20 jan 2020

Commissions with composers

Worth knowing before you get started

A commissioner can be any person, group of people, organization or institution that desires to perform new music for an audience. From a private person holding house concerts over a music association, ensemble, church, festival or museum to an opera house. 

The composer is here understood as a "professional" composer, ie. an artist who delivers a professional result. The professional composer's work will appear as a whole in accordance with the framework set by the commissioner or jointly agreed upon by the commissioner and the composer. The work will not be characterized by temporary or random solutions, but will, on the contrary, have taken into account expected practical challenges. In addition, the work is handed in at a specified date. 

How to calculate the right commission fee?

Let's look at the choices that matter when calculating the basic fee:

1: The composer's time spent on composing the work
The composer must give an estimate of how much time will go into composing the intended work.

2: The nature of the work
In many types of works, special conditions apply. For example, is it intended that the composer should assist in the performance? If we are talking about a work with singers or choirs and instruments, a piano/vocal score will most often be needed. If the composer is supposed to work this out, it will also affect the price. The same applies if the composer is to prepare the voice material.

3: Necessary extra expenses for the composer
Many different situations can occure. A work may require inspirational or research journeys, field recordings and the like. Or a work may be for a self-built instrument for which materials must be procured. A particularly tight schedule for a project may also require the composer to clear agreements and therefore seek compensation in the amount of fees.

4: The composer's "market value"
Different composers charge different fees. Based on past artistic successes, awards, experience and competencies, some composers may appear particularly attractive to commissioners, and may therefore be able to negotiate a higher fee.

5: An example of how to define your commissionfee. (only available in Danish)

6: An example of a contract you can use as inspiration. (only available in Danish)