Time to reverse orchestra pay cuts, says players’ counsel

Time to reverse orchestra pay cuts, says players’ counsel


norman lebrecht

December 17, 2015

From Kevin Case, new legal counsel for ICSOM:

Board members of symphony orchestras should be well acquainted with the necessity of growth. They are, for the most part, people with a record of success in business and finance. In that world, it would be unthinkable to accept a business model in which growth has no place. It would be equally ludicrous for a for-profit employer to assume that it can keep labor costs flat, year after year after year.

Full article here.

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  • Anon says:

    The unenlightened masses are ready to pay Apple over 500 bucks every other year for a vanity device that costs 50 bucks to produce by Chinese slave labor.

    They are in the same time not willing to pay for the consumption of high art, so that these artists can live among their midst in a decent way.

    I think it’s called decadence in any society. The sign of a society on its way down.

    The masses’ apparent aspiration: to be monkeys again, but now with iPhones and unlimited movie and music streaming supply.

    • NYMike says:

      Easily seen when observing our current political fiascos. The bible and gun club marches on……

    • Anon says:

      Or, Anon, more accurately, the “unenlightened masses” are not “as” willing “as you wish them to be” to pay for the consumption of “the type of” high art “you think should be funded, or would wish them to be paying for”. That’s slightly different. People seem very happy to pay for high art when it’s the sort of high art they wish to fork out their own cash for; but perhaps just not the sort of high art you think they should be paying attention to.
      I see plenty of artists living in our midst in Western society in a very decent way, and I see plenty of artists ambitious to join them.

  • Anon says:

    It would be equally daft to assume that orchestras frequently sell all their product, or sell the product they can at a price which generates a return which could be paid out to the employees.
    Orchestras are, by and large, orchestras: not arts organisations looking for growth. They tend not to have started out as a string quartet pursuing a path of commercial-success-led-growth to get to many times that size!; they tend not to be set on becoming many orchestras, or starting an orchestra franchise business. Orchestras are generally a loss-making business proposition who have to g cap-in-hand to Governments to beg for money forcibly extracted from the rest of the population.
    You want the business expertise of your business leader board members to apply here? The business answer is to shut down the loss-making areas; not quite what I’d have thought ICSOM would be advocating.

  • Greg Hlatky says:

    If a member of the non-musician public were to come to Slipped Disc and, over time, read what musicians think of them and the audiences they perform before, what would they see? They would see that they were considered by our precious aesthetes “unenlightened masses,” members of the “gun and bible club,” Philistines, coughing and program-rattling nuisances who applaud at the wrong times, and, as William Osborne has suggested, authoritarian crypto-Fascists. It’s even worse if they’re Americans; Europeans and their oikophobic camp followers consider them dirt beneath their feet.

    They might have the perception that musicians tolerate them to the extent they provide adulation. They would, of course, never ever see any awareness that artists think they owe them anything. Perhaps as people of accomplishment themselves, they might, not unreasonably, conclude that musicians are deeply neurotic, status-obsessed, name-dropping, preening, backstabbing idiot savants, though occasionally a source of amusement, like the monkey house at the zoo, to mature, sensible people.

    That member of the non-musician public might, not unreasonably, conclude that a concert isn’t exactly a welcoming environment for them. Why bother going out to the local symphony or recital to listen to performers who seem to resent your presence? And for what? So that a performer or conductor can pitch a fit if they or someone else creates the least disturbance? To hear a tired, same old-same old program under a music director for whom this is a part-time job? Why contribute a penny of support in donations to those institutions?

    That member of the non-musician public might, not unreasonably, see there are satisfactory alternatives. A century ago, those alternatives didn’t exist. Fifty years ago, the alternatives were limited, expensive, bulky and degradable. Now, with just a few clicks and without leaving one’s home, an interested member of the non-musician public can access an extraordinary variety of works and performances at a much lower cost than the price of a ticket. Based on the purchase the services providing these works will even suggest similar items of interest; imagine that! There will be trade-offs of course, but it’s quite rational for our member of the non-musician public, who can buy an excellent cycle of Sibelius symphonies for $6.99, to ask why they should ever again set foot in a concert hall.

    Considering the alternatives now available, classical music needs every friend it can get right now but seems hell-bent on alienating the non-musician public that it needs to survive. No one owes you a living. Art may be eternal and indispensable, but all of you and all your opera companies and all your orchestras can disappear with little trouble and less regret. You fatuously flatter yourselves on the enemies you think you have, whereas the truth is that no one thinks about you at all any longer. You can be replaced, quite easily, by new institutions that are aware that their purpose is to serve the public instead of just feeding off it. If you won’t or can’t adapt, the best thing for you to do is vanish as quickly as possible.