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On Argentina Fantastica: Three different versions

To Commission Music

is to pay a composer to write a particular composition for a specific purpose or event.

Anyone can commission music, and any type of music can be commissioned.

To commission Concert Music you need to know:

* Description of work: type, length, instrumentation.

* Delivery dates for completed work and parts.

* Fee and method of payment. (50% on signing agreement, 50% on delivery of score)

* Cost allowances and payment schedule for extracting and duplicating parts and/or producing a recording, generally payable on delivery of parts or recording; and stipulations for quality of copying or recording.

* Statement that composer is not an employee, and is not working "for hire".

* Commissioning party's commitment to perform work within a certain period of time.

* Fees and travel expenses for composer's assistance in preparation and presentation of the work.

* Ownership of score, parts, and tapes.

* Rental fees for use of parts.

* Form of credits in programs, recordings, and advertising.

* Responsibility for promotion, advertising, and exploitation of commissioned work.

* Method for resolving disputes, including state law under which the agreement will be interpreted.


How much does commissioning music cost?

The cost depends on the size of the new composition (whether it is written for soloist, small ensemble or orchestra), and the length of the composition.

How long does it take a composer to write a piece of music?

A good “rule of thumb” is to allow 18–24 months from the signing of an agreement until the work has been completed and is ready to be given to the musicians to prepare for performance. A smaller scale work, for example a set of songs for piano and voice, might be written in a few months. Another time factor to consider is how soon the selected composer is available to begin work on your project.

What else do I need to know about the commissioning process?

Just as a play needs actors to translate the playwright’s words into a theatrical performance, music requires performers to bring to life the notes on a page. Identifying a soloist or ensemble is one of the first steps in the commissioning process. Guillermo can work with the commissioner to identify performers with a commitment to performing new work. Something else to keep in mind is that once the piece is composed, a master score and parts for the performers must be prepared by a professional copyist; the costs for copying the music have been calculated and included in the fee ranges on the opposite page.

Who actually owns the music?

It is standard practice that composers retain the rights to their own work, and so the legal ownership of the piece remains with the composer. However, the commissioner is acknowledged in many ways—on the first page of the musical score, on any official recording, in the performance program and often in other written materials. It is customary that the commissioner is given a presentation copy of the completed score, almost always specially inscribed by the composer. An archive tape may be provided as well. Most of all, the commissioner experiences a satisfying sense of participation in the creation of a new work of music.

Is commissioning tax deductible?

Yes, but only when a nonprofit organization is part of the project.

Schedule of Fees

Chamber Music                    under 10'      10-25'          over 25'

Solo or Duo                     $2,000-4,000    $3,000-10,000   $8,000-16,000

Piano solo or Duo               $3,000-7,000    $5,000-12,000   $9,000-28,000
with Instrument or voice

Tape or Electronic Solo         $3,000-10,000   $7,000-20,000   $10,000-30,000

Trio or Quartet                 $4,000-9,000    $6,000-18,000   $10,000-35,000

Ensemble of 5 to 10             $5,000-12,000   $7,000-22,000   $15,000-38,000

Chorus                          $4,500-15,000   $8,000-24,000   $15,000-39,000

Orchestra Music
Small Chamber Orchestra         $7,000-18,000   $9,000-25,000   $18,000-40,000
(10-22 players)

Large Chamber Orchestra         $8,000-20,000   $10,000-30,000  $20,000-45,000
(22-40 players)

Full Orchestra                 $10,000-22,000   $15,000-40,000  $30,000-80,000
 Concerto or chorus: add 20-30%

When solo voice or a substantial electronic part is included in any 
of the above ensembles, add 20-30% to the indicated fee.

OPERA                                           under 45'          over 45'

One-Act Opera
    Small Company                           $12,000-18,000    $18,000-40,000
    Large Opera                             $30,000-50,000    $50,000-80,000

                                                under 90'          over 90'
Full-Length Opera
    Small Company                           $60,000-80,000    $80,000-120,000
    Large Company                           $100,000-150,000 $150,000-500,000

Librettist fee add 20-50%
VideOpera fee add 70%


Commercial [jingles] and Logos  $500-50,000
Depends on network, cable, or independent arrangements.

The figures include costs for music copying, but do not include costs for 
musicians, production, or recording, wich are assumed by the commissioning 
party or performers.

Guillermo Silveira
3990 Langley Crt. A-601
Mc Lean Gardens
Washington, DC 20016
United States of America