The Multiple Conducting Post Cash Cow

Norman Lebrecht published an interesting post at that notices the trend in conductors holding multiple titled positions is in no danger of going away; at least in North America.

We used to include pointing out conductors who held positions at multiple orchestras as part of the annual music director compensation reports but over the years, it has played a reduced role.

Adaptistration People 041The entire notion of music director compensation enters a new level when a conductor earns a salary at two or more orchestras. Setting aside the more sensational topics such as cumulative earnings, it does introduce an intriguing angle about how organizations determine music director compensation under these conditions.

For example, if a conductor holds positions at two other orchestras, is it prudent for the board to approach setting compensation in a vacuum (i.e. competitive peer comparison) or take those issues into consideration.

But wait, there’s more.

It’s still common for organizations to avoid quantifying specific compensation amounts and/or percentages for artistic and non-artistic music director duties and responsibilities so it isn’t difficult to see how much more complicated the task of setting compensation becomes if a candidate holds multiple posts.

How do you think executive boards should approach these questions?

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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