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The best new works by Britain’s contemporary composers have been announced today, with thirty-seven composers nominated for the 2018 British Composer Awards across 12 categories including orchestral, jazz, sonic art, chamber ensemble, stage works and wind or brass band.

Highlighting the diversity and vibrancy of contemporary composition in the UK today, the 2018 British Composer Awards nominees include: numerous works demonstrating the ways in which today’s composers give a voice to marginalised groups in society; compositions inspired by poetry and other artforms such as visual art and literature; and works that breathe new life and meaning into history.

Nominees giving a voice to disenfranchised groups in society include: a work by the world’s only ‘recovery’ orchestra (Conall Gleeson), composed and performed by an orchestra in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction; an opera reviving forgotten music by history’s overlooked female composers (Tom Green); and music composed for disabled performers (Oliver SearleLiam Taylor-West).

Compositions taking inspiration from poetry and other artforms include: a piece drawing on world music and Indian poetry to build musical bridges between cultures (Roxanna Panufnik); a reimagining of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner to apply to refugees in the world today, first performed by children who are refugees themselves (Dee Isaacs); and a brass band composition based on coal mining strikes and inspired by poet Mervyn Peake (Gavin Higgins).

Nominated composers reinterpreting and breathing new life into history include: a brass band piece inspired by the life of Alan Turing (Simon Dobson); an orchestral work exploring the notion of ‘Deep Time’ through music (Harrison Birtwistle); a sonic art installation celebrating the rediscovery of a forgotten Baptist Burial Ground (Emily Peasgood); and a full-length string concert inspired by the North Sea Flood of 1953 (Oliver Coates).

A record-breaking year for entries, 2018 saw over 560 submissions, demonstrating the volume of quality new music being composed and debuted in the UK. This year all categories have been judged anonymously for the first time, and a second jazz category has been added. In 2018 51 per cent of the composer are aged under 40, and are first-time nominees.

The British Composer Awards are presented by BASCA and sponsored by PRS for Music. The event is in association with BBC Radio 3 providing exclusive broadcast coverage.

Crispin HuntChair at BASCA, said: “In this record-breaking year for entries, BASCA is delighted to celebrate the breadth of works for the British Composer Awards, representing a wealth of UK talent. As ever it’s hugely exciting and inspiring to see the fresh passion represented by our first-time nominees. Congratulations to everyone nominated today.”

Nigel EldertonPRS for Music Chairman, commented: “I am delighted for PRS for Music to once again be supporting the British Composer Awards, with its impeccable record of recognising the best contemporary classical works. It is inspiring to see that over half of this year’s nominated composers are aged under 40 and first-time nominees, showing that the UK classical music landscape is truly continuing to flourish. Congratulations to you all and I look forward to celebrating with you at the ceremony in December.”

Alan DaveyController BBC Radio 3, added: “Broadcasting the outstanding work of composers from across the UK – throughout our schedule – is an intrinsic part of our role to connect audiences with remarkable music and culture. We look forward to sharing highlights of this year’s awards and some of these marvellous new compositions on the station.”

Celebrating the art of composition and showcasing the creative talent of contemporary composers and sound artists, the winners in each category will be announced at a ceremony at the British Museum in London on Tuesday 4 December 2018.

Presented by BBC Radio 3’s Andrew McGregor and Sara Mohr-Pietsch, the ceremony will include a performance in memory of nominated composer, Oliver Knussen and the presentation of two Gift of BASCA awards – the British Composer Award for Innovation and the British Composer Award for Inspiration, presented in association with the Music Publishers Association.

British Composer Awards 2018 Nominees:

Amateur or Young Performers
Works for voluntary, amateur or youth choirs and ensembles
• Fiery Tales by Richard Bullen
• Microscopic Dances by Oliver Searle
• The Caretaker’s Guide to the Orchestra by Jeremy Holland-Smith

Chamber Ensemble
Six or more instruments or voices written for one player or voice per part
• Libro di fiammelle e ombre by James Weeks
• O Hototogisu! by Oliver Knussen
• Tanz/haus : triptych 2017 by James Dillon

Choral
A cappella or accompanied, except works for choir and orchestra
• In the Land of Uz by Judith Weir
• Mielo by Raymond Yiu
• Unending Love by Roxanna Panufnik

Community or Educational Project
Works demonstrating a composer’s work in community engagement alongside compositional craft
• Solace by Conall Gleeson
• The Rime of the Ancient Mariner- a retelling for our times by Dee Isaacs
• The Umbrella by Liam Taylor-West

Jazz Composition for Large Ensemble
Nine or more instruments or voices that contain interactive improvisation as an essential element
• Afronaut by Cassie Kinoshi
• Rituals by Matt London
• Time by Finlay Panter

Jazz Composition for Small Ensemble
Up to eight instruments or voices that contain interactive improvisation as an essential element
• Close to Ecstasy by Simon Lasky
• Vegetarians by Ivo Neame
• You’ve Got to Play the Game by Johnny Richards

Orchestral
• Deep Time by Harrison Birtwistle
• Recorder Concerto by Graham Fitkin
• The Imaginary Museum by Julian Anderson

Small Chamber
Three to five instruments or voices written for one player or voice per part
• Chant by Charlotte Bray
• Lines Between by Robert Laidlow
• Unbreathed by Rebecca Saunders

Solo or Duo
Instrumental or vocal music performed by one or two players or voices
• A Damned Mob of Scribbling Women by Laura Bowler
• Belmont Chill by William Marsey
• The Harmonic Canon by Dominic Murcott

Sonic Art
Sound art installations, electronic music and works with live electronics
• Halfway to Heaven by Emily Peasgood
• The Otheroom by Rolf Wallin
• Two Machines by Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian and Hugh Jones as ‘Crewdson & Cevanne’

Stage Works
Works specifically written for the stage, including opera, dance and musical theatre
• Shorelines by Oliver Coates
• The Exterminating Angel by Thomas Adès
• The World’s Wife by Tom Green

Wind Band or Brass Band
• Dark Arteries Suite by Gavin Higgins
• Mindscapes by Lucy Pankhurst
• The Turing Test by Simon Dobson

Works eligible for the 2018 British Composer Awards must have received a UK premiere between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018. Works are also composed by a composer born in the UK or ordinarily resident in the UK.

For more information visit the British Composer Awards website

At London’s Guildhall School of Music & Drama, BASCA curated a day of events
dedicated to media composers – bringing together industry experts and high profile composers
from the worlds of film, TV, adverts and gaming

 

PANEL 1. THE COMPOSER TEAM
A discussion with people who creatively and technically support the composer: what do their roles involve?

Speakers: arranger/conductor AndrewSkeet (AS), score mixer Rich Aitken (RA), musical sound designer Simon Ashdown (SA), and music editor John Warhurst (JW). Moderated by Laura Rossi.

AS: “My role [as arranger/conductor] is to remain as calm as possible and communicate effectively. Ultimately, I’m working for the composer so it’s important that I protect them from complicated social dynamics… “Nowadays, many composers don’t read music but they still have sufficient understanding of the score. However, there are some situations where the composer wants to write a piece with strings that are very high (or in a tricky key) without realising that this will be technically difficult to play.”
RA:“[As a score mixer] I’m often working with, or providing assets to, the dub mixer and director, so I have to be diplomatic. However, my loyalty lies predominantly with the composer… “When I work with stems, I aim to go with what the overall vision for the music is. Normally, the director has the final say on this. It can be difficult when you’ve put a lot of work into live orchestration but hopefully I can spot any potential problems early on, so that I can incorporate different opinions.”
SA: “When I worked on my own as a composer, I struggled with being alone all the time. I made a conscious effort to reach out and start collaborating with other composers, which took some of the pressure off me.”
JW: “[With music editing] it’s important to understand the construction of film, as well as music – ensure you’re just as well acquainted with sound effects and dialogue.”

 

PANEL 2. VIDEO GAME MUSIC
A panel of top video game composers discussed how to break into their industry and the specific challenges of working in the interactive medium.

Speakers: Joris de Man (JdM), James Hannigan (JH), Jessica Curry (JC), and Tess Tyler (TT). Moderated by Richard Jacques.

JdM: “Rather than scoring for a specific scene, think about what the player’s experiencing. For example, if they’re traversing beautiful landscapes, aim to score the experience of what they may be feeling, rather than focusing on their surroundings.”
JH: “There is no set or standard approach to scoring games. It depends on the genre and the role that the user is playing. Ask yourself: are they being told the story? Are they part of the story or an inhabitant of the world?”
JC: “I played piano growing up and composed for pleasure but it never occurred to me that it was a job I could make money from and enjoy, which was an important realisation.”
TT:“It’s important to develop the ability to write little golden nuggets of music that are loopable, and encapsulate an environment or a narrative in four bars that can segue into any game state instantly – whether that’s flying, shooting or exploring. Try not to think of a beginning and an end point. If you have a traditional compositional background, it can be a challenge to switch off that part of your brain.

 

PANEL 3. MEET THE MUSIC SUPERVISORS
A discussion examining the current landscape of the industry, the relationship between the composer and director, advice on what music supervisors are looking for, and how best to secure sync deals.

DN: “If you can keep your emails short and have a point of interest about yourself or about the track that is going to catch someone’s eye, there is a chance it’s going to get listened to and pitched. If you’re starting out, and you’re sending clips of something dark and cinematic and it’s just audio, that doesn’t show us that you’ve got the ability to write to picture – it is important that you can demonstrate that skill.”
LH: “Be very clear about whether you own 100% of the publishing and the master, because as a music supervisor we’re very often caught in a situation where we thought a licensed track was going ahead but then at the last minute something doesn’t get approved… “Everybody has adaptability and can work across different styles, but from our side, it’s much easier to remember somebody if they’ve got one key style that they work in.”
MDV:“Editors often find tracks as well that they will temp in at the beginning, and if it’s working really well then we’ll keep it in. So I would say, if you’re pitching tracks, pitch to editors as well… “I found the perfect track for [a film] – and it was a big sync, it was probably about £15,000 – and the person hadn’t put any metadata on their mp3, so I spent about three days trying to find who had sent it. And I could never find out, so they didn’t get the sync. Going forward, it’s all about the metadata…”
“A really good tip is to contact people on sites like Indiegogo. They don’t get people contacting them, and if you can demonstrate you’re a composer and the directors and producers are interested, you may not get paid, but at least you can create a good show reel if you have about three or four of them at the end of it.”

 

PANEL 4. SURVIVING AS A MEDIA COMPOSER: TIPS + TRICKS
From publishing and pitching to networking and communicating with directors, we look at the art of navigating a career as a professional media composer.

Speakers: Tom Hodge (TH), Nainita Desai (ND), Rob Lane (RL), and Dan McGrath (DM). Moderated by Kevin Sargent.

TH: “If you’re on a tight deadline you don’t have time for writer’s block. Sometimes this can even be helpful to start the flow of ideas. When you
write under pressure or ‘off the cuff’ you might end up creating some interesting, emotionally-charged music.”
ND: “You’re only as good as your last job and can never rely on a few clients alone to bring in the work. Keep networking and searching for new business – otherwise you’ll stay within your comfort zone and only ever work with the same people…” “Directors often want a string of different versions but I think the original one is always the best – this is normally when you have your initial spark of inspiration after seeing the visuals for the first time.”
RL: “We’re all looking for relationships with directors where we have a chance to develop as a composer and work on a variety of projects that stretch us. However,
the way that film and TV is made nowadays makes it harder to build genuine relationships. It’s an ongoing challenge to sustain them… “At some point you have to put
aside your own feelings that are getting in the way of you writing the best music. Ask yourself why you’re committed to defending certain musical choices.”
DM: “We work in a collaborative field. When I decided to make the break from TV and radio production and move into composing for media, the first thing I did was talk to contacts I’d already made within the industry. This has helped me sustain a career throughout the past 20 years… “It’s our job to give back an audio file, within a tight time-frame, that tells a story and makes sense to a producer.”

 

PANEL 5. PRODUCTION MUSIC
Writing production music can offer you a good income and flexibility in your everyday life, but with so many options out there, has the industry reached saturation point?

Speakers: Sarah Pickering (SP), Natalie Dickens (ND), Caspar Kedros (CK), and Dan Graham (DG). Moderated by Marc Sylvan.

SP: “We’re always looking for stems from everybody now, because a lot of the agencies want to do something slightly creative with our tracks. We want to be able to offer that to them without them thinking they have to get something commissioned. Now we can tell them: “you can use this and you can change it.”
ND: “Make your track grow, build and definitely have an end. Do not fade a production music track. Because it’s easy to put an ending on a track, but with a fade, there’s no definite end to it… “When editors are listening to music, particularly library music, jumping through the music really quickly, they are not going to give your piece of music 20-30 seconds. They simply don’t have the time. So, anything that makes it jump out and engage is key.”
CK: “You can write production music, you can write custom bespoke music and you can be in a band. As a person wanting to make a living out of what they love, I think all three are worth pursuing.”
DG: “I gathered a list of maybe 2,000 different email addresses of companies all around the world. I put together some solo piano demos, because that was the easiest thing to do at that point, and just sent them out. Out of the 2,000 I sent out, I got maybe three or four positive responses… “It’s the connections that you make that will lead to other things.”

 

To watch video footage of the Media Composer Conference, please visit: https://basca.org.uk/ display-benefits/videos/

 

BASCA, in association with PRS for Music, announce the winners of the 63rd Ivor Novello Awards.

 

PRS FOR MUSIC MOST PERFORMED WORK
Compiled and title sponsored by The Ivors, sponsor this award credits the song that received the most broadcast, online and general performance in the UK during 2017.

Shape of You
Written by Steve Mac, Johnny McDaid and Ed Sheeran
Published in the UK by Rokstone Music – Universal Music Publishing, Spirit B-Unique – Polar Patrol and Ed Sheeran Limited – Sony/ATV Music Publishing (UK) Ltd

BEST ORIGINAL FILM SCORE
Recognising outstanding original composition for a feature film, this year’s judges described the winning score as an uncompromising, brave and definitive part of an extraordinary film.

Jackie
Composed by Mica Levi
Published in the UK by Beggars Music

INTERNATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT
Presented to Billy Ocean, in recognition of the excellence, and international success, of this song catalogue.

BEST CONTEMPORARY SONG
This award recognises outstanding originality in songwriting and this year’s judges felt the winning song captures the personal and political landscape and in particular they praised the truth and execution of the lyrics.

Question Time
Written by Dave and Fraser T Smith
Published in the UK by Warner/Chappell Music Ltd and Kobalt Music Publishing

THE IVORS CLASSICAL MUSIC AWARD
Presented to Thea Musgrave, in recognition of an outstanding body of work in the classical genre.

BEST ORIGINAL VIDEO GAME SCORE
Recognising outstanding composition for a video game, this year’s judges felt that the winning score had an impressive scope, depth and attention to detail whilst retaining sensitivity to the emotional content.

Horizon Zero Dawn
Composed by Joris de Man, Joe Henson and Alexis Smith

BEST SONG MUSICALLY AND LYRICALLY
Recognising excellence in songwriting craft, this year’s judges said that the winning song succeeded structurally, musically and with heartfelt, beautiful imagery.

Magnificent (She Says)
Written by Guy Garvey, Craig Potter, Mark Potter and Pete Turner
Published in the UK by Salvation Music Ltd – Warner/Chappell Music Publishing Ltd

PRS FOR MUSIC OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO BRITISH MUSIC
Presented to Billy Bragg, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to British Music.

BEST TELEVISION SOUNDTRACK
Recognising outstanding, original composition for a television programme, the judges said the winning work was exquisitely composed with exceptional attention to detail.

The Miniaturist
Composed by Dan Jones
Published in the UK by Faber Music and Sony/ATV Music Publishing (UK) Ltd

ALBUM AWARD
This award recognises exceptional songwriting and consistency across an album as a whole. The judges described the winning album as an astonishing open hearted body of work that fully captures the spirit of 2017.

Gang Signs & Prayer
Written by Michael ‘Stormzy’ Omari
Published in the UK by Warner/Chappell Music Ltd

SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR
Presented to a British or Irish songwriter who has released an exceptional body of work during the award year, the Ivor Novello Award for Songwriter of the Year 2017 was presented to Ed Sheeran.

THE IVORS INSPIRATION AWARD
Presented to Shane MacGowan in recognition of the power of his songwriting to inspire the creative talents of others.

OUTSTANDING SONG COLLECTION
Presented to songwriter Cathy Dennis in recognition of her outstanding body of work.

PRS FOR MUSIC SPECIAL INTERNATIONAL AWARD
The only Ivor Novello Award independently presented to an international writer, the PRS for Music Special
International Award recognises a songwriter whose work has left an indelible mark on British music. It was presented to Lionel Richie.

For more information, visit the Ivors website.

BASCA, in partnership with the newly formed UK & European Guild of Music Supervisors, presented an in-depth panel discussion exploring the current landscape of music synchronisation. BASCA Media Committee chair, Mark Ayres, moderated the panel with some of the biggest names across the advertising, film and TV sectors.

Nick Angel

Nick Angel was director of A&R for Island Records from 1990-99 where he signed PJ Harvey, Elbow and Pulp. In 1999, he became head of music for Working Title, supervising everything from Billy Elliot and Atonement to Bridget Jones’s Diary and Love Actually. Nick currently works independently, and recently supervised Paddington 2 and Yardie.

 

 

 

 

Maggie Rodford

Maggie Rodford is Managing Director of the independently owned AirEdel Group, working closely with composers, negotiating contracts, producing, music supervising and coordinating music recordings. She has worked on many high-profile films scores including Murder on the Orient Express, Kubo and the Two Strings and The King’s Speech.

 

 

 

Sarah Bridge

Sarah is an independent music supervisor for film and TV. Her credits include Oscar and multi awardwinning The Theory of Everything, Ab Fab the Movie, Tolkien, Goodbye Christopher Robin and 8-Part TV drama Glue, for which she was awarded both UK and International Music+Sound awards for Best Use of Existing Music in a TV Show.

 

 

 

Abi Leland

Abi is the founder and managing director of Leland Music and Leland Originals, working closely with the world’s most successful brands including Sony, Nike, Lloyds, Honda, and filmmakers such as Kevin Macdonald on Touching The Void and The Last King of Scotland. She has supervised every John Lewis Christmas campaign since 2010.

 

 

 

What is a music supervisor?

MR: Our responsibility is to deliver everything that the film needs for the music. So, this could be clearing the music, helping find the right composer, budgeting, advising on on-camera performers, supervising on the camera work, and really being the eyes and ears of the production for everything to do with music. And of course, this includes finding and seeking songs and placing songs within the film to the brief of the director and producer. We also obtain all the quotes, we look at all the contracts as they’re coming in – we have a duty of care, if you like, all the way through the process.

AL: The role of the music supervisor is to work with the vision of the director and bring that vision to life. SB: Another role of the music supervisor is to protect the composer from endless amounts of notes from multiple different minds and personalities. MR: We’re not there to be dictatorial at any point, we’re there as somebody who can help. Whether it’s the conversation with the composer, finding the right piece of replacement source music because something’s too expensive, or coming up with a creative idea – our role is to be helpful to all parts of the production.

SB: Another role of the music supervisor is to protect the composer from endless amounts of notes from multiple different minds and personalities. MR: We’re not there to be dictatorial at any point, we’re there as somebody who can help. Whether it’s the conversation with the composer, finding the right piece of replacement source music because something’s too expensive, or coming up with a creative idea – our role is to be helpful to all parts of the production.

How do you discover music?

MR: When we’re looking for
completely original, new music, then the shout-out can be to all sorts of people – managers, agents, publishers, master owners – and it doesn’t have to be a big company, it can be small companies too.

AL: There are a lot of A&R elements to a music supervisor – we’re often discovering new music and new composers, it’s ingrained in us. We find music in so many different ways – obviously, relationships with publishers and labels and managers. And it’s being nerdy – what you discover watching other TV and films, and short films.

NA: There is only so much time in the day, so you do need gatekeepers of some description – editorially, playlist-wise or DJs, mates, or a record shop – whatever it is that you find has a similar mindset.

MR: We listen to an enormous amount of original music in any one week – we’ll do a shout-out if there’s a particular style we’re looking for, and we share a lot of information within our working group. Some publishers are brilliant at highlighting where to look, and there are other publishers that have great catalogues but it’s more of a reactive relationship.

On production and library music

AL: It’s a great source of additional income for composers. But now, it’s with the likes of the library houses that are going off the PRS rate card and are just doing their own thing and they’re driving the value way down. So, I’m still a big supporter of library music and think it’s a positive thing for composers to do in the right way and it’s very useful for certain productions, but I try to actively avoid the library companies that are doing things in a way that I don’t think is helpful.

MR: Every project is so different
– we’ve just worked on a project where a huge amount of the music is production music because the budget is such that we’ve had to find production music because it was impossible otherwise to deliver what was required.

AL: You want to have your music with a library company that’s got good people within it – good creative people – because I’m not going to sift through a tonne of library music. I don’t care how good their filter system is, I want to talk to you and ask you directly for what I want.

SB: There are some really good libraries with amazing catalogues. There are also a lot of younger independent libraries that specialise in particular genres. We’re usually aware of them if they email us, or through recommendations from other music supervisors. AL: Recently, we tend to use some of the smaller production music libraries more, because they’re more proactive and have teams of people who are really good at what they do. NA: But I think libraries are really useful for the likes of us when we need Chinese music, Japanese music, African music or big orchestral music and can’t afford to pay.

How do you budget for film and TV?

NA: In an ideal world, we would have a conversation with the producers about how much money to allocate. Generally, I find that you’re brought in and told that this small amount of money is what’s allocated in the budget, which is never enough. I certainly think the halcyon days of ginormous sums of money for syncs are becoming less and less frequent. AL: There’s way more content out there that needs score, which is great, but not everyone is valuing composers and score as they should – as opposed to commercial music. We need to educate around that. SB: I recently worked on a film where they only had a limited amount for the recording of a score, and the composer was saying they couldn’t do it. We requested that he and his agent put together three different options, all with different costs and they went with the middle cost which was great. I think being able to physically see the different costs made it clearer.

MR:You have to get a feel for where their budget is, and then it’s a question of trying to make it work.

How would a musician go about getting their music into the hands of a music supervisor?

MR: I would encourage composers to absolutely make their music available to music editors – it is definitely a way for getting the opportunity to score a film. A music editor has got nothing to hide, so if a director turns around and asks who wrote a piece of temp music, then they’re going to say.

SB: Short films are a great place to start,  because that’s often where a composer wanting to move into film will begin.

AL: I really like it, these days, when someone just picks up the phone and gives us a call, because people don’t do that anymore. We will actually favour responding to people who have approached us in a really good way or a personal way. We welcome composers sending us links to their reels.

NA: You should approach with a smaller amount of tracks that you think are best and tell them you’ve got more if they’re interested. When someone says they’ve got some music for you and there’s about 15 or 20 tracks on one link, they haven’t edited themselves.

Do you have any other words of advice?

NA: I think that, through basic equipment, we’re used to getting good quality demos – though I don’t think anyone expects a string line to sound like an orchestra. Some musicians are more technical than others and can deliver demos that sound like a finished score. Try and do some form of basic research. It is incredible how I receive emails from people sending in a song for a particular film that we finished ages ago, or people who haven’t researched what the film is about, like sending us a dub track for a film set in 1583.

MR: Keep really good records. I know it’s boring, but if a music supervisor comes to you and wants to clear your song and you already know exactly who they should talk to about the master, then you’re much more likely to get your song in that show. It can really help the process. It’s a business these days, where there’s no excuse for a composer who isn’t ready for a recording session or doesn’t deliver to the schedule that’s been agreed. Unfortunately, that sort of thing means it’s much harder for the composer to get hired on another project, because the business is a small business and word gets around.

NA: You have to realise that if a production team doesn’t like a piece you’ve written for a brief, it’s not personal – you have to just say ‘okay’ and see what else you can write. I think when you’re creating music for yourselves, you’re your own judge, and if you don’t want to listen to your A&R or your manager, then you don’t have to – this is not quite the case with music supervisors.

 

It may be some comfort for all songwriters and composers to know that there are times when even the most successful people in the industry doubt their abilities. For example, Grammy award winning artist Imogen Heap, who has resorted to googling ‘how do I write a song?’ in one of her darkest hours of creative desperation. This was just one of the enlightening nuggets of information uncovered during our inaugural David Ferguson lecture, which also featured musician and artist Goldie, classical composer Roxanna Panufnik and UK Music Chair and Beggars Music owner Andy Heath on a panel discussion.

Dealing with Digital
Of course, if only finding inspiration was the one challenge writers faced in today’s music industry. The crucial question is: how do songwriters and composers thrive following the digital revolution?
Respecting the creator’s value – which appears increasingly compromised in monetary and creative terms – was central to much of the late David Ferguson’s campaigning, whose legacy was honoured throughout the evening. Even before the extent that YouTube and Google would go to exploit creators, David fought against an inequitable practice within the industry – that of film and TV companies blackmailing songwriters and composers into assigning rights of their music, while agreeing on the terms and conditions.
And as David’s wife Silvina Munich and Andy Heath recalled, he fought with uncompromising tenacity on behalf of writers to ensure they received fair recompense for their work. David realised that composers and songwriters are the “most vulnerable and abused” parties in the entire value chain of the music industry – yet at the same time, they create the very foundation upon which that industry is built.
While Andy noted signs of an improving commercial environment – such as an increased appreciation for soundtrack, and channels such as Amazon and Netflix are proving not to be ‘uncompromising bullies’ – he believes the tussle has only just begun.

Publishers that Promote
Frustration remains about the power of companies who retain copyright of an artist without working with the composer to promote their music in a “more imaginative and creative way”.
“If publishers are to benefit from a composer’s work their activity must add value to their career,” argued Andy. “They need to be more focused on creating opportunities for the writer as there are to be no passengers in this climate today – everyone must justify their position in the value chain.”
He noted the many different ways for publishers to support writers – from helping them acquire the fairest record or management deal, to exploring opportunities for sync uses or commissions from orchestral performances.
“The right publisher may not always be the one who offers the highest advance,” he cautioned. “It’s more important to work with people who you can build a decent team and relationship with.” Roxanna agreed that a decent publisher will offer emotional, as well as financial, help in what can be a lonely business for composers.
Goldie reflected on his early career. Back then he embodied a “live for today attitude” that negated the important role of the publisher in protecting copyright, and ultimately the value of his content.
“It was about having the money now, the idea of collecting payment almost seemed uncool,” he said. “I definitely recommend that writers understand their rights regarding copyright because it pays dividends in years to come. Although you might not see its worth in your current contract, you’ll be thankful you protected it in the future. It’s also important to have a decent manager to help you navigate this too.”

Fighting for More
It’s not always easy to “fight for more” in the negotiation stage. Imogen said that songwriters and composers should know that there are other avenues and opportunities for their content. After years of dealing with “complicated housekeeping” Imogen actually stopped releasing music because she wanted to step back and assess where the money was coming from.
However, Andy argues this is only possible when you have ‘leverage’, and that a publisher is valuable before a songwriter or composer’s career is established. He also advises hiring a lawyer before signing anything.

Though Roxanna’s music defies being pigeonholed, the majority of her money is made through commissions. Her streaming royalties remain fairly pitiful – £36 for 6000 downloads to be precise. She highlighted the financial disadvantages that women with children face, which can further reduce their earning potential: “At one point, my childcare cost more than my earnings,” she said. “It was only possible to live because my husband was the sole breadwinner.” Clearly, more needs to be done on a legislative level to support women in this situation.

Collecting Royalties
Where technology has created many opportunities for songwriters to share their work – TuneCore, the Orchard, AWAL and CD Baby are just some of the digital aggregators that offer musicians and songwriters the chance to distribute their music – it’s also complicated the issue of transparency.
As Andy noted, the majority of publishers will pay the proper amounts to songwriters and composers but this is increasingly difficult, especially with the complexities of collecting royalties in the US. He added that although IMPEL (Independent Music Publishers’ E-Licensing) have appointed MCPS (the Mechanical Copyright-Protection Society) to license and administer the online mechanical rights in their Anglo-American repertoire, we need “a global system that’s run by independent publishers, who are able to negotiate with Digital Service Providers”.
Roxanna said that writers must also empower themselves. She said: “Take responsibility – go into PRS’s database and check that you’re registered.”
The panel also acknowledged that money often materialises from the more ‘random’ ventures that their manager or publisher may initially advise against. Imogen wrote the song ‘Hide and Seek’ in 2005 and ignored advice to give it a more formulaic structure. Many of her songs have been used in blockbuster and indie films, but it’s this one that continues to be covered by artists.

 

How to Make Money in Music – Our panel’s top tips:
Imogen Heap – “Keep your promises and finish what you start, as you never know how it could pay off 20 years down the line. If you feel completely overwhelmed with all the tasks you need to complete, start with what you see immediately in front of you.”
Goldie – “Trust that your sculpture already lies within the marble. Believe in the heart of your work and don’t try to process everything all at once.”
Roxanna Panufnik – “Only write what you want to listen to. If you let your personal essence shine through, this will ensure you stand out from the crowd.”
Andy Heath – “Remember to consider how commercially viable your work is and whether or not the structure of your piece satisfies the needs of the audience.”

 

You can watch the panel discussion and Andy Heath’s keynote below:

David’s belief in the power of music to enrich lives was so strong that he bequeathed a vast portion of his estate to BASCA. This has enabled us to set up the BASCA Trust, a charity that raises awareness of songwriting and composing to the wider public and provides grants to talented students in need of financial assistance. Find out more at: bascatrust.org.uk

BASCA’s British Composer Awards 2017, held at the British Museum on Wednesday, 6 Dec. 2017.
Photo by Mark Allan

Thirteen composers were honoured at the award ceremony hosted by BBC Radio 3 presenters Andrew McGregor and Sara Mohr-Pietsch. The winning works represent the best contemporary composition that premièred in the UK in the year leading up to 31 March 2017. In addition, two composers were awarded the Gift of BASCA award in recognition of their contribution to new music. The ceremony highlighted the vibrancy and energy of composers in the UK today.

The British Composer Awards are presented by BASCA and sponsored by PRS for Music. The event is in association with BBC Radio 3 providing exclusive broadcast coverage. A programme dedicated to the British Composer Awards will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on Sunday 10th December from 7.30pm.

Crispin Hunt, Chairman at BASCA, said: “The composers honoured this evening are testament to the UK’s thriving and vibrant new music community. Their creations challenge the status quo; push boundaries, celebrate our rich and diverse history, inspire and innovate at every turn. They demonstrate the positive impact of music on all our lives and it is an honour for BASCA to celebrate their achievements this evening.”

2017 British Composer Awards Winners:

BASCA’s British Composer Awards 2017, held at the British Museum on Wednesday, 6 Dec. 2017.
Photo by Mark Allan

Amateur or Young Performers
Who We Are by Kerry Andrew

Chamber Ensemble
Skin by Rebecca Saunders

Choral
Proclamation of the Republic by Andrew Hamilton

Community or Educational Project
Anything but Bland by Brian Irvine

Contemporary Jazz Composition
Muted Lines by Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian

Orchestral
Torus (Concerto for Orchestra) by Emily Howard

Small Chamber

BASCA’s British Composer Awards 2017, held at the British Museum on Wednesday, 6 Dec. 2017.
Photo by Mark Allan

In Feyre Foreste by Robin Haigh

Solo or Duo
Inside Colour by Deborah Pritchard

Sonic Art
Luminous Birds by Kathy Hinde

Stage Works
4.48 Psychosis by Philip Venables

Wind Band or Brass Band
In Ictu Oculi by Kenneth Hesketh

British Composer Award for Innovation
Shiva Feshareki

British Composer Award for Inspiration in association with the Music Publishers Association
Nigel Osborne MBE

 

 

BASCA’s British Composer Awards 2017, held at the British Museum on Wednesday, 6 Dec. 2017.
Photo by Mark Allan

BASCA’s British Composer Awards 2017, held at the British Museum on Wednesday, 6 Dec. 2017.
Photo by Mark Allan

 

BASCA’s British Composer Awards 2017, held at the British Museum on Wednesday, 6 Dec. 2017.
Photo by Mark Allan

 

BASCA’s British Composer Awards 2017, held at the British Museum on Wednesday, 6 Dec. 2017.
Photo by Mark Allan

 

BASCA’s British Composer Awards 2017, held at the British Museum on Wednesday, 6 Dec. 2017.
Photo by Mark Allan

 

BASCA’s British Composer Awards 2017, held at the British Museum on Wednesday, 6 Dec. 2017.
Photo by Mark Allan

 

BASCA’s British Composer Awards 2017, held at the British Museum on Wednesday, 6 Dec. 2017.
Photo by Mark Allan

 

BASCA’s British Composer Awards 2017, held at the British Museum on Wednesday, 6 Dec. 2017.
Photo by Mark Allan

 

BASCA’s British Composer Awards 2017, held at the British Museum on Wednesday, 6 Dec. 2017.
Photo by Mark Allan

 

BASCA’s British Composer Awards 2017, held at the British Museum on Wednesday, 6 Dec. 2017.
Photo by Mark Allan

 

BASCA’s British Composer Awards 2017, held at the British Museum on Wednesday, 6 Dec. 2017.
Photo by Mark Allan

During the evening of Monday 8th May, BASCA hosted a panel event at the Royal Academy of Music to explore the different ways in which composers can best manage their careers. The session was moderated by BASCA  committee member Alexander Campkin who was joined by acclaimed composers John McLeod CBE, Dr Shirley Thompson and Soosan Lolavar.

The panel shared their wisdom on a range of topics such as independent publishing, how to grow your web presence, where to find funding opportunities and advice on organising performances:


Alexander Campkin

Described as ‘fresh and attractive’ by Gramophone, Alexander’s work has been performed or broadcast in over thirty countries and features on twenty CDs, one of which was Classic FM Christmas CD of the Year. Alexander has received over ninety commissions from organisations including The Royal Opera House, The London Mozart Players, The Royal Ballet Sinfonia, Aldeburgh Music and The BBC Performing Arts Fund

• Don’t think “I’m going to be discovered”. It doesn’t happen that way. Composers need to be pro-active. Don’t sit back and wait for things to happen
• It is important to network with people who are going to perform your music
• Creating digital recordings and distributing them can be very easy and is cheaper than producing CDs. Information about Horus Music and Composers Edition, BASCA’s associated digital distributors can be found at: https://basca.org.uk/members-area/display-benefits/#distribution-publishing
• To produce extra content, when performing a concert, ask your players for permission to make a commercial recording

This is how to set up your own publishing company:
• Choose a name. There is no need to trademark it, as long as it is original and you cannot find it anywhere else
• Typeset the music using software such as Sibelius, Finale or Dorico
• Have it proof-read
• Include a copyright notice and duration within the score
• Get an ISMN from the Music Publishers’ Association (information can be found here: http://www.mpaonline.org.uk/content/international-standard-music-numbers-ismns)
• Generate a barcode
• Distribute it yourself electronically using an e-commerce feature on your website or via a distributor
• That’s it!

 

Shirley Thompson
Dr Shirley Thompson is a renowned and award-winning English composer of Jamaican parentage who serves as Reader in Composition and Performance at the University of Westminster, London. Dr Thompson’s compositional output consists of large conceptual works including symphonies, ballets and operas, as well as music for TV, film, and theatre

• Say yes to everything you’re offered and then work out how you’ll do it – it is important artistically to push yourself into the unknown
• I’m my own concert promoter with my own ensemble, and I have produced my own merchandise (CDs, videos, and t-shirts) using the more progressive, modern popular music model – generating revenue from products other than a recording
• Now is the best time to use digital platforms to generate audiences – use sites like Youtube and SoundCloud to broaden your audience
• It’s good to learn to share the creative process and not to restrict yourself to just concert music – this is important from both practical and artistic viewpoint. You should be aware of the arts in general, and look for opportunities on artsjobs.co.uk
• You need to build relationships with performers and have a network in place of players who perform your work. The people that play my work are people I know from school and university days
• 95% of my time is on the business of being a composer; not composing

John McLeod
For over 40 years John McLeod has been at the forefront of contemporary Scottish music and is still one of the UK’s busiest and most prolific composers. His orchestral and vocal music has been commissioned, performed, and recorded in many countries by leading orchestras and has also been featured at international festivals including the London Proms and Aldeburgh. In June 2016, he was appointed CBE in The Queen’s Birthday Honours

• The composer as entrepreneur isn’t a new concept – Mozart and Beethoven did it like this too
• Travel as much as possible and meet as many people as possible
• I was initially published by a couple of music publishers who didn’t do much promotion, so I took my rights back and set up my own publishing company
• Start with a performer then apply to Arts Council England/Creative Scotland for funding: once you have a performer and two performance dates you can get funding to effectively self-commission
• For an orchestral recording, it’s better to get a salaried orchestra so that you can fit into a quiet spot in their schedule. It’ll be cheaper than hiring a non-salaried orchestra for 3 days at Musicians’ Union rates
• Seek out young/student film directors to approach for collaboration. Places to find them, for example: University of Westminster, National Film School, Royal College of Arts, Bournemouth Film School
• Be versatile: if you conduct it, edit it and hire the musicians yourself – you split the fee between fewer people

Soosan Lolavar
Soosan Lolavar is a British-Iranian composer and educator who works in both electronic and acoustic sound, and across the genres of concert music, contemporary dance, installation, film, animation and theatre. Her work has been performed at venues such as the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, V&A, National Maritime Museum and broadcast several times on BBC Radio 3

• Apply for everything on offer – you must also get used to having a lot of rejections
• When applying for funding, use the term “We” to make it sound like you’re a part of a big team even if there’s just one of you. You could also involve lots of institutions as ‘project partners’
• Check the remit of who you’re applying to. For example, Arts Council requires you to prove a certain level of public engagement
• Check your budget and get other people to check it – if it doesn’t add up the application goes straight in the bin
• It’s important to find your compositional voice – what do you have to say?
• Time management is extremely important – when I’m doing creative projects, I only answer emails between 9 and 10 in the morning and avoid them for the rest of the day. I also always favour calling someone over emailing them

BASCA members can watch the video of the event below or by visiting the Videos page in the member’s area



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On June 12th, BASCA joined UNESCO, CISAC and a host of creators and copyright experts in Paris for a conference exploring the transfer of value and the challenges it brings to creative industries.

The key issues being discussed included the challenges facing culture and creative industries in the digital environment; the need for harmonized and effective legislation; and how can artistic freedom be protected in the digital environment. Jean-Michel Jarre, CISAC President, also took part in a keynote debate on ‘fairly remunerating creators in the digital environment’, highlighting the need for urgent changes to the framework protecting creators in the digital market, and supporting the copyright proposal put forward by the European Commission in September 2016.

Jarre said: “for the first time in two decades, the music industry is growing again. This is good news. Yet creators are still not seeing a fair return for their work and the main reason for that is the problem known as the transfer of value”.

Photo ©: Aurélien Mahot

BASCA Chairman, Crispin Hunt, who spoke at the conference, defined the effects of the ‘transfer of value’ as the creator no longer being the primary beneficiary of their work, noting that “the value of works has been transferred to the tech companies and platforms who have built vast global businesses on the back of the work of creators without having to ask permission from, or fairly remunerate those creators”. He also explained that this issue is “simply the direct result of a political decision to favour the growth of the online economy and of legislative ambiguity in the current law which fails to reflect today’s market”.

Closing his speech, Hunt stated:

“Over the last 15 years digital technologies have fundamentally transformed the music industry. It has created unbelievable opportunities that should yield unbelievable fruits – so why isn’t this the golden age of music, why has the once beautiful promise of an internet of freedom and fairness not become a reality? And why are creators around the world fearful of the future of our art and our creativity?… If we are to preserve that diversity alongside the dignity of the globes cultural future, we must take measures to re-balance the rights of creators with the power of those that exploit their creativity”

John Lunn and Gavin Greenaway

The career of a media composer promises few certainties but it can surprise you with unexpected highlights – whether that’s scoring for a TV drama that reaches international acclaim, such as Downton Abbey, or making Gary Numan smile on stage at one of your sound designs.
Exciting and unpredictable, it offers many opportunities for composers to explore new territories and fulfil childhood dreams.

However, in a world of recycled samples and incessant demands to sound like Hans Zimmer, how does a composer hang on to their originality and develop their voice? Is there a danger the industry is steering towards uniformity? And as more opportunity emerges for composers to embrace the business side too, is there still a role for the publisher or agent to play? These were just some of the questions raised in our first ever Media Composer Conference held in partnership with Goldsmiths, University of London.


No Wrong or Right Way
Christian Henson didn’t listen when educators told him he wasn’t “doing it properly”. Despite the cynics, his 25-year career has successfully married his two loves – film and music. Although he doesn’t read music, Christian has worked on Jon Wright’s sci-fi epic Robot Overlords and Channel 4’s Fresh Meat. He’s also collaborated with an eclectic range of artists including Graham Coxon, Death in Vegas, Natasha Khan and Ed Harcourt.
His energised discussion at the conference focused on how to create unique sounding music through a combination of samples and live instruments. When synthesised music is so easy to produce, his advice to “make room for at least one musician, no matter how low the budget” is enlightening.


Scoring the Distressing
Writing epic score for Hollywood productions is challenging, but documentaries – often with deeply distressing and difficult subject matter – force you develop your compositional skills.
Sandy Nuttgens’ scores for the TV programmes he has covered range from the Moors Murders, to the life and loves of socialite Pamela Churchill. Such a diverse range of subjects has often pushed him out of his comfort zone. Talking about his bold approach to working in unfamiliar styles of music, he says: “I’ve always said yes, even if I’ve no idea how I’ll do it!”

Nainita Desai, Sandy Nuttgens, Miguel Oliveira, and William Goodchild

Sandy also scores for children’s animations, which uses a completely different set of skills. He says: “The ‘hit points’ in animation are constant and need extremely accurate scoring that can leave you exhausted. I don’t have time to create my own sounds but to help me sound unique I’ll use old battered instruments that I’ll veneer over the top.”
Miguel d’Oliveira left behind his career as a dosctor to fulfil his childhood dream of becoming a composer. The creative process allows him to “learn everyday and be a kid”. He’s scored more than 150 hours of primetime TV shows including First Dates, The Met, and Great Ormond Street.
he outlined a big challenge for documentary scoring – that composers are often asked to make distressing images more ‘positive’. That’s a difficult request to satisfy, especially if the composer wishes to remain sensitive to individuals and their relatives in the programme.

Walter Mair, Kevin Sargent, Ruth Barrett, and Dominik Scherrer

Bringing Focus and Attention
William Goodchild’s path took him from conducting to composing. He specialises in wildlife and history documentaries including the BBC’s Natural World, Return of the Giant KillersAfrica’s Lion Kings. He argued that the composer’s main job is to bring focus and attention: “The emotion within the image itself is often so explicit that this works better than underscoring emotions.”
More advice came from Dominik Scherrer – who received an Ivor Novello award for his soundtrack for the BAFTA-winning Ripper Street. He said that care must be taken when writing themes within a score: “Itdoesn’t always work if you stick to characters because it can confuse a scene. Find linkages rather than differentiation.”


Capture the Essence

When you hear the dreaded words – ‘can we just listen to the temp again?’ don’t dismay, advised Ruth Barrett, who recently scored for ITV hit The Durrells. It’s rare for a composer to want to reproduce the temp track (and indeed that could potentially land you in legal hot water) but Ruth says it can help a composer capture the essence of what the director wants. Her advice is to try and discover: ‘What is it they like, or what is it that resonates?’
Specific words directors use when they don’t like a piece of music can also be useful clues. For instance, one director’s feedback with the word ‘dissonant’ helped Ruth change the whole tone of a piece for the better by just taking out one string slide.

Darryl Alexander, Simon James, Paul Farrer, Marc Sylvan, and Anne Miller


Know Your Worth
Will great talent always rise to the top?
Yes, says Darrel Alexander of COOL Music Ltd – but you must know your own worth artistically and financially. Remember that a business brain is as important as an artistic one.
The details and business side of creating are often the last things a composer wants to think about, especially in a time where there are ever more fragmented sources of income. On that theme, Anne Miller, of Accorder Music, urges composers to get their cue sheets as correct as possible, as it’s difficult to make changes to contracts later on.
Darrell also advised seeking legal expertise from a reputable agent or music publisher – one who understands the intricacies of publishing.


Old vs New

Claire Freeman of Crown Talent & Media Group pointed out “We’re in an age where directors and producers often want their music to sound like the last best thing.” Her supervision credits include Working Title’s award-winning biopic The Theory of Everything and Testament of Youth – the BBC Films biopic of Vera Brittain.
Claire is always listening out for a distinctive style but is also inundated with requests for music to ‘sound like Sicario’.

Claire Freeman, Chris Smith, Rachel Menzies, and Harriet Moss

Is it possible to have a healthy balance between reviving old repertoire and breaking new artists? Rachel Menzies, Music Supervisor at Native, is aware of the age-old problem of getting a new name out there. She has placed music in productions that include Game of Thrones, Top Gear and Dr Who, and works regularly with brands such as Coca Cola, Amazon and British Airways. She outlined the difficulty in taking a risk on new writers when the turnaround in adverts is so fast and there’s a specific brief to deliver. Rachel says the emails that stand out for her are those that show a composer has researched the style of adverts she works on, and understands the specific area they’re targeting. Never overlook the basics either, she notes – make sure your SoundCloud link works and that you’re not pitching for outdated projects.
With the rise of so many independents there is an overwhelming amount of new music for sync agents to hear. But Harriet Moss, Global Creative Manager at Manners McDade – a London-based music publisher and composer agency (specialising in new classical and electronic music) – takes time to listen to all work that is sent through.
She noted that a presence on Spotify and SoundCloud is essential for getting your name out there and that building connections with directors, helping you at the negotiation stage.


A Parting Shot
Do composers ever reach a point in their careers when they stop being plagued by feelings of self doubt?
Throughout the conference, it was intriguing to discover that the answer is probably no. John Lunn confessed that he’s still plagued by paranoid thoughts that he’ll run out of ideas one day. As the Emmy Award-winning composer behind Downton Abbey, his humility is reassuring – as was his observation that the often painful creative process is governed by instincts.

Charlotte Brown

On Tuesday 24th January, BASCA and the FAC assembled an incredible panel of esteemed songwriters at Tileyard Studios for the ‘ALL ABOUT: Songwriting‘ conversation, hosted by Katie Melua.

The panel consisted of Katie Melua, one of Britain’s most successful recording artists of the millennium; BASCA fellow Don Black, whose rich career has seen him writing songs for Tom Jones, Tony Bennett and Michael Jackson; Carla Marie Williams, founder of Girls I Rate and songwriter for artists such as Beyonce, Girls Aloud and Naughty Boy; William Orbit, two-time Ivor Novello winner who has experienced great success in songwriting and producing; and MNEK, a songwriter and performer in his own right, whose single ‘Never Forget You’ with Zara Larsson has been certified Platinum in the UK and triple-Platinum in Sweden.

Ivor Novello winner, Imogen Heap opened the event, stating that the “very fragile early beginnings” of a song is “what the whole industry is based upon”, setting the tone for an in-depth discussion into the importance of having a personal process; what makes a successful song; working to artists’ briefs; and the changes the songwriting industry has seen the past 40 years.

A full feature on this event, including all the panelists’ tips for songwriters, will be available soon.

 

To see a recent interview with Imogen Heap, click here.

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