An open letter to ALL composers in Australia

Is it worth composing? Yes, according to Susan de Weger



Dear composer,


Did you read CutCommon’s recent blog about the difficulties faced by young composers in Australia?

As an advocate for music education, I feel moved to respond to this with interest, and with understanding about the very real concerns you may face when thinking about how to generate a living wage from your work.

In recent years, my work in academic life has shown me that many young musicians enter higher education without a clear understanding of portfolio careers or the need to create opportunity for themselves. Some music schools are beginning to innovate their courses, supporting students to develop the business and entrepreneurship skills required to create income. I empathise that this crucial aspect of a 21st Century music education may not be available through all tertiary institutions, and unfortunately this can leave composers feeling unprepared for the demands in this area of their careers.

The issue of limited full-time positions in composition is not new, and history is littered with anecdotes of entrepreneurial composers who earned income from activities beyond writing music, but who found a way to build a sustainable and rewarding career.

I recommend taking a moment to step back, and look inward at how you can make your own positive change.

In CutCommon’s recent blog about the subject, acclaimed emerging composer Michael Bakrncev suggested those working in his field in Australia deserve financial support, with reference to Sweden’s model of a basic monthly income for all. When thinking more broadly outside the areas of music, we find that basic provisions in areas such as healthcare and schooling are also under threat due to government financial constraints. So while we in the music industry may care deeply about our craft and have chosen this profession, I feel it may not be the case that everyone should care deeply – or that we should be relieved of the responsibility of generating income.

So with this in mind, is it even possible to find financial stability in your future as a composer? And how can you find the motivation to continue in this career?

Composers, I have great respect for your work in Australia. So I want to present a new point of view and tell you that yes, it is worth composing in Australia.

You may feel like you’re struggling in your career, and you may feel like there are external forces that bring you challenges you can’t overcome. So I recommend taking a moment to step back, and look inward at how you can make your own positive change.

I work privately with many students, teachers and professionals to support their career planning, to set goals and create clear and actionable plans to achieve these goals. We must all find our own ways to create a balanced and sustainable income to support ourselves and our families.

What will your first step be?

It begins with you.


With best wishes,

Susan de Weger
Music education advocate and Notable Values founder


Looking to take that first step?

  • If you are interested in career guidance in the area of composition or music performing, take your first step toward action by reading one of Susan’s industry advice blogs on CutCommon to learn about leadership, audience building, networking, and more.
  • Susan also recommends checking out The Portfolio Composer, a blog and podcast from Garrett Hope about the business and marketing of music.
  • Want to learn more about your industry area one-on-one? Connect with one of CutCommon’s Skype mentors.

If you have a specific question or concern about your musical career, feel free to get in touch through the form below.


Image supplied. Featured image Szabolcs via Flickr CC2.0.

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