Guide to Commissioning a New Work

Commissioning a new piece of music is an adventure - a collaborative journey from idea to performance. I have worked with many groups and individuals – some with long histories of commissioning pieces and some commissioning for the first time – and each process has been unique.

What follows is a basic outline of how I like to work and what you can expect.

Fee:

The fee depends on many different factors, such as the type of piece you envision, the instrumentation (string quartet, concert band), the voicing (SSAA a cappella or SATB and piano), the duration, and the level of difficulty. For vocal pieces, finding and obtaining permission for texts can also incur a fee. Commissioners are responsible for engraving costs - I compose music with pencil and paper and send completed manuscripts to Music Advantage for engraving.

New Music USA has compiled an industry-standard fee chart that I use as a starting point. Their chart, along with other useful information about the ins and outs of commissioning, can be found on their website.

Payment Schedule:

Half of the commission fee is due with the signed contract, and the remainder is due upon delivery of performance-ready score and parts (if applicable).

Time Frame:

The earlier I know about a commission, the easier it is to fit it into my schedule. A two-year time frame from signing of contract to delivery of score is ideal. That said, I’ve written pieces on very short notice and have enjoyed the challenge.

The Contract:

My standard contract will be modified to reflect your specific needs and our negotiated agreement. If your group has a standard contract form, I am happy to use it.

Preparation:

Knowing the answers to the following questions will help begin the process:

  • What is the instrumentation?
  • Who am I writing for? What's their ability level?
  • What is the proposed duration?
  • When and where will the piece premiere?
  • What does your past programming look like?
  • What pieces work particularly well with you (your group) and why?
  • What makes a piece fun – what do you love to play/sing?
  • May I visit a rehearsal or can you send me recordings that are good representations of your group? (Getting to know the artist(s) for whom I am writing is a very important to me!)

Thank you for your time and your interest! Please contact me if you are interested in commissioning a new work or have further questions.