Frequently Asked Questions

28 February 2024

Frequently Asked Questions

What problem is Music Patron trying to solve? Who is able to be a patron? And what do we mean by the word 'composer'?

We’ve answered some of the most common questions people have about Music Patron.  If your question isn’t here, get in touch with the team via [email protected]

What do you mean by the word 'composer'?

We know the word ‘composer’ can conjure up a certain image or type of music, but we want to challenge this.

A composer is anyone who creates new work using sound or music; whether they perform it themselves or write for others, and whether they work with software, with notes on paper, through improvisation, or in other ways.

Our aim is to showcase the richness and diversity of the UK’s new music industry by championing some of today’s most exciting composers from a range of backgrounds, music styles and career stages.

Who is a patron?

A patron is someone who gives financial support to an individual, an organisation or a cause.

Up until as recently as the early 20th century, patrons and patronage formed an important part of a composer’s income and sustainability. Much of the music we are familiar with and value highly today, was made possible by patronage.

Historically, being a patron of music was just for the privileged and the wealthy. Music Patron is democratising this old model by reimagining patronage for the 21st century, building communities of patrons supporting individual composers directly with a regular monthly donation.

Small amounts, when added together, can make a significant difference and become a meaningful, game-changing income stream for composers. 

How do composers usually make a living?

There are a number of different ways a composer can earn money from their music.

They may be commissioned by an organisation or an individual to write a piece of music in exchange for a fee, or be embedded within an organisation as part of a creative residency.

Composers can also apply for bursaries and grants to fund new projects or develop their skills. They may also receive royalties from performances, broadcasts and streaming, or payment for the hire or sale of their scores.

Composers will draw on a variety of these, but being able to be a full-time composer is rare.

Composers almost always have private or other income streams – such as teaching, performing, music directing, conducting, or a job entirely outside of music altogether – to actually earn a living.

All of which means less time creating new music.

Why do composers need extra support now? What's changed?

Streaming services such as Spotify & Apple Music have revolutionised the way we listen, but for composers these platforms have had a drastic impact on the money they receive for their creative work.

Compare supporting a composer on Music Patron (£10 per month) with a music streaming subscription (around £10.99 per month). Spotify pays roughly £0.003 per stream. With this in mind, a composer would need 500,000 monthly streams on Spotify to earn minimum wage.

Through Music Patron, a composer receives 100% of the money. 

In addition, the unstable economy and cuts in public funding have resulted in less music being created and fewer opportunities for composers to take risks and innovate. 

Read more about the effect of public funding cuts on new music in the UK, and the role Music Patron can play ensuring an inclusive, diverse and representative new music industry.

*Source: The Trichordist.

Why is ‘no-strings-attached’ funding so important?

We talk about Music Patron donations being ‘no-strings-attached’ because that’s exactly what they are. Donations given without restriction or reciprocation.

With a commission, a composer may be asked to write for particular instruments or a fixed duration, and deliver by a specific date. With an unrestricted no-strings-attached income stream, composers have more artistic freedom and, crucially, more time to create new work.

How is Music Patron different from other platforms which support creators?

Our focus is uniquely on composers, with a curated cohort showcasing the richness and diversity of new music in the UK.

Some existing platforms allow many different artists and creators to accept donations, or to generate revenue in exchange for access to specific content.

Music Patron brings together the traditional concept of patronage with the impact of grassroots collective giving. Composers build a community of patrons, each giving a regular monthly amount with composers receiving 100% of the money. 

Together this generates a meaningful, game-changing income stream for composers.

What do I get in return for supporting a composer?

While we encourage our composers to regularly share content, the main purpose of Music Patron is to provide composers with no-strings-attached financial support so they can create new music.

However alongside this comes the opportunity to connect directly with a composer. This could mean messaging them with a question, contributing an idea, or being first to experience a new piece of music. 

This direct connection can often generate surprising, informative, joyful, and rewarding moments for both patrons and composers. 

If composers get 100% of donations, how do you cover your operating costs?

Our operating costs are covered by monthly and one-off donations given directly to Music Patron, optional donations that patrons can choose to add on top of their monthly contribution, and Gift Aid donations.

Music Patron is a start-up project incubated within Sound and Music, the UK’s national organisation for new music, and a charity (registered charity no. 1124609) which enables us to claim the Gift Aid on eligible donations. 

Why is the minimum donation to support a composer £10 per month?

We set our minimum donation to composers at £10 per month to reflect the average Spotify & Apple Music subscriptions, as these are how most people engage with their music today.

How often will I hear from a composer?

Composers on Music Patron typically send out updates once or twice per quarter. However, patrons are able to directly message composers as well as comment on updates and interact on the platform. 

If I am donating monthly, why can't you guarantee monthly content from my composer?

Whilst Music Patron is partly about connecting with a composer and receiving exclusive content, it’s also about charitable giving.  

To give you a bit more context, 53% of composers earn less than £10,000 per year from composition work and 28% of composers considered abandoning their career during the pandemic. Finding new ways to ensure composers can continue to create is one of the reasons why Music Patron was created. 

*Source: Ivors Academy

Is there a way to support all the composers?

If you are not ready to support an individual composer, you can choose to support Music Patron directly, from £3 per month. 

This money goes towards our hands-on work supporting composers to build a sustainable community of patrons, and helps us campaign for an all-important shift in the music industry. It also enables us to absorb transaction fees, ensuring composers get to keep 100% of their donations. 

Can I give a one-off donation?

Yes, you can support Music Patron directly with a one-off donation from £25.

How do you select composers?

Music Patron is a curated platform. Composers apply to join Music Patron via an open call, and selection for the platform is led by an advisory panel reflecting the essence of Music Patron’s vision – to connect composers with music lovers.

The advisory panel combines internal and external voices, and includes our current Music Patron cohort, key new music industry partners and representatives from the worlds of fundraising, digital communication, and storytelling.

We’re still in the early stages. Our aim is to gradually expand the number of composers on Music Patron. Ultimately, we hope to connect hundreds of composers with thousands of patrons.

I don't know which composer to support, can you help?

Absolutely! We’ve created a quiz to help match you with a composer.

Music Patron works with composers representing a diverse range of musical styles. Each composer on Music Patron has a completely unique voice and their content reflects this.

If I start supporting a composer but I don't feel a connection to them or their music, can I switch?

Yes. We want patrons to have a meaningful connection with their composers and their journey. 

If your experience doesn’t quite match your expectation, get it in touch with us via [email protected]; we can help you to choose another composer to support. 

I live outside the UK, can I still be a patron?

Yes. Whilst Music Patron composers must UK-based, you can be a patron from anywhere in the world. 

I can't afford it right now, is there another way I can support you?

We understand that it is not always possible or financially practical for people to support all the causes they would like to.

Until you’re able to include Music Patron in your charitable giving, you can still support us and the composers we work with, by staying connected via our newsletter or helping to amplify our message through social media channels

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I'm a composer, how do I join Music Patron?

Applications for new composers to join the Music Patron cohort are open. Find out more about how to join Music Patron as a composer. 

How did Music Patron come to life?

For Anthony Bolton, financier, composer and philanthropist, a eureka moment came when he discovered the American-founded, digital platform, Patreon. As a long-time patron of the arts himself, he wondered what would happen if you took a Patreon-style model of grassroots, collective online giving and adapted it specifically to the needs of composers. Cue the birth of Music Patron, a UK-based organisation re-imagining patronage for the 21st Century.

Music Patron not only channels much-needed funds to composers, helping to sustain the careers of key talent that might otherwise go unheard, but also offers patrons a unique window into the life and work of a composer.

I have another question...

If you have a question about Music Patron that we haven’t answered above, please get in touch with the team via [email protected]

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