The cash comparison


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All the elements of the world premiere of Deranged Drums on Digital Vistas were paid for by the audience that attended the concert or will use the recorded music. The contributions were processed through Indiegogo which is a crowd funding site similar to Kickstarter but with some different criteria in pricing and how the funds could be accessed.

Can you make any kind of living as an artist? Is an interesting article written by Elizabeth Day in The Observer last year http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2012/jul/29/artists-day-job-feature?CMP=twt_gu but even more illuminating are the comments from artists working in many different parts of the creative industries that follow the post.

Setting a fee for a creative work is a difficult calculation to make. How many hours have been spent in production? What is the going rate and what else is being produced by other artists and at what price? How much did the raw materials cost and what about the uniqueness/individuality of the work? How do you measure creativity and what is the rate per second? If a work took months to create is this reflected in the price?

A comparison of fees between artists and tradesmen is often quoted when negotiations are in progress. The average yearly salary for an electrician from the totaljobs.com website is £29,000 (range between £26,000 and £33,000). Prospect.ac.uk lists orchestral musicians as having a yearly salary between £25,000 and £50,000 and electrician engineers between £20,000 and £40,000.

That is the salary but then there are materials and an electrician will follow a plan drawn up by the architect (for the Royal Institute of British Architects salary guide go to http://www.ribaappointments.com/Salary-Guide.aspx) or the orchestral musician will perform the music (composer’s salary guide not available/never been produced) more than likely under the direction of a conductor (Tom Service in the Guardian has some American examples http://www.theguardian.com/music/tomserviceblog/2009/may/18/classical-music-conductors).

The creative process from imagination to design to production can be long and is this ever included in the fee(s)? When I started my publishing business over 30 years ago I was impatient for my music to get to the performers. I had many ideas of which some were impractical but many others were produced and published and performed. Regular employment stifled much of this creativity (no time to consider and progress ideas) but now I am freelance again the ideas are being finalised.

What the years of institutionalisation have given me is – better standards of production, some more efficient ways of working using technology as an assistant not as the be-all and end-all, a greater awareness of marketing strategies and more impatience as the ideas flow and need producing for the performers.
I doubt I will use crowd funding again, a website link (www.prbpnews.info)to all the details would work just as well, but I am glad of the experience and it focussed the mind to bring the music alive in the studio at the Joseph Bramah. As for the cash flow – slow at the moment but picking up.

© P.R.Birkby 2014, all figures researched on 07/09/2014

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About derangeddrums

Composer, percussionist, musical director, teacher and educator. My music has been written for audiences in palaces and in the street. Music is my vocation and my passion and I hope you enjoy it too.
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