Composers survey - a first look at the results

As part of the work we do supporting composers, we conducted a survey from May to mid-June asking a number of questions about commissioning, copyright, publishers and the role of Sound and Music (SAM), Arts Council England’s composing supporting organisation.

The survey was open to all composers, and a number of partner organisations helped promote it to their members as well.

In answer to the question, ‘If you are a composer, what do you consider to be your most important source of income?’ roughly one in five identified an additional stream of income relating to education work as their most important source of income, which shows the inter-dependence of difference elements of the music sector as well as the portfolio careers adopted by many music professionals.

Commissions were regarded as the most important source of income by composers overall, with over 40 percent saying it was their most important source of income. However, commissions fell in significance when asked about future sources of income, with royalties and arrangements being cited as potentially more significant. This will make it even more important that piracy and the undermining of royalty payments to individual musicians is tackled.

As well as this, these results suggest that - at least in part - the creation of original work is expected to become less central, whilst arrangements and royalties for existing works are expected to grow in importance.

There are a lot more results to pull out of the survey and these will go towards the planning for a roundtable on composers’ rights in the Autumn as well as a longer write up of the results in the next Music Journal which will come out in September.

For now, taking note of the clear majority of composers who are concerned about the illegal copying of music, we will continue our work with the Creative Coalition Campaign, British Copyright Council and Creators Rights Alliance to protect individual composers’ rights.

Henry Vann
Public Affairs & Policy Officer