Another day and another envelope of unsolicited junk from Virgin Media. Each and every one of these goes straight back to its sender with a note attached asking for me to be taken off their mailing list. I do not have Virgin Media, I do not want Virgin Media, and I subscribe to the point of view that success sells itself, that those poor souls who have to knock on your door or put leaflets through it or phone you up have to do so because the reputation of the company is so poor that it cannot sell itself on recommendation alone. The next time I bump into a friend and they tell that their Virgin Media package is the greatest and most bargaintastic thing they have ever purchased I might be interested. Until then, Cnut-like, I’ll sit trying to hold back the tide of junk from a company which brought us three-wheeled (mainly) Formula One cars which couldn’t go the distance.
I am railing against monolithic organisations in general today, and not just because I still despise the idea that, 100 years from now, people will watch footage of these Olympics and think that Adidas, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Cadbury’s were the only brands in the world. Heavens, Virgin even managed to shoe-horn Tubular Bells into the opening ceremony, so it is a good job I was only following the shindig on an internet text page and couldn’t hear it. That aside, though, Olympic London continues to be easy to negotiate, calm and friendly.
My anger yesterday, though, was vented at one of my (now former) employers and a payment outstanding from January. Having chased this up several times I was assured that it would be paid in May (it wasn’t) and then found out that nothing had been done about it at all. Deep breath. I was then told that I would be paid at the end of July, but, again, it wasn’t. I have since had three email messages ignored, and think that enough is enough. In this recessionary age where cash flow is everything I do not think that this is a particularly responsible course of action from an organisation which should know better.
Thankfully, though, I come with some light principles attached and am in the position where I do not need to rely on this organisation’s largesse. Add this to the notion that I would have hoped for them to have done something – anything – about paying me in the past six months, and I feel that I have done the right thing in resigning in advance from the work I had lined up to do for them this coming year. More time for writing, then.
And now we come back to where this all fits into composing. Writing music is probably viewed by many as some kind of ivory-tower activity, the composer standing on the cliff edge searching for inspiration in the elements as the wind howls around him or her. Well, not so. Being a composer is a vocation, but, if one is to survive, it is also a business and needs to be approached as such. Pieces need to be registered, royalties chased, commissions pursued and so on, and for somebody like me who operates without a publisher, this all takes time. My resignation from this organisation is a business decision in essence, a recognition of the fact that I cannot rely on payment being made promptly and effectively.
Putting notes on paper has been rather more successful over the past few days, and I am quietly pleased with the way my current piece is going. I always hope that my music acts as some kind of ambassador for my work in general (John Rutter calls his pieces “calling cards”), and would far rather that people came to me having enjoyed one of my works than having had me chase them. I do not want to end up like certain companies whose action might just smack of desperation. Now to put that Virgin Media envelope back in the post.