How much to Commission Brass Band Music?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by MrEllis, Oct 1, 2008.

  1. MrEllis

    MrEllis New Member

    Hi all,

    I'm looking into commissioning a piece of music and wondered what the costs would be.

    I appreciate it would depend on fame and reputation of the composer but I'm sure other bands have done this in the past so I would appreciate a rough estimate on the costs involved.

    Thanks in advance

    Andy Ellis
    MD - Burbage Silver Band
    Bass Trombone - Oddfellows Brass
  2. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    You're right - it really does depend on your specification including, for instance, what kind of music it is, how long it is, is it an arrangement or composition and who you choose to do it.

    There are people on here who are relatively unknown, for instance, who may either do something for you for the publicity or maybe £50 per minute...but the recommended rate for compositions is (or at least was) about £650 per minute (note this is by a kind of 'union' representation rather than by the writers themselves) when I put my talk together for the NABBC in 2007 that contained slides on this kind of thing.

    Best thing to do is to get a shorlist of people together and ask them.
  3. UncleStreaky

    UncleStreaky Member

    Contact Claire Tomalin at The Music Company - I'm sure she'll be able to help. They offer this service, more details and contact info on their website
  4. TheMusicCompany

    TheMusicCompany Supporting Member

    Hi Andy

    It's always great for everyone involved when a new piece is commissioned - you get a special piece, the writer gets to express themselves, the band gets something new to play and the audiences can enjoy the results of the project. But, I'm sure you've already realised, it takes much thought and consideration to ensure the end result 'ticks all the boxes' on both sides of the equation.

    I'd suggest it's worth noting down what you're hoping to achieve with the commissioned work - how long you think it should be (eg. light concert item or longer main feature), ideas for the inspiration behind it (favourite melodies, dedication to a bandsman, geographical feel, general style - march, sentimental etc), decide what format the piece should be written for (eg. full band, solo with band, duet, section feature etc) and an idea of the writers (new, evolving or established) who may be ideal for the project. Once you've got some way down the road with these considerations, you've got a much more tangible way to discuss the associated expenses of your piece.

    It looks like UncleStreaky has already mentioned this, but just to confirm, The Music Company (UK) Ltd do offer a commission service to help bridge the gap between customer and writer in this sometimes unknown territory. We enable you to have access to the wide variety of writers we represent whilst we streamline all the preparatory, administrative and production elements for both parties. We've provided this service to a number of bands and individuals now, all with different requirements and budgets, and have had great feedback. (There's some more information on this at under the 'Special Commission Service' section).

    As Keith mentioned earlier, the overall cost is very subjective and dependent on the overall requirements for the piece and the writer involved in the composition/arrangement. So if you can put thought to the points I mentioned above, it gives a very solid starting point upon which the negotiations can be based.

    Please feel free to PM me and we can have a chat about things if it would be of assistance.

    In the meantime, I hope the above pointers are of help.

    Clair Tomalin
    The Music Company (UK) Ltd

    T: 08700 636 796
    F: 08700 636 797
  5. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    Speaking as a composer/arranger, the answer is 'never enough' :biggrin:, but speaking as a band conductor, it's always difficult to find funds. It might be appropriate to allocate a set amount, then perhaps ask local sponsorship/arts funds/education grants to chip in with the same again. That way, you might be able to commission a more substancial piece from a more senior composer than perhap you could have.

    Best of luck with the venture!
  6. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

  7. HBB

    HBB Active Member

    Yes, but at what point do composers stop selling themselves so low that they're recieve nothing for weeks of hard graft.

    I am still a composition student and do favours for people, but if I want to become a professional composer then eventually I'll have to start charging people. Maybe not £650/m, but a good £100/200.

    If it's a full time job, and you're good at it, people will have to pay.
  8. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    I got £150 to write a march and I was told by the sponsors 'I should think myself lucky' :(
  9. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    This was the last time I remember discussing this and it should contain my slide and IIRC some info from Mr Sparke....
  10. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    This is an important point - and it's not limited to things like composing or arranging either.
  11. Colin D

    Colin D Member

    I had a piece written/arranged for my wedding, I won't reveal the cost but my advice would be to contact a few composers in perosn, discuss exactly what you want and then let them give you a quote. They all seem to be friendly enough! Philip Sparke was my man of choice...
  12. lynchie

    lynchie Active Member

    Your price seems to have doubled... something to do with the credit crunch?
  13. Anglo Music Press

    Anglo Music Press Well-Known Member

    It's a bit like selling a house - the value of a house is the price both seller and buyer can agree on.

    As someone who composes for a living, I have to charge a professional rate, but this will vary considerably, depending on many factors such as the future commercial viability of a piece (a piece like Pantomime will always sell more copies than Music for Battle Creek, for example) in terms of sales and performing royalties etc.

    Unlike the concert band world, the brass band scene is 100% an amateur one, so there is not a bottomless fund available to commission new works. This also has to be borne in mind. I don't know many composers who can command £650 pm for a brass band piece, simply because the market is not there. This would be much more common in the orchestral world though.

    It should also be remembered that this is a fee for a composition, not an arrangement!!!

    So in reply to the original question, the only way to get a real estimate is to contact composers directly and judge from that repsonse whom to approach with an offer.
  14. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    I like that analogy - can I use it? :)
  15. Anglo Music Press

    Anglo Music Press Well-Known Member

    Of course - at 10% :clap:
  16. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    -10%? Bargain ;)
  17. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    I've a feeling I was commisioned for one pint - and was paid another sometime after as a congratulation when Gavin took the piece on. A kind of installment plan. ;)

    It'd cost anyone else a four-pack now though. Times are getting tougher... ;)

    (PS: I only play for sport - I'd never make a pro.)
  18. knuxie35

    knuxie35 Member

    I get approached more by individuals than schools, organizations, etc. Should my fee for individuals be different?

    I usually charge per movement, since time seems to vary with each composition, and a largo movement could take as long to write as an allegro one. And a 15 minute sonata for tuba and piano, would definitely be different than a 15 minute work for brass band. This may change as commissions increase, but this is my approach so far.

    Ken Friedrich
    Christmas music
  19. Straightmute

    Straightmute Active Member

    I was once approached at a contest to quote for writing a new piece for band. '£250 a minute' quoth I (it was a long time ago!) and the poor chap looked very pale. '****** ****' he said, 'that's more than my solicitor'.

    When he came round I had to explain that the figure was per minute of music, not per minute of composing time. I think it's always worth making that point clear!

  20. Jacob Larsen

    Jacob Larsen Member

    What kind of piece are you thinking of commissioning ???

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