Canada is too mean to pay composers for anniversary commissions

MusicalToronto reports that a parliamentary competitions for composers to write pieces for Canada150 will award the winners C$400 or C$800 for a five minute work. Hardly enough to cover the plane fare to Ottawa.

Composers are up in arms.

Read on here.

share this

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on google
  • As the person who initiated this petition, I just would like to point out that I know that in the context of the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation, there are actual commissions of musical works taking place, for example the TSO project which involves commissions to composers all over the country for various orchestras.

    But… Still… I felt there was really ia specific problem with this particular competition, especially because it is organized by the parliament of Canada and its chamber of Commons, where our deputies and ministers work.
    So, I believed a clear message had to be sent to them, which is:

    Composing original music is hard work, and must get proper retribution , whether this is in the form an actual commission/salary or a cash prize.

    Also, that there is absolutely no way the parliament of Canada should be permitted to use music without paying proper royalties to music creators.

  • Yawn.

    If the money isn’t good enough, then don’t do the work.

    Move on. No one cares about this huge injustice perpetuated on composers.

    • Well, I do know at least of
      767 people who already seem to care, enough at least to to sign this petition.

      And no, before you ask, they are not all composers. Please respect the right of any profession to ask for proper conditions. I am sure you personally enjoy feeling respect for whatever your line of work is. Respectfully, Simon Bertrand

      • Like I wrote, if the money isn’t good enough to do the work, don’t do it.

        The Canadian League of Composers is a bit of a joke when it comes to suggesting fees per minute.

        Maybe it’s time to join the rest of the world. NO ONE earns as much as they think they’re worth. Respect is your focus, not mine, and trying to frame the argument through your perspective and to fault the the initiative for its lack of respect is misleading. But also very Québecois. Is there any other place where egos bruise so easily and self-esteem is so precious?

        We’re talking about a two minute piece for carillon, right? For an unwieldy instrument of limited range that can accommodate a maximum of four concurrent notes (right fist, left fist, right foot, left foot), right? Would it ever have occurred to you to write such a work and publish it? No, because sales would be minuscule (if indeed any copies sold at all), and you wouldn’t make a dime. Your efforts are more valued by you than by others.

        But because politics has entered the fray, there’s the possibility of taxpayer money, and an ego-pampering performance for the “winner”. All the losing contestants compose their masterpieces but won’t receive a penny for their trouble.

        This isn’t a scandal, this is your personal crusade.

        And if the money isn’t good enough, and no one submits a fanfare, will anyone care? Will the fanfare be missed? Will anyone even pause and reflect with a tinge of regret for even a split second?


        • Dear Andy,

          I will take one more (and last)
          moment of my time to reply to you.

          – I think YOU are the one trying to make this political by saying ” this is very Québecois. Is there any other place where egos bruise so easily and self-esteem is so precious? ” I would like to remind you that composers all over the country have signed the petition and expressed on the social media and the public media how they feel about the conditions of this competition.

          – Also. when you say ” All the losing contestants compose their masterpieces but won’t receive a penny for their trouble.” that is, indeed, the problem. Considering the hundreds of millions of dollars that will be spent for the 150th anniversary of the confederation, I think this should have been the result of a real decently payed commission to a composer, pre selected on an evaluation of his skills.

          But for some reason, it seems that, in the arts sector, this kind of process to select and get free services from artists is unfortunately common practice. But, when the parliament makes cocktail parties, do they organize competitions to select the person who will prepare the canapés? And tell them they will get paid a lower amount because it is essentially an honor?

          As for the ” personal crusade” : This, Andy, has stopped been a personal crusade the day people started to sign the petition and publicly stating their disapproval of the rules of the competition.

  • >