2008 Compensation Report: ICSOM Executive Directors

All in all, the 2005/06 season was good for ICSOM executives and orchestra musicians alike. Of particular note, the glass ceiling for women executives in this field is barely more than a socio-economic afterthought as women continue to comprise an increasing percentage of overall executive positions, including 40 percent of the Top 10 highest paid executives…

In order to provide information that is as accurate as possible, data from the 2005/06 season is gathered from the following sources:

  • Executive Director compensation figures were obtained from their respective orchestra’s IRS Form 990 for the 2005/06 concert season.
  • Total Expenditures were also obtained from each respective orchestra’s IRS Form 990 for the 2005/06 concert season.
  • Base Musician compensation figures were obtained from records collected by the American Federation of Musicians and IGSOBM (Seattle) for the 2005/06 concert season.

Adaptistration makes no claim to the accuracy of information from documents compiled or reported by external sources. If you have reason to believe any of the information is inaccurate or has changed since reported in any of the above sources and you can provide documentation to such effect, please feel free to submit a notice.

It is important to remember that the numbers shown do not always convey a complete compensation picture. For example, an executive director may have had a large increase in salary due to a severance or deferred compensation package owed when the position was vacated. Additionally, the documents used to gather data do not indicate how much of the season an individual received a salary. As such, the cumulative compensation may artificially inflate annual earnings. Conversely, reported figures may not reflect bonuses or other incentive payments, therefore underreporting what executives may actually earn. As such, the cumulative compensation for executive directors may or may not be more than what is listed.

The “Base Musician” compensation figures do not include any additional payments including but not limited to outreach services and minimum overscale and/or seniority payments, all of which are more common for ICSOM musicians as opposed to their ROPA peers. Finally, these figures do not include any of the opera, ballet, or festival orchestras which are members of ICSOM or IGSOBM.

Top Men


2005/06 Quick Facts:

  • For the third year in a row, one executive’s compensation exceeded the $1,000,000 mark.
  • 40 percent of the Top 10 highest paid executives for the 2005/06 season were women, including the highest paid executive.
  • The average annual compensation for the Top 10 highest paid executives for the 2005/06 season was $528,825.
  • The six year trend for average percentage increase in annual compensation is 4.74 percent, approximately 40 percent greater than the average US inflation rate during the same period.

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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