6 Really Cool Reasons for Contacting Living Composers When You Perform Their Music

1  |  YOUNG OR OLD, YOU WILL EXPAND AND STRENGTHEN YOUR NETWORK OF PROFESSIONAL FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES

When instrumentalists and living composers of all ages and levels of experience connect, everyone’s network expands and matures, resulting in all of us becoming more dynamically involved in each other’s work and in the healthy development of 21st-cenutry concert music.

2  |  COMPOSERS ARE HONORED TO KNOW THAT YOU HAVE PERFORMED THEIR MUSIC

We composers are thrilled to receive recital programs that list performances of our music, because it means musicians—like you—have cared enough about our music to learn, program and perform it. It means that our music is appreciated and is getting played.  We are honored to meet you, to get to know you, to work closely with you, and to create new, mutually beneficial projects with you going forward.

3  |  JUST LIKE YOU, COMPOSERS WANT TO KEEP ACCURATE RECORDS OF THEIR PERFORMANCES

Just as you keep an ongoing list of your performances to include in applications for jobs, promotions, grants, and competitions, it is just as important to composers that they be able to maintain a list of performances of their music for when they apply for jobs, promotions, grants, and competitions.  Your performance is always significant to us, whether it’s a 3-minute recital piece performed on a school recital or a 40-minute concerto performed on a professional concert stage.  We are always grateful to you for taking a few moments to let us know when you perform a piece of ours.

4  |  COMPOSERS RELY ON PERFORMANCE ROYALTIES AS INCOME

It is crucial to our income streams that we be able to prove to our performing rights organizations (e.g., ASCAP, BMI, SOCAN, or SESAC) that we are having performances of our music. That proof is found in the recital and concert programs you send to us, either as hardcopies or as email attachments; and when we send in those programs, we will receive credit for those performances, which will yield performance royalties, which will help support us as we continue to compose music for you and your instrument—and it costs you nothing.

5  |  IT’S SIMPLE AND EFFICIENT TO LET COMPOSERS KNOW THAT YOU’VE PERFORMED THEIR  MUSIC

Virtually every living and active composer has some kind of web presence, whether it’s a website like this one or a Facebook page—so finding a composer and an email address is as simple as a Google search. With a few routine mouse clicks you can open an email addressed to the composer, jot a quick note of greeting, attach a JPEG, PDF, or Word file of your recital program(s), and click <send>.. Job well done!

6  |  THERE'S GREAT KARMA AWAITING YOU

Speaking for myself, when I receive several recital programs from you and can forward them on to my performing rights organization, the resulting performance royalties will cover a week’s worth of groceries or a significant portion of my monthly mortgage. No kidding.  You're ensuring your own great karma; and I can guarantee you that your name will be toasted with robust enthusiasm at my dinner table.

The fact is, we composers—especially those of us who choose not to hold full-time academic positions—cobble together our self-employed incomes from a variety of sources as we go about the business of doing what we love to do most: composing music for you, and getting it onto your music stand.

The self-employed income source we have the least control over is the stream of royalties generated from your performances of our music. Think of it this way: Each and every performance we do not hear about represents lost income—income that we can and should receive, but only if we hear from you that you have performed our music. 

And this is precisely where many of us composers face a conundrum: We are having our music performed almost daily in colleges, universities and conservatories around the world, yet we have no way of finding out about the vast majority of these performances unless we hear directly from you, the performer, who honors us by learning and performing our music.

Note: If you’re a teacher with students learning and performing the music of living composers, perhaps you will consider requiring those students to send an email, to introduce themselves to the composers, and to begin dialogues with them—composers love to hear from and correspond with performers of their music, young and old! And the younger a musician is when s/he learns that connecting with a living composer will be met with smiles of gratitude and accolades of support, the better: It is, after all, the direct interaction between performers and living composers that will ensure the healthy evolution of our art form—the art form to which we all have devoted our educations and lives.

So—thank goodness it’s as simple as you selecting a file from your desktop and clicking the upload button, or attaching a PDF to an email.  Where it once took a musician 15 labor-intensive minutes to inform a composer of a performance through snail mail, it now takes 15 effortless seconds online—three cheers for technology, I say.

For that—and for you taking those 15 seconds to send us your recital programs—we composers are indeed truly grateful.

Great karma is an awesome thing to cultivate.

Click here to attach your recital/concert program(s) to an email addressed to me

Simple!