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Are you interested in commissioning a piece of music? If so, there are a lot of issues to consider, i.e. cost, style of music/genre, occasion, length, etc.

Here is a brief guide to help you, the consumer get a sense of how to commission a new work. (This information was taken from: 

A Brief Guide to Commissioning Music


By commissioning music—paying composers to write a new piece for a specific purpose or event—individuals or organizations become active participants in the creation of a legacy of music for the future.

The reasons why people commission music are intensely personal and varied. A wife surprises her husband with a cycle of love songs for his birthday. A couple decides to commemorate their anniversary with music. A dentist celebrates his admiration for a favorite string quartet and, when the new piece includes the sounds of outer space, rediscovers his love of physics. A venture capitalist invests in composers. A medical doctor who does regular missionary work in the Third World funds sacred music as a demonstration of his devotion to God. A legendary philanthropist devotes her life to helping composers and listening intensely to music. A group of friends form a Commissioning Club to fund new music projects.  Or a church celebrates a significant milestone in its community life.
Commissioning is a process. From the moment of inspiration and conception to the exciting night of the world premiere performance, there are decisions to be made, creative ideas to be tried out, and memorable moments when the commissioner, composer, and performers collaborate in their own ways to give birth to a new work of art.
If you have never commissioned music, you might think you have to "know someone" in order to do it right. Chances are, if you attend your local symphony performances or performing arts series, or know  a church with a good music program, you may already know someone who can begin the process of giving you advice. But how will you decide on a composer? Or musicians to perform the new work? How much will it cost? Is it tax deductible?




Commissioning Music: How much does it Cost?


The cost of a commission is determined by a number of factors including the composer´s reputation, the length of the proposed work, and the number of performers. The table above lists midrange commissioning fees. Young composers receiving their first commission may accept lower fees, while a number of highly accomplished and seasoned composers may well command higher rates.  You´ll notice that the cost of commissioning a piece of music is about the same as purchasing a painting.
These figures include the approximate costs of copying the score and any parts.  It is important to keep in mind that these figures do not include the fees paid to the performers of the new work, nor any administrative fees. (The chart to the right is simply a "rule of thumb". The prices can be negotiated with composers depending on the aforementioned factors.)



How You Can Commission Music


How much does commissioning music cost?
The cost depends on the size of the new composition (whether it is written for soloist, small ensemble or orchestra), the length of the composition, and the reputation and career level of the composer. Below is a chart prepared by the American Music Center´s “Meet The Composer’ program based on research conducted in 2003. This guide can help you estimate costs.


How long does it take a composer to write a piece of music?

A good “rule of thumb’ is to allow 18–24 months from the signing of an agreement until the work has been completed and is ready to be given to the musicians to prepare for performance. A smaller scale work, for example a set of songs for piano and voice, might be written in a few months. Another time factor to consider is how soon the selected composer is available to begin work on your project.

What else do I need to know about the commissioning process?

Just as a play needs actors to translate the playwright´s words into a theatrical performance, music requires performers to bring to life the notes on a page. Identifying a soloist or ensemble is one of the first steps in the commissioning process. Musicians you know and trust, or an organization such as “Meet The Composer’ can work with the commissioner to identify performers with a commitment to performing new work. Something else to keep in mind is that once the piece is composed, a master score and parts for the performers must be prepared by a professional copyist; the costs for copying the music have been calculated and included in the fee ranges below.

Who actually owns the music?
It is standard practice that composers retain the rights to their own work, and so the legal ownership of the piece remains with the composer. However, the commissioner is acknowledged in many ways—on the first page of the musical score, on any official recording, in the performance program and often in other written materials. It is customary that the commissioner is given a presentation copy of the completed score, almost always specially inscribed by the composer. An archive tape may be provided as well. Most of all, the commissioner experiences a satisfying sense of participation in the creation of a new work of music.


Is commissioning tax deductible?
Yes, but only when a nonprofit organization is part of the project.


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