Guide to Commissioning a New Work
Commissioning a new piece of music is an adventure - a collaborative journey from idea to performance. I have worked with many groups and individuals – some with long histories of commissioning pieces and some commissioning for the first time – and each process has been unique.
What follows is a basic outline of how I like to work and what you can expect.
The fee depends on many different factors, such as the type of piece you envision, the instrumentation (string quartet, concert band), the voicing (SSAA a cappella or SATB and piano), the duration, and the level of difficulty. For vocal pieces, finding and obtaining permission for texts can also incur a fee. Commissioners are responsible for engraving costs - I compose music with pencil and paper and send completed manuscripts to Music Advantage for engraving.
New Music USA has compiled an industry-standard fee chart that I use as a starting point. Their chart, along with other useful information about the ins and outs of commissioning, can be found on their website.
Half of the commission fee is due with the signed contract, and the remainder is due upon delivery of performance-ready score and parts (if applicable).
The earlier I know about a commission, the easier it is to fit it into my schedule. A two-year time frame from signing of contract to delivery of score is ideal. That said, I’ve written pieces on very short notice and have enjoyed the challenge.
My standard contract will be modified to reflect your specific needs and our negotiated agreement. If your group has a standard contract form, I am happy to use it.
Knowing the answers to the following questions will help begin the process:
- What is the instrumentation?
- Who am I writing for? What's their ability level?
- What is the proposed duration?
- When and where will the piece premiere?
- What does your past programming look like?
- What pieces work particularly well with you (your group) and why?
- What makes a piece fun – what do you love to play/sing?
- May I visit a rehearsal or can you send me recordings that are good representations of your group? (Getting to know the artist(s) for whom I am writing is a very important to me!)
Thank you for your time and your interest! Please contact me if you are interested in commissioning a new work or have further questions.