The Music Director Discussion Continues

Since the beginning of this week, there have been a number of thought provoking comments from readers on the issue of conductors/music directors…


So far, there are comments from orchestra musicians, music directors, managers, and patrons. The discussion has settled in on some very worthwhile points including the process used to define the characteristics of a qualified music director as well as a discussion of music director responsibilities.

Nevertheless, there’s an even better discussion growing which examines a component of this business which is unknown to many; the business of personal promotion and conductors. Many orchestra musicians, managers, and board members are in the dark on this issue unless they directly encounter it in their institutional duties. Nevertheless, it is something more people should learn about.

I’ll expand on this in more detail in a future article but for the time being, what you need to know about personal representation (commonly referred to as “artist management”) is that these individuals operate on their own or as a member of a firm. In either case, they operate as a for profit business component (just like many consultants, myself included) within a world of nonprofit and service organizations.

The comments are broken up over two separate articles, however, the bulk of them are in the article from 12/20/06 entitled Conductors: Is It Feast Or Famine?. The remaining comments are in the article from 12/19/06 entitled In San Antonio, Mike Greenberg Couldn’t Be More Right.

Keep submitting those comments; the more everyone shares their point of view, experiences, and observations, the better.


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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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