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Just wanted to clarify some of my thoughts on Claire Chase (and related things). After this I'll be happy to let the thread die for good.

I'm not faulting Claire Chase because of her success. Far from it. I think she's an awesome artist. (One of my most recent purchases is George Lewis' "The Recombinant Trilogy," which she plays on.) However, I don't think what Chase hopes - that entrepreneurship and other new endeavors will produce material wealth for their founders, performers, or both - is likely to happen.

It's not my intention at all to take away from Chase's incredible accomplishment. It's clear that she did pretty much anything that had to be done to raise money and get ICE off the ground. And financial stability continued to be a huge issue: according to Chase, "[t]he first year I wrote 13 grants and was rejected for 13.... My second year I wrote 15 grants and was rejected for 15. My third year I wrote 17 grants and was rejected for 16.... I felt like the sky was raining gold. I think I wrote 19 grants the next year and 11 were funded. Getting that first one is the hardest." So even with Chase's superhuman efforts, securing those initial grants was probably crucial to keeping ICE afloat. In 2006 the organization landed residencies at Columbia College and New York University, and to this day ICE earns the vast majority of its income through these educational programs. The group currently serves as artists-in-residence at Lincoln Center for the Mostly Mozart Festival, and previously led a 5-year residency at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Still, I've read that it took around 13 years for ICE's principals to start making a proper living. That's undeniably rough, and I'm sure that a lot of ICE's eventual success lies with Chase' ability to see opportunities where others don't. But another, important part of ICE's success lies with the organization's ability to establish relationships with arts-funding and traditional new and classical music institutions. I don't think pointing this out diminishes Chase's many accomplishments, but it helps put them into perspective.

About 1/3 of eighth blackbird's and Third Coast Percussion's respective incomes come from grants and donations, with the remaining 2/3 coming from gigs. I assume ICE's percentages are similar. But unlike orchestras - who rely at least somewhat on ticket sales - these ensembles usually earn fees regardless of audience size. In general, they secure fees guaranteed by the venue presenter. The venues in which the ensembles perform are usually themselves part of a subsidized musical institution (either a school of music or the concert series of a university). It's more accurate, then, to understand the ensembles' financial standing as reliant on a specialized market controlled by venue presenters, a market with at least some autonomy from the broader US financial market. Thus, one could view all of these ensembles' income as being "contributed" in some way or another.

My question is: what happens when the infrastructure that allowed these ensembles to gain prestige and institutional support crumbles? Presumably this will take place fairly soon, and I think it's dangerous to assume that ICE's success will be easily replicable.
 

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My question is: what happens when the infrastructure that allowed these ensembles to gain prestige and institutional support crumbles? Presumably this will take place fairly soon, and I think it's dangerous to assume that ICE's success will be easily replicable.
The fine arts has never been a highly profitable business, and most likely never will be. Art is a celebration of our humanity and of our culture, and in the end depends on a certain amount of public support for the concept, rather than a willingness to pay market prices for concert tickets. This was equally true when art was funded by kings and churches, as the fine arts promoted the idea that those institutions stood for high moral values, which was essential for their continued viability. The artists' side of the bargain is that their work must command public respect, admiration and inspiration, even if it never achieves high levels of popularity or commercial success.

In 1981, a 39-foot tall modernist sculpture by the Spanish artist Joan Miró was built and installed in a prominent public outdoor location in Chicago's downtown area (known as "the Loop"). The city provided some funding, but most came from private sources. This provoked a certain amount of gentle, good-natured ribbing in the midwestern American manner (I remember one clever comment, "Miró, Miró on the Mall"), but ultimately, it was accepted as a landmark of the downtown area (known as "the Loop"). Known as "Chicago", it has become one of the artist's best-known works. While perhaps not as iconic, and certainly not as large, as the Sears Tower (now known as the Willis Tower), it is one of those landmarks that has become symbolic of the city. In that regard, it joins earlier, and even larger, outdoor sculptures by Alexander Calder (Flamingo) and Pablo Picasso (Untitled). These help break the monotony of modern office towers that dominate downtown Chicago and nearly all large city centers today.

That is an example of successful art in the modern era. Some public seed money, but mostly privately funded (no doubt mainly by large corporations headquartered in the Loop), the public has had its money's worth and then some, as they have a symbol of civic pride, perhaps not loved by some who are not connoisseurs of modern art, but recognized and respected enough by all that it has achieved permanence as a public landmark.

Art plays that role in any society, including modern society.
 

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Just wanted to clarify some of my thoughts on Claire Chase (and related things). After this I'll be happy to let the thread die for good.
I believe we are talking about different things. You are preoccupied with documenting institutional support for the Indie Classical groups and musicians, and I am linking Indie Classical to other Indie activities in other genres.

For example, Hip-hop was an outgrowth of the DJ'd party scene in the Bronx, NY and it after more than five years that the first major label get involved. But only after independent record labels had released the music, and continued to be the primary producers of the music.

1973 - DJ Kool Herc throws a party, "Back to School Jam" where he "invented" hip-hop where the audience heard for the first time Herc's turntablism while his friend Coke La Rock spontaneously grabbed a mic and began calling out his friends' names and rapping improvised lyrics.

1977 - The New York City blackout allowed opportunities for looting, provided a generation of NY DJs with equipment.

1978 - Robert Ford's Billboard article announces the rush for "B-bests" in NYC record stores.
- Grandmaster Flash & the Furious 4 perform a show at Audubon Ballroom in Harlem.

1979 - Another Robert Ford article titled "Jive Talking NY DJs Rapping Away in Black Discos."
- Finally the first single, "Rapper's Delight" is released on September 16th by The Sugarhill Gang on Sugar Hill Records, a small independent company founded by Sylvia Robinson, who co-wrote the song.
- Curtis Blow releases "Christmas Rap" in December 7th, the first rapper signed to a major label - six years after hip-hop appeared.

But the independent record companies like Sugar Hill and Def Jam continued to be where most of Rap music was recorded and released.

My point is that for most Indie Classical artists, they promote themselves and record their own music and put it up on Facebook, SoundCloud, YouTube, and other online sites. While some have teaching positions, and might get some grant funding, by and large this is truly a DIY phenomenon.
 

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Continuation of my last post.

I just profiled a young composer, Sarah Nemtsov, who is enjoying some success after years of promoting her work any way she could.

Eventually she won some awards, and gained enough of a profile to receive some fellowships, but in 2015 she also founded a gallery and concert venue in Berlin together with her husband Jascha Nemtsov -"Raum für Kunst und Diskurs". And she initiated (as artistic director and composer) the project "Mekomot" 2015-2016 - a concert tour with contemporary music and old Jewish liturgical chants through abandoned synagogues in Germany and Poland.

So, the self-promotion can lead to some institutional support, while these artists also often found their own venues and performance ensembles, and stage tours with their colleagues.
 

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I believe we are talking about different things. You are preoccupied with documenting institutional support for the Indie Classical groups and musicians, and I am linking Indie Classical to other Indie activities in other genres.

For example, Hip-hop was an outgrowth of the DJ'd party scene in the Bronx, NY and it after more than five years that the first major label get involved. But only after independent record labels had released the music, and continued to be the primary producers of the music.

1973 - DJ Kool Herc throws a party, "Back to School Jam" where he "invented" hip-hop where the audience heard for the first time Herc's turntablism while his friend Coke La Rock spontaneously grabbed a mic and began calling out his friends' names and rapping improvised lyrics.

1977 - The New York City blackout allowed opportunities for looting, provided a generation of NY DJs with equipment.

1978 - Robert Ford's Billboard article announces the rush for "B-bests" in NYC record stores.
- Grandmaster Flash & the Furious 4 perform a show at Audubon Ballroom in Harlem.

1979 - Another Robert Ford article titled "Jive Talking NY DJs Rapping Away in Black Discos."
- Finally the first single, "Rapper's Delight" is released on September 16th by The Sugarhill Gang on Sugar Hill Records, a small independent company founded by Sylvia Robinson, who co-wrote the song.
- Curtis Blow releases "Christmas Rap" in December 7th, the first rapper signed to a major label - six years after hip-hop appeared.

But the independent record companies like Sugar Hill and Def Jam continued to be where most of Rap music was recorded and released.

My point is that for most Indie Classical artists, they promote themselves and record their own music and put it up on Facebook, SoundCloud, YouTube, and other online sites. While some have teaching positions, and might get some grant funding, by and large this is truly a DIY phenomenon.
Here is another hip hop timeline, with dates from 1925 to 2018. I remember like it was yesterday sitting in the bleachers in Yankee Stadium in New York in 1982 next to a Latino teen blasting Malcolm McLaren's "Buffalo Gals" on his boombox. I instantly realized that this was going to be the next big thing in pop music. Having reached the top of the American popular music "charts", this is a genre that is becoming permanently embedded in our culture, and will remain even after something else takes over at no. 1. Then the question will be the importance of its role in our long-term cultural heritage. In my opinion, the Broadway musical "Hamilton", which I consider the best American musical theater work of the 21st century by a wide margin, alone guarantees its long-term survival. But we are a long way from having to consider public subsidies for hip hop music.
https://blog.prepscholar.com/hip-hop-history-timeline
 

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My point is that for most Indie Classical artists, they promote themselves and record their own music and put it up on Facebook, SoundCloud, YouTube, and other online sites. While some have teaching positions, and might get some grant funding, by and large this is truly a DIY phenomenon.
I would argue that essentially all indie classical artists who manage to make a living in music rely on grants and teaching positions. This is why I am more preoccupied with documenting institutional support than linking indie classical to, say, indie rock. Because I don't think there is a real link. Indie classical and indie rock may share the same rhetoric, but the former is much closer to traditional infrastructure than the latter ever was. The indie rock scene was explicitly anti-capitalist, and these new music ensembles, while not embracing neoliberalism outright, do appeal to neoliberal values as part of a way to distinguish themselves. This is all by necessity, because (as it stands) concert music would not survive on its own. I think exaggerating the indie classical/rock connection makes us forget that indie classical - unlike indie rock - needs an institutional helping hand. Not that you're exaggerating, but I'm just saying.
 

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I would argue that essentially all indie classical artists who manage to make a living in music rely on grants and teaching positions. This is why I am more preoccupied with documenting institutional support than linking indie classical to, say, indie rock. Because I don't think there is a real link. Indie classical and indie rock may share the same rhetoric, but the former is much closer to traditional infrastructure than the latter ever was. The indie rock scene was explicitly anti-capitalist, and these new music ensembles, while not embracing neoliberalism outright, do appeal to neoliberal values as part of a way to distinguish themselves. This is all by necessity, because (as it stands) concert music would not survive on its own. I think exaggerating the indie classical/rock connection makes us forget that indie classical - unlike indie rock - needs an institutional helping hand. Not that you're exaggerating, but I'm just saying.
Since 2014 I have been interacting, interviewing, young composers and think I can say with some confidence that I have a pretty good idea where their heads are at. These young composers all grew up in the Internet era and approach the issue of making a living with their music differently than previous generations.

Almost all of them started out making their own way, composing during and after their university period, networking with help from a professor, getting performances wherever they could, usually forming a ensemble with their peers, a collective kind of arrangement. Maybe winning some awards, maybe getting a fellowship, or a few commissions (usually less than $1,500), performing at festivals (for little money) and maybe, eventually, a teaching position (usually not tenured).

But all of this happened because of their self-starting approach, using the Internet in combination with cultivating support through live gigs - all of which was through their own efforts with little or no institutional support - but maybe getting enough attention to apply for and get a grant (usually after dozens of unsuccessful attempts).

All but the most successful/famous still have to market themselves independently.

I only brought up the Hip-hop example to highlight how the DIY paradigm works: it starts out completely grassroots level and then attracts some mainstream support. But even with mainstream support, by and large, these musicians are still operating on their own.

By now, I accept that you are convinced of your own opinion, and none of what I have just written will cause you to accept my view. So I will make this my last exchange with you on this issue.
 

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By now, I accept that you are convinced of your own opinion, and none of what I have just written will cause you to accept my view. So I will make this my last exchange with you on this issue.
That's probably for the best. We really agree on most things, and it's only here that there's a small disagreement. But no matter - thanks for the exchange and for your cool blog. :cool:
 

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I sometimes wonder what the credentials are to call oneself ‘a composer’ these days. I don’t know what the statistics are, but my guess is that (outside of the filming industry), the majority of those who call themselves composers can’t make a living out of it alone. Ideally, it would seem that there should be something other than just self-declaration that establishes the cred that goes with being a composer.

It doesn’t help that, as others who like contemporary music in general and avant-garde in particular, have admitted, the less structure and more dissonance, the more difficult it is to tell the more talented composers from the less talented. I don’t think putting a few works on YouTube defines one as a composer either.
 

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I sometimes wonder what the credentials are to call oneself 'a composer' these days. I don't know what the statistics are, but my guess is that (outside of the filming industry), the majority of those who call themselves composers can't make a living out of it alone. Ideally, it would seem that there should be something other than just self-declaration that establishes the cred that goes with being a composer.

It doesn't help that, as others who like contemporary music in general and avant-garde in particular, have admitted, the less structure and more dissonance, the more difficult it is to tell the more talented composers from the less talented. I don't think putting a few works on YouTube defines one as a composer either.
I guess I'm wondering whether it matters. On tax returns people might put an occupation that supplies at least a reasonable percentage of their income. In life, people can identify their occupation however they wish. If one has written two compositions which no one has recorded, it might be a stretch to call oneself a composer rather than say one wishes to be a composer. But I think this thread concerns those who spend a significant amount of time thinking about composing, writing compositions, and trying to get their works performed. What is their life like?
 

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I guess I'm wondering whether it matters. On tax returns people might put an occupation that supplies at least a reasonable percentage of their income. In life, people can identify their occupation however they wish. If one has written two compositions which no one has recorded, it might be a stretch to call oneself a composer rather than say one wishes to be a composer. But I think this thread concerns those who spend a significant amount of time thinking about composing, writing compositions, and trying to get their works performed. What is their life like?
Point taken, but the OP concerns the 'reality of life of contemporary composers' and I would suggest that like some of the other arts, painting and writing, it is important for one to, early on, be realistic about the reality of whatever particular artist they wish to be. Unless one has a realistic expectation of making a living from composing it would probably be a good idea, sooner than later, to have plans for a good day job that could support composing on the side rather than pinning one's hopes on composing.

Fwiw, I was inspired to post this after reading an article on money paid today's composers for commissions. The figure of $1500 per commission mentioned by someone above happens to be exactly what the average commission is with quite an overall range, but with a very small percentage of composers earning what would seem to be a living wage from commissions alone.

It was a little dispiriting considering the time a composer might spend composing even just a 10 minute work. I understand that likely most present day composers don't depend on commissions for even a majority of their income, but commissions are, I would think, an important part of being accepted as a successful composer.
 

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I guess I'm wondering whether it matters. On tax returns people might put an occupation that supplies at least a reasonable percentage of their income. In life, people can identify their occupation however they wish. If one has written two compositions which no one has recorded, it might be a stretch to call oneself a composer rather than say one wishes to be a composer. But I think this thread concerns those who spend a significant amount of time thinking about composing, writing compositions, and trying to get their works performed. What is their life like?
A composer is someone who writes music. Outsiders judging if they are a "good composer" is a personal subjective judgment, and irrelevant.

I trust that young composers following their bliss possess artistic integrity and are pursuing their calling, which is to write the music they feel strongly about. I have spent the last 7 years talking with them about their work, supporting them and promoting them as best I can because I believe strongly that they represent the future of Classical music.
 

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I understand that likely most present day composers don't depend on commissions for even a majority of their income, but commissions are, I would think, an important part of being accepted as a successful composer.
Most of the famous western composers were not big money makers, and often made much of their income performing, teaching, conducting, as church organists, etc. Rachmaninoff came from a wealthy family but lost all in the revolution and came to the US with nothing (a friend gave him $500 or he would have been completely destitute.) Over 40 and with a family to support, he had to adopt a punishing performance schedule as a pianist, and with some savvy investing (reportedly he was a stock market wiz) he gradually built his fortune back up. But there are fewer compositions from that time of his life, with good reason. Stravinsky struggled financially despite creating a career of conducting and recording his own music. Bartok was penniless after he fled from Europe.

As far as I can tell, composing classical music has been a lucrative occupation for very few outside of a few composers of operatic hits. I suppose Andrew Lloyd Webber, one of the world's wealthiest musicians today, is the modern equivalent of Meyerbeer. Another like him will come along eventually (wince!), but most composers will have to find creative ways to get by.
 

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Most of the famous western composers were not big money makers, and often made much of their income performing, teaching, conducting, as church organists, etc. Rachmaninoff came from a wealthy family but lost all in the revolution and came to the US with nothing (a friend gave him $500 or he would have been completely destitute.) Over 40 and with a family to support, he had to adopt a punishing performance schedule as a pianist, and with some savvy investing (reportedly he was a stock market wiz) he gradually built his fortune back up. But there are fewer compositions from that time of his life, with good reason. Stravinsky struggled financially despite creating a career of conducting and recording his own music. Bartok was penniless after he fled from Europe.

As far as I can tell, composing classical music has been a lucrative occupation for very few outside of a few composers of operatic hits. I suppose Andrew Lloyd Webber, one of the world's wealthiest musicians today, is the modern equivalent of Meyerbeer. Another like him will come along eventually (wince!), but most composers will have to find creative ways to get by.
I like ALW. I find him consistently clever (his musical ideas). But I don't know any musician friend who agrees with me. :confused: What are they expecting?, what are they not getting? Maybe it's an overall distaste for everything involved in the productions? I've only seen bits and pieces of a few musicals. It's true, I wouldn't spend the time required to watch any, expect JC Superstar. But the songs are distinctive and fun to play. He seems to be very self-critical.
 
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I recently saw an article in NewMusicBox which had some data on commissions. The median was $1,500.00, but some were six figures with a cluster around $5,000. Many of the young composers I talk with have gotten commissions, but not enough to live on. It is a variety of revenue streams.

Composer Commission Pay in the United States

Regarding ALW - I vastly prefer Stephen Sondheim who made it pretty high on the "composers favorite composers list."
 

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Regarding ALW - I vastly prefer Stephen Sondheim who made it pretty high on the "composers favorite composers list."
I think you win the prize here for the most profound understatement I've ever seen at TC. I liked Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. JC Superstar was tolerable, though I preferred Godspell. Cats adopted poetry of the great T. S. Eliot, which was a good concept. I could do without the rest of ALW. Meanwhile, Sondheim has simply been extraordinary. I only brought up ALW as he is the most financially successful composer of at least arguably classical music alive today. Only a handful of others, such as Paul McCartney, Elton John, and Herb Alpert, reportedly are wealthier.
 

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How new music is made and the support community it generates.

https://cantaloupemusic.com/about
"Cantaloupe Music is the record label created and launched in March 2001 by the three founders of New York's legendary Bang on a Can organization-composers Michael Gordon, David Lang and Julia Wolfe-with Bang on a Can managing director Kenny Savelson. Cantaloupe Music has made a massive impact in the new music community, and has been recognized by critics and fans worldwide for its edgy and adventurous sounds."

https://bangonacan.org/about_us/
"Bang on a Can is dedicated to making music new. Since its first Marathon concert in 1987, Bang on a Can has been creating an international community dedicated to innovative music, wherever it is found. With adventurous programs, it commissions new composers, performs, presents, and records new work, develops new audiences, and educates the musicians of the future. Bang on a Can is building a world in which powerful new musical ideas flow freely across all genres and borders."

https://bangonacan.org/peoples_commissioning_fund/
"The People's Commissioning Fund is a radical partnership between artists and audiences to commission works from adventurous composers. PCF is simple; we bundle together hundreds of individual contributions of all sizes and select three or more new composers to write pieces for the phenomenal Bang on a Can All-Stars."

From Wikipedia:

The following is an incomplete list of experimental music festivals, which encapsulates music festivals focused on experimental music. This list may have some overlap with list of contemporary classical music festivals and list of electroacoustic festivals. Experimental music is a compositional tradition that arose in the mid-20th century, particularly in North America, of music composed in such a way that its outcome is unforeseeable. The Groupe de Recherches de Musique Concrète (GRMC), under the leadership of Pierre Schaeffer, organized the First International Decade of Experimental Music between 8 and 18 June 1953, and the phrase was used by musician John Cage as early as 1955. Afterwards saw the development of specific experimental musical instruments, which were featured at various music festivals. Musique concrète is an experimental form of electroacoustic music, and free improvisation or free music is improvised music without any rules beyond the taste or inclination of the musician(s) involved.

In the 1950s, the term "experimental" was often applied by conservative music critics-along with a number of other words, such as "engineers art", "musical splitting of the atom", "alchemist's kitchen", "atonal", and "serial"-as a deprecating jargon term, which must be regarded as "abortive concepts", since they did not "grasp a subject". This was an attempt to marginalize, and thereby dismiss various kinds of music that did not conform to established conventions. In 1955, Pierre Boulez identified it as a "new definition that makes it possible to restrict to a laboratory, which is tolerated but subject to inspection, all attempts to corrupt musical morals. Once they have set limits to the danger, the good ostriches go to sleep again and wake only to stamp their feet with rage when they are obliged to accept the bitter fact of the periodical ravages caused by experiment." He concludes, "There is no such thing as experimental music ... but there is a very real distinction between sterility and invention".

Avant-garde music is music that is considered to be at the forefront of innovation in its field, with the term "avant-garde" implying a critique of existing aesthetic conventions, rejection of the status quo in favor of unique or original elements, and the idea of deliberately challenging or alienating audiences. Avant-garde music may be distinguished from experimental music by the way it adopts an extreme position within a certain tradition, whereas experimental music lies outside tradition.
 

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It’s interesting but the life of a composer rarely did consist just of composing music. Bach had numerous other duties and Mozart as free lance had to take pupils and live the life of a virtuoso. It was Beethoven’s deafness that forced him into the life of a composer else he would’ve done other things especially as a pianist. Mahler was a conductor. As a writer, writing is a sideline among other things. And I guess composing is to musicians unless they are extremely fortunate in finding funding
 

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It's interesting but the life of a composer rarely did consist just of composing music. Bach had numerous other duties and Mozart as free lance had to take pupils and live the life of a virtuoso. It was Beethoven's deafness that forced him into the life of a composer else he would've done other things especially as a pianist. Mahler was a conductor. As a writer, writing is a sideline among other things. And I guess composing is to musicians unless they are extremely fortunate in finding funding
 
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