Taking a cue from the fantastic new digs Sequenza21 has due to Jerry and Jeff, the concept of web presence springs to mind as a good first topic in the forum. I myself have been slowly but steadily working on creating an online presence over the past year (amazing how finishing a dissertation allows one time for such things) and so far I’ve created a decent non-flash website, a myspace site and (as of last night) a nice little Wiki entry on the Sequenza21 site. Add to that the postings I’ve done on this site as well as comments I’ve sporadically interjected on the NewMusicBox and Adapstration sites – not a huge presence, but I’d hope someone noticed I’m here. The fact that these inroads can be acheived is imperative to those of us who aren’t blessed with a residence in a major metropolitan hub – Oklahoma City is a fine city, but I’d be hard-pressed to have a career solely as a regional composer (as if I’m not already hard-pressed having a career as a composer, period).

I’m curious to see what your thoughts are on the need of composers to have an online presence, how you’ve gone about making your own presence known and where do you see this taking us in the future? Here’s a few related questions – pick and choose as you like:

  • What do you see as essential components of a composer’s web site? What about other components that you hate to see on a composer’s site?
  • How much time do you spend on upkeep and updates? Do you find this to be a drain on your creative efforts?
  • Have you had good or bad luck putting music (both recordings and scores) online, if you do at all? What works, what doesn’t?
  • Do you have any favorite composer’s sites that you would point to as models of fantastic design, usefulness and ease of navigation

I must admit, it was fun to have my freshman theory class tell me they liked my myspace site… they loved the idea of keeping tabs on their teacher online untill I informed them that I had already checked out their Facebook pages. Nothing like making a bunch of 18-year olds blush at 8am.

Note to Jerry: Ahhhhhhhhh…posting on the new system is a very good thing!

48 Responses to “Whither Web Site?”
  1. david toub says:

    Rob, I think that a Web presence is mission critical. That shouldn’t come as any surprise. Until I got my music up on the Web, no one had heard any of my music for over two decades. Recently, I had to pony up more $ to .mac since I exceeded my 25 GB/month bandwidth allotment, in large part from people downloading my music.

    My personal preference is to keep one’s site simple and tasteful. On my music page, all that exists is a table with MP3 downloads and scores, along with links to relevant information and, as an added touch, a Flash-based music player. The focus should be on the music, not a lot of extraneous stuff. My bias is in favor of providing free music and scores right on the site. The stuff that I don’t care for as much on many composer’s sites is marketing stuff and testimonials.

    I don’t spend much time on updates, and mainly update it when I write a new work, which is 1-2x annually. Most of the tweaks I make are minor and infrequent, so it’s hardly a drain on creative efforts.

    As mentioned, I have had good luck putting music online. But one caveat: just because you have a site built doesn’t mean anyone is going to go there. I had a quick and dirty site I built in Flash and HTML a few years ago that probably got few if any hits. I rebuilt the site from the ground up as a component of my personal home page and also added a blog. My MySpace page also links back to my site, and I would suggest you do as much as you can to get users to your site. The site should also be sticky, so that they’ll spend time there and also come back. Obviously, if you’re populating the site with music every so often, it can be somewhat sticky.

    I think that if one writes honest music and puts it up for free download, you can have a lot of people encounter your music through viral marketing. And of course, blogging at S21 could be a big help for you as well.

    My favorite site isn’t that of a composer, to be honest. It’s for the Flux Quartet and has relevance to composer’s sites as well. I like the design, which is clean and easy on the eyes. I’ve done a lot of site development at work and as a hobby, and have worked with a lot of Web designers who have taught me a lot about interface development and what makes sites useful and sticky. That’s influenced my own work, although my own site is nowhere near what I’d like it to be, mostly because of lack of time. I’d love my blog to have a better design, but just don’t have the time to do it, nor do I want to risk losing all my previous posts and comments by converting iBlog to WordPress. With my luck, it would happen, and I’m better off having a functional blog with a stale design than a great design without three years of content.

    FWIW, most MySpace pages are terrible. Really ugly, hard to read, and just crappy. Learn from their mistakes 8-)

    Good luck!

  2. Rodney Lister says:

    Well, I think Max Davies’s website–Maxopus.com–is more or less the gold standard. It’s certainly well done, anyway; it’s full of information and I think it’s pretty easy to navigate. It seems to me that Nico Muhly’s site is also pretty good.

  3. I think a composer today really has to honestly assess what they hope to accomplish with a web site. What are you going to do with this visitor to your little web home? Entertain them? Shmooze them? Sell them stuff?

    I know very very few composer websites that I think work well. (I’ll disagree with Rodney, I think Sir MD’s site absolutely sucks for the following reasons). They all seem to be confused. I’m selling CD’s with snippets, no I’m hosting my resume, no I’m showing how cute I am. I have to sit while some Flash loads to find out there’s nothing there but a C.V. and some pics? If I have to click more then 3 navigation items to the audio and then it’s just a snippet I’m out of there. I assume most people are like me. Here’s a new name, where can I hear her stuff. Make it easy to be interesting. Engage the ears, if possible not the eyes and the mind.

    When I re-designed my website, which was certainly one of the first composer websites in existence, if not THE absolute first composer website, I decided I would attempt to overwhelm them with audio – force them to bookmark it because there was just so much cool stuff. I had already decided I would give everything away. But I’d been doing that since the 80′s with street art, mail art and the cassette trading scene. We were sending art to anybody who wrote us back then. I would send a free cassette to anybody that sent me a postcard. I’ve always given my music away.

    So, I decided to make all of my favorite MP3′s ALWAYS visible. Every page on my site has links to MP3′s. And since I added the del.icio.us playtagger code, every MP3 is streamable with a single click. No player, just click. I have almost a hundred clickable MP3′s on my frontpage alone. I also decided to have all of my favorite PDF’s on each page. Getting the audio up front makes it simple to turn the cold visitor into a fan.

    Practically every one of my 10-20 performances I get a year is from my Internet involvement. And frankly, that was going before the web. Like I’m saying a website is practically useless if you haven’t built a reputation online. There are thousands of composer websites and everyone of those people, paid for it thinking they were going to get commissions by just getting linked. Ha… You get commissions by making friends, by being interesting, and by using the Internet to shmooze. The website can be a destination, but if you make friends on the Internet, contacts etc., frankly you could get the same results with an email address and a blog. A website is the destination for post-self-promotion endeavors. If you’re not going to put up MP3′s just put up a blog. More about that below.

    And these days, as David suggest, we all need to have website(s). Everybody has to have a MySpace page, a couple of OMD’s (like download.com or mp3.com, etc), a blog with audio, a honey pot page to lure people to your audio like a ‘Hey I figured how to do this amazing thing and here’s the code for it – and while you’re at it check out my tunes’ page. ;)

    As far as upkeep, I think one should build your website if not around the blog paradigm, at least by using blogging software. Getting in and tweaking your HTML with a text editor sucks and your site will look like crap while you do it. Blogging software manages the look, and you just modify the content. It’s a no-brainer. Don’t learn HTML. Learn how to use blogging software well, how to install software, how to run a database if you need. I spend almost no time on upkeep. When I added this week’s little article about upcoming premieres and Daniel Wolf’s profile of me, it took me 15 minutes to write. Done. In the past I would have had to copy an old blurb, find the font defs, etc… and then it’s all bold or something. Ouch… blogging software is a dream come true. WordPress, MT, whatever, anything is better than a text editor. And it doesn’t have to look like a blog. WordPress lets you make ‘pages’ that are just plain old HTML with their editor. The concert page I made yesterday took me 5 minutes.


  4. tom izzo says:

    * What do you see as essential components of a composer’s web site?

    I think free audio is vital to the composer website experience. A composer that doesn’t have audio is akin to a painter not having
    pictures of her/his work on their site; just doesn’t make sense.

    * How much time do you spend on upkeep and updates? Do you find this to be a drain on your creative efforts?

    I’m horrible with that stuff so I try to keep my site general enough that it doesn’t require alot of upkeep.

    I’m almost tempted to ditch my website and focus on my myspace page, which has generated more gigs and networking opportunities
    than my website probably ever will.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I discovered the music of Jean-Francois Laporte through his website. I heard about him through a professor, but it was his website that allowed me to get to know his music since none of it is published. I think his website is very effective in taking you into his artistic world, quite fragile but puissant.

  6. Yay! I’m glad someone else out there is into Jean-François Laporte! He’s a great guy and a wonderful composer and sound artist. As for websites, I wish I had the time to redesign my own. One of these days…

  7. sequenza21 says:

    Memo to Anonymous. We appreciate your comments and I particularly am glad to hear about a composer whose work I didn’t know. But, we prefer comments to be signed–your real name or just one made up name, please. Thanks.

  8. Aaron says:

    I’m guessing Anonymous is a former student of mine (Eric, perhaps?). I programmed some of JFL’s music on the New Voices concert on the New Music Northwestern series and included his work in the Music of the Last Decade class I taught last winter.

    I still maintain a pretty considerable skepticism about putting complete pieces (either scores or recordings) on my site. I’ve been relaxing things a bit over the last few yrs (in part due to Steve Layton’s cajoling), but I’m still unsure I trust the online world to be honest. I’m always happy to send out free music, but somehow it seems better to do that on a case-by-case basis after some initial email contact.

    Anyone else share my (luddite) fears?

  9. Jeff says:

    Heh… of course I don’t. But may I suggest a thought experiment? Do the math. How many CD’s – at the height of your soon-to-be-amazing career will you realistically sell to people (not libraries, institutions, not given away, and not end up as cutouts).

    Say you have 5 CD’s come out over the next 10 years. Say each one really sells 400 copies to people. So say that 1/4 those people have downloaded the CD and DON’T buy your CD you’ve lost 500 sales.

    At the same time, by not hosting your MP3′s as full length pieces, how many listens have you lost? Repeat listens. Web audio is really hot now, thanks to all these new services (such as my own cacophonous.org – where I featured your ‘the green is either’ MP3). In 5 years you will have lost, conservatively speaking – say 1,000 a month – 60,000 listens. And remember, if your 5 CD’s don’t suck and really get a some attention, they’ll probably end up ripped to the Soulseek network whether you like it or not.

    So you’ve lost 60,000 listens for 500 CD sales. And I’m being conservative and since your music doesn’t suck, your CD is ripped to MP3 and being shared whether you like it or not.

    I don’t see a case here… Heheh… ;)

  10. Eric Lin says:

    Nope, Aaron that wasn’t me. I was surprised to see someone come up with Laporte’s name here too. Guess more people listen to this stuff than we think. :)

  11. Alex Shapiro says:

    Responding to Jeff’s post, I think the case to see here is this: in most “normal” economic markets (let’s forget about us music wackos for a moment), User = Buyer. If I want to enjoy a sofa in my living room, I purchase it. No one would think it reasonable of me to be able to lounge around on it in my polka dot pajamas without having paid for its use.

    If a furniture maker– or composer– has neither the interest nor expectation in making money from something they produce that others use, then there’s nothing odd about them choosing to donate their work. Charity. Lovely.

    Each artist needs to determine for themselves whether they want to be remunerated for their work, or not. It’s a personal decision. But in my experience, one cannot have it both ways.

    I know of very few economic models that succeed on the basis of not charging for the item or service offered. Yes, one can argue that there’s a chance that someone will hear the composer’s music and then be inspired to pay for a commission, or purchase a score or CD, but I can tell you from a lot of personal experience that these results will come just as easily from giving people 2 minutes of each piece to listen to, rather than the entire work.

    As Jeff points out, by withholding full length MP3s from the public, a copyright owner may lose tens of thousands of listeners in exchange for a few hundred CD sales. But none of those thousands of listens will help with the mortgage, the cat food bills or a new pair of snazzy pajamas. The CD and score sales most definitely will.

    Thanks in enormous part to my web presence , I do not have a day job; I attempt to make a modest living solely as composer and publisher. So as an entrepreneurial, capitalist composer, the income I receive from the notes I fling into the world is very important to me. I often give scores and CDs to colleagues I’m dealing with personally; that’s how someone in any business would foster good working relationships. But it’s my somewhat aggressive sale of these items to the rest of the world, through my website and through retail distributors, that makes composing a business that can, with a lot of effort and not quite enough sleep, be viable. To address Rob’s original question, I literally don’t think I would have a career without the web. It’s been an immensely powerful, positive tool.

    Traditionally, composers have had a self-limiting agreement with the world at large that their music isn’t worth money, so it should be given away in order to be heard. I am wildly arrogant and have never bought into that thinking. When we demonstrate through our actions that our time and efforts are indeed worthy of a few bucks, and when we put music into the world that others enjoy, there is a wonderful synergy that serves both creator and user as fairly as when my polka dotted PJs and I sink into that sofa I bought. ;)

  12. Evan says:

    Let’s not forget the other ingredient here, as well; for most of us there are people playing the music in those recordings, at least some of whom (in my experience, anyway) rightfully ask that their labors not be distributed free either.

  13. jeff says:

    If they don’t want their performance to be distributed online for free, then a composer absolutely must not do it. However, the few times I’ve been turned down, were generally more because they weren’t that happy with the performance than that they were worried about loss of income. Most performers I’ve worked with were thrilled when I told them that their music was going to be downloaded by tens of thousands of listeners.

    This loss of income stuff – is a completely bogus threat in our tiny world. As I sad at NewMusicBox back in 1997 – how can we be worried about losing CD sales when nobody even listens to our music?

    We need to worry about getting more listeners – not less. Once we have a market that isn’t a complete subsidized joke, we can worry about control.


  14. I honestly can’t understand any creative artist who would do anything to limit their art going out to as many people as possible. Do artists really become artists the same way someone becomes a furniture maker, to produce a product they wish to place on the market? Maybe I’m a silly idealist but I thought that artists had something creative to express that they desperately wanted to share with the world. I mean it’s nice to be able to pay the bills too, but I’d rather get a day job than accept any sacrifice in the potential listeners to my music.

    There’s also the matter of whether giving music away ends up helping the artist economically in the long run (through exposure, etc.). I don’t think anybody can offer anything more substantial than personal anecdotes on this (at least they haven’t so far), so I don’t think people should be making sweeping generalizations. That being said, even moderately popular rock or pop groups generally lose money on CD sales (when selling tens of thousands of albums), so I have trouble figuring out the rationale of classical composers complaining that they would be unable to survive without the profits from sales of recordings.

  15. Alex Shapiro says:

    Jeff: with all genuine respect to you, my talented blog-friend, the “loss of income stuff” as you put it, is “a completley bogus threat” to YOUR tiny world, not to mine, and not to the not-so-tiny world of many other working composers who are far, far more known and loved than me. Your insistent negativity is an example of what I was talking about above: we give up, we give it away, and we give in to the downward cycle of feeling that our art is worthless. We deserve better than that.

    Gandhi’s famous quote is appropriate here, paraphrased: be the change that you want to see in the world. If composers would collectively hold up their heads and ask for reasonable remuneration by creating that example within their own careers, change would become evident. And I have to remind you, it already is. There are quite a number of self-published composers who understand the worth of their copyrights and are able to make REAL money that will buy more than a few cans of discount cat food. If you want a list of a few names, I’ll supply them, but most of us can think of several. Should there be more? Of course. And there will be, as everyone becomes comfortable with the internet’s vast reach to potential fans around the globe. Fans willing to pay for our music because they see its value and want to support what we do.

    Why shouldn’t we look to successful self-pub composers as role models for what’s possible, rather than look to negative observations of society as obstacles to what’s not??

  16. Alex Shapiro says:

    Dan, though I failed to make myself clear, I was assuming that the sofa to which I referred was something handcrafted and unique, not an off-the-floor model from the back room at Sears. Many furniture makers have something “creative to express that they desperately want to share with the world,” just like composers. You should see some of the wild pieces in my house!

    Why do people keep drawing a false axiom that in order to sell their work, artists needs to abandon their integrity? This is patently ridiculous– ask the very same list of successful self-pub concert music composers I mentioned above, plus the countless others who are doing extremely well with long established publishers. Do you think that the marvelous and successful composers of our time change the nature of the quartets and symphonies and electronic works they are known for in order to keep selling? The majority of them, absolutely not. Instead, they found– sometimes created– a public that is interested in supporting what they compose. Supply and demand. “Real” art and “real” money are not mutually exclusive!! These are the myths that we, as the art makers, should be working to dispel.

  17. jeff says:

    Alex, please. You live in Malibu. On the beach. You think anybody here believes your income derives from CD sales? Jeez…

    The rich (and I don’t know if that includes you, Alex) always try and get us to believe that they exist solely from their art. I saw Carter at a party a few years ago. I said, you know, Patelson’s is selling xerox copies of your 3rd quartet that look like crap for $80.00. He was shocked. I said, ‘You don’t need the money… why not give away your scores. You’re depriving young composers a chance to learn your music.’ He laughed and said, ‘I live off of that money’.

    Right. ;) That’s funny.

  18. Alex Shapiro says:

    I don’t see why this has to get personal, Jeff, but for the public record: Yes, I live on a bluff at the beach in Malibu– in a doublewide mobilehome circa 1986 that cost less when I bought it than most houses in the grungier, urban parts of Los Angeles. I don’t feel guilty for figuring out creative, beautiful ways to live well on a very modest income.

    My income does not largely derive from CD sales. It is derived from a diverse collection of performance and broadcast royalties, sales of my scores and parts, commissions, lecturing and assorted residency fees, licensing of my copyrights used in other media, some back end from film/TV scoring I did many years ago, and the very occasional grant. This is what I talk constantly to colleagues about, and what needs to be spoken about openly among us all: where is the income stream and how can we all jump in? It exists for those who choose to see it. I want other colleagues to know that there is money to be found in a concert music career. Not wealth, necessarily, but income.

    I don’t know Mr. Carter’s finances, but if I receive what I deem to be noticeable living money from the comparatively paltry sales of my published work, then I would have to agree with his comment that he does indeed live in part off his score sales, even after the percentage that goes to his publisher. For those of us who are self-published, the percentages are far higher: 100 percent for self-sales and 60/40 in our favor via distribution deals.

    None of these facts and figures should be a mystery to a working composer. The more information we all have and share, the better for all of us and for the state of our art form!

  19. david toub says:

    I personally believe very strongly in free distribution of music. Hell, I believe most things should be freely distributed on the Web: music, photos, content, scientific and medical journals, etc. I think that one of the greatest strengths of the Web is mass distribution of content. Remember, the Web started out as a way for universities to share intellectual property. That’s the spirit I genuinely miss. And for me, giving away all of my music (at least what I’ve digitized so far) works in terms of getting listeners and, all too rarely, performances. I am convinced I have far, far more downloaders who listen than perform. And that’s ok by me. I would also absolutely say that giving things away, while counterintuitive as an economic model, can work by developing markets. That’s how Netscape did it, that’s how IE did it, that’s how Hotmail did it. And that’s how Skype and Craigslist continue to do it.

    That said, I respect people like Alex who feel differently in terms of intellectual property rights. And Evan’s point is well taken; the only piece of mine that is no longer freely downloadable from my site is mf. I took down my own sampled realization at the label’s request after the Rangzen Quartet recorded it on OgreOgress. It had nothing to do with any concerns on my part about my own revenue, but rather to not hurt the revenue of the performers and the independent label. Realistically, I don’t think a sampled rendition would cannibalize sales of a really well-performed piece by expert live artists like the Rangzen Quartet. We’re not talking about a free release of a U2 album (which would potentially cannibalize sales of a commercial release), of course.

    So I would strongly urge people to post audio files of their work (in their entirety, not some streamed files). It provides an idea of what you’re writing, and can only add to one’s audience. If they like your music, they’ll buy your albums, period. Closed systems, in general, don’t tend to survive. Open systems tend to prevail, because people like access. And let’s be real—people will find a way to break down the barriers, be it P2P file sharing, or recording streamed audio using common shareware and freeware tools (like Wiretap Pro or Audio Hijack).

  20. I had a really shitty theory teacher in college, but he did say one thing which I’ve taken to heart – “when you give away something for free, that’s what people will value it at (i.e. nothing, nada, zero).”

    When people in our field give away things for free, it makes it more difficult for everyone else. What other field has people who are willing to give away their work for free? The word scabs comes to mind. Instead of standing up for your work, you devalue everyone else’s.

    It’s one thing to give away your work when it’s all computer generated, but another when it involves performances by other artists and labels that have paid for those performances.

    I think a lot of the arguments for giving away your work are studies in self justification. Let’s all be professionals and have enough confidence in our work to not just give it away. I have nothing against putting out excerpts or samples, but I really draw the line at just giving it away and trying to bully everyone else into that negative frame of mind.

  21. david toub says:

    MJ, I respect your input and would hope that no one ever bullys anyone on this or any other forum. And as I mentioned, I also drew the line when the performance is a commercial release involving performers. Certainly, any composer can choose to either provide complete downloads or not, and both approaches merit consideration. I think a lot of this mirrors previous discussions on music file sharing vs. paid downloads, and there are two different perspectives (at least!) on that issue as well.

    I think people are just trying to be honest in responding to Rob’s questions, and those of us who believe in providing free downloads have our reasons just as those who argue against it have theirs. I’m reading some very good points by both sides, and it’s given everyone a lot to think about, to be sure.

    It makes no difference to me personally if anyone else provides free downloads on their site. I’m delighted when it happens, since it give me an opportunity to listen to their music and experience something new. That’s how I have come to know a lot of fine music by many composers, some of whom inhabit this Forum. The economic argument your theory teacher cites is pretty standard—you shouldn’t commoditize your product. I’ve argued against commoditizing our product in my own place of employment. But there’s a difference, I suppose, between commercial products and noncommercial art. My stuff is not designed to earn revenue (which is good, since my family would have starved ages ago). There have also been exceptions to the “don’t commoditize” rule among commercial products, Skype being a notable one (it was purchased at a premium by eBay last year—IMHO, they paid too much, even though it’s a great application…).

  22. Daniel Wolf says:

    Let’s distinguish between “giving away” scores and recordings. There are no royalties associated with scores, they’re essentially a means to getting the performances, recordings, and broadcasts which do earn royalties. (A lucky handful of composers may eventually be able to sell their _manuscripts_, but that’s a different issue altogether). And remember that placing a score with a traditional publisher is not, from the publishers point-of-view, about selling scores, it’s about acquiring half the royalties due from performances, recordings, and broadcasts.

  23. I guess this has gotten off topic about what one should put up on one’s web site. I personally find it annoying to click on a sound file and then discover it’s a complete piece and very long, especially if it develops slowly. For those of you who want to put up entire pieces, perhaps there should be an “appetizer,” sample link, and then a link for the entire piece, the “main course.”

    One reason I don’t have entire scores on my site is that it’s a form of control. If someone wants a score, I may or may not send them the entire file (which I have done on occasion), and that way I know who is performing the piece and then can get something out of it, at the least another line in my bio, and hopefully some royalties from the performance.

    I actually have some unlinked pages on my site that have entire scores and sound files on them. I email the link to people who contact me so they can look at the scores and hear the complete piece. Again, it’s a control device (not to sound too much like a control freak).

    I think that charging for your music, even if it is a token amount, is a psychological thing, implying some kind of commitment on the receiver’s part. How many free concerts have you been to where audience members talk through the music or make lots of noise? I feel that it’s because it’s free, they haven’t paid for it, made that commitment. If even a dollar was charged, I bet they’d behave better.

    And as for publishing scores go, yes, the actual sale of scores isn’t a big money maker. Frankly, I’m thankful for the choral scores that I have published (by Peters) and don’t begrudge them the royalties they get. One, they put a lot of work and money into them (they’re beautiful); two, choral conductors don’t seem to want to approach individual composers; and three, it’s a lot of work to make up 30 or more copies and ship them out. Pdf’s certainly make it easier and shifts that burden onto the recipient. At this point I certainly have made out better having those pieces published than Peters has. I don’t think it makes sense to have chamber music published, but for choral music it certainly does.

  24. As a composer, I feel what I sell is not recordings. My primary income for music, along with the odd commission, is performance royalty. Giving away recordings is for me simply the least costly form of distribution. I don’t think I’d be making money if I were selling CDs – which I’d want to be studio recordings and very expensive to make, let alone distribute and keep stacks and stacks of in my small apartment.

    Also, national radio broadcasts. In fact, my website has been a source for certain radio programs – last thursday I was a studio guest and they played bits from 4 or 5 pieces of mine. That’s not bad either.

    It’s just that I want my musical thought out there. I want people to know who I am and what I do. This is what gets me invited to radio shows.

    Of course, the moment somebody makes a CD, I’ll not hinder their enterprise by giving away the recording of the same piece in full for nothing. So Toccata III now is only available as sound clip. There are plans for a CD with Eindig Stuk on it, if this happens that mp3 will also pass through the shredder.

  25. Aaron says:

    The control issue is important for me, too. A very relevant case in point, since Jeff mentioned it above, is the mp3 of my “the green is either,” which was initially just posted online in a hidden subdirectory of my site for a friend who needed the recording but didn’t have time to wait for a CD to arrive in the mail. And without contacting me, asking me, consulting me, double-checking to see if it was okay, making sure the performers and recording engineers were okay w/ its free availability, it is now posted on cacophonous.org.

    This is in some ways flattering, and, it’s true, those who have listened to it have eventually come to the website, but I have my concerns about the integrity of some listeners who might, say, pass the work off as their own (it’s something I’ve seen happen before!).

    Another example: In a job interview a year or so ago, I was having lunch w/ a group of graduate students, and one exclaimed how much he liked a new piece of mine. This was a piece that was fresh off the printer that had only been sent out to one or two people. This student already had a copy and had already made copies for some of his colleagues. Again, I found the whole thing flattering, but it was also unnerving to know that I would have no knowledge of who had seen the piece, who might perform it w/o reporting it (so I could get my quarterly $10.25 from ASCRAP), or, in a worst case scenario, who might be absolutely pilfering the score and presenting it as their own work (which, again, I’ve seen happen).

    I realize this reeks of paranoia, and there are obvious control issues (I’ll save those for my therapist), but … still, it seems to raise some pretty serious issues.

    And, like Alex, the income I get from performance royalties, CD and score sales, rental fees, etc., while unbelivably small potatoes, still is an important source of beer money. But perhaps more importantly, I tend to agree w/ whoever it was above who argued that offering up a score or CD for free sort of gives the impression that that’s all it’s worth.

  26. My web site mainly says I exist.

    I list my compositions, CDs, reviews, bio, pictures from performances, way to get in touch with me to commission new works or get scores/CDs for existing ones, how to donate money as a tax deduction to my efforts in general, where my music is being and has recently been performed, other venues where my music has been performed in most distant times, places I have worked, my publishers, how my grandmother influenced me and other tales.

    I have no scores or sound on my site. I would like to have some partial scores and short teaser sound of pieces but I haven’t figured out how to do it yet and I am not conviced that it is a vital part of my site.

  27. david toub says:

    MJ, one possible way to maintain control is through a Creative Commons license. I have one on my site that indicates that my work has “some rights reserved”—i want to know if someone is kind and brave enough to perform my work, and also want to be credited as the composer. That’s it, but it indicates that I want to be kept in the loop.

    I agree with you that posting long works for streaming is a mistake. But that’s the type of thing that should be downloaded and listened to at one’s leisure. Robert Gable of the aworks blog downloaded one of my extended works (not everything I write is long, BTW), and listened to all of it during a series of train commutes. It worked for him, and I’m glad someone took the time to listen to all of it.

    One benefit of having at least some music up is that it really does generate interest. Someone made the analogy earlier with artists including samples of their work. I agree. Having some things up on MySpace has attracted some performers who I would never have known of before, and who would certainly have never ever heard of me. They wouldn’t purchase it, of course, since buying new music is always a risk, all the more so when it’s by an unknown composer. And at the very least, having a nice comment about one’s music from someone like Rhys Chatham makes one’s day a lot brighter!

    Beth, if your site works for you, then great. For someone like me who is not well-known, the downside to having a site with no scores or audio is that it is largely uninformative—it’s as useful as putting up a quick HTML page with one’s contact information and bio. Unlike artists, who can display visual images of their work, we work with sounds, and unless people can hear them, they can’t have any sense of a composer’s music. We all can post nice testimonials, but in the end, its the music that one hears that counts.

    And some nice things can come from others who take a fancy to a particular work and put their own stamp on it. Steve Layton, entirely on his own initiative, listened to a 2+ hour piece of mine and wanted to make his own version using his (better) equipment. I sent him a MIDI file and he spent two weeks of his own time developing another interpretation, one that I really like very much. Never would have happened if he hadn’t downloaded the piece in question from my site.

    Aaron, I think that not putting parts up could be one way to deter performances by people who do not inform you of the performances ahead of time. At the same time, I’ve toyed with the idea of putting up parts on my site, just to make it easier for people to perform stuff. But I haven’t had any time to do this.

  28. andrea says:

    What other field has people who are willing to give away their work for free? well, the software industry, for one: Linux, Ubuntu, WordPress, stevepavlina.com, to name a paltry few off the top of my head. i have a lovely free metronome on my computer (aquagnome), which i made my 10-year-old clarinet student download (and by gosh, i think she’s actually using it!). sometimes freebies can make people feel good enough about your ‘product’ that when it comes time to pay, they will.

  29. david toub says:

    My point exactly, Andrea.

  30. Jerry Bowles says:

    Let us never forget that the internet exists today because a lot of very talented people put in millions of hours of their own talent and time to create a communications network for everyone. Most of the software that makes the web work didn\’t earn its inventors a dime (although, many of them have since gone on to become rich and famous because of it). For eample, this wonderful new blogging software we\’re using and the template that makes it look good are both free to anyone who wants to use them.

    My point is that every individual has decide what it is they do to earn a living and what they do for love, as they say in A Chorus Line. Although Sequenza21 is fairly popular as classical music web sites go, I make no money on it (nor do any of the volunteers) and the little bit of Google, Amazon, record company ads that drifts in just about covers the hosting fees. That\’s my choice and one I\’m glad I made because I\’ve met so many brilliant, erudite people on these pages. I feel compensated many times over.

    My business blog, http://www.enterpriseweb2.com (in case you\’ve forgotten) is a different matter. I haven\’t made any money on the site yet but I have gotten a couple of good gigs out it because I can write about that stuff in a way that non-geeks can understand. I\’m rambling, but my point is that every individual has to decide for themselves what constitutes \”value.\” There is no one-size fits all answer.

  31. Mary Jane (and others), before you start calling us names for using modern technology to distribute our music, I would suggest you find some sort of tangible justification (not personal anecdotes!) for your belief that giving music away results in an economic loss. All of the evidence I have seen points towards free giveaways helping the artist in the long term, but I have no scientific results either. Clearly, the jury is still out on the long term benefits of free downloads. So I find it a pretty luddite, reactionary attitude to immediately dismiss the efforts of those attempting to explore what might end up being a really great thing for artists in the long run.

  32. Dan. You’ve totally misconstrued what I was saying. I never suggested not using modern technology to distribute music. I *did* mention using it, and I use it a lot. What I object to is just giving everything away, and for me it is more of a psychological thing than economic, and on that we can agree to differ. If you check out my site, you will see that I have lots of score and sound downloads. What I was reacting to, and that I find objectionable, was people saying their way was the only way and/or ridiculing those who don’t agree with them. The issue was never about technology. Hopefully this is a dialogue and there is room for more than one viewpoint. I presented how I feel about the situation and tried to explain why I do what I do. I never mentioned economic loss, so why should I present scientific data about something I never even brought up? I *did* mention trying to control things enough so that you know when your work is performed so that you can collect royalties or at least another credit in your bio. Can’t we all just agree that there is more than one side to this issue and at least object to the things I *did* say instead of things I didn’t say?

  33. Daniel Wolf says:

    Unless you want to limit yourself to pieces which require your own participation for their performance (which is a legitimate, and for many composers, optimal situation — Partch and Young, or Glass and Reich in their ensemble days are good examples), then you are obliged to work with others, and that is neccesarily going to require the loss of some control. I think many composers get taken aback by that loss (although it’s always been an element of notated music), and finding the right tactic to deal with musicians is often tough.

    There will always be performances that escape registration with rights organizations, and there are a few musicians or presenters who seem to go out of their ways not to let composers know about performances of their work, but this is rare and seldom done out of malice. I have found that just stating some simple facts about remuneration (i.e. most venues have already paid for a blanket license anyways, so that in principle, the composer’s already been paid, but the fees won’t get shared unless the performance is registered) and requesting that you get notice of any performance will usually be taken and received in good faith.

  34. Steve Layton says:

    Wow, you’ve all been busy! A few tectonic rumbles and shudders but no cataclysmic explosions; good, since the voices coming from each corner are all people I count as friends, and I’d like it to stay that way…
    I’ve had a site of some kind or other up since about 1997, mainly focused on the “sharing” model, and it’s only been wonderful. Even such a short time ago as that, there was barely a question of sharing much audio. We could throw out a few seconds of a .WAV or .AIF file, which would still be too much for most people’s 28.8 or 33.6 dial-up modem, or try the new but ultra-low-fidelity Real Audio format. Which I did… We did better sharing MIDI files, since an entire piece could be only around 10 to 100 KB. That’s when and where I first bumped into Jeff Harrington, and my ears are mighty glad I did.
    Jeff, David, Alex, Samuel, Mary Jane, all have illustrated different but perfectly valid approaches. I’ve seen a TON of other composer and performer websites, and can report that here are about as many variations as there are individuals! I’ve spent a lot of my life in the “do the performance yourself” camp, so the only entity I really have to square things with is me. In my own experience, sharing files of what I’ve made is essential exposure. Scores and performances by others are no longer a high priority for me, and persuing a “label” for CDs of this kind of marginal stuff is rather laughable. Very many people have MP3s of my work; very few have the actual 16-bit, 44khz audio. I do limit free availablity of most of the pieces I’ve made for sale on CD. It gives them a chance to pick up a little change, though the money from the physical CDs is nothing compared to the same tracks being offered on places like iTunes.
    Going back to Rob’s initial question & stressing points already made by the smart folk here:
    1) keep the pages clean, fast, and simple, even in this bloated-broadband age.
    2) Give me real information about your MUSIC and AESTHETIC; save the ciriculum vitae for the back page.
    3) Excerpted or whole, let me SEE, but even more HEAR something. What we do is all about sound, and having none is like a visual artist’s site with no images. And I’d like at least ONE piece that’s whole; again, it’d be like a visual artist’s site where the only images are details from their work. Details are important, but in the end it’s how we make an entire piece that shows what we can do.
    4) If you know that score or recording is going to directly bring you real money, clamp down & control as you see fit. But simply hoarding it all in some “someday my ship will come in” scenario is just silly; hardly anyone will have ever seen your ship to call it over!

  35. Thanks Steve – back to topic. Whew.

    As a result of my multiples project which has almost 700 pieces listed, I looked at a LOT of composer web sites (each piece is linked to at least the composer’s web site, if available), as well as publisher and cd label sites. I think there are probably two reasons to check out a composer’s site: to get information and to hear/look at the music. Besides the cleanness that Steve mentions, the two click rule (and really, I think it’s one click or I get annoyed), the information should be clear and not hard to find. If your list of pieces is long, find a way to divide it up by category or whatever so you don’t have to scroll forever to find something. When you list pieces, include ALL information – date of composition, length, instrumentation, if and or where you can get the score, and if it is recorded. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to find that information and not being to easily find it.

    I also have gone crazy and posted program notes for most of my pieces, lyric sheets for pieces I have lyrics to, and one page and long bios. It’s so nice to be able to tell someone – “it’s on my site” and not having to mail and/or email the information.

    In short, think of everything that you want to get from other’s sites and then apply it to yours, and then, if you’re feeling creative, try to think of something you haven’t seen yet but seems important. DON’T have your opening page have a sound or flash file – once is nice, but you don’t want to have to wade through it every time you go to the site. I tend to avoid sites like that – it’s too annoying, especially if you’re listening to something already.

    Finally, check your site out on more than one browser – you’ll be amazed to see how different it can look.

  36. Seth Gordon says:

    I’ve been relaxing things a bit over the last few yrs (in part due to Steve Layton’s cajoling), but I’m still unsure I trust the online world to be honest.

    Well, nothing wrong with being a little paranoid – the online world isn’t honest. You just have to weigh the advantages of losing control of a few things vs. drawing attention to the rest of your catalog. At this point, I make it a rule that anything I put online – in complete form – is something I’m comfortable with the idea of never, ever commercially releasing.

    It can be maddening at times, though I think within the context of avant-garde / experimental / “new” music some of the problems which occur in other genres are less pronounced – “serious” music aficianados tend to be more obsessive about labelling, so you’re not likely to find your work on a P2P network with no identification, or worse – misfiled as someone else’s work. That was the bane of my existence during my hiphop days. Finding my song in a folder marked “Eminem” was just… annoying.

    Just make sure anything you put online has it’s ID3 tags in order. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best you can do.


    As Jeff points out, by withholding full length MP3s from the public, a copyright owner may lose tens of thousands of listeners in exchange for a few hundred CD sales. But none of those thousands of listens will help with the mortgage, the cat food bills or a new pair of snazzy pajamas. The CD and score sales most definitely will.

    I’m with you on that, though Jeff has a point in questioning just to how much can be made, realistically, on average. And – not to get into your personal life, since it’s nobody’s business but yours – if you didn’t have two sources of income in your household would you be able to make a modest living by composing alone? Or would there have been a period where, to make ends meet, you had to work 40+ hours a week at a real-world job, thus not being able to dedicate yourself full-time to your music, thus perpetually putting off the day when self-sufficiency through music could become viable – the catch-22 a lot of composers are in. I’m not saying it was easy for you, but for someone flying solo and not sharing the bills it can seem near-impossible.

    I think it also depends on one’s idea of what constitues a “living” – and where one lives. I could see, down the road, potentially being able to make enough to just get by – if I never wanted to get laid again, since as a dude I’m expected to pay for first dates, and I should have snazzy clothes so I look cool, and then there’s the whole problem of living in the most expensive city on the planet… and I really like having cable, and broadband internet access, and my new Bajo Sexto, and Balvenie 21-year Portwood, and my robotic floor-mopper, and all the other little luxuries that keep me off the streets and out of trouble. So I have to dedicate the lion’s share of my time to other ways of making money if I’m to continue to live in the manner to which I’ve become accustomed. Does that make these things more important than music? Not by any stretch. My fallow periods, financially, have always caused fallow periods of creative output. If I’m too busy thinking about how I’m gonna make ends meet, I find it very hard to put my mind to composing. It’s those same little luxuries that provide an environment in which I feel comfortable working.

    Or maybe it’s just the scotch. I dunno.

    Anyway – regardless how realistic it is for a given composer to make a living or not – I’m with you on the notion that we should never run under the assumption that our music isn’t worth money, so we might as well just give it all away. Pish tosh. Even if, in my heart, I don’t think I’ll make a living at this pursuit – I operate as if it’s a possibility. Because you should never give in to that “downward cycle” – I’m as pessimistic as they come, but no sense egging on the heartbreak and regrets.

    But… in the end it’s a personal matter. What makes you feel good at the end of the day and all that. What works for Jeff Harrington isn’t going to work for Alex Shapiro, or vice-versa. I like money. DanVan – if you want to give all your work away, so be it. I think you’re completely off in your belief that it doesn’t hurt the composer – after all, if it’s all free, what’s left to sell? But whatever. It doesn’t matter what I think. Do what you will, it’s your music.

    Myself, giving it away – the increase in “listeners” – isn’t enough for me. Maybe in ten, twenty years I’ll give up and do it – but for now, it doesn’t make me happy. I get emails all the time from people who dig what I’m doing. That’s great, it give me warm fuzzies. But – while it’s nice, those encouraging feelings I used get from them has worn off. It’s only the “we’d like to put a track of yours on…” and “would you write a piece for my kung-fu movie?” emails that give me hard-ons these days.

    I agree with you though, completely, on another matter – in that I don’t see the difference in making full-length works vs. excerpts available. As long as said excerpts are enough to give a general idea of the piece. A 30-second snippet from a 30-minute sonata isn’t going to suffice. I’d say 2 minutes is a decent length. Saves on bandwidth, too, if you’re paying for that. But you need to put something online. How much, and at what quality, is a personal matter – but if you plan on selling any of it, enough to give a broad overview so that someone walking away from it can know if you’re their bag or not.


    Practically every one of my 10-20 performances I get a year is from my Internet involvement.

    Hmm… I’m not giving 10-20 performances a year anymore, but back when I did it was in the pre-internet days, so it mostly came from face-to-face networking. I hook you up with a show, you hook me up, etc. Every gig I’ve had in the past six, seven years though has been through initial contact made via the ‘net – back in the day, through mp3.com, then through IUMA, now through myspace. I keep threatening to make a regular, non-myspace website, with a fancypants blog and all that other stuff the kids are doing. But honestly I haven’t really found the need for it so far. Okay, really honestly I’ve just been lazy. But then I’d be the first to tell you I’m not being as pro-active as I used to be, either.

    Tangent Dept.: It’s kind of sad to me that things aren’t so much that way – face-to-face – anymore. Nowadays, I could go to ten shows now and not see any of the same faces at them. Because people do so much of their listening online, that sense of community in the arts is becoming a thing of the past. It’s being replaced by something different – cyber-communities, like S21. Sure, as far as things cyber go it’s a better replication of the real thing than some of the other cyber-s out there. Still, nothing quite like mulling over a beer or six with one of your bill-mates bitching about how the soundman doesn’t know what he’s doing…

    There’s also the fact that, though a community, we’re not forced to listen to each other’s music. I shouldn’t say “forced” as that implies it’s unpleasant – but it’s strange being a part of a “musical” community where listening to one another’s music is not one of the primary – or even a required – activity. I’m sure most of us have given a cursory listen to what the others are doing – but while we debate all kinds of interesting topics, it doesn’t breed an exchange of musical ideas, really.

    Like, there’s a group here in NYC – computer music geeks, mostly MAX/MSP types (which isn’t really my thing, but the aesthetics are kind of similar) who meet every week and do their own little “open mic” thing. But there’s a lot of young composers I know who wouldn’t bother with such a thing, since to them the internet is a 24/7/365 “open mic” of sorts. Why leave the house?

    I guess what it comes down to is that – for me, at least – I worry that some (especially younger) composers are developing an over-reliance on the web, or perhaps overestimating it’s power. Which is fine in terms of networking, sure – really it can’t be beat – but I don’t think it’s fine in terms of growth as an artist. Or, more to the point, the growth of artistic movements. I have to wonder if there ever would have been a Sonic Youth if, in the heyday of Branca and Chatham, there had been inexpensive multi-track recording technology and an internet. I suspect that the days of regional “scenes” – which tend to be the progenitors of movements, be it “downtown” NYC (in the Gann, Zorn, or punk rock sense, take your pick), Seattle grunge, or Florida death metal, or anything – are behind us. Oh well.

  37. Aaron, you posted the MP3 as a comment on your interview thread. When I see that, and I like the piece, you’re fair game dude. You posted it. I re-posted it. You want it taken down. Heh… well say so.

    As far as those who say we’re lowering the value of our works by giving music away. I say again. How can we lower the value of works that have NO value. They have absolutely NO value because they don’t sell.

    We’re trying to turn our pathetic little market into something new. Whine all you want, but you’re not going to get in the way of this trend. Any work that can be digitized and shared will be. Legal or not. The marketplace may or may not be reconfigured.

    What I find so totally unbelievably exciting, again, for the millionth time, is that for once, we have a distribution mechanism – and this is why I dedicate myself to growing it – that doesn’t rely on grants, careerist networks, $$$, who you know, etc. to foster amazing works.

    The cream will rise to the top. That’s the next project and part of my work at cacophonous.org and here and netnewmusic.net. Get in the bus or get left behind. Early adoptors win. Worriers/Whiners lose.

    My New Piano Sonata #3! Free Free Free!

  38. Sorry to comment on my own thread, but I just remembered something I meant to post. The real loss that people fear from loss of CD sales or CD productions is this:


    It ain’t the money. It’s the fact that label X put your shit out. With the combined support (on the back of the CD that says) of the New York State Councile for the Schmarts, NEA… etc… Resume filler…

    The careerist network is what’s in jeoprady and that is worrisome for many. On the Internet we’re all transformed into pathetic little nobodies competing with 18 year old MySpace beginners and autistic nerds with a knack for software. ;)

    It’s hard to believe the network will reward the best. It’s hard to see how one can prosper when you no longer have an advantage because you studied with John Corigliano in order to get listeners.

    Faith is a hard thing to develop without experience. One thing I suggest to people attempting to make a decision about this troubling new world, is surf and listen. Download some MP3′s. Check out SoulSeek. Chat in the Modern Music room at SoulSeek. It’s incredible to see people debating live about Xenakis performances. And many of them have purchased the CD’s – believe it or not. These are real fans. Hard core. They’re passionate about our music. And they’re the future. Check out their sharing folders. Autechre, Mastodon, Carter, Sciarrino, et al. :)

  39. Lisa says:

    “when you give away something for free, that’s what people will value it at (i.e. nothing, nada, zero).”

    That is about the single most depressingly cynical way of looking at the world. Value = Price?!? Oh god, please kill us all and start over.

    Certainly to make a living in this world we all must sell something, but the implication made by Alex that some people giving things away undermines those who depend on it for a living is absurd. Imagine a chef complaining that the local soup kitchen is putting her out of business, or doctors giving some time at the local clinic, or a parent volunteering at their kid’s school. It is just silly. Giving and selling have always happily coexisted. Hell, wouldn’t it be nice if we slowly start giving more and selling a little less?

    I am real good at fixing bikes. My friends know this so I end up fixing a few dozen bikes for free each year. Should I charge them just to prove a point? Do they value my work less because it is a gift? Am I screwing with professional bike mechanic’s ability to feed their families?

  40. Alex Shapiro says:

    Actually, Lisa, I believe it was Mary Jane who made that particular comment. I would modify it a bit (and Mary Jane might agree with me) by saying that the charitable references you list are all very wonderful, and of course no harm is done, but it’s where a professional market is concerned that there can be serious cause and effect. Not nearly as much in our field of new music, because as has been pointed out countless times in this entertaining thread, this is a very niche market to begin with. And most importantly, we are artists, and we are hired and performed and recorded largely due to our uniqueness. So none of us should feel in competition with each other, because we are all offering a different musical take on the world.

    But I can tell you firsthand that in film and TV scoring, Mary Jane’s comment is spot on. The industry has been changed very deeply in the past decade by an influx of composers willing to work for free. Ironically, in television, this trend is due in part to some extremely successful composers who began scoring TV series for a dollar, because if the show hit, the back end would be huge. They were willing to give up the [far more modest] front end fee in order to place their bet on the show, and because they were already working, they could afford to do this. The result has been a plunge in budgets, because TV producers know that they can always find a composer willing to score for free. This is deteriorated the market greatly and made it much harder for mid-level TV composers to earn a living. In low budget films and documentaries, the story is even more straightforward: lots of composers are outbidding each other due to a glut of lots of composers wanting to get credits. While this has had little or no bearing on very high budget films that breathe their own rarified air, it has had an enormously negative impact on the majority of working composers in the middle career levels.

    Changing gears for a moment, and addressing Seth’s earlier question: I was only married three years ago next month, so the great majority of my rapidly advancing adulthood has required existing on one income. You’re absolutely right that with two, it’s a far different and easier picture (my husband is also self-employed, and since it’ll be the next snide remark Jeff shoots at me, let me answer ahead of time and state that no, Charles is not rich either). The Catch-22 Seth describes is accurate. Yes, income is a necessity while gearing up for one’s success in the concert music world. My real-world job for almost 15 years was composing scores for low budget film and TV shows and high-budget corporate videos. Little of this was glamorous, but it brought in varying ebbs and floods of income, some of which I was able to stash away and live on while I reinvented myself nearly a decade ago as someone who was happier working with diva musicians than diva producers and directors. So I’ve been very fortunate to have my work always be related to creating music. I did modestly okay, but I never had a robotic floor mopper. Seth, dude: you’re livin’ large. No wonder you’re a chick magnet :-)

    I really understand what Seth has written about the parity of fallow periods in budget and in composing; I’ve experienced that too. And my father, who grew up poor in NYC during the depression, always vehemently declared “there’s no virtue in poverty.” He saw no romance whatsoever in the starving artist thing, only unhappiness. Maybe that’s part of how I came to value my work and maintain an attitude about remuneration.

    Jeff writes that [contemporary] works have no value because they don’t sell. Here’s where we should take a clue from Madison Avenue and slick advertising agencies: sometimes, something sells because the public is told that it has value. If idiotic commercials didn’t instruct the unassuming public that they need Product X to help them do A or rid them of B, the public may very well never have tried the product out. I think there’s more that we all can be doing to make ourselves relevant to our society and to earn the interest of audiences.

    The only reason I’ve chosen to directly answer Jeff and Seth’s rather personal questions about money, is because I’m the one out here waving the capitalist banner and trying to get all my colleagues to march in the fun parade I’m enjoying. Thus, I feel that I need to demonstrate the basis for my enthusiasm, if I’m gonna keep twirling that baton in front of everyone.

  41. That was the only reason I made that comment (not snide at all, more sarcastic) about Malibu. And I never questioned you about money. I said exactly, ‘Alex, please. You live in Malibu. On the beach. You think anybody here believes your income derives from CD sales? Jeez…’

    And I was spot on. Your income does not derive from CD sales. So there! You brought up your income yourself which is what led me to believe it was OK to remark about your Kelpiness!


    I am a little skeptical that advertising is going to help. Of course, it could be because I hate advertising! The shock, again, which drives the FUD for this discussion, is loss of prestige, the declining authority of the careerist network, and establishing career relationships with performers, ensembles and organizations.

    I really can’t see how getting more listens can hurt. Put out CD’s. Don’t share them. Put up some full length works. Don’t put those on CD’s. Put up the good, but not good enough performances that won’t make the CD, but still are super and the performers are cool with that. And beg beg beg, that your CD gets ripped and stuck on some cool teenagers fileshare next to his Mastodon. ;)

    As far as loss of Aarons’ fear of loss of attribution goes, I’ll be honest and say, yeah that’s a very minor risk. I found a copy of Acid Bach I on a Czech website that didn’t have my name on it nor any indicator who the composer was. It might have happened regardless of what I did with web promotion, although it was certainly more likely to happen with me pushing it.

    But the thing is, like I’ve posted before, we were riding the subway a few years ago and right across from us was this old lady with a T-Shirt with one of Elsie’s anti-war drawings on it. We’d submitted it to a Village Voice contest but that was it. Asked where she’d purchased it, she told us ‘Bloomingdales’.

    Whatchagonnado? If your work sucks it won’t get copied and shared. If you see yourself on the networks, be glad!


  42. Aaron says:

    Jeff — my apologies. I had completely forgotten that I posted that link on this site. I totally agree — once it’s been posted in a public forum, it’s more or less fair game.

    And no, you don’t need to pull it from cacophonous. I like that you’ve given the link to my personal site. That seems to be sufficient attribution. But perhaps you could also mention that it’s performed by Ensemble SurPlus, conducted by James Avery, so everyone involved gets proper credit. And, if you’re feeling really ambitious, you could also mention that it was recorded by the ORF, so that _everyone_ gets proper attribution. I’d give you the name of the engineer, if I knew it.

  43. I’m with Jeff, and in fact, unless we primarily make music best enjoyed from a CD, I think the argument can be made that we need to absolutely totally completely flood and inundate and cover the world every square inch with free recorded music. The more recordings become available to people, the more they can enjoy this mountain of stuff from the luxury of their armchair, the more they might realize what a cool thing a concert is. And I think those of us who write concert music should be focussed as much as possible on furthering concerts.

    Personally, I rarely listen to music at home anymore for enjoyment. It’s usually for research. Concerts, on the other hand, I sometimes just go to for fun and for the social event.

  44. david toub says:

    Samuel, I agree. And even when we flood the world with our stuff (as we should), there will still be room for concerts, particularly in alternative spaces. I happened to hear Frank Oteri on NPR via XM radio today while taking out some boxes for recycling, and he made a great point about alternative concert spaces—even with the availability of CDs, MP3s, etc., people just won’t be able to recreate certain performance spaces (like a music silo, bargemusic, BAM, churches, lofts…whatever) and will have to be there for live performances to really experience it. I think digital distribution is where it’s at, and almost never go to traditional concerts (in large part due to the parochial nature of music in Philadelphia and suburbia). But I still would go to alternative spaces. I’m even in the early stages of working with a really cool art gallery space in Old City (I was considering it for my daughter’s bas mitzvah in two years) that I think would make a great concert space. Haven’t worked out all the details yet. But I think the future of live music is in alternative, intimate spaces.

    So yes, Samuel—concerts can certainly be “cool.” Like the S21 concert that is coming up in November…

  45. Rob Deemer says:

    A related topic can be found on Drew McManus’ Adapstration blog (http://www.artsjournal.com/adaptistration/) where his annual orchestra website review is being published with 80 symphony orchestra sites being investigated. Obviously we’re not selling tickets or dealing with subscription lists but Drew’s project could have a lot useful information for those of us with personal sites as well.

  46. Ok AC. You got it… http://cacophonous.org/archives/2006/09/aaron_cassidy_-.html

    BTW, this type of attribution really isn’t addressing the core ‘loss of attribution’ problem. You need to make sure your MP3 has ID3 tags with composer/performer/album information in it. MP3′s fly through the web anonymously and nobody will ever remember they got it from a cacophonous.org URL. WinAmp or iTunes makes it really easy to get good ID3 tags in. Your MP3 only has the composer field filled out in the ID3 tags. That’s a real problem. I also name my MP3′s appropriately as a secondary source of information. Jeff-Harrington-Piano_Sonata_3.mp3. People generally don’t rename their files. I still see copies of an old MP3 of mine with the mis-spelled Untilted_Composition in them. ;) Also, no foreign characters, caedilla, umlauts, etc in the filename.

    I’m sure you never planned on having this one get out there, I’m mainly talking to the house. I see a lot of MP3′s (I have over 200GB of them) and many I really can’t remember what they are or who they’re by! I’ve sent them to friends, asking ‘Who is this composer?’!


  47. Anonymous says:

    I love everything about this site!!

  48. Chip Clark says:

    You’d think after working for 15 years in the high tech industry (5 of those at Netscape) that I’d put up a website (more than just a blog)… ok, I have, but it’s not ready for prime time.

    Having said all that, I’m getting ready for my first major concert and trying to get a site online at the same time (doing the two at the same time is not something I would every recommend!!!). I hope the site is live by the time the concert is up – but I must admit – I am putting the concert first – because if it goes poorly, the reviews of it will be worthless – where as if it goes well, I could post the reviews on the site…

    – Having said all that… I’m trolling through the various comment to look at all the other composers’ websites!!!!