Don't be Afraid of the Word No. Artists prefer NO to Nothing

For those organizations, ensembles or performers who receive unsolicited scores, don't be afraid of giving a negative response.


This week I ran a little survey on Twitter asking three simple questions:
    How often do you send unsolicited scores to ensembles in a year
    If you send an unsolicited score, would you prefer to hear back if the ensemble does not choose to perform your work?
    Have you ever had an unsolicited score performed?

The results weren't really surprising to me, as they fell in line with what I personally felt. They also coincide with another survey done of authors about rejection notices by Janet Reid. Artists would rather hear a "no" response than nothing at all.

In my own survey, the number of composers who send scores out once or twice a year is about the same as those who send there more more. Half of the respondents don't send out unsolicited scores. I didn't ask why, but suspect composers who don't send scores out either don't feel confident in getting a response back or feel the process is a waste of time and money. Because...

92.3% of those responding would prefer to have a response even if the ensemble doesn't want to play the work. Yet, 77% of those who responded have never had an unsolicited score played. This means, the odds of getting an unsolicited score performed is not very likely and yet, half of the composers still do it.

I didn't ask the question, how often do you hear back from sending unsolicited scores. But in my own experience, a response is rare. Most organizations only provide a response if they are interested in performing the work. Great! But, as a composer, I don't know if the right person has seen it, when the person who did look at it, or if the score just ended up in the dead letter office.

It took me 3 seconds to write the words, "Thank you, but we are not interested at this time." Add another 30 seconds to type in someones email address and press the enter key and you have less than a minute to provide a simple response to a composer who spend countless hours preparing their work for your consideration.

Don't be afraid of the word "No." Composers would rather hear that than nothing at all.


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