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Site Seeing - a review of composers' collective websites

Composers' Collectives

Hundreds of composers are promoting their music on the net - they've never had such an easy entry into the global market. This on-line promotion using music samples, electronic scores, biographies, photographs, websites and e-mails to publishers, promoters, agents and artists can produce good results but needs consistent and regular work, which usually comes with a heavy cost in either time or money.

Although not a new idea, the composers' collective makes good use of modern technology to share websites, promotional CDs, concerts, recording sessions, professional marketing, advice and many other promotional and organizational resources and equipment. The costs are shared, the office work is shared, and each composer wins valuable extra working time - at least that's the theory!

Composers' Collectives

  • The 34 member Baltimore Composers Forum educates the local community about new music and encourages networking.
  • Based in the Netherlands, the Centre for Electronic Music Composers Collective consists of composers Michael Fahres, Armeno Alberts and Arno Peeters. Journalist Ruud Lekx and technician James Rubery complete the team.
  • The Common Sense Composers' Collective are Dan Becker, John Halle, Ed Harsh, Melissa Hui, Marc Mellits, Belinda Reynolds, Randall Woolf and Carolyn Yarnell. Their website includes brief music extracts.
  • Continuum Contemporary Music began as a collection of Canadian composers and performers, and has developed into much more, with a biennial Call for Scores from composers across Canada and an annual four concert season forming an important part of musical life in Toronto.
  • Frog Peak Music publishes, records and distributes its members' experimental music and art, selling to the public by phone, fax, email or letter.
  • Founded in 1992, Ben Allison's Jazz Composers Collective is operated by (and for) composers 'pushing the boundaries of their self-expression'.
  • Although not a collective by name, Meet The Composer has similar aims and several composers sit on its board of directors. Founded in 1974 as a project of the New York State Council on the Arts, and led by composer John Duffy, Meet The Composer has grown to serve composers of every kind throughout the USA.
  • Possibly in this category is Menelik Music, a place on the web specifically for tonal classical composers. Some composers represented here have no other web presence.
  • La Musique Petite is not strictly a composers' collective either, but is an example of a supportive group which publishes and discusses music written using the MIDI standard.
  • The MuttMusic Consortium makes a special effort to involve the visitor and provides samples of music by member composers Martin Brody, Eric Chasalow, Michael Gandolfi, Lee Hyla, Stefan Hakenberg, Thomas Oboe Lee and Dennis Miller - all associated with the Boston area of the United States. A special effort is made to involve the visitor.
  • The North West Composers Association is a group of 21 composers from the United Kingdom who share a website, promotional CDs and concerts.
  • The French rights collection organization SACEM is set up as an 'association administered by music creators and publishers' to represent its members' performing rights.
  • SPNM promotes new music, operating as a charitable company. Most of its directors and members are composers.
  • The Virtual Colony widens the scope somewhat, providing 'a place in cyberspace' for artists, photographers, writers, artisans and composers.

As many conventional music publishers continue to withdraw their financial support from all but the most commercially viable, many more composers are finding that joining a collective makes practical and financial sense. Watch out for the appearance of more music collectives, possibly with emphasis on uniting members with similar musical styles and working practices rather than by geographical location.

The Challenge of Size, Time and Perception

The web is now so large and is changing so quickly that it is simply not possible for one person to experience more than a small fraction of it! No matter how hard (s)he tries, the writer of every article in this series will experience this - important sites will be missed, and many readers will notice differences between their own perception of the internet and that of our authors.

One possible solution is communication - please tell us what you have found but we have missed!

Another solution is variety - authors from many different cultural, and geographical backgrounds. Please contact us if you feel able to take on the challenge!

Keith Bramich, 19 January 1999

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