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The ATL giveth

After touring Atlanta this week for my short visit to Georgia State University, where Robert Ambrose and his excellent GSU Symphonic Wind Ensemble shouted out OK Feel Good with skill and aplomb, I returned home all jazzed up and full of musical spirit, ready to finish work on the Concertino (actual title pending), take the world by storm, and generally bask in my genius. Not only were Robert and Sarah wonderful hosts, helping me eat my way through Atlanta via Hibachi hotspots and the stunningly delicious heroin-on-a-bun that is Chick-Fil-A, but the Music School at Georgia State is an inspiring place, bursting with energy and growth. I even got to spend some time talking shop with GSU resident composer Nick Demos, after enjoying a terrific Composers Forum with his students. So I was generally abuzz with good will when I returned home.

And he shoots he scores! There were 2 waiting envelopes from my Performing Rights Agency of Choice, containing Writer and Publisher royalty distribution checks. I tear them open, ready to pat myself on the back for successfully swimming the waters of Writing Music Professionally … only to find statements in the amounts of $0.12, and $0.90.

Seriously? C’mon, man. You’re killin’ me over here.

They of course didn’t even bother to cut a check for either amount (which somehow feels even more degrading), and it turns out this is some kind of “International Distribution” so it’s not like this is my final set of performance royalties for the year. But with no explanation or informational listing of what this could possibly be, my high crashed to the ground, and I’m back to struggling with the glaring perception that this might actually be what I’m worth. The life of a professional composer is a bumpy business, worth the ride in every way, of course, but I tell ya … the balance is of yin and yang is cruel. I prefer the parts where I enjoy the glow of support and collaboration from brilliant musicians and colleagues—but I get the sense that the cosmos demands balance. OK, fine. But can’t the balance be over $1.02?

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