For me, the most exciting change emanates from the musicians themselves. They seem to be coming to terms with our ever-changing world, and now grasp that the purpose of recordings and digital offerings is to market the orchestra; to create a unique and distinctive brand; and to spread the orchestra’s name to as many people as possible.

The live recording contract in America, a union agreement which now covers downloading and streaming, is a huge step towards achieving that goal. But I would hope, moving forward, that musicians would look ahead to all of the digital opportunities possible, and work out a win-win situation, so that organizations can market orchestras on as many levels as possible through new technology — within reason, but without massive restrictions.

My hope for the new year is that orchestras can become far more flexible, to respond to innovation quickly. And that managements and boards can recognize and seize those opportunities on behalf of our orchestras and those who love to listen to them.

-Marin Alsop

I read this at Deceptive Cadence. (Please check that site out!) And I SO agree. I am, in fact, doing a happy dance at the moment. Well, in my head anyway. Times, they are a’changin’. Many orchestras, they be a’foldin’. Can we do something to change this trend? Some things we have held back on could actually help promote our cause. We have been shooting ourselves in the proverbial foot by not allowing a smidge of anything out. Or maybe allowing a mini-smidge that is mostly laughable. And a web presence? I think every orchestra should have a YouTube channel. Someone should be able to search for us and find us there.

I’m not saying we should just never be paid a penny for what we do, but I am saying that making ourselves more easily accessible will benefit us more than keeping everything to ourselves, locked in our special little vaults in our symphony offices.

I do hope that someone doesn’t now smash me to smithereens because I am publicly saying this. But really now, we need to catch up to the 21st century. Or at least the 20th. This appears to be a step in that direction.

(And now you see … while I argue with those who say we need to change in certain ways, I’m not opposed to change. Really. Or maybe I’m just a walking contradiction. Hmm.)

PS When can we ever dispense with tails, for goodness sake, and just don all black? Okay, okay, I’m sure that’s asking FAR too much. Sigh.

1 Comment

  1. AMEN! The traditional Union/Management model of dealing with these questions always starts with a List of Demands from the union side followed by an equally skewed response insisting nothing like that can possibly happen. Then the union side implies that if these Demands aren’t met the orchestra won’t perform. Then the management shows that if the Demands are met the orchestra will go out of business. It’s a formalized dance where the grrrr/grrrr, all or nothing posturing makes it very difficult for common sense accommodations to take place.

    I wish I could offer a better approach. I can’t, but I do know that the traditional approach, at least for groups smaller than the majors, is out of date and badly in need of revision.

    I say this as former chair of the Player’s Committee for my orchestra, having endured two separate contract negotiations…

    As to the formal dress, it’s well past the time to leave it for the moths. Let’s back away from the stuffy image and try to project to our audiences the fact that playing music is wonderful fun. (Even if it is work…)