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  Composition Competition Fees  J Saragoza at 19:51 on 21 August 2011

I've decided not to enter any competitions that require fees. Why? It's a personal feeling that they are primarily efforts not to acquire new music, but to provide financial support for the performers. That's not a good enough reason to get involved since I'm not Prince Lichnowsky.

  Re: Composition Competition Fees  vyvyanhs at 08:08 on 26 August 2011

Been wondering whether to take the bait on this posting for a few days.

I agree its galling to be expected to stump up just to have someone look at your score. But if it's all a scam, it's not a very lucrative one. For a 5K prize and a 50 entry you need at least a hundred submissions just to cover the prize. Add on a bit for admin, cost of performing the winning work, figure in the time spent judging the entries and divide by the number of performers in the group and it's going to have to be a very well-subscribed competition before anyone makes any serious money.

Or do you think the performers should pay for the entire thing from their own pockets?

It would be interesting to know how many entries these competitions attract though - I heard of an ensemble who put on a competition expecting 50 entries and got 500 works to listen to.

  Re: Composition Competition Fees  J Saragoza at 14:58 on 26 August 2011

No doubt it can be expensive for larger ensembles and orchestras, but it seem that most if not all legitimate institutions, have funding from governments or philanthropic sources that cover many or most of the costs. Granted we live in a time of diminishing funds for the musical arts, and fees from composers may not pull in all that's required as the money sources dry up.

But something in my gut tells me that contemporary composers are looked at as a necessary component to funding the ensemble, or for getting that grant for a "new music" program in order pull in the extra cash.

I don't have any facts, statistics, or inside information to validate it, so it's not a logical argument on my part. It my be a touch of cynicism from writing for 40 years and looking at the musical landscape; it's just a gut feeling. And I'd like to think I'm wrong.

  Re: Composition Competition Fees  Nicolas Tzortzis at 22:18 on 26 August 2011

and what is wrong with supporting performers?
if they cease to exist,composers cease to exist too.
we're helping each other out.if there are no submissions,there will be no competitions,so (especially young) composers will have less chances of getting played.
I don't see anything wrong with having to pay a submission one makes money out of the competitions,apart from the winning composer.
Even I don't win,I feel happy for the guy that does.and with a 20 submission fee,it's like buying a colleague two pints of beer.why not? cheers to him/her.

  Re: Composition Competition Fees  J Saragoza at 23:21 on 26 August 2011

It's not a question of right or wrong. But to be truthful, supporting performers should be the result of the musical work itself, not a handout from the composer. And this shouldn't be taken as advocating just easy listening music only; there are ensembles looking for challenging music (or not challenging) and asking no fee. How do they do it and others require payment for consideration (that's just my interpretation)?

I don't think that performers will ever cease to exist since there are centuries of music to choose from even if all of us stopped composing tomorrow. They really don't need us as much as we need them, and maybe, just maybe, that has creeped into the equation.

The fact that I personally won't solicit my work to those that are asking a fee is just a personal decision. Just this year I paid a comp fee or two, but no more. And the good news is the less composers that enter these fee competitions, the less competition those composer that do will have. I too congratulate them on their win.

  Re: Composition Competition Fees  MartinY at 09:43 on 28 August 2011

As Nicolas says the modest fees for most competitions are not large when compared with the amount of money I must have spent on beer when I was a student. Another way of looking at it is how much time you would need to spend stacking shelves in a supermarket to earn 20 euros compared to the many hours needed to produce a decent piece of music, (since I tend to believe a large amount of material has to be discarded, either mentally or with the backspace button or crossing out, until you get to the final version of a piece).

Anyone who has organised something will know that if you want nobody involved to be out of pocket you must collect small fees and deposits from the punters in order not to be paying for it yourself. (My methods are now different. I think the best way is to do high value work in some other field to get the money to be able to splash out on music and not care if it goes pear shaped. It is fine if you can make a living from composition but I am sure few composers make a 100% living from composition.)

Regarding competitions I wondered about entering a couple this year but what made me decide not to was the prize. The performance would be fine, even I was too ill to travel to the venue but the publication of the piece, if it won, would effectively bury it in a small publisher's catalogue which sold about 2 sets of parts a year. I put all my stuff up on the internet as soon as I am satisfied with the piece, so they can immediately be played by anyone, anywhere in the world.

An interesting comparison with competition fees is buying facsimiles of old manuscripts. I sometimes buy things I do not particularly want that badly because I have access to modern editions but I think let us encourage them to produce this stuff. In the long term it costs more in the inconvenience of trying to control the volume of your music library than anything else. (There have been newspaper articles about the immorality of people taking up so much space in private houses but it does not take account of how much room a private library and a computer area with printer /scanner takes up, plus shady corners to keep large instruments in!)

Another financial issue is software. In the last decade I have never regretted paying out for expensive powerful software. I may have been lucky but if you costed the time the software saved at the minimum wage in the UK the cost of the software has been repaid many times over.

  Re: Composition Competition Fees  Oceanview at 17:28 on 26 September 2011

I think reasonables fees okay. But some of the terms posted on this website are absurd: 80 euros, 10 bound copies, etc etc! We ought to be able to send pdfs electronically for a start. Meanwhile, age discrimination continues to be an eyebrow-raiser - seems completely inconsistent with equal opportunities legislation.


I think reasonables fees okay. But some of the terms posted in competitions on this website are absurd: 80 euros, 10 bound copies, etc etc! We ought to be able to send pdfs electronically for a start. Meanwhile, age discrimination continues to be an eyebrow-raiser - seems completely inconsistent with equal opportunities legislation.

And what happened to Masterprize?

  Re: Composition Competition Fees  Nicolas Tzortzis at 21:28 on 26 September 2011

you have to admit that age limits have a reason for being.
It's like boxing:you don't a put 70kg man box against a 125kg man.
the same for composition:a 50 year-old composer with 30 years of experience would be highly more likely to win over a new,now starting, 25 year-old.
and besides,most competitions are there in order to find new talents,support new composers.and it's no accident that,the bigger the competition (for orchestra for instance),the higher the age limit.because they know one needs to be mature enough to write a decent orchestra piece,and also because even for a 45 year-old,it's hard to find an orchestra to play his music.

I agree 100% with you on the absurdity of some conditions:10 copies, maximum 20 pages A4....why should paging have anything to do with it????
actually,when I see a 100euro fee for a competition,I feel kinda sorry for the guy that wins,because paying 100euros comes out as kind of desperate.but a prize is a prize,and 3000 for 100 is still a pretty good deal.

  Re: Composition Competition Fees  MartinY at 08:55 on 27 September 2011

I think both sides of the age limit argument are very valid so it is difficult to know what is right. Maybe age discrimination legistlation will sort it out so we do not have to think about it any more.

80 euros and 10 bound copies. Does an organisation which can't cope with pdfs and printers in this day and age still deserve to be in existence? Perhaps they should get a part time employee who can? Who wants to win a prize from what appears to be a bunch of idiots anyway, though I know it is really bad if you have self belief and are desperate for performances and you feel you have to jump through these hoops to get there.


Performing animals of the world unite!

  Re: Composition Competition Fees  vyvyanhs at 08:58 on 27 September 2011

I couldn't disagree more about age limits in competitions. Their only purpose seems to be to give a spurious sense of yoofy hip-ness to the event.

I should declare an interest: I've come to 'classical' composing from commercial music in mid-career and it's galling to be denied admission to around half the competitions out there.

If you're looking specifically for young talent, then fine, say so and limit it to under 21. But what is the point of age limits of 35 or 40? Are they really worried that Harrison Birtwistle is going to enter some lousy 500 comp and steal the show?

The problem, I think, is that art isn't like sport, and the whole idea of a "competition", trying to apply sport's easily measurable performance parameters, league tables and outright winners just doesn't work. In reality composing competitions are one of very few means to get your name around and your work heard; you want to be a performed finalist but actually winning doesn't matter much. Well, apart from the money, which is always nice.

  Re: Composition Competition Fees  MartinY at 10:25 on 27 September 2011

I do agree with Vyv that the age limits are very annoying and I have seen competitions where I already have a completed piece suitable for submission and then seen that there is an age limit.

I think I was implying that I do not care, as it seems I do care, because I have given up on that sort of thing, but if something interesting popped up I might change my mind. Because of my interest in early music I tend to write small ensemble pieces anyway so the desire to write a conventional orchestral piece and try and get it performed has at the moment evaporated.

The pdf issue is similar to a point raised in the bloggs, (I will look for where leter), that programmers and music mandarins never select pieces from listening to MP3 files sent in, though that seems to be a very good way of finding new repertoire. Even more I do not suppose they browse the internet looking for interesting repertoire because it is not a prestigeous enough activity! Much better to get composers to toady to you. If technology wipes out these people's income and influence as it may do, all the better for culture, I think!

"I feel so much better since I have given up all hope."