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A Look at the American Composer


by Jerome Weeks 9 Feb 2009

The American Music Center and American Composers Forum have just released Taking Note: A Study of Composers and New Music Activity in the United States. Conducted by Columbia University, it’s the first major research study of its kind in decades. The researchers conducted more than 100 interviews in eight cities. The report also features 11 […]

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The American Music Center and American Composers Forum have just released Taking Note: A Study of Composers and New Music Activity in the United States. Conducted by Columbia University, it’s the first major research study of its kind in decades. The researchers conducted more than 100 interviews in eight cities. The report also features 11 “spotlights” on

innovative ways in which composers are crafting careers and contributing to the new music ecology. From music distribution services like ArtistShare.com to the online service, CollabaJam for composers and performers, the spotlights showcase the creative ways in which composers are connecting with audiences and sharing their work.

Some of its other finding about American composers include:

  • Surprise! No one’s getting rich at this job. Average annual income: $45,000.
  • Only 10 percent actually make their living at composing.
  • Two-thirds perform their own music — sadly, that may be because no one else is.

Incidentally, I came across all of this because, in addition to his terrific history of modern music, The Rest is Noise and his presence later today on Think and tomorrow at Arts & Letters Live, Alex Ross is a leading classical music blogger. His website, The Rest is Noise was nominated for a Bloggie award. And that’s where I found the links to Taking Notes.

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