A plea from John Corigliano

John Corligliano sent out this email a few minutes ago:

I am going to the ASCAP Symphonic & Concert meeting on September 17th. As you might know, I proposed that we credit concert band performances as ASCAP credits symphonic performances. The logic to this is that the concert band is the equivalent in excellence to the professional symphony orchestra (even though the university orchestra may not be.)  Major composers are writing for concert band, and the bands are performing works that are as difficult as, or more difficult than the symphonic music they play.

At any rate, at the urging of John Mackey, I did bring this issue up some years ago at an S&C meeting, but as Jonathan Newman has recently emailed me, nothing at all has been done about it since I brought it up.

I would like each of you to send me an email arguing the case.  I would also like you to mail all other interested parties (composers, band directors, arrangers, etc.) to email me strong letters both of support for the proposal of crediting concert band performances individually, and also any personal experience that you may have that will strengthen our case.

I would like to print out a few hundred emails and bring them all to the meeting and pass them around.  The more the better. There is no reason for a band composer to lose income that would be given to an orchestral composer. The law must be changed!

So, please, start sending (I need them before the 17th.)

All best,

John Corigliano

Here’s the deal. When a composer gets an orchestra performance (whether it be a professional orchestra, a community orchestra, or even a youth orchestra), ASCAP pays a royalty to the composer for that performance. When a composer gets a band performance, though, the composer is not paid, at least not for every performance. (There’s a complex sampling system in place that determines which performances are actually paid.) What I argued to Corigliano several years ago — which he in turn argued to the board of ASCAP — is that this is silly, because a college band performance is the equivalent in excellence to a professional orchestra performance. For band, the top level is college — and colleges play the hell out of our music. What’s more, BMI — the “other” music licensing agency — DOES pay for college band performances.

Rather than posting Corigliano’s email address here, I ask that any composers or conductors reading this send an email to me which I will forward to Corigliano. Fran Richard, the Vice President and Director of Concert Music for ASCAP, has agreed to read every single letter aloud at the next board meeting.

This appeal goes to young composers, too — composers who may not have had a band performance yet, but hope to, and would like to be able to eventually make a living as a composer. If you haven’t yet joined ASCAP or BMI, your voice is just as relevant here, as you could argue that this discrepancy would make you more likely to select BMI — and ASCAP doesn’t want that!  Band conductors, too. Any note, no matter how brief, that says that your medium needs new music — and therefore needs composers to be able to make a living writing it — that would be invaluable!


Travis Taylor says

A letter is in progress! I'll have it sent tomorrow!


Cathy says

I'll write one. Man, does my level (UIL, Grade 2 & 3) need more interesting literature.....

John says

Cathy (and everybody else) -- that's great, thank you!

Just FYI, ASCAP does not pay royalties for any high school or middle school performances, regardless of what medium (orchestra, choir, etc.). The band licensing is only an issue at the college level, but that doesn't at all mean that your voice -- as a director who wants to do everything possible to encourage the creation of new band literature -- is any less valid!

Kevin Howlett says

Just emailed my composition professor with a link to this post and a summary of what's going on. I asked him to forward it to the other comp students and other ISU music faculty members, so Herr Corigliano should get a few more pieces of ammunition for the cause.

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