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Category: Entrepreneurship

Newsflash: conductor doesn’t like unions

3 Robert Levine

In this week’s edition of The New Yorker (paywalled, unfortunately) is a fascinating piece by Alex Ross on Iván Fischer, the Hungarian conductor and founder of the Budapest Festival Orchestra. While the piece focuses largely on his unhappiness with the current rightward lurch of Hungarian politics, Ross also reports on Fischer’s views on the orchestra

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Why Orchestras Need Entrepreneurial Musicians

0 Stephen Danyew

In the latest edition of Symphony Magazine, the League of American Orchestras President and CEO Jesse Rosen discusses the rise of “musician-led” ensembles such as Alarm Will Sound, The Knights, and more.  He also makes the argument that American orchestras are full of entrepreneurial musicians whose ideas should be tapped to keep orchestras at the

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When Musicians Need Lawyers

0 Stephen Danyew

Polyphonic.org Editor-in-Chief Ramon Ricker recently contributed to International Musician, the official journal of the American Federation of Musicians with an article titled “When Musicians Need Lawyers.”  In the article, Dr. Ricker covers important topics regarding situations when musicians should consult with an attorney and how musicians can find the right lawyer for them.  To read

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League Conference 2013: Learning from New Ensembles

0 Ann Drinan

Moderated by Norman Ryan, Vice President of Composers and Repertoire at Schott Music Corporation, the panel for this session included Amy Garapic, Co-Executive Director of Contemporaneous; Beth Perdue Outland, Vice President of Community Engagement  and Strategic Innovation, Indianapolis Symphony; Jen Richards, Managing Director, eighth blackbird; and Julia Rubio, Executive Director of the Black Pearl Chamber

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No Time At All

0 Peter Sachon

Just like Rip Van Winkle, American orchestras have been asleep for twenty years. Season after season of the same repertoire, played again and again for generations until the idea of an orchestra participating in modern musical life seems outrageous. Last week, the League of American Orchestras focused their annual conference around the idea of “Imagining Orchestras in

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Sphinx Founder Aaron Dworkin’s Personal Story

0 Ann Drinan

In sorting through my mail last evening, I came across the Sphinx spring newsletter, with a lovely photo of Sphinx founder Aaron Dworkin and his wife Afi Sadykhly Dworkin. I noticed with interest that Sphinx has honored Stanford Thompson, among others, with a Medal of Excellence. Stan was a graduate of the first class of

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Making Room for Leadership

0 Katie Wyatt

I was in Washington DC last week, waiting for the cherry blossoms to bloom. Spring has inspired me to write again, thinking about rebirth and opportunities for change. I recently lost a strong teacher in the el Sistema program in Durham, NC that I run, called KidZNotes. She was from Venezuela, had the authentic experience of growing up

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Big Tent Thinking

3 Peter Sachon

History is filled with people who have tried to define art.  They have all been wrong, and there is no reason to suspect we are any better at it than they were. Changes to what experts call “Art” happen all the time.  There was a time when people questioned whether photography constituted fine art.  Some

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So, who’s your funder? And other crazy questions…

0 Katie Wyatt

Question: What have you learned in the past few years about about obtaining sustainable funding? In this monthly blog, I’ll start with a question, and take on issues of leadership and relevance in advancing the cause of music and social change.  I’d like to start with an example I’m very familiar with – the model

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The Riot Stuff

0 Peter Sachon

  Orchestras should raise their voices to be heard amid the din of noisy modern culture and promote themselves as socially conscious public institutions. They need to embrace a more inclusive posture in society, and demonstrate an identity more nuanced than silent anonymous conservative tuxedo-clad white male.  While the price of participating in American culture

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Gold in them thar toobs?

0 Robert Levine

Think “orchestral institutions” as “artists” in this article and some interesting questions emerge: Are we finally entering the age of the digital cultural entrepreneur (DCE)? That is, has it now become possible for a gifted artist or writer to control the reins of his or her career from a laptop, scheduling gigs, selling books or

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When’s it OK to ask musicians to work for free?

0 Robert Levine

For sure it’s not when the person asking has raised $1.2 million for her new album but doesn’t want to pay back-up musicians on the road. Fortunately for all concerned, she (very grudgingly) changed her mind after considerable public outcry. Many AFM locals had a prohibition in their bylaws about members working for free, at

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Being a Successful Entrepreneur – Don’t Be Embarrassed about Making Money

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My previous blog referenced Grammy-winning composer Maria Schneider. In talking with her further, she had an interesting take on the stereotypical starving artist.  She theorizes that part of the reason record companies are able to make huge profits while the artists often make so little is because many musicians have the idea that being a [...]

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Being a Successful Entrepreneur— Don’t Be Embarrassed about Making Money

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My previous blog referenced Grammy-winning composer Maria Schneider. In talking with her further, she had an interesting take on the stereotypical starving artist.  She theorizes that part of the reason record companies are able to make huge profits while the artists often make so little is because many musicians have the idea that being a [...]

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Let’s make a commercial!

1 Robert Levine

My orchestra did, and it was kinda fun: When Joshua Phillips signed on this season as a French horn player in the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, he had no idea the job description included taking a snowball to the head. “I was trying to do what I was told,” he explained. The instructions were coming not

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Being a Successful Entrepreneur — Don't Dilute Your Product in Order To Make Money

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Some musicians feel that they must dumb-down their music in order to be “successful.” I once had a conversation with Maria Schneider in which she made an interesting observation: many musicians who are focused solely on making money underestimate their audiences.  She commented that some musicians seem to think that if they write or present [...]

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Some real innovation for a change

0 Robert Levine

Kudos to the Los Angeles Philharmonic for doing something both important and innovative: The Los Angeles Philharmonic has seized the initiative in guiding a national teaching program based on El Sistema, the Venezuelan-based movement that weds music teaching and social work. The orchestra announced on Tuesday that it would open an office, host yearly conferences

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What Is a Brand and Is Yours a Good One – A "Jack of Nothing," How Diversified Should You Be?

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This is always a difficult question to answer and it varies from person to person.  It stands to reason that if you do one thing and take it to the max, your chances of being superior to the person who does two or more things is enhanced. With a few exceptions most musicians who are at [...]

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What Is a Brand and Is Yours a Good One—Key Measures of Success

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The ultimate measures of success are trial and repeat, and the buyer is the final judge. If a manufacturer of just about anything, from dishwashing detergent to automobiles, gets you to try their product, and you are satisfied and return to purchase again, that is success.  Using a music example, let’s say you get a [...]

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What Is a Brand and Is Yours a Good One – Brand Image Associations

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It’s important to understand image.  Your brand exudes a certain image and is made up of the following: Tangibles & Intangibles[i] Tangible—Can you play accurately?  Do you show up on time?  Are you a good sight-reader? Intangible—Do you have a beautiful sound?  Are you musical?  Do you make the notes come alive?  Do you add [...]

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What Is a Brand and Is Yours a Good One – It's All about Connection

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Here is the third installment in this series of blogs that discuss the musician as a brand.  If you are new you can catch up quickly by reading the two previous posts. You’ve probably heard the cliché, “To get ahead it’s not how you play, but who you know.”  Certainly having connections or a network [...]

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What Is a Brand and Is Yours a Good One – What Is Your Brand?

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What Is a Brand and Is Yours a Good One—What Is Your Brand? The last blog gave a few definitions to work with. Now think about your brand. And it isn’t just about your playing, but we can start with that. What do people think of when they think of you? Make a list and [...]

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What Is a Brand and Is Yours a Good One-Some Definitions

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The next several “lessons” will center around the professional musician as a business—a store—where clients can get musical expertise. If you buy into the idea that musicians are small businesses, you can take it a step further. Companies spend a good deal of time and money thinking about, developing and protecting their brands, and there [...]

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Impressive Conservatory Program (s)

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I recently returned from a trip in the Netherlands, where I had been invited to experience and comment on programs and research being conducted in a Dutch Lectorate (research group) within the Prince Claus Conservatoire in the Hanze University in Groni…

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How to Miss the Titanic

0 Tony Woodcock

[This is the second in a series of posts in which I will talk about the current, troubled, state of professional musicmaking and offer some glimpses of possible solutions for the future.] The first time I heard the London Symphony … Continue reading

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Tax Time-1099s and W2s

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Let’s assume that anyone reading this knows that the sum total of all the money an individual earns is called the gross. It is reported by your employer to the Federal Government in the form of a wage and tax statement called a W-2, and a copy is sent to you each January for the [...]

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Tax Time–Musical Instruments and Depreciation

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Musical Instruments When a musician buys an instrument or equipment that has a useful life of longer than one year, he or she can depreciate it over the tax life of the item—usually seven years. This has the effect of spreading out the deduction over time. An alternate course would be to expense the purchase [...]

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Tax Time – Musician's Office in Home

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Office in Home In our homes or apartments, musicians all have a room in which they practice or teach, but for that room to be considered a home office and deducted on our taxes, it must meet certain requirements established by the IRS. For example, that part of your home must be used regularly and [...]

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Arts Entrepreneurship — Policy Opportunity?

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I don’t think anyone would argue that we’re in a period of policy transition in the arts and culture sector.  I would even characterize it as the most significant period of policy reexamination since the 1960′s.  The difference is huge, of co…

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Arts Entrepreneurship — Third Dimension

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After digesting the many superb responses, both published here and private, to last week’s blog entry, I spent a lot of time pondering what is really bothering me about the arts entrepreneurship “movement.”  I realized that I have been hoping for …

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Don’t Make Money the Number One Objective—Learn To Wait

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Presumably you’ve chosen music because you love it and can’t imagine yourself doing anything else. But, on the off chance that you are in music for the money, you’ve chosen the wrong profession. Sure, there are certain celebrity artists who make big, big money, but there is no doubt that the rank and file musician [...]

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Act Like a Business

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You, Inc. is a business, so you need to act like one. You should look as professional as possible. This includes everything from business cards to websites. I was just out of college and someone recommended me to do a little arrangement of a pop song. Not only did I have to arrange it for [...]

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