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Tags: money

What the Great Strad Robbery means for the future

0 Robert Levine

Most readers of this blog have already heard of the events of last Monday here in Milwaukee. If you haven’t, the New York Times has a good summary: It should have been one of those nights musicians live for. Frank Almond, the concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra for nearly two decades, had just closed

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Some Good Orchestra News (for a change)

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It’s common for the general public, and even musicians to dwell on the negatives when speaking about the current state of orchestra affairs. Of course it’s not all gloom and doom. Here’s a positive. Pittsburgh Symphony settles contract with musicians a year early By Sally Kalson and Andrew Druckenbrod / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette At a time when major

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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 [...]

Read More →

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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Building Your Portfolio Career Part 3: Doing the Math

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This is part 3 on a series devoted to Portfolio Careers. Now it’s time to do the math and determine your Portfolio Career Plan (PCP). As you’ll see, this process is quite logical. All you need is a pencil, paper, calculator, and a little creativity.

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Building Your Portfolio Career Part 2: The 21 Income Models

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If you have money to invest, any financial advisor worthy of their corner office will suggest you diversify the portfolio. In other words, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. The same logic can be applied to multiple-stream careers. This post outl…

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Someone is Stealing Your Stuff-Attitudes About Copyright are Morphing

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If you’re an older person with copyrighted material you probably have a different view toward protecting and publishing your creative work than a younger person. Here’s an interesting blog from Andrew Taylor in Arts Journal that was posted on 6/7/11. It seems that times could be a changin’. On profits, proliferation, and piracy It’s a [...]

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Was it worth it?

0 Robert Levine

There is a famous (although possibly apocryphal) story about Richard Nixon’s visit to China. Reportedly, Kissinger told Nixon that Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai was a student of the French Revolution. So Nixon asked him, during their first informal meeting, what he thought the impact of the French Revolution on the course of history had

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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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More details on the Detroit negotiations

0 Robert Levine

The AFM put out a press release yesterday (February 20) which contained some interesting details on the most recent negotiations: Although Senator Carl Levin and Quicken Loans owner Dan Gilbert had stepped in last week to help broker an agreement, DSO management did not show up at face-to-face meetings with the arbitrators until the third

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Have Your Price in Mind

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You should have a price in mind for the particular service that is under discussion. Different types of gigs will have different pay rates that are either set by the musicians’ union or are the going rates of the area. Many jobs pay scale and that’s it. A traveling Broadway show or an opera put [...]

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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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Detroit Update 1/23/2011

0 Robert Levine

According to the Detroit Free Press, there were negotiations today: The musicians and management of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra returned to the bargaining table this afternoon to try to settle the contentious strike that enters its 17th week on Monday. DSO board members received an e-mail from management today saying that talks had resumed, said

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A press blackout with a very short lifespan

1 Robert Levine

Detroit Symphony management and musicians met all day Thursday under a press blackout: The status of contract talks between the musicians and management of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra remained unclear early this afternoon in the midst of a news blackout by both sides in the dispute. The parties met all day Thursday in an effort

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Why orchestra management is hard

1 Robert Levine

Joseph Horowitz doubled down on his remarks about musician compensation in a later blog post (analyzed by Drew McManus here): If I sound unsympathetic to the musicians, it’s because I’ve heard one too many times the strident union litany blaming ignorant boards and incompetent managers. Running an orchestra is a thankless task. I’ve done it.

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The times they are a'changin…

0 Robert Levine

I went to my local Borders today to kill some time while a prescription was filled. It’s a bi-level store, but I hadn’t gone downstairs since last year this time, as it was mostly CDs and it’s been a long time since I could count on finding something I wanted to listen to on a

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Price it (right) and they will come

0 Robert Levine

Say “Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra” to an orchestra activist and the discussion will likely turn to that orchestra’s innovative approach to hiring and firing musicians without the institution of the Music Director. But more important to our field has been their approach to the problem of ticket prices, as described in an article in the

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Wassup in Detroit?

1 Robert Levine

The Detroit Symphony went on strike a little over four weeks ago, although negotiations broke down several weeks before that. That puts the strike clock at around 11:45PM, by normal standards – negotiations seem to begin to get serious, during an orchestra strike, after about six weeks. Why is that? Why not sooner? I think

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What happened in Charleston?

1 Robert Levine

The board of the Charleston (SC) Symphony has decided to call it quits for this season: A significant drop in fundraising dollars, exacerbated by the recession’s “strong headwind” has forced the Charleston Symphony Orchestra to suspend its operations, effective immediately, board president Ted Legasey said Sunday. It is the first time in the orchestra’s 75-year

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Healthcare reform and orchestras

1 Robert Levine

There doesn’t seem to have been anything in the press or blogosphere about the effect of healthcare reform (as of last night, and pending the signature of the President, the law of the land) on orchestras. One would think that the effect of HCR on 0.00002% of the national economy would be bigger news. No

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Reading the tea leaves in Detroit

0 Robert Levine

Breaking news on the Detroit Symphony today: Talks to renegotiate the Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians contract have ended without a deal, a surprise since a spokesperson for the musicians earlier said that they were “expecting and hoping” to be part of the solution to the DSO’s budget crisis. “The DSO management team and orchestra are

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Oops

0 Robert Levine

The New York Times raises the question of just who benefits from a benefit concert at Carnegie Hall: Christoph Eschenbach will conduct Sunday at the benefit featuring the Chinese pianist Lang Lang, top, and Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra. Even if the event’s nearly $200,000 worth of tickets sell out, less than $8,000 from the sales will

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Nice little pension plan you got there…

0 Robert Levine

It’d be a a shame if something happened to it. Oh wait… something just did: The Pension Protection Act of 2006 requires the funding “zone status” for defined benefit multiemployer plans like the American Federation of Musicians and Employers’ Pension Fund (the “Plan”) to be certified each year by the plan’s actuary. The actuary for

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Tax Questions

2 William Hunt

Original Question: Can performing artists (say, orchestra members, working in several groups as employee) deduct mileage to rehearsals and concerts? It is typical in our area for musicians to play in 2 or three symphony orchestras in neighboring communities – and the mileage can really mount up! And yet they are “employees”, getting a W-2.

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Why we won't die of Baumol's Disease

1 Robert Levine

I was at work one night a few weeks ago, waiting for the 3rd movement of the Shostakovich 1st cello concerto to end (no slap at our soloist, Johannes Moser, who played wonderfully, but it’s a long sit with no need to count), when, for some unaccountable reason, I began to think about Baumol’s cost

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What Do You Consider Success?

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I visited the website, Extra Criticum. As it states on the homepage, “performing arts pros trade opinions, ideas, questions and obsessions.” The bloggers published here cover a wide range disciplines in the Arts, so it’s not just a music site. And I was interested in a posting by Rolando Teco, since he writes about “success.”

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Seattle settles

0 Robert Levine

Seattle Symphony management and musicians have reached a tentative agreement: The 23-month, three-season contract — which could be extended for an additional eight months — would immediately cut musicians’ pay by 5 percent until the end of this season, with the current pay scale resuming in 2011. Musicians also would pay a greater share of

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Reactions to Cleveland

0 Robert Levine

The Cleveland strike, and the rapidly-ensuing settlement, were the subject of more coverage in the media since… the last round of Big Five orchestra strikes. And the coverage was pretty much the same; talk of how the strike was symptomatic of fundamental issues with the health of orchestras (it wasn’t), talk about how the musicians

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The model's not broken

0 Robert Levine

The symphonoblogosphere has been abuzz with stories about the labor troubles in Seattle and Cleveland, and these are indeed big stories. But there are other negotiations hanging fire as well. Unless I missed something, the Met management’s proposal to cut salaries by 10% has still not been resolved, while Detroit’s been having an extremely difficult

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A webcast worth watching

0 Robert Levine

Tomorrow (Friday, Nov. 20), the NEA is sponsoring a meeting on Artists in the Workforce. It will be webcast live at 9 AM EST. The info page on the NEA website is here.

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And Omaha Beach was a skirmish

1 Robert Levine

The Indianapolis Symphony just reported a substantial deficit: A year of declining contributions and ticket sales left the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra with a $2.8 million deficit. Symphony officials say its current budget has been cut by $3 million, to $26 million, in part through a 12 percent pay cut accepted by musicians in a new

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Greg Sandow is Riffing

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Many of you may follow the writings of Greg Sandow in his Arts Journal Blog.  If you do you will know that for the past couple of years Greg has been writing a book, and presenting it piece by piece in his blog.  This project went dormant for a period of time, but now he’s

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Now that's what I call a union

0 Robert Levine

Show business can indeed pay well: After you practice for years and get to Carnegie Hall, it’s almost better to move music stands than actually play the piano. Depending on wattage, a star pianist can receive $20,000 a night at the 118-year-old hall, meaning he or she would have to perform at least 27 times

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Dog bites man

0 Robert Levine

My favorite headline of all time was “Something went wrong in jet crash, experts say.” The headline and article below, while not reaching quite that level of sublime obviousness, is still strikingly… obvious: Economy took toll on symphony’s artistically bright year The economy has been playing the role of Scrooge, causing the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s

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Save Your Love—Don’t Give it Away

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In the music world there will always be someone who is willing to do something more cheaply than you.  Students are typically in this category.  Look at the music scene around any music school.  Students will be playing for their dinner, or coffee if it’s a coffee house or for the door.  Musicians are eager

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Are conductors ovepaid?

1 Robert Levine

Yes and no. Both writers make good points. I find myself more in agreement with the “no” side, however. In the end, it’s the same as with most leadership positions. Good conductors are worth every cent of what they’re paid. Bad conductors are worth nada. The more interesting question is about the value of all

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Don’t dilute your product in order to make money

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Here is a little followup to my last post about starving artists.  In talking to Maria further, she made another interesting observation.  In her opinion, a mistake that many artists make in trying to figure out how to make money, is to underestimate their audience.   She commented that some musicians seem to think that if

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Starving Artists

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The two-time grammy winning jazz composer Maria Schneider is a friend, and in conversations we have had she expressed  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

Read More →