Friday, June 22, 2007


The Music07/eighth blackbird composition competition that I flagged here and here in December for its entry fee has now concluded. According to one member of Eighth Blackbird, one of the sponsoring organizations, more than 120 applications were received. Do the math: the entry fee is $25. 120 x $25 = $3000. The prize is $500, which the judges have decided to award in full to two winners. That's a net of $2000.

If that $2000 has gone on to subsidize administration, judging, or the performance, then the sum of the fees is a sign that the organizers were not able to raise enough money to cover the costs of the competition and have decided instead to let the weakest participants cover all or a substantial part of the costs. If the $2000 was simply absorbed as profit, that's completely unacceptable.

(A reader of this blog has also pointed out that, in some states of the US, if the prize money is derived from entry fees, then the contest is a form of gaming and not legal; this also raises a question about interstate gaming, which is also restricted).

I discourage any younger colleagues in participating in this competition or any competition like it in which fees other than return postage and packaging are required. Organizers of composition competitions should raise third party funds to cover any prize money and any expenses related to the competition; expecting contestant composers to contribute to the prize money is gaming, and not ethical treatment of musicians.

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