Violinist busking, photo CC by meltsley on Flickr
Periodically I see these memes on Facebook: “If surgeons were paid like musicians…,” or “Hire a plumber for the same service and we’ll play for half that.” I sympathize, but this is the wrong approach. Moral finger-wagging has never won any argument, ever, and if it were to work in music it would have decades ago. So how do we actually solve this problem of musicians’ lack of economic clout?
First, we need to understand what’s actually going on. The moralists cling to the delusion that it’s just a matter of education, but even musicians can’t decide what fair compensation is: I’ve had the exact same budget called “extravagant” by one jury panel and “overly ambitious” by another. And to throw salt on the wound, moralizing also hurts our collective bargaining power. Take the common story of the lowballing nightclub owner who gets chewed out by an indignant jobbing musician. The lecture doesn’t make the owner any less likely to lowball the next musician. In fact, it’s the opposite: you’ve just shown him that he has all the power in the relationship. (more…)
Elissa Milne had an interesting article on her blog the other day about audience building, essentially advancing the claim that you build an audience for new music in the same way you build an audience for anything, be it an opera company or a rock band. This is true, but it doesn’t help most musicians—especially new music musicians. It’s very rare to find a person who both creates appealing new music at a high level and has a knack for marketing and self-promotion. Beating the drum of “learn how to sell your music” is technically correct, but it’s also an unrealistic expectation for the vast majority of new music practitioners. So what’s a more practical solution? (more…)
I’m pleased to announce that as of 1 Dec 2010, I am being represented by Art Music Promotion (AMP). A boutique composers’ agency, AMP promotes the work of eight Canadian composers, including myself, with a focus on projects of an international scope. The other composers on the roster are Howard Bashaw, Gordon Fitzell, Keith Hamel, James Harley, Bob Pritchard, André Ristic, and Paul Steenhuisen. Also check out the agency’s Facebook Page.