Patronage of the arts is a time honored practice that is still alive and well in the music business.  Many examples of fan financing from Ellis Paul, to Jill Sobule and many others have been reported and detailed recently in this blog and others.  Now a group of musicians from California have put together a very interesting program to raise money for commissioning projects that I hope catches on.  We need more thinking like this in the music industry today.  Effective and creative methods of connecting music fans to artists, writers, composers and producers will help propel the next generation of music making.

Symphony of a Million

“Symphony of a Million” is a 6-month campaign, a commissioning project that brings together composers, performers, and the general public.

The goal is to sell 1 million notes. Purchased notes will be used in not just one single million note work, but rather many new works. Composers will work with performers and compose pieces of varying lengths. The first work to be written will be a 1000 note work for solo marimba composed by Music Academy Online founder, Dave Schwartz, and written for percussionist Nobue Matsuoka. The second work will be a 4000 note composition for saxophone and harp and it will be composed by Anthony Lanman who will be working with saxophonist Dr. Noah Getz and harpist Jacqueline Pollauf who perform together as the duo Pictures on Silence.

* Buy a note for $1

* Each note becomes part of a piece of music composed by award winning composers. Throughout the process we will be commissioning composers to write new works of varying lengths using the notes that you purchase.

* A special “Symphony of a Million” concert, sponsored by Music Academy Online and featuring world-class ensembles, will premier all of the works created using the notes you buy. The concert will be held May 18, 2011, the 100th anniversary of the death of Gustav Mahler, the man who composed the “Symphony of a Thousand.”

* Buy as many notes as you wish. Dedicate the notes to someone special. Help to shape entire sections of new music with the notes you select! Your name (and theirs) will forever be part of the final scores.

* Encourage your friends and family to buy notes.

Find out more here.

We Welcome Your Comments


6 replies
  1. Alberto Cottica says:

    Cute, but I would not buy it. To begin with, there is a huge accountability problem: it’s not at all clear what these guys would do with a million $ that is inherently more beneficial than, say, funding a dozen music schools in Haiti. And then there has not been enough discussion of how to overcome the “micropayments don’t work” issue. All in all, it sounds pretty amateurish. Finally, not everybody is sympathetic with 60s avantgarde composing techniques. Alphabetical ordering of notes, really?

    P.S. David, I loved your book.

  2. Anthony Lanman says:


    This is a project to fund the creation of new works of music. It is designed to fund not only the composers, but the performers as well as taking care of recording costs, etc. I don’t see how this could be interpreted as a bad thing. As for your “60s avant garde” comment – you obviously haven’t fully read about the project. How the notes are used are completely up to tthe discretion of the composer, and no one is using them in alphabetical order. Seriously – a piece of music that uses nothing but A for the first minute, then nothing but B for the next and so on – that doesn’t make sense dude.

  3. Trevor says:

    This idea is a good one, but not necessarily unique. I’ve seen a similar idea with SellABand dot com, where fans fund the bands on the site to go from demos to recording studio. While no one has nailed this down perfectly yet, there are options out there for independent artists to get funded without big-label backing.

    Thanks for the post 🙂

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