Commissioning New Music
"Tim Knight has the knack of writing tuneful music that is interesting to play and to listen to." ... CMQ Magazine
GUIDE TO COMMISSIONING NEW MUSIC
Tim's first love is composing and writing music and he delights in the challenge of creating melodic and appealing new music from whatever text, story, picture or request he is presented with. He has written for choirs, instrumentalists, orchestras and non-musicians, which have included a Flute and Piano Suite, a Flute Choir Suite, Wedding Anthems, Christmas Carols, pieces for Birthdays, Anniversaries and Retirements, Choral Works and large-scale works for Organ.
Why Commission new music?
Commissioning is not a new idea - many of the great concert works we already listen to and perform were at one time commissions, and there are film scores, operas, jingles and theatre music being commissioned all the time. Some organisations commission works for charitable purposes and others, who may not even be musical groups, commission works for groups they support or are involved with to perform. As individuals, music is a constant thread throughout most of our lives and hearing a certain song or piece of music can instantly transport us to a time or place or spark a memory of a moment or person, so what better way to celebrate or commemorate an event or milestone with music written specifically for you for that occasion. Or, have a piece written for others and give them the ultimate personal gift on their special day (clubbing together with friends or family to share the cost is a great idea for retirement, anniversary, birthday or wedding gifts etc).
For choirs or other musical groups, a new work can attract publicity, reviews and even recordings; it could include other performing groups so that a new audience is reached; it can showcase a particular aspect of your group’s music making and finally, it can mark your group out as forward thinking and top of the pile when it comes to grant applications for innovative programming and other funds.
So, what does the composer need to know?
The composer will need to know your timescale, ie, when you need the piece for; when is the first performance etc, so that there is enough time to complete the work! They will also need to know the combination of instruments/voices etc that you intend to use and may ask what other pieces are programmed alongside the work, or if the piece is to be performed solely for a special occasion.
If the music is to be choral or vocal, then there are also special considerations regarding the text to be set - will it be chosen by the composer or the commissioner; will it be in copyright (in which case it will need permissions) or in the public domain? If the text is coming from a local poet or even a group member - they will own the copyright to that text and so letters of agreement would need to be drawn up for its use.
What will it cost?
It is widely perceived that having your own piece of music written for you or your group is expensive, but if, for instance, your group is a choir of 80 looking for new repertoire and you want to buy or hire existing music which costs, say £10 per score, then you could ask each choir member if they would be willing to contribute all or part of that cost towards a new piece of music - this is the old subscription basis where many people put in a small amount into a pot and together the commission is funded (much 18th-century music was funded in this way).
For the most part, composers can set their own rates (although the Musicians Union rates have to be adhered if funding for the commission (in full or part) is coming from a public body (eg, Arts Council, Lottery) - please seek advice from us if you are in any doubt as to what this applies to and about other funding alternatives if required.
Tim Knight works on a fixed price commission cost as set out below (which is considerably lower than other composers and Musicians Union recommended rates via their website. The overall cost will largely depend on how long the piece will be (usually priced per minute) and how complex it is (ie, how many voice parts/instruments). Tim will work with you to have a mutually agreeable contract, so all you need to do is email Tim at email@example.com to organise that cup of coffee! Because of Tim’s particular interest in Church Music, we offer a special, all-inclusive rate for a short anthem, meaning that every church has access to new music.
Choral Music: £175.00 per min (£400.00 per min)
Solo Instrument or Voice with Piano: £150.00 per min (£250.00 per min)
Solo Organ Piece: £150.00 per min (£250.00 per min)
Chamber Orchestra: £300.00 per min (£600.00 per min)
Orchestra and Chorus: POA
Church Choirs Special Rate: £300.00 inclusive for a short anthem with or without accompaniment
Some composers include the actual preparation of the parts, others do not. Tim Knight's commissions always come with a set of copies included in the commissioning costs - this is unusual, as most composers will charge for these separately.
A contract will be needed if only to cover all eventualities. On the signing of this contract the composer normally receives 50% of the fee, with the remainder being payable on the delivery of the completed work (a sample contract is available on request by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Who does the music belong to and what rights does the commissioner have?
Generally speaking (but again check with a contract), the commissioner has the right to be credited as the commissioner on all editions of the score; the right to receive a set number of scores and the right to the first performance and/or recording - some or all of these may be included and are negotiable.
The composer generally retains the copyright and the rights to submit the work to publishers, or to self-publish the work, and obviously the composer will register the work with his performance collecting societies so that ongoing royalties can be collected (the main source of a composers income), though the royalties may be waived for the first performance, and also music for use in divine service does not attract a performing royalty.
Please get in touch to discuss your requirements and ideas further and with any queries you have or advice you may need that we can help with.
Some of the many commissioned pieces