Recently, I’ve become conscious of us all needing to support composers and arrangers, particularly after the lack of performances and sheet music sales over the past two years. I’m aware that some people will see this gesture, including this blog post, as a kind of underhand way of me promoting myself. This is absolutely not my style. This is about exploring ways we can all support composers and arrangers in their work, in a way which enables the to keep creating and writing in the future. Some of the ways I’ve outlined below are very simple, take just a few seconds, and quite often, cost nothing. They are things we can all do it we choose to.
1. Share, like and comment on their work on social media
Not everyone is in a position to buy sheet music, but sometimes, people would still like to support composers and their work. One of the easiest and quickest ways to do this is to share, like and comment on their social media pots. Sometimes people say they don’t like doing this because they’re not sure their followers would be interested, but actually, that’s kind of the point. You never know who amongst your followers might be interested, so if you see something from a composer you like, hit share, or retweet it. It literally takes seconds and costs nothing. Likewise, if you like something a composer has written and shared, comment on their post and tell them. YouTube comments are great for this. Little things like this can make a huge difference, they cost nothing, and they’re super quick and easy!
2. Say “no” to illegal photocopying and file sharing
I appreciate this is a minefield, and as someone told me the other day, ‘unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a way of me being able to mention it to people…without incurring assorted wrath, mockery, mild abuse and being defriended.’ Copyright is a complex issue. It is a complex issue for composers as much as it is performers, so believe it or not, composers do understand the challenges faced. It can be a difficult area to navigate, and yes, sometimes we will all make mistakes, or at the very least, have to make a judgement based on the information available to us.
Over the years, I’ve heard all sorts reasons used as justification why people seem to think it’s OK to photocopy and distribute copyrighted music, including the cost of music, the accessibility of music, the lack of music shops, time, plus a whole host of other reasons. One of the reasons I think people get so defensive about this is they know they are in the wrong, and the wrath, mockery and mild abuse are their way of attempting to hide that.
I really like this notice which is displayed on all of the envelopes of music sent by June Emerson Wind Music (and thank you to them for allowing me to reproduce it here):
Every time an illegal copy is made:
A composer loses their income from that work
A publisher loses the income from their investment in that work
A music shop loses a potential sale
The future of composers, publishers and music shops are threatened
Refuse to use unlawfully copied material
The heart of the problem lies in people making illegal photocopies in order to avoid paying, but would you go into Tesco, buy one apple, and take another 20 with you anyway, just because you’ve bought one and don’t want to pay for any more? I don’t think they’d let you do that.
One of the new issues which is, perhaps, even harder to ‘police’, is people downloading digital copies of sheet music, usually as PDF files, and sharing these. The same principles apply. Yes, many composers and publishers offer a PDF with a licence to reproduce, and that’s fine, so long as you adhere to the terms and conditions of that licence. But, downloading one copy and sharing it in avoidance of buying further copies or a licence, is not on. People can try and justify it as much as they like, but all the same applies.
Above all, don’t actively seek to avoid paying someone for their work, and at the very least, stop and think. How would you feel?
3. Tell them about performances
Every month I post on social media asking people to let me know if they’re performing or programming my work. I’m not the only one, yet in all the years I’ve been asking, no one has ever told me. This seems to be quite common, and talking to other composers, we find out about performances quite by accident, almost always after they’ve taken place. But, if you let us know, we can actually help you promote your event. We have our own social media channels and websites, and in some cases, mailing lists. You never know, we might be able to come and be part of your event. But, we can only help you, if we know. Composers really are on your side, and if you’re performing our works, we’d be delighted to help you.
4. Credit them in programmes on publicity material and in service sheets
In general, I think people are pretty good at this, but if you are performing our works, do credit it us in your programmes and on publicity material. It’s a real bonus and a lovely gesture if you can send us a programme too! It can also be important for generating royalties such as those from the Performing Rights Society (PRS).
5. Buy their work
OK, this does seem to be the sticking point. I get a fair amount of interest in my works, as do many composers I speak to. People often tell me they like particular pieces, but this doesn’t always translate into sales. Receiving nice comments about what we write is a lovely thing, and something which I’m sure we all treasure, but alas, it doesn’t pay the bills. Yes, there’s an associated expense, and money is always tight, particularly when it comes to music performances, groups and students. But, in the great scheme of things, music isn’t always that expensive. None of us like making monetary commitments and putting our money where our mouth is, but ultimately, this is what enables composers to keep creating. All the other things I’ve listed both above and below help, but if you can go the extra mile, this is what matters when it comes to paying the bills.
6. Tell them if you enjoy what they compose
As a composer, and indeed, as any artist, it’s lovely when people tell you they enjoy what you write. It’s such a simple thing, but it has a huge impact. Even if you just perform or listen to one work which you enjoy, tell the composer or arranger. It will mean the world to them. There may even be instances where you can leave a review online, maybe on their Facebook pages or website. Again, it’s really simple, quick and cost-free.
7. Follow them and subscribe to their channels
Again, it’s a really simple thing, costs you nothing, and takes just a few seconds. You can find my social media links below, and you can also support me by signing up to my monthly newsletter.
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Support other composers in this way too. It all helps, even if it doesn’t feel to you as if it does.
8. Consider supporting their work virtually
I’ve recently started a page on Ko-Fi where people can buy me a virtual coffee from as little as £2 (see below). Not everyone is able to buy our compositions, but there are still people who’d like to support us. This can be a lovely, simple, and let’s face it, very cheap way to show your support.
Whatever support you are able to give composers and arrangers, we are very grateful.
If you have enjoyed this post, please consider supporting my work by buying me a virtual coffee. You can do this from as little as £2 and it enables me continue creating and developing new content, services and products. Your support is much appreciated.
You can also support my work by connecting with me online
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