It’s Time To See How Much You Really Know About Musicians

Adaptistration People 150A discussion thread from the 2/22/16 article about musician paid vacation time got me thinking about how much those inside (and out) of the field really know about the business.

Although information and transparency is somewhat better now than it was 15 years ago, most stakeholders still tend to know a lot about the terms of their own institution’s collective bargaining agreement, but not very much about how it stacks up against the rest of the field. As such, let’s see how much you really know with a fun quiz about musician wages, benefits, and working conditions.

For your frame of reference, the questions are based on data from the 2013/14 season and encompass mid to large budget size orchestras (we’ll do something soon for small to mid budget size groups). You’ll see the correct answer to each question immediately after submitting your answer and in some cases, you’ll see additional information about the specific terms for those orchestras associated with each question. When you’ve completed al 12 questions, you can calculate your overall score (if you dare).

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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 “It’s Time To See How Much You Really Know About Musicians”

    • For some questions, I most certainly agree. But I hope readers get the point in that the score isn’t what matters, instead, breaking out of a cycle where perceptions are formed more by conventional/anecdotal wisdom than not.

      If we can debunk a few “all contracts have mostly the same terms” myths along the way, then it’s a happy twofer.

      In the end, sparking curiosity among stakeholders and triggering some inspiration to learn more about how things work across a broad cross section of organizations wouldn’t hurt either.

  1. I liked your approach as far as shaking up perceptions. Let’s face it, some of the orchestras are getting a lot of mileage off of their past golden years. Some of the “lessor” groups are now out paying, and out playing the traditional greats.

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