I am frequently asked, particularly by freelance musicians, how one can go about commissioning a composer. What are reasonable rates/fees, and are there any potential copyright problems one should watch for?
In Canada, an organization called The Canadian League of Composers (CLC) helps to facilitate and simplify the commissioning of Canadian composers by publishing minimum commissioning rates, as well as sample commissioning contracts. CLC’s rates and model contracts are recognized by the Canada Council for the Arts, who provides funding for numerous Canadian commissions every year. Ensembles who wish to apply for a Canada Council Commissioning Grant are asked to request no more than the CLC’s minimum commissioning rates. However, many composers may request a higher fee for writing a piece, in which case, the ensemble or musician will have to seek an alternate source of funding to meet the composer’s request. There is no fee for ensembles or musicians to apply for the Canada Council Commissioning Grant, so there is no harm in applying and supporting the music of your favourite Canadian composer. Most composers, including myself, would be happy to help the commissioners with the application process. Fortunately, most of this process is done online, and Canada Council seeks to simplify the process further every year.
Apart from the Canada Council’s Commissioning Grant, there are many other project grants in Canada provided by the provincial, and municipal arts councils, as well as the SOCAN foundation, and a number of private organizations (such as banks). Some ensembles also rely on private donors, or crowdfunding.
Feel free to contact me if you have any further questions, or if you wish to commission a work.