Join The Dark Side

At nearly three quarters of a million views and more than 700 comments, you’ve probably seen the article from the 9/5/2011 edition of by Lillian Marx titled 5 Bizarre Dark Sides to Modern Orchestras. Keep in mind is a comedy site so don’t go into this thinking it’s an epilogue to a Foundation study.

Consequently, it’s filled with more than a few “light facts” but at the same time, it’s a very telling account of what like if like for some stakeholders in the field, particularly musicians.

It gives a reasonable forest for the trees perspective on some issues that get bogged down with details. For example, whenever I work with orchestra boards for groups with budgets up to $2 million, it isn’t unusual for some discussions surrounding expectations for musician commitment to begin drowning in minutia. At these points I have a few pointers to interject to help restore the necessary perspective.

Now, before you go off to Marx’s article, remember that the site focuses on an edgy content style so be prepared for all sorts of NSFW language. But really, if you’ve worked in this business for more than week, you won’t run across anything you haven’t heard before.

So go and enjoy and then pop back over and leave a comment with any items you think they left out of their list.

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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0 thoughts on “Join The Dark Side”

    • It’s just loaded with goodies like that, isn’t it? One of my favs was “In other words, a guy sitting in a tux holding a French horn for 90 minutes is less happy with his lot in life than a police officer who runs the risk of being shanked with a sharpened toothbrush on a daily basis.” Although come to think of it, I know of a few situations where stand partners have been driven to similar thoughts. My wife has a framed memo form one of her former orchestras reminding musicians that bringing handguns to services is prohibited.

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