Free For The Taking

If you haven’t been following Jason Heath’s "A Week in the Life" series of posts at Arts Addict then you’re missing out. I’ve written it before and I’ll write it again; Jason’s ability to present an unfiltered, honest look at the life of a gig musician is simply unparalleled. The real bonus here is that what he writes is equally useful for managers as well as musicians…

Personally, I think Jason’s writings on life as a gig player should
be required reading for any high school senior interested in attending
music school and those who do attend should have to read them again in
the final semester of their senior year. This isn’t to imply that what
Jason presents in his writing is negative, positive, discouraging, or
encouraging. Instead, it is simply a sincere account of the day-to-day
realities that musicians face and allows the reader to take from it
what they will.

For managers, it is an invaluable tool for anyone working in
operations or human services. In particular, anyone interested in
becoming a personnel manager could learn more about what needs to be
done than any training manual I’ve come across. In particular, it
reminds me of watching game films to improve future performance. Seeing
all of the little things you don’t realize were even problems yet can
be easily avoided next time because now you’re aware of them are worth
their weight in gold.

Best of all, it is entirely free for the taking:

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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1 thought on “Free For The Taking”

  1. Thanks for pointing out this series, Drew! I think that a lot of the complications in freelance orchestral life come from not having one single hall for rehearsals and performances. Any ensemble that I’ve played in which has a dedicated rehearsal/performance venue runs much more smoothly than groups that are bouncing around from venue to venue.

    Right you are Jason and that’s another good example of unique issues facing operation’s staff in smaller budget ensembles. ~ Drew McManus

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