So who's slashing artist fees?
March 19, 2010 by Norman Lebrecht
In the second episode of my conversation with the strings world in The Strad magazine, I discuss what has been happening to musicians’ fees in this third season of recession. The trend, as you’d expect, is sharply down, but how, where and by how much is more than a little interesting.
The conversation is a private one and I am keeping it off-line. You can enter it by picking up a copy of The Strad in any music shop or subscribing for the longterm at www.thestrad.com. Word seems to be getting around and my mailbox is filling with responses from fiddlers, cellists, luthiers, teachers, string quartets, and even the odd oud-player.
Two alarming new trends have come to my attention since I sent the present episode to print. At one famous venue, an artist was told that his date next season has been cancelled ‘due to reorganisation’ – meaning cutbacks. The curtness of the email and the absence of any of the usual bromides promising copious engagements in the unspecified future suggests a change of tone in the transactions between artists and bookers.
At another venue, less famous, the cancellation iwas accompanied by a hint of reinstatement should the artist come back with a lower offer on an already modest fee. These are troubling times for many people but music has, in past depressions, managed to preserve an illusion of courtesy and respect. Those niceties, I suspect, are the first casualties of this recession.
Do let me know, in confidence, if you are an artist who has been the victim of rough handling. I will not hesistate to name and shame venues that treat artists badly.
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