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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000099.txt from 2008/05

From: "Curtis Bennett" <>
Subj: [kl] How do composers make money?
Date: Fri, 16 May 2008 08:17:43 -0400

This is pretty much off-topic to this list, but the ongoing thread
about John Adams made me wonder this. Recently, I was in my FLMS
(Friendly local music store) and happened upon a string quartet by
John Adams in the music section (John's Book of Alleged Dances). This
is a fairly recent piece of his, and was recorded by Kronos Quartet a
few years ago. It was $40. It struck me as a bit odd since I live in
Tulsa, and I have a hard time believing that there is any demand for
such a difficult piece of music in this town. I can only guess that
the number of active string quartets in my community probably could be
counted on one hand, and the number of those which could play such a
complex piece such as that would probably be 1, maybe 2.

So, it struck me, how do composers make money? Surely writing such a
piece would net Adams very little actual income. And even if it did,
it would die off very fast once the market had been glutted. That is,
once all the people who could play it got it there'd be basically no
one else to buy it - at least not enough to sustain him.

But as far as I know, John Adams doesn't have a day job. He's not a
conductor, he's not a professor - he's a composer, and does it full

Anyone have any insight into this?

Curtis Bennett


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