oakland Jazz Choir, a 14 voice community choir:
    1.  What is your typical yearly budget for new music, and has the current economic recession had a large negative impact?
         We have no specific budget. The AD makes a request for new scores and I approve it based on finances. We have commissioned pieces for our group. We've spent about $80-$100 year to date for scores.

    2.  What are the primary ways in which you learn about new music from contemporary composers?
         From the AD as well as members of the choir. I also subscribe groups such as Choralnet. Facebook/LinkedIn is also a useful tool for spreading the   
         word.
    3.  What are the best ways for a composer to inform you about new works?
         Through our website and our Facebook page and the various groups and message boards as mentioned above

    4.  Are new works that are offered for free of any interest, or do you associate "free" with "not very good"?
        Anything could be of interest, free or not but the decision primarily rests with the AD.
       

    
on May 25, 2011 6:31am
Many thanks to all of you who have answered, and those of you who may still answer, my questions.  It is a daunting challenge for composers of choral music, particularly us "emerging" composers, to figure out the best, most cost-effective, and least-annoying way to approach choirs with our music. 
on May 26, 2011 6:04am
Julia, if you've not yet looked at PROJECT : ENCORE™ of Schola Cantorum on Hudson (http://www.scholaonhudson.org/project_encore), I would suggest that you do so.  It's one-and-only purpose is that of connecting composers and conductors.  It was a natural (if ambitious!) outgrowth of our love of discovering and performing new music--many premieres--and our work with various composers in acquiring that elusive 'second performance.'  (As such, it addresses a different issue than that of seeking commissions.)  A number of the composer currently included in the PE database have had their works picked up through this resource--which thrills us beyond words!  Take a look.  I'd love to know your thoughts.
All best in flourishing choral creativity!
Deborah
 
 
Dr. Deborah Simpkin King 
Artistic Director and Founder, Schola Cantorum on Hudson
Director and Founder, Project Encore™ of Schola Cantorum on Hudson
. . . transcending expectations!
Owner, Voice and Conducting Studio and Consultation
Coordinator, NJACDA High School Choral Festival
Co-Chair, Repertoire and Venue Committee, New York Choral Consortium
office:  888-407-6002 x4
cell:  973-698-6927
fax:  973-414-0229
 
on May 26, 2011 2:50pm
I looked (and listened)--great resource!  And my very best wishes to you for continued success with it!  But what about compositions that have yet to be premiered?  Aye, there's the rub...  Finding choirs to premier new works is particularly difficult for "emerging," unknown composers (like me) who currently have no educational, community, or religious affiliation with any choir anywhere in the universe--no natural "in," no connections to smooth the way.  Sigh.  
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