Average composer fee is now 'shockingly low'

20 August 2014, 16:32 | Updated: 20 August 2014, 16:35

A survey and report commissioned by Sound and Music has revealed that the average fee received by a composer for each commissioned composition is £1,392.

The report, which surveyed 466 working composers from various backgrounds, also found that the average number of compositions commissioned for each composer in 2013 was just 2.65.

However, two thirds of the surveyed composers stated that commissioned compositions (i.e. those compositions ordered and funded by an external organisation or donor) were not a significant part of their annual income.

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14% of the respondents stated that they expect to earn less from commissions this year than they did in 2014. Only 15% claimed to have made more money overall in 2013 than the previous year, despite 74% of them actually receiving the same number of commissions or higher.

Interestingly, the report also noted that composers who are in the early stages of their career make more money from commissioned compositions than those who have been actively seeking commissions for more than 5 years.

The top 1% of earners surveyed also received over 25% of all income from commissions.

Writing in The Guardian, Susanna Eastburn from Sound and Music concluded that "Professional composers, who have spent years training and developing their skill, are being asked to compose new pieces for shockingly low fees given the time that will be devoted to creating them."

You can read the full report here.

Are composers paid enough? Is £1,392 really enough for a new composition, or is it too much? Are you a composer who struggles to make that much with your commissions, or is that about right? Have your say in the comments below.