Composition Prices?

Hey,
  I'm in the process of writing some stuff out and was curious about price. I'm not to worried about money, but it sucks to get ripped off. What would you guys say to an original composition for full ensemble at the Open Class level (WGI)? And what if it was based off of something? Though I was specific, it would be awsome to just get some generals to. Thanks in advance!
These are all good ideas.  Anyone else have any thoughts regarding this?
Hey all-
I saw this topic, and had to register.  I have always thought it to be excellent that others in the percussion ";biz"; can help eachother out, so I thought I'd give my two cents. 

I've written for a many groups in my area, and the best advertising I've ever had has been my own work.  If you give a line a good piece of music, give what the director wants (it's his program ya know...), and you are flexible enough to make mid-season changes for that group, you'll get return business (from my own experience...).  Then, that director talks to this director, bla bla bla.

As far as pricing, a director loves it when you try to work around what he has budgeted.  I'm not saying to rip yourself off, but if you work with a relatively new and up-and-coming group that is new to the scene, they're never going to have a high budget.  But give that group a decent product to start with and that they can be successful with, and they'll make sure to take care of you later when they can afford it.  Again, don't cheat yourself, but remember that this is a business, and sometimes you have to ";spend money to make money";.  (Yet, I write just for extra moola that I don't make in the day job, so I can be flexible...) 

I tend to charge for my time, as opposed to how many notes, staves, etc...  If I know a book will take a while to write, I'll tend to charge more.  But those are usually for the big groups that are willing to lay down a few more bennies for a book that has a lot of effect. 

These strategies have gotten me some pretty good business from some good groups.  I hope it's a help. 

Joseph Plahitko
Indianapolis, IN

[quote author=nervoustic link=topic=908.msg4167#msg4167 date=1140481858]
What would you say is the market average for a new arranger?

[/quote]

Like I mentioned earlier, this varies depending on where you live.  In some areas instructors are just sort of expected to write parts as part of the salary, in other areas it's a separate budget.  Some schools have band directors that think buying a canned show for $50 is good enough and it's hard to convice them otherwise.  You could quote a price to one school and they'll say ";wow, that's a lot"; and another school in a different part of the country might say ";that's all?";  Like all freelance work, figure out about how many hours it will take to do the job, and then multiply by how much you think you are worth an hour. 

There's also the cover-your-butt aspect to writing too.  There's a lot of red tape involved in getting a check from a school.  Band boosters, directors, office admin, check signers, etc. don't appreciate that this is income and will take forever to write you a check.  Get at least a portion up front to make sure they're serious.  If you don't know the instructor personally, make sure you confirm the price with the actual band director of the school, and call the school switchboard to connect, not use a phone number they give you.  Get everything in writing- sample contracts can be found online.  Detail everything or you'll be kicking yourself.  Include deadlines, number of revisions allowed, number of performers, difficulty level, etc. 

Don't fall victim to ";I need this written ASAP"; and rush to write without protecting yourself- I fell victim to this last fall where a ";percussion director"; from Texas needed pit writing ASAP and turned out didn't have the money [i]and[/i] was trying to take credit for it.  When payment was late I called the band director only to hear ";what?  you wrote that?  never heard of you...";  My name had been white-out-ed from the score and replaced.  The good thing is small claims court only costs about $20 to file and that always gets people to get their junk together.  No lawyer necessary either.  Which brings me to my next point- don't give out your original notation files.  Deliver the sheet music in PDF format or mail printed parts instead.  There are shady people in all kinds of business and drumlines are no different. 

I would say to just get your name out there, and advertise yourself.  It never hurts to e-mail band directors around your state with a resume and a link to some of your work.  It also helps to get a steady writing/teaching gig with a line.
While we're sort of on the subject, what's the best way for a young composer/arranger to get writing jobs?  I'm fairly well known around my area, but mostly as a last-minute pit instructor.  So far I've written one pit book, but I want to do alot more, even wind scores.  Also, recently in BOA and very recently in the Northwest, bands have started marching pit only shows.  How do you charge for that sort of thing?  What would you say is the market average for a new arranger?

J. Peter Wolk-Laniewski
As this community has been growing with more  members with good arranging abilities and the technical savvy to deliver shows/recordings, I've found myself suggesting to band directors that this forum could be a great place to find arrangers. It's always great to hear new stuff that y'all are cranking out, so if there's a way that Tapspace can help showcase your abilities, then, perhaps it might lead to some extra work for those interested. Definitely a nice side effect of keeping the forum an open place to share each other's talents and ideas.
[quote author=Dave Ratliff link=topic=908.msg4141#msg4141 date=1140208440]
CRAP!!!  I click post and then thought of another question...

How many of you guys typically write for more than 1 school each fall?  The last few years, I have written for on average, 4-6 groups.  It really seems to get getting harder and harder to get new groups as it seems more band directors are going with the stock arrangements from Hal Leonard or MSC.  I was just curious about what others are doing out there...
[/quote]

I would actually like to arrange for more. I currently only write for the school I work with. I also write the exercise packet for an Independent A class drumline I teach as well. My sole purpose for buying VDL2 was so I could showcase my writing a bit more.
VDL2 is great because now you can show someone what you can write online or with a demo CD.  Trying to write a full package for other groups is often difficult because most instructors want to write the battery parts themselves.  A lot of instructor's also count on getting paid for writing to make up for the usually poor salary.  On the other hand, having some VDL2 examples is probably the best tool to breaking into new territory.  Having it sound like SCV is playing your beats instead of a high school certainly helps.  This winter I picked up 7 new lines to write for and definitely wouldn't have been able to accomplish that without tapspace/vdl2.  That's a big reason why I frequent the forums to try to offer technical help- give a little back ya know? :)
CRAP!!!  I click post and then thought of another question...

How many of you guys typically write for more than 1 school each fall?  The last few years, I have written for on average, 4-6 groups.  It really seems to get getting harder and harder to get new groups as it seems more band directors are going with the stock arrangements from Hal Leonard or MSC.  I was just curious about what others are doing out there...
This is one of the most interesting things I have read on here in a long, long time.  I had never thought about using a format like that.
I've started going with the Don Click's, of MCM fame, format.  He gives the BD three options and they can pick two.
1) Good
2) Fast
3) Easy

So, if you want it easy and slow, it will cost less than good and fast.  And if they don't want good, that doesn't mean I'll write a big piece of junk for them.  It just means that the parts won't be as meaty as I'd typically write.
Okay,

So, what does everyone charge to arrange someone's fall drumbook? You know, band director gives you the wind score and tells you that their snares suck, but their tenors should be rockin', etc.

ER
Depends on where the group is you are writing for.�� Up here in Minnesota it seems hard to charge alot for writing, but it seems to be getting better.�� Otherwise, I have done $100 per part.�� So if you are writing 15 staves, then you get $1500.�� I have never charged for length though.
I charge anywhere from $300 to $400 to make a recording of music for a group.
What about something like entering there piece into fin/sib and giving them VDL:2 audio? Any suggestions there.

And thanks for the info. It really is helping.
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