The Gig Economy Gets A Taste Of Regulatory Oversight

Back in May, we pointed out an article that was examining the business practices of Sofar Sounds, a presenter of non-classical music events in small venues.

Adaptistration Guy Chasing The MoneyIn a nutshell, the company’s business model has come under scrutiny of the New York State Department of Labor, who confirmed an investigation into Sofar Sounds is in motion. An article by Matthew Ismael Ruiz broke the news at

According to the original article about Sofar Sounds, they came under fire for only providing artists $100 for a 25-minute set when the company would net anywhere from $1,100 to $1,600 per event.

On the classical music end of things, Groupmuse adopts a very similar business model. Groupmuse was founded as a C corporation and while they now define themselves as “a public-benefit corporation” that doesn’t really clarify their current corporate status.

The cagey definition is made muddier thanks to Groupmuse linking to the Wikipedia entry for “public benefit corporation.”

There’s no information about the formal corporate status or which state they’re incorporated anywhere in the organization’s about content, but you will find information about how mysticism fits into their corporate values.

Groupmuse has no guaranteed minimum pay for musicians performing at their core event offerings. They recommend guests pay $10 per event, but what’s enforced is a pay what you want model. a standard that falls below Sofar Sounds’ practices.

Ideally, details from New York State Department of Labor investigation will become public and once they do, it could impact the broader burgeoning gig economy business model as applied to performing artists.

Until then, you can learn more about Groupmuse in a pair of articles here from 2015 that examines their business model.

Examining The Groupmuse Business Model Part 1

Examining The Groupmuse Business Model Part 2

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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