gerontius newsletter - June 2015
Dear Gerontius subscriber,
Welcome to the June 2015 issue of our newsletter.
Our theme this time is Making a Recording. Some of our choir members have written about their experiences, plus we have a piece from Making Music about their recording service, and an interesting "advertorial" from Chorum Records.
North Herts Music Guild have raised the vexing question of making recordings available online, e.g. selling your recording as a download directly from your website. We have checked with the PRS, and the way to do this is to purchase a Limited Online Music Licence (LOML) at £129 + VAT per annum. This covers up to 5,000 CD-size downloads, which is more than anyone is likely to sell in a year, I think! There is another, slightly cheaper alternative called the Performing Right Online Licence (PROL) at £62 + VAT per annum, but this does require the holder to clear the mechanical rights for each piece separately with the music publisher. So a PROL would probably be cheaper is you are recording just one or two pieces, or a mixture of pieces most of which are not in copyright. See www.prsformusic.com for full details.
Other possibilities are to use a streaming service like Soundcloud, or a distribution service like DittoMusic. Do any readers have experience of these, or of other services? Please post any comments or feedback in the NEW Newsletter Discussion forum on the Gerontius website - www.gerontius.net/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?forum=14 or email me.
Judging from the feedback we receive, having a theme to each Gerontius Newsletter has been a success. However, it has meant that a fewer pieces of choir news or announcements have been published. So we've decided to start a News in Brief section, for general news and announcements of special events which are not specifically related to the newsletter's theme. Please let me have your news, in less than 100 words! Remember though, the purpose of this is not just to promote ordinary concerts – most of our 5,000 newsletter readers will be too far away from you in any case. We'd like to hear about new conductor appointments, special anniversaries, new commissions, tours and out-of-the-ordinary events which are of interest to other choirs around the UK.
The next newsletter, in September, will look at Fundraising, which is surely the biggest challenge facing every choir today. Crowd funding is mentioned a couple of times in this newsletter, and it would be great if other choirs who have attempted this – with or without success! – could share their experiences. What other ideas have worked for you? How do you bridge that ever-widening gap between income and outgoings? How have you funded tours, recordings, anniversaries and other special projects? Please don't be shy about sharing your ideas – we all want to see choral music flourishing, and working together is one of the best ways of achieving this.
We hope you enjoy the newsletter. Do feel free to share on Facebook, forward it on to friends and others in your choir, or just send them the link to the newsletter online:
With best wishes,
Tim and Denise Ault
Making a recording can seem a daunting task. Are we good enough? How much time do we need? How many tracks? Can we stop and start? What about copyright? Can we know the total cost in advance? What about an engineer, producer...?
If you give concerts to appreciative audiences, you are good enough to make a CD. You have 80 minutes to play with. Anything over an hour (say 16-18 tracks) is seen as good value. Most choirs set aside a couple of days, some just one; some have a concert recorded, then do 'sessions'. Yes, you can certainly stop and start - everyone does, and editing is all part of the job, or should be. The basic rule of copyright is: if the music is published, you can record it. And if it isn't published, it's usually still possible to use the track.
At Chorum Records, copyright declaration (PRS/MCPS) is part of the package and we'll tell you the total cost up front. Selling all your CD stock should mean you double your money.
The engineer is the one with the microphones, who presses buttons. The producer's job is to know the music intimately and work with your MD to show you at your best.
Steve Swinden of Chorum Records is both engineer and producer. A recent example of his work is the One Equal Music project for Simon Lindley's St Peter's Singers of Leeds: http://oneequalmusic.org.uk
Here's what a few people had to say about this recording:
"We would like to thank Steve Swinden of Chorum for an absolutely superb job!" The choir themselves, on their website
"Just a brilliant brilliant disc - best choral CD I've bought in YEARS" A happy customer
"...the atmospheric beauty of the sound" Gramophone
Recording Jonathan Dove's For an Unknown Soldier
The London Mozart Players co-commissioned a new work from brilliant composer, Jonathan Dove, entitled 'For an Unknown Soldier', together with Portsmouth Grammar School. This was premiered last November in Portsmouth and London, and it was also performed in Oxford earlier this year with the Oxford Bach Choir. The London Mozart Players have now launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to record this fantastic piece commemorating the 100th anniversary of World War 1. Members of the Oxford Bach Choir will be taking part in this recording, which will take place in the Blackheath Halls, London.
We are keen that this important piece is recorded for posterity, but the project needs to raise £25k by the beginning of July to enable the recording to go ahead. The London Mozart Players have already been promised £5k from donors and intend to raise the remainder using a "crowd funding" site called Kickstarter. There is a video about the project on the site and the link is http://kck.st/1EZwKKq . In return for donations, the London Mozart Players are offering a range of rewards, from a free CD to being present at the recording session. For a larger donation, donors can have the unique opportunity to dedicate a track to the memory of someone close to them.
We will give an update in the September newsletter, to let readers know whether or not this innovative approach was successful and enabled the recording to go ahead.
Choral Holidays at Milton Abbey
Choral Holidays is taking bookings for its regular course at Milton Abbey. This gorgeous abbey and wonderful school grounds have been the setting for a Choral Holiday for the past four years, and have proved immensely popular.
The fee of just £220 includes your sheet music, which will be sent in advance, your accommodation, food (we have wonderful caterers at the school), drinks with meals, and all your tuition. We will start at 10 am on 21st, so, if you require it, we can offer an extra night's B&B at the school on 20th for an extra £30. The accommodation is school accommodation, but not dormitories.
This year we will be working towards an informal concert at about 4pm on 23rd, to which friends and family are very welcome to come. This will, we hope, include Parry: Blest Pair of Sirens I Was Glad, Handel: Zadok the Priest, Holst: Turn Back O Man and I Love My Love, Figus: The Banks of Doun and My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose, Victoria: O Vos Omnes and Balfour Gardiner: Evening Hymn. In this magnificent abbey these should sound wonderful.
Our motto is "They shall laugh and sing" and we aim to help people to learn to truly express themselves through choral singing, and to feel total joy in so doing.
It's all very informal, although we will work you hard. Check out www.choralholidays.com for more details.
Resound Male Voices in Brighton created a music video of Billy Joel's 'The Longest Time' in the autumn of 2013 (this can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7yfSfcT2D8).
Deciding against a Christmas concert in 2013, we wanted to undertake a new kind of project that was fun, challenging and had the potential of showcasing the group's talent and personality. We hoped that the finished project would help to raise our profile and aid in membership recruitment. We chose 'The Longest Time' because all of us enjoy Billy Joel's music and the story-boarding for it worked well for a group of our size.
The video cost us just over £200 - we heavily relied on volunteers and maximised the talents and skills of our membership. For example, the story-boarding was done by a member who worked as a camera man, the recording was done by a sound engineer enthusiastic about our group in a member's flat and the video was shot in a photography studio owned and operated by another member.
We didn't sell the product, but instead launched it at an event at which we raised awareness and funds for a local charity and uploaded it to YouTube.
It was a good experience that challenged members' commitment and we have discussed doing it again.
I'd be happy to provide any additional information – contact me via Gerontius and I'll be happy to help if I can.
In 2013 we commissioned a new choral work from Terry Mann to take on our choir tour to Bingen. Terry based his composition "Lux Vivens Angeli" on texts by Hildegard of Bingen, and we performed this along with other works in our two performances in Bingen and Mainz.
On our return we decided to record the commissioned work along with other items within our repertoire, many of which we had sung in Germany on our tour.
We hired St George's School Chapel, Harpenden for a weekend in August 2014 and under the direction of our Musical Director Stephen Bullamore and our sound engineer John Taylor, we rehearsed and recorded the following pieces for our Lux Vivens CD:
Our experience of the actual recording was excellent - extremely challenging and tiring, but also exhilarating. It really improved our singing and our overall choral skills.
The financial side has been more difficult - it has cost us a lot of money. The recording weekend itself was self financing - the fifty singers involved paid £80 each towards the hire of the venue and catering etc - but a substantial amount of production costs were underwritten by choir funds. Our total costs, including rehearsals, music hire, professional fees and recording expenses were c. £7750. Sales have been fairly reasonable - we have sold 240 CDs - but we still have to sell more to balance the budget.
We obtained a Limited Manufacture License for 400 CDs from the PRS (Performing Rights Society) but then wanted to put items from the CD on our website site so that people may download direct. We found out that we could purchase a Limited Online Music Licence (LOML), but this is very expensive at £129 + VAT per annum. Most of the tracks on our CD still have royalties collectable by either the arranger, composer or publisher. (We initially received incorrect and contradictory information about this from the PRS, which did not help!)
We then tried to find a company that would help us upload tracks on to our website. Songstall was one, but it rapidly went out of business, luckily before we had committed money to the venture. Payloadz was another but by this time we were very wary of doing any uploading, and the time that people had put into the project had been repaid by a singular lack of any rewarding outcome. We are now working on some graphics to accompany just one track which has no copyright issues – Elgar's The Spirit of the Lord – on to YouTube. As yet, we still have no audio track of our choir on our website.
We hadn't realised that we would have so much difficulty in getting our recordings on the web and being able to sell them, and we would welcome advice or information from other choirs who have faced this problem. However, after this experience I don't think we would be able to afford to record our choir again for some years.
Ann Heymans (chair NHGS)
Many of our members want to make recordings of their performances, either as a memento for their members or to sell for fundraising purposes. However many members tell us that they are put off because the whole process seems so complicated.
It is true there is a lot to consider when producing a CD; from organising the initial recording process and navigating the world of PRS, to finding a manufacturer to print and distribute the CDs. That's why we teamed up with PixMix to create a service tailored specifically to our members' needs. The MusicMix service, which is available exclusively to Making Music Members, allows music groups to create a CD without all the hassle – simply by uploading audio files to Pix Mix's website and then using the templates to create the CD artwork...and that's it! Pix Mix takes care of the hard work like paying publishing royalties and getting the appropriate licences, and there's no minimum number of CDs that need to be bought. It's a system that has worked well for our members, since it saves all the hassle of navigating potentially complex legal issues and worrying about how many CDs to order.
Of course there's still the initial hurdle of making the recording itself, but we've got that covered too. Cardiff-based voluntary music organisation Ty Cerdd offer Making Music members reduced rates on their recording studios, and they have sound engineers who will travel all over the UK.
Another approach that may work for some groups is to use a crowdfunding site to raise the money needed to produce a recording. One of our members, St Peter's Singers, managed to beat their £4000 target on IndieGoGo.com to produce a CD, which is now available to purchase on their website. The downside to crowdfunding is that the success of campaigns often relies on having a strong network of loyal fans and a team who can devote a lot of time to keeping the campaign going – both of which can be tricky for smaller groups.
Today of course there is the added complication that many people also want their music available digitally on iTunes or Amazon. Obviously this saves on the cost of the physical CD, meaning more of the online sale can be put towards fundraising. To do this a group needs to be connected to a record label but that's not as daunting as it sounds - there are plenty of companies which offer this service online. Sites such as DittoMusic.com let groups create their own record label and upload their music, and Ditto then takes care of distributing this to online music retailers.
Our advice to members is that recording music is a great thing to do, and often far less hassle than they feared. Look online to find companies who can help with recording and distribution on a commission basis, or better still become a member of Making Music and take advantage of our Music Mix service and specialist PRS advice – with no upfront costs and no hassle it's a great way for amateur choir groups to get their voices heard!
North London Chorus
One of our Patrons, Laurence Cummings, the Handelian expert and conductor will be leading a workshop day on Handel's Acis and Galatea on Sunday 4th July at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, WC2H 8EP. Choral singers are invited to come and learn the choruses of the work. In the evening an audience will be invited to a performance, with a period orchestra, and specialist soloists. Choral singers will have the opportunity both to work with Laurence Cummings, and enjoy a superb performance. For more information please visit http://northlondonchorus.org/Main/Acis.
Oxford Bach Choir
We are delighted that one of our new Vice Presidents, James Gilchrist, and his accompanist, Anna Tilbrook, have agreed to give a recital in support of Oxford Bach Choir. James' extensive concert repertoire has seen him perform in major concert halls all over the world. We are thrilled that James and Anna have kindly agreed to perform for us at St John the Evangelist Church, Iffley Road, Oxford on Saturday 18 September. Tickets are available from Music at Oxford. http://www.musicatoxford.com/Concerts/Events1415/Other/OxfordBachChoir_JamesGilchrist.html
Did you know that this year, Rayburn Tours will be celebrating its 50th anniversary year? We are extremely proud of the fact that in this time we have created thousands of tailor-made international concert tours for choirs just like yours!
Since 1965 there have been many things that have changed, but the one thing that has always remained constant is our passion for what we do. Our dedicated and experienced team have proven over the years that they have the skills and expertise to arrange unique and memorable concert tours, which are tailored to meet both the performance and leisure objectives of each and every choir we work with. We know that no two choirs are the same, and likewise, no two tours are the same!
Each year we delight in the positive feedback we receive from touring choirs. Through travelling and performing together over such a condensed period of time, performances improve, understanding of roles will heighten and the overall bond of your group will develop significantly. Couple this with the fact that everyone on tour has had a fantastic holiday together and it's a great way for you to provide your members with fond memories that will last a lifetime!
TAKING YOUR CHOIR TO THE INTERNATIONAL STAGE
Let us help you start planning something special…
Enquire before the end of 2015 and you could be in with a chance of winning one of our special birthday Golden Tickets, giving each member of your group a massive £50 off the price of the tour! (www.rayburntours.com/concert/news/uncategorized/50-years-arranging-group-tours-now-thats-something-celebrate)
Give us a call today on 01332 347828 to start talking to one of our choir tour experts about the possibilities for your choir. Alternatively you can view a sample of our favourite choir tour destinations and venues at www.rayburntours.com/choirs
Are you looking for the perfect music summer school?
The Summer Schools Directory www.summer-schools.info is the UK's leading online directory listing a huge range of UK and international music summer schools, including:
Music summer schools really do offer something for everyone, and the locations are often beautiful and inspiring as well. Experience the opportunity to develop your musical skills and gain recognised certifications whilst connecting with like-minded people and making lasting friendships along the way.
Our summer schools directory allows you to search for exactly the sort of music experience you're looking for, as well as the right location, age range and type of accommodation. Or if you're not sure, just browse! So whether you are looking for yourself, a group of friends, or family members, you should find the perfect course. The Summer Schools Directory also lists summer schools and camps in a wide variety of other subjects and areas, including sports, theatre, and English language learning. So why not get searching?
Many thanks to the following:
We always welcome feedback about the site.
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Tim and Denise Ault