Adaptistration Turns Eleven

ADAPTISTRATION-GUY-157Today marks Adaptistration’s eleventh anniversary and although it sounds like a bit of a broken record, it has been a stellar year for the entire Adaptistration Network and in keeping with tradition, it is time to review how the year unfolded along with looking at where we’re headed.


  1. 65+ demographic is fastest growing age group. With just under four percent growth over the previous year, the 65+ demographic is growing fast and nearly 15 percent of those readers are accessing the site using a mobile device, which is double the number from the previous year.
  2. Readership continued to grow. Although the previous year saw a large jump in readership thanks to a high degree of intense labor unrest, the majority of those readers return on a regular basis. Average session durations dropped a few percentage points but the ratio of new vs. returning readers continued to grow.
  3. Chrome supplanted Safari as the dominant desktop browser. With a six percent increase over the previous year, Chrome is now the most popular browser among users although using a desktop connection to access the blog dropped by nearly seven percent as users began favoring mobile devices.
  4. Mobile visit account for more than a third of overall traffic. Although desktop visits dropped, mobile visit increased by more than twice that number and within that category, the ratio of tablet to Smartphone witnessed the largest ever shift with Smartphone use increasing by more than double the rate of the previous year.

Top 10 Articles

  1. Compensation Reports: Concertmasters.
  2. Compensation Reports: Music Directors
  3. 16px Font Size and 48px Wide Buttons Are The New Black*
  4. A Sad Day (on the passing of arts manager Doug Whitaker)
  5. The Habits Of Successful Young Arts Admin Professionals
  6. Breaking News: Chicago Announces Rutter’s Replacement**
  7. You’re Still Using 12px Font Size!?!*
  8. Glib Gelb’s Garish Gaffe
  9. Things Get Crazy In Atlanta
  10. Union Puppet Masters? They Don’t Have That Capacity.

*For the first time in the blog’s history, two of the Top 10 articles were from previous years and both focused on nuts-and-bolts style web/technology topics.
**Number Six on the list is the first time an April Fool’s Day article made it into the Top 10.

Leveraging Experience To Chart The Future

It has been a genuine treat to experience the rise of culture blogging from a catbird seat at the onset of the movement and with eleven years’ worth of hindsight, I can say with a certain degree of confidence that the topics and ideas presented here are routinely ahead of their time.

During the first few years, a great deal of content focused on strategy, vision, and the need to prepare for the coming winter. This was in direct contrast to what traditional service organizations purported but over time, they fell into line and started preaching many of the same sermons, albeit from a too little, too late position.

The next few years saw a shift toward edifying stakeholder groups to the fundamental concepts that determine how professional orchestras operate. A great deal of the content relied on a wide assortment of interviews with leading figures and the results demystified the inner workings of board and administrative functions. It was the dawn of the age of transparency.

About the same time, a larger ratio of time was spent on matters related to labor relations and collective bargaining; everything from how and why professional orchestras operate within a unionized work environment as well as providing insider views and real time examination of individual labor disputes.

Over the next several years, Adaptistration experienced exponential growth in readership thanks to becoming a genuinely independent culture blogging outlet. That liberated approach allowed us to examine forward thinking concepts but accurately predict the field’s course. In that same spirit, what the field needs now is to begin moving away from such a strong strategy minded focus (much of which has been hopeless corrupted by repacked decades-old ideology) and begin focusing on the nuts and bolts of arts management.


To that end, it is enormously satisfying to oversee the advent of, which is right on track for an early December launch.

Unlike previous expansions via the formation of Inside The Arts, a collective of independent culture bloggers, and the advent of the Adaptistration Network, the content of which I’m solely responsible for, ArtsHacker will serve as a single site featuring content from a dynamic group of colleagues, each of which with unique areas of expertise. Although I’ll be serving as Editor-In-Chief, I’ll also generate content and on days where those articles appear at ArtsHacker, they will be posted here as well.

In the end, all of these efforts are for naught without engaged and passionate readers so thank you for not only reading but finding the content and ideas valuable enough to share with colleagues and friends.

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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