Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Status Update: Getting Consumed by the Marketing Monster

*Note:  Don’t worry, the irony of posting on this subject is not lost on the author.

As somebody who uses Facebook and has both a website and a blog (albeit a blog that is meant for shared artistic ruminations rather than self-promotion), I'm often grappling with the positive and negative aspects of social media and marketing.

Friday, March 25, 2011

On Selling Out

Last year, a student came up to me after class one day and told me that she thought it was "kind of wrong" to get paid to write a piece, that it was so much more "pure" to do it for free. I was never sure exactly what she meant by that, but to me it sounded like she was implying that when you create art for money it is almost like prostitution. That it can't be as meaningful if you're getting paid for it, or that it's somehow dirty, commercialized, and cheap.

Here are some questions to ponder: is it dirty when a surgeon is paid for removing a dangerous tumor from a loved one's diseased body? Is it wrong to pay teachers for instilling knowledge in our children? Is it cheap when you pay a mechanic to figure out why your car is making that terrible noise? All of these people provide valuable services to us, and arguably, to the community. Why is it somehow impure to pay artists for providing valuable services to us and to the community, through art, music, dance, theater, etc.? Why is there a stigma surrounding artists who earn income?

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Oxymoronic "Frugal Composer"

I have gone through most of my compositional education with teachers and mentors advising me to always put my best face forward in terms of presentation, networking, and marketing. Their advice is well-meant and probably realistic given the extremely competitive and networked nature of the composition field. However, often the advice translates in practicality to a number of details that cost a lot of money, ranging from binding scores for competitions (as I mentioned in my earlier post) to attending music festivals in another state or country in order to broaden your contacts and exposure. Overall, composers are advised to spend a lot of time and money trying to build not only a portfolio, but also a CV.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

To Pay or Not to Pay

I recently had an interesting discussion with a student, who has been paying performers to record some of her pieces. She is not in school at the moment, and I think it makes sense that she pay these performers for their time, since they would not otherwise be rehearsing or recording her music. However, I feel very differently about paying performers who are fellow students. When I was a student, trying to find performers for my first concert in graduate school, I didn't even think to pay the performers because we were all students. I assumed that if they were interested in pursuing graduate (or undergraduate) study in performance then they would jump at the opportunity to play new music, to work with a living composer, and that I wouldn't have to pay them to do what I thought was already their "job" (being a student). Perhaps that was a naive assumption.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Women Make Music Initiative: An Interesting Article

As just a brief hiatus from our economics topic, I recommend checking out this interesting article regarding the status of women in music in the U.K.  The author reiterates a lot of what Sarah and I have been describing in our discussion of various aspects of gender in the world of composition.  Not an easy topic, but it's reassuring to know that others are willing to discuss it, as well:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Economic Woes of the Young Composer

If there were three money-related things you could change about the current status quo in the world of new music what would they be?  Here are three of mine, in no particular order, followed by comments and possible solutions:

Monday, March 7, 2011

Money Makes the World Go Round

Introducing the topic of our next set of posts... money!

We'll probably post the first one tomorrow, but here are two songs to ponder in the meantime:

Well, we can't embed the first one, but click here.

And here's the second:


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Why I Dislike Program Notes

Last year, the night before a big deadline, I was frantically trying to come up with a title for an important piece of which I was particularly proud. I wanted the title to be perfect, but I had been thinking about it for days, had pages and pages of notes, and didn't like anything I had come up with. I also had to write program notes, which was a whole other source of misery. I was desperate. Finally I just decided to go with something, tied it into the music, and dashed out some program notes.