Setting The Stage For Online Distribution In San Diego

There was an interesting article in the November 19th edition of the San Diego Union-Tribune by Preston Turegano which reported a that the San Diego Symphony will receive a $150,000 gift from The Copley Press Inc. (who also publishes the Union-Tribune). Apparently, the money will sponsor local radio broadcasts of 14 San Diego Symphony Masterworks concerts from the 2005-2006 season and six concerts on National Public Radio…..


The concerts will be recorded live and rebroadcast over the summer months of 2006 and according to information on the SDS website, it appears that the orchestra will retain ownership of the live recordings,

The Copley gift also allows for the San Diego Symphony to make high definition recordings of all 14 concerts of the 2005-2006 Jacobs’ Masterworks Series, archive material for a future CD release and produce one compact disc that will be released for sale with proceeds to benefit the Symphony.

If the SDS will, in fact, own the master recordings it will be interesting to see if they wade into the online distribution waters, following the wake of the Milwaukee Symphony. One of the intriguing components of the Milwaukee Symphony internet distribution deal is that they own the master recordings, which are funded by gifts to sponsor their long running radio broadcasts.

As such, the MSO musicians are already compensated for the radio broadcasts as part of that deal, so anything those recordings earn through online sales is distributed between the musicians on top of their previous broadcast compensation.

In San Diego, it’s fascinating to read that SDS Music Director, Jahja Ling, is anxious to expand the organization’s national and international stature through the national broadcasts, recordings and tours; unfortunately, there’s no mention of any online distribution component even though the organization plans to release a CD containing material from the radio broadcasts.

It’s wonderful to see another orchestra securing funds to institute radio broadcasts, the more that happens, the better off the entire business will be. Nevertheless, I hope the SDS musicians are begin compensated enough for those broadcasts to allow the possibility of crafting an internet distribution deal similar to what Milwaukee recently accomplished.

After all, if an organization considers national exposure as a “critical” element in becoming an internationally recognized orchestra, one of best ways to increase positive exposure is through the internet.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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