Rather than make an extravagant and probably indefensible claim about the history of music or alarmist predictions about its future, I’d like to pose a question to the NewMusicBox readership this week—specifically to my fellow graduate students, although I welcome responses from composers at any stage of their careers. I’m wondering what kind of rates you charge for commissions of various lengths, sizes, etc.
I’ve never raised this subject with my colleagues here at Illinois, but I think most of us work for free; I certainly do. Nevertheless, I know graduate students who have elaborate pricing scales, and I’ve wondered whether I should hop on the bandwagon. Maybe it contributes to an aura of professionalism or something—has anybody received commissions more frequently than they used to after posting a pay scale? How do you determine an appropriate price point? Do you charge by the duration of the piece? What if it’s a piece like Cage’s 103, which probably took him less time to compose than it takes to perform? Would that arouse suspicion? Do you charge different rates for individuals (i.e. personal request from a performer) than for institutions (i.e. state-funded commission)? Under what circumstances would you work pro bono?
This is a part of the field with which I have no experience, so I’m very curious. Please share.