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I have been making music for 6 years and I am now starting to practise scoring to picture in Cubase. I have a few potential clients that want to work with me too.

The simple question is: did you start scoring for free (as a volunteer) just to build your credits and portfolio before charging? If so, has it benefited when you show a client your track record?

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When you do stuff for free you are devaluing the craft hurting yourself, fellow composers, and music itself.

You should also consider the fact that a decent client wouldn't ask for free stuff.



"When you do stuff for free you are devaluing the craft hurting yourself, fellow composers, and music itself."

With all due respect, I would say that this is absolutely untrue, in every important respect: moral, psychological, social and aesthetic. (In fact, the author of the statement above has done work for free on this site, helping others with their music. I am not sure he really believes what he is saying in his heart).

The greatest composers in history produced music for free on countless occasions, and gave it away without charge. In many cases, composers have written works on commission without being paid (as was the case for Mozart, when he wrote one of his Flute and Harp Concertos). When composers have contracted and taken commissions, they have on occasions felt shame and personal guilt, for wasting their time and producing junk, in accordance with the base political tendencies of those who paid them (Two famous cases are Beethoven's "Wellington's Victory," and Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture," which both composers despised as amongst their worst works, created for the sake of those demanding "patriotic claptrap" to suit a particular occasion).

Far from "devaluing your craft," when you compose for free, you are improving, elevating, and perfecting your craft, whenever you write music with pure motives, and for the sake of the music itself, and the ideas contained in the music. The value of any music exists totally independently from any monetary value attached to the work, and depends entirely upon the internal, inherent, and formal content of the music: it's aesthetic worth.


In some cases, the financial cost of producing a work and bringing it to a performance EXCEEDS the actual income produced by the work, for all concerned: producer, artists, and musicians. The work produces in that case "negative" monetary value, and creates a debt. Does that mean the work itself has negative aesthetic value? Of course not. By that standard, Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, which closed on opening night, possessed "negative" aesthetic value. One could cite countless similar instances where the value lies in the hard work, the unique result, and in the intentions of the artist, as well as in the essential nature of the work itself, which may have great worth even apart from the artist, but for the history of music and art.

From a practical point of view, one must decide, case by case, whether working for a particular person or organization is beneficial, for the art, for the composer, for any audience, independently of such factors as payment. No financial payment in the short run may lead to more payment in the long run, not just financial payment, but recompense in ever good sense of the word "reward," including moral, aesthetic and spiritual satisfaction.

I am listening to a man speaking on the radio right now, on the internet, broadcasting live from Honduras. He is speaking against the corruption of the government in Honduras, and denouncing the arrest and conviction of this fellow journalist (David Romero, on a trumped up charge of "defamation.") He is not doing this for money. He knows in fact, like his colleague, and two high profile activists who were just assassinated during the past 15 days, he could easily end up in jail himself, or even killed outright. Interestingly, one of the activists was killed not long after she publicly blamed Hillary Clinton for facilitating and backing the coup d'etat which overthrow Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, during her tenure as Secretary of State.

http://www.democracynow.org/2016/3/11/before_her_assassination_bert...


If such men and women can display such courage in the face of such odds, I think we can muster up enough courage to focus on the integrity of our work, rather than on the question of "payment." If "payment" is the primary consideration, should composition even be considered as a major means of pecuniary reward? If one focuses mostly on money, will the resulting series of compositions be the fruit of genuine aesthetic insight, or simply what the commercial industry demands, in the way of conformity, mediocrity and anti-creative agendas, which have nothing to do with "art?"

The man I am listening to, on Radio Globo Honduras, says, "I am willing to go to jail if I have to, in order to speak now and tell the truth."

What are we willing to do for the sake of our art?

Concerning my dad working his carpet cleaning business:

"Far from 'devaluing your craft,' when you clean people's homes and businesses for free, you are improving, elevating, and perfecting your craft, whenever you clean carpet with pure motives, and for the sake of the carpet itself, and the fibers contained in the carpet. The value of any carpet cleaned exists totally independently from any monetary value attached to the work, and depends entirely upon the internal, inherent, and formal content of the carpet: it's aesthetic worth."
The simple question is: did you start scoring for free (as a volunteer) just to build your credits and portfolio before charging? If so, has it benefited when you show a client your track record?

And to flat out answer you question, I charged $1000 for my first one at the tender age of 21, now my last one just about a month ago I charged $5000 for much less work at the age of 38.

Someone actually paid $5000 for a piece with a 2nd movement that was a minute of silence?

I feel like there's something different about composing music vs. cleaning carpets...  I just can't put my finger on it.


Rodney Carlyle Money said:

Concerning my dad working his carpet cleaning business:

"Far from 'devaluing your craft,' when you clean people's homes and businesses for free, you are improving, elevating, and perfecting your craft, whenever you clean carpet with pure motives, and for the sake of the carpet itself, and the fibers contained in the carpet. The value of any carpet cleaned exists totally independently from any monetary value attached to the work, and depends entirely upon the internal, inherent, and formal content of the carpet: it's aesthetic worth."
Driscoll, commercial, and by the way business is business whether it be music or anything else.
BTW, commercial that aired on NBC.
And btw, again, that moment of silence piece already has four professional trumpet players who want to perform it as soon as I'm done.

I agree with Rodney and Rafal.It's one thing to work for your art on your own time. But if you are working for a client you should not work for free. Anyone who runs any kind of free-lance or contractor type business knows this,sometimes learned the hard way. Doing work for free is  a terrible strategy if it is meant as marketing or advertising. You can however use your art, done on your own time, in your portfolio. If you want to do work for free compose for a nonprofit that you support.

It was a commercial for the school you work at...  If they really paid you $5000 for those 30 seconds, then you're probably not being paid enough salary, my friend.

And yes, most cities in this country have local NBC affiliates, on which local commercials are shown.

That's great news about the trumpet piece.  Be sure to let us know how much you're charging each one of them for the performance rights...

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