Ever since I’ve finished my dissertation, a 12.5 minute orchestra piece, I’ve been desperately looking for places to get it read, performed, or even just looked at by a conductor with some clout…or even no clout at all. It’s really tough to get done — there are only a handful of opportunities out there, and they usually fall to students at the same five universities (I promise not to get started on this!)
— Judah Adashi (@jadashi) March 4, 2015
I’ve been threatening to take a stab at solving this problem of not-enough-orchestras-for-composers for years — from the look of this link, someone has up and solved the problem for me!
I’ve seen this Kickstarter for The $99 Orchestra around the Internet for a little while now. Of course, I was immediately interested! For those of you who haven’t tried to hire an orchestra, $99 is an absurdly low price. I wanted to know what $99 bought. That price buys you a 7-minute chunk of studio time with the orchestra, to produce 30-90 seconds of music. And the orchestra is an orchestra, technically, but…
…there’s going to need to be some management of people’s expectations. For most people who’ve written an orchestra piece, this won’t cut it. This is like walking into Macy’s and saying, “I need a shirt to go with my suit,” and being told by the sales attendant, “Cool, man! I’ve got some sweet tanks that’ll look great!”
It could work out great, but it just may not be for everyone.
…Except that, according to their website, The $99 Orchestra is for everyone! It says so at the top of their webpage. I think that could use a little editing.
I’m not trying to shit all over what I think is a actually a great piece of creative and (aw, c’mon…don’t make me say it) entrepreneurial thinking (ugh, I feel like I need a shower now!). The people for whom the project is intended to reach (indie game developers, film scorers, etc.) could really use this service. If anything, this makes me wonder how someone could translate this for concert composers.
The big issue is that the people who are talented enough to play the music cost too much for one person to hire, even for a limited amount of time. One solution would be to gather a consortium of composers who are each in charge of independently raising a share of the funds necessary to hire out an orchestra for x number of hours. Presumably, if the cost of the orchestra stays the same no matter how many pieces they look at in that time period, you can cut cost at the sacrifice of time spent rehearsing your particular piece.
The other way to go would be to find an orchestra that will work for next to nothing, essentially outsourcing the labor to a place that will perform the skilled task for the cheapest.
Okay, so I don’t know if something like this would even work, but even if it did, the notion of outsourcing an orchestra to cut costs feels gross to me. Not to mention, I feel like it would undercut any sort of relationship that I would be trying to build with American musicians.
I’ve still got a lot of thinking to do as to how to fix this problem. I hope I can come up with something where everyone gets paid what their worth, but is ultimately affordable enough to do in the first place!