art despite technology


You always wanted to know but were too afraid to ask? Well, here is an answer.

Works fall into two main categories.

1. Those I would like to write anyway and would appreciate being able to eat whilst doing so and
2. those required for a specific purpose and size of ensemble.

Category 1. is flexible and is open to any support available.

Category 2. is a bit more specific because of deadlines and the type of work being specified so those nice people at the Association of Irish Composers - Contemporary Music Centre Ireland have come up with some guidelines to help give a fair price. Yes, I am actually registered with the government of Southern Ireland (EIRE) as a recognised artist for tax purposes.
The Contemporary Music Centre and the Association of Irish Composers

for music commissions 2010/2011 were taken as a basis and have been adjusted for 2015

The Contemporary Music Centre and the Association of Irish Composers wished to ensure that composers receive adequate remuneration for their work and had jointly drawn up guidelines.

The fees and categories given below should be regarded as a useful indicator rather than a prescribed structure. The lower end of each band is intended for less established composers; senior composers will command a higher fee and, in such cases, the upper figure should be taken as a median rather than a maximum.

Category of work

Fee per minute

Solo works (excluding works for piano, harp and keyboard)
Keyboard: piano, organ, harpsichord, etc; harp
Chamber works; à capella choral works
(2-9 players, SATB and choral works accompanied by a solo instrument)
Large chamber ensemble (10-20 players)
Chamber orchestra; brass band
Symphony orchestra; symphonic wind ensemble
Orchestral works with soloist(s) and/or chorus
Electronic music (compositional element only)
Instrumental/vocal works with tape
(fees as for the appropriate category of instrumental work with a further 56% for preparation of the tape.)
Opera, music theatre or dance
(fees as for the instrumental forces employed with an additional appropriate amount for production of a piano score.)
The fee for works of an indeterminable length should be calculated on an individual basis taking into consideration the scale of the project, the overall budget, and fees being paid to other artists and individuals involved in the project.


These constitute parts of the generally accepted Terms and Conditions of Business, Allgemeine Geschäftsbedingungen of agm digital arts GmbH when entering into an agreement to commission works.

Before embarking on a new commission the composer will discuss and agree the following issues with the commissioner. These will be confirmed in writing: an exchange of letters will suffice.

• The instrumental forces, duration, style and general context of the new work.

• The performers (if these are not the commissioning body).

• The date and place of the first performance and the date on which the completed score is to be delivered. A commitment should be sought for at least two further performances within two years.

• The fee, clarifying how it is to be funded and what contingency plans are in place to make up the balance if a funding application does not produce the fee in full.

• When payment of the fee is to be made (normally half on commencement of the composition and half on submission of the completed score). • Where required, how the copying of instrumental parts is to be funded. The cost of preparing performing materials is not included in the commissioning fee and should be negotiated separately. The composer may agree to provide parts at the appropriate copying rates, or he/she may prefer to leave this to a professional copyist.

• Whether the work is to be recorded and in what format.


• For works of more than 30 minutes duration it is suggested that the guidelines be regarded as a basis for discussion only, rather than being calculated on a 'per minute' basis.

• In the event of a funding application (e.g. to the Arts Council) awarding less than the fee agreed with the composer, it is the responsibility of the commissioner to find funding for the balance and contingency plans for this should be agreed in advance.

• The cost of copying instrumental parts for a first performance is not included in these recommended fees. It is the responsibility of the commissioner to organise and fund the copying of parts for all large-scale works. For small scale solo or chamber works the composer will normally be happy to supply instrumental parts free of charge, but this should be discussed and agreed in advance.

• In the case of works being commissioned for 2015/2016, the rates above should be increased at least in accordance with the current inflation rate.

• The composer retains the copyright of the work and is under no obligation to enter a publishing agreement as part of the commission.

• The composer retains ownership of the original manuscript. Unless the commissioner has him/herself directly arranged and paid for the copying of parts, the composer also retains ownership of these.

• The commissioning body and any funding bodies involved must be acknowledged in the score, parts and any print material connected with performances of the work.

• If the first performance is not given by the commissioner on or within a reasonable time-span of the date agreed, the composer is free to offer the work for performance elsewhere. This time- span should be agreed in advance in writing.

• It should be regarded as part of the commissioner’s responsibility to arrange a recording for radio broadcast and/or CD release.

(CMC information from March 2010)