When compensation takes the form of passion and satisfaction, instead of monetary remuneration, what is the impact on performance quality, commitment, and artistic freedom? If we could remove money from the equation by making sure artists get paid enough to do better than get by, what would that look like?
Commissions are not always the best funding model. Some projects are more like entrepreneurial ventures, and as such, they require financial risk-taking and the willingness to take on fiscal as well as artistic accountability.
Money has nothing to do with the quality of anyone’s music. That said, for those who choose to put together a living from composing, there are myriad avenues for monetizing one’s output—which can offer both exciting opportunities and an overwhelming career equation to solve.
Why does it still seem novel when artists talk transparently about the money they make from art or other jobs? I wonder if talking about the very unsexy ways we make a living threatens some myth of the “serious artist”?
In this volatile environment, there’s a piece of economics that can help make sense of what’s going on, help us make better decisions as artists, and even help us make long-term plans.
Music, at its core, is not a rational art. And yet its creation now necessarily happens within systems and societal frameworks evermore marked off, framed, and otherwise governed by the self-proclaimed rationality of Big Data. Sometimes the meeting will be useful; sometimes it will not.
Commissions form an important financial pillar that supports many composers’ careers, but negotiating compensation is often an uncomfortable topic. “Commissioning Music: A Basic Guide” continues to provide a baseline at which to begin the conversation.
What’s useful about examining how business funds creation is that it provides a currently functioning model in which money is already flowing for the development of new things. It also shows that there are several ways this can be done. Let’s imagine some potential futures.
Get involved in Music and Money week: reading, thinking, commenting, sharing, discussing. On NewMusicBox or social media or in your local coffee shop. The more open conversation we can inspire the better. Here’s why…
In the Pacific Northwest underneath the decommissioned Fort Worden is a 2 million-gallon concrete cistern, now empty, that has a 45-second reverb time. And its impact on experimental music has resonated across the country and down through the decades.