More Thoughts On Recordings And Broadcasts

Following Monday’s article about the changing field of orchestral recording and broadcasting, dozens of readers sent in private email messages to discuss their view on the issue…

There was a wide range of responses but the bulk of them centered on a single theme: the cost of making recordings and broadcasts. On one extreme, some readers expressed that orchestra musicians should not be compensated anything beyond their regular pay for recordings/broadcasts nor should there be any restrictions on how recordings are produced and distributed. At the other end, others expressed that they would rather see the numbers of recordings continue to decline instead of risking a drop in the quality of recordings/broadcasts through reductions in compensation or production values.

However, most of the responses fell somewhere in between those two positions with readers expressing that because production costs are so high already, they think musicians should lighten up on their demands for up front payments but that they should definitely be paid something for the additional work beyond promises of future revenue.

There will be more about these issues in the near future but in the meantime, I want to openly solicit feedback from readers. Having a comment based discussion on this subject would serve as a positive force. Furthermore, keep in mind that you can post your comments anonymously so feel free to express your honest opinion (even though you must submit an email address, it is not published publicly with your comment).

I know many managers and musicians (and especially board members) either shy away from posting comments or curb their opinions when posting because they are concerned about causing problems in their respective workplace or damaging their opinion abroad. Those are certainly justified concerns, but so long as everyone conforms to standard blog etiquette (basically, no libelous statements or pointless flaming) and is willing to have another reader disagree with their position, then there’s no reason not to submit a public comment.

If that’s still a little too intimidating, then readers can certainly continue to send in private email messages. Either way, the more discussion, the better.

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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3 thoughts on “More Thoughts On Recordings And Broadcasts”

  1. The problem might be solved by increasing the overall salaries of the musicians, to begin with, so that recording would just be a normal part of their orchestral duties, thereby insuring that orchestras could reach larger audiences and further their popularity. Everyone would gain, then, because demand would grow, and salaries could grow, as well, reflecting the benefits of a growing audience. Too much haggling over the old ways of doing things seems to prevent opportunities to produce positive change for orchestras: funding, audience, public perception of musicians.

  2. Orchestral musicians in full time orchestras have a stability that not many other musicians have. Part of their job description and duties should include X amount of hours a year dedicated to participating in recording sessions. A fair salary should guarantee enough recording hours to produce quality CDs – or digital files in today’s world. Such recordings should be seen as creative work made for the institution just as software developers create software and collect salaries – not royalties. If orchestras are to survive they should be fair to their musicians and musicians should understand that times have changed and that the sustainability of their institutions requires losing perks that do not make business sense.

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More Thoughts On Recordings And Broadcasts

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