I'm sharing this story so that others who are considering having the music they've composed or written recorded by a live orchestra will inquire in advance so that they can make an informed decision prior to purchase. I only wish I had had the same knowledge BEFORE making the mistake of ordering. I feel the company has an obligation to explain their service better on their website. Their service is not suitable for all pieces of music, but they chose to tell me that only AFTER I informed them I was not satisfied with the result.
We placed our order on August 2, 2016. More than a month went by before we got an update from the company. They promised that our recording time was coming up soon. We waited a few more weeks, but still no word on when we might get our piece recorded. After many emails back and forth, and weeks of waiting for a satisfactory response, I finally called them. They're in Ireland by the way. It was the first week of January 2017. I explained to Andre Miranda our frustration after months of poor communication on their part, and that if they couldn't do the recording, I would like a refund. He told me on the phone that they would be able to record the piece tomorrow. After five months, they could suddenly record it the day after I called. I was skeptical and suspicious but hopeful.
Indeed, they were able to record it the following day. However, due to technical problems on their part, all we could see was a frozen image on their live feed, and it was not our problem. Their live streaming the next day was fine. We were not able to see it being recorded live on their website, despite the advertising on their website of "free live streaming" of the recording. Andre had even told us we would be able to watch it. However, our primary interest was getting the recording.
We had purchased a 14-minute session, which cost us 158 euros. When we received the orchestral recording, we were disappointed. First, there were many obvious, missed notes by many of the performers. I would call it sloppy performing, but to be fair, given the short session, we didn't have unreasonable expectations. We did, however, expect all of the notes to be played by all of the performers. Second, the various sections of the orchestra were not playing the same measures at the same time. They were not in sync with each other according to the music.
Again, we were not expecting perfection, but we were not satisfied with what we received. So, we asked for a refund, and here's the response we received:
"Unfortunately we are not able to refund you for this purchase. We had the 14 minute recording session as you purchased with a discount. Our sessions have no rehearsal time as you pay for the studio time we use to read and record your piece.
Our orchestra records regularly and in the case of this piece, the orchestration was not ideal and that's the reason why the outcome wasn't as nice as for example a computer recording. Orchestrating a piece so it's easy to read and good to record in a few takes is a craft that takes years to perfect and it is not expected for a person to nail well it on the first years of college composition."
There was no information like this on their website, not on an FAQ page or anywhere else.
My daughter composed the piece as a contest entry for a video game, hosted by Noteflight. As part of that contest, she was told that all submissions would have the opportunity to be recorded by $99 Orchestra. She followed all of the guidelines that were presented to her. At no point in her ordering process was there any information presented to her that would inform her about any potential "orchestration" issues, experience required, etc.
My daughter plays at the most advanced level of a local youth orchestra, as well as for her high school orchestra. She's an accomplished violin player, having been selected for the Florida All-State Orchestra in 2017. She composes as well, and she has composed a number of pieces, including a piece for her high school orchestra.
$99 Orchestra does a terrible job of both explaining their process, as well as detailing the experience required from their customers to obtain a satisfactory recording.
I have followed up several times more, asking for a refund. The company refuses and now ignores my emails.
- Brian Hudson, Sarasota, Florida