Thursday, January 01, 2009


Yesterday I was contacted by a very nice person who told me that I had been chosen, because of my accomplishments as a composer, to be in some kind of international directory of important people. She happened to call right after I missed a call from my daughter, and, expecting that the new caller was my daughter, I answered the phone with a (probably loud) "Hi Sweetie!" I just had to give the person calling a hearing.

Sure enough, after a series of questions about my work that were engineered to make me feel good about myself and my accomplishments, the question of paying for membership came up. When I told the caller that I didn't have money for this kind of thing, she used the word "marketing" in her reply, saying something about the importance of marketing to get my work known to people of influence.

The idea of "marketing" myself as a composer sort of turns my stomach. The days of non-commercial composers actually making money (like enough money to live on) from writing music were pretty much over when I started writing. It is even difficult to find people willing to make room on concert programs for living composers, unless they specifically tailor their programs to include new music, or they play with an ensemble with an unusual configuration of instruments.

I hate the idea of telling someone that my "product" is something that they should "buy" because of who I know or who I am connected to. I hold the belief that if what I write has merit, musicians will want to play it, and if what I write does not, musicians will not be interested in playing it. The "real world" of commerce, marketing, and business has always been repelling to me, especially when it comes to music, which I still hold to be a sacred and personal vehicle for self expression and deep interpersonal communication.

I do have respect for the people who can make a go of "selling" their "product," but you will probably never see me at the "market." I'll be at home, and if anyone is interested in what I am doing musically (or otherwise), they know where to reach me.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

I completely understand what you are saying - its kind of sleazy to say that you have been chosen and then ask for a fee. On the other hand, I am reaching the end of my time as an Art Rumpunzel, and do think that marketing needs to be dealt with.
Instead of thinking of it as "selling" you product you can think of it as giving people an opportunity to enjoy your work. That is my current approach