Top 3 Reasons Composers Should Focus on Commissions

I know you WANT to get your music commissioned and performed.

But, just like with the audience bell curve, it’s crucial to understand WHY if you’re going to make your maximal impact.

“Because that’s just what composers do” is NOT a good enough reason to seek commissions and performances.

Here are the three big reasons you should seek commissions:

1. They’re Your Best Financial Option

Commissions deliver a bare minimum of about $1,000 in one go.

What would it take to equal that in score sales?

The going rate of choral sheet music is about $3. You’d have sell more than 333 copies of the sheet music just to equal what you’d make from this bare-minimum commission. (In fact, a decent choral commission should net you at least $2,000-4,000)

And what if someone streamed your song 333 times? You’d make $1.33 on Spotify (and even worse on other platforms).

In short, the king of your financial hill is far and away commissions. Only when you get big will sheet music sales and royalties becoming meaningful income supplements.

2. They’re Your Best Tool for Networking

. . . if you approach networking to serve other musicians rather than hawk your own agenda.

Many performers and conductors have clearly defined artistic, career, and pedagogical goals.

In meeting those goals, they inevitably have gaps in their repertoire — goals they can’t yet meet because they don’t have the right piece to make it happen.

That’s where you come in. To the extent that you can help performers and conductors fill these gaps, they’d be thrilled to commission and perform your music.

3. They’re How You Will Ultimately Make a Lasting Impact

Typically, no single piece makes or breaks our career. For most of us, our impact will be the result of our body of work.

And despite what textbooks have you think, just as important as the music itself is the relationships and memories you make with other musicians and audiences. If you can create a scene for yourself, that’s what makes people talk.

So if you want to make a lasting impact, you have to focus on doing the unglamorous, often tedious work of seeking commissions. Because the relationships you form are the essence of your impact.

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