Daniel Bernard Roumain, Bill T. Jones, Marc Bamuthi Joseph - creative team behind the opera 'We Shall Not Be Moved' - commissioning and funding new music

Daniel B. Roumain, Bill T. Jones, Marc B. Joseph

“Some of your most gratifying musical experiences will be those that serve the greater good.”
The Musician’s Wayp. 299

Musicians and arts leaders who understand how to commission high-quality music can build new audiences, increase their revenues, engage underserved populations, and contribute to their fields.

Even so, commissioning processes are complex, and few are covered in music school curricula.

To help narrow that educational gap, my recent conference presentation, “Commissioning and Funding New Music,” covers processes and resources for performers, composers, and administrators to execute successful commissions.

A featured workshop at the 2021 College Music Society South Central Regional Conference, the presentation is now available for free viewing via Scholar Works at the University of Texas at Tyler.

New Music, New Audiences, Big Impacts

I sort through ways to initiate and manage commissioning projects, negotiate fees, access funding, measure impacts, administer intellectual property rights, form consortia, and more.

The session begins with four examples of commissioning projects ranging from small to large in scale – the smallest undertaken by an instrumental duo and the largest being Opera Philadelphia’s commission of “We Shall Not Be Moved,” by composer Daniel Bernard Roumain and librettist Marc Bamuthi Joseph, with Bill T. Jones directing.

Next, I address ways to conceive project ideas that achieve artistic, financial, and social action goals while matching funder guidelines. To facilitate funding, I share tips to identify grantmakers, craft grant proposals, and do crowdfunding.

I also propose avenues to determine composer fees along with tactics for composers, performers, presenters, publishers, and recording engineers to collaborate productively.

After an overview of U.S. intellectual property laws, I tackle procedures to handle copyright ownership and finalize contracts between stakeholders. I also highlight a source for emerging artists to access free legal help.

The session wraps up with principles of consortium commissioning and a curated list of relevant links.

My aim is to furnish musicians, educators, and arts leaders with essential know-how to pursue commissioning ventures and build enthusiastic, diverse audiences.

View my presentation, “Commissioning and Funding New Music” via Scholar Works at UT Tyler.

For assistance with developing, funding, and managing commissions or other arts and education projects, contact me to discuss possible consulting.

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© 2021 Gerald Klickstein
Photo via the We Shall Not Be Moved website