State Of The Industry Today On Soundcheck

I’ll be appearing today on WNYC’s Soundcheck with John Schaefer at 2:00 p.m. ET for a quick discussion about the current state of the orchestra world both artistically and financially going into 2009. You can listen to the segment via the following audio player:

Tune in today at 2:00 ET
Tune in today at 2:00 ET

In TAFTO 2009 news, the program’s final two contributors are confirmed. First off is the always charming, infinitely intriguing, and never dull Molly Sheridan who works as the director of, managing editor of, host of Carnegie Hall’s Sound Insights podcasts, and author of the cultural blog, Mind the Gap. Rounding out the 2009 contributors is Philip Paschke, New Media Specialist for the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and co author of the organization’s blog, Listen. These two individuals bring our list of 2009 TAFTO contributors up to its full complement of 10 (alphabetically):

  1. Brian Bell; WGBH live concert producer
  2. Sir Andrew Davis; Music Director & Principal Conductor, Lyric Opera of Chicago
  3. Giancarlo Guerrero; Music Director, Nashville Symphony Orchestra
  4. Matthew Guerrieri; Boston based composer, pianist, and conductor and author of Soho The Dog
  5. Janelle Gelfand; Music critic, Cincinnati Enquirer
  6. Curtis Long; Executive Director, Alabama Symphony Orchestra
  7. Philip Paschke, New Media Specialist for the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra
  8. Andrew Patner; Chicago based author, broadcaster, journalist, and arts critic
  9. Molly Sheridan; director of CounterstreamRadio, managing editor of NewMusicBox, host of Carnegie Hall’s Sound Insights, and author of Mind the Gap
  10. Alan Valentine; Chief Executive Officer, Nashville Symphony Orchestra

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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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3 thoughts on “State Of The Industry Today On Soundcheck”

  1. I listened intently to your segment with John.

    I have been running a business or working in someone else’s business for about 35 years. There are times when there are paradigm shifts based on economics and need. Concert going is not immune to these forces.

    The demographics for concert going have been deteriorating for a long time, while the quantity and quality of audio streaming on the internet and the availability of good quality mp3’s have both been rising.

    In my view, like it or not,these last two are the future of music. Nortel, the telecom giant of yesteryear, just filed for bankruptcy protection, but I just bought a one terabyte Western Digital serial ATA 7200 rpm external hard drive because the size of my mp3 music library and mp4 video library are well over 100 gigabytes.

    I get movies from Netflix, which means I have abandoned the movie theatre and also my local video store. Soon, I wont even need to get those DVD’s, Netflix will just download the movie to my PC.

    On the other hand, NPR just proferred on us a download of a concert. A download of music!! I got the downloads, I liked what I heard and hotsied myself right over to Amazon and bought 5 albums, not on CD, but in mp3 and at 256k. Not too shabby, and I financially supported the artist.

    WNYC2 offered Michael Gordon’s “Decasia”. I loved it. I bought it, right from Bang on a Can, in mp3.

    Is any of what I have described going to lead to big bucks? Not from me alone, for sure. But, if I am right and this is what is happening, then the potential of the internet in general and PubRadio in particular is limitless, and others will spend money.

    My choice is to financially support living composers. Others will make their own valid choices.

    If you read Greg Sandow and Mike Janssen, especially in recent posts, you can see this happening.


    • I’m glad you enjoyed the segment, John is a great host. Since its inception, recorded music has been in integral part of classical music and I don’t see that changing anytime soon but I don’t see it as any sort of replacement for live concert events. I rent movies too but that doesn’t keep me from going to movie theaters sincere there simply isn’t any replacement for sitting in a crowded theater on a film’s opening night and participating in shared enthusiasm. The same is true for live concert events so unless the Matrix becomes a reality in our lifetime, live concert events are irreplaceable.

      Will the demographics change for live concert events? I hope so but that doesn’t mean it is a bad thing.

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