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Hi guys!

So I recently stumbled into a pretty cool opportunity to have one of my compositions premiered by a real live orchestra. That was something that I figured was a pipe dream that would maybe happen in 50 years, or more likely never. But here I am. I kind of assumed that when the director of a professional orchestra hears a piece that he likes enough to premier, the orchestra would pay the composer of said work. But I was just told
Quote:if an orchestra is going to premier a work, the honor of having them play premier it is the compensation

I'm new to this side of things, but that doesn't sound right to me. Can anyone help me out? Is my assumption wrong? Or is that really the way things work?
That might have been true decades ago, or maybe if you are a famous composer (think: Eric Whitacre, John Williams, etc.), but I don't think it is true now, at least in most typical cases.

Generally things can go one of two ways:
- The group contracts the composer to write a piece for them. The composer is paid a sum for this. For example, a friend of mine was commissioned to write a big-band arrangement for a jazz ensemble and was paid for this by the ensemble.
- The composer contracts a group to play their piece for him/her. The group is paid a sum for this. For example, a friend of mine who is a moderately successful composer wanted to get a piece recorded, so he had to pay the orchestra.

In general, whichever party is the cause behind the choice of the material, has more leverage/clout, or must do the greater amount of work, is the one which receives the money. If you are approached by an orchestra which has heard one of your compositions and wishes to perform it, then you have the position of being able to charge for it if you so wish. Conversely, if you approach an orchestra and request that they play one of your pieces, they have the right to charge for it if they so wish. It is to some degree a question of inconvenience- how much is it worth for you to waive the public performance copyright for the group, how much is it worth for the group to fit your piece into their schedule.

Of course, this gets much more complicated when looking at community orchestras vs. school orchestras vs. professional orchestras, each of which have their own organization and rules behind them.

Lastly, nothing says that if you have the 'initiative', or if they have the 'initiative', that money then must cross hands. In some cases, out of charity, kindness, or any number of factors (including some more subtle, self-serving kinds), the right to charge may be waived by either party.
Thanks, Sam, that's super helpful. It seems like I do need to adjust my assumptions. Since I didn't approach this conductor directly, I thought payment was a given, but seeing a little more of the standard possibilities helps me see where he was coming from with his response. If another equally valid option is ME being the one to pay, I'm HAPPY to have no money involved in either direction. Honestly I'm fine with no payment, I just wanted to make sure I wasn't hearing a variation on, "We'll pay you with exposure," you know?
All the little things like, your actual question aside... Congratulations man. I think it is awesome to have your own premier.
(05-10-2019, 03:00 AM)bigcat1969 Wrote: [ -> ]All the little things like, your actual question aside... Congratulations man. I think it is awesome to have your own premier.

I concur! Congratulations, Melchizedek. Whatever happens, this experience (rather than any  "exposure") will be beneficial to you, I'm sure.
(05-09-2019, 04:40 PM)Melchizedek Wrote: [ -> ]I kind of assumed that when the director of a professional orchestra hears a piece that he likes enough to premier, the orchestra would pay the composer of said work.

If it makes you feel any better, consider what is common practice in a different genre. Rock music. If my band performs cover tunes in a bar and we get paid for the performance, does anyone expect the composers of the songs we played to get paid? I'm not suggesting what is right or wrong, just providing an analogy.
(05-10-2019, 08:27 PM)Paul Battersby Wrote: [ -> ]If my band performs cover tunes in a bar and we get paid for the performance, does anyone expect the composers of the songs we played to get paid? I'm not suggesting what is right or wrong, just providing an analogy.

In that scenario the bar owner pays a fee through the proper channels (depends on where in the world you are) for the right to have music played or performed live on the premises, and that money then gets distributed to the various rights holders as royalties. I don't know if the same thing applies for classical concert venues?
(05-10-2019, 09:06 PM)Mattias Westlund Wrote: [ -> ]In that scenario the bar owner pays a fee through the proper channels [...] I don't know if the same thing applies for classical concert venues?

Interesting twist. I didn't realize that. I wonder what happens in the case of a classical concert venue. Maybe Melchizedek will get paid, just not by the conductor/orchestra. I'll have to ask my dad about this. He used to be the president of the local musicians union. He might have some answers.