Commission Fees Survey 2010/11
For many years BASCA (and its predecessor organisation the Composers Guild of Great Britain) produced Commission Fee Guidelines (CFG) of indicative fee rates for the commissioning of new music from modern classical and jazz composers. These guidelines, which were updated annually, gave a variety of per minute rates for new music broken down by the forces used. The CFG were produced in hard copy and on the BASCA website and were used as a reference by both composers and commissioners.
In April 2005 BASCA received notice from the Office of Fair Trading that they considered the CFG were a recommendation made by BASCA with the object of preventing, restricting or distorting competition by coordinating the pricing behaviour of players in the market. The OFT also informed BASCA that it faced a potential fine if it continued to make the CFG available.
In response to this notice BASCA arranged meetings with the OFT at which we argued, inter alia, that the rates given in the CFG were no more than indicative and were not binding or determinative. It was pointed out that BASCA had never attempted to (and would not be able to) enforce these rates. Unfortunately all of the arguments put forward fell on deaf ears and BASCA was left with no choice but to stop producing the CFG.
Over the next few years attempts were made to persuade various bodies, including the Arts Council, to take on the fight, without success. In view of the importance of the CFG, the BASCA Board decided in early 2010 to fund opinion from leading Counsel on the issue. As a result of that opinion it was decided to undertake a survey to gather historical data on the level of commission fees which had been charged as the OFT and Counsel considered that the objections to the circulation of the information in the CFG would not apply to the results of such an historical survey.
The survey was launched at the end of 2010 and the results were announced on 21st June 2011.