Archive | Musician Issues

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The Recent Round Of AFM-EPF Pension Headaches

Pensions; can’t live with them, can’t avoid a crippling social collapse without them. Recently, the American Federation of Musicians & Employers’ Pension Fund (AFM-EPF) Board of Trustees sent a letter to plan members explaining how the fund has suffered since the economic downturn and their plan for recovery. Unlike other union pension plans, the AFM-EPF is a defined benefit multiemployer pension plan. The organization describes the distinction to a single employer plan accordingly: A defined benefit plan specifies the benefits to which participants may become entitled. Defined benefit plans do not have […]

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An Updated Look At Top-Tier Musician Compensation 2016

Currently, two of the top eight orchestras with the highest base musician annual salary are negotiating new collective bargaining agreements: National Symphony and Philadelphia Orchestra. Interestingly enough, both of these ensembles are in positions where the outcome of those negotiations will likely have a larger impact on their future competitiveness than some of the upcoming negotiations for their peers. In order to visualize these distinctions, here’s a chart illustrating the current “Big Eight” base musician annual salaries from the 2009/10 season through those with agreements reaching out to the 2017/18 season. Over […]

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Well This Is Handy: Rating Airline Instrument Carry-On Policies

The International Federation of Musicians (FIM), not to be confused with the American Federation of Musicians (AFM), recently launched a webpage that rates major airline musical instrument carry-on policies (h/t Perhaps unsurprisingly, most don’t fare well. According to FIM, the information used to create the ratings came directly from each airline’s website and as anyone with a degree in public administration will be happy to point out, the gulf separating policy and implementation can be vast. Consequently, ratings should not be assumed to be an accurate representation of actual musician experiences. Nonetheless, […]

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Orchestra Musician Compensation Resources For Audition Candidates

Yesterday’s post on improving the audition process generated a good round of discussion but one comment in particular about the lack of pay information provided in audition announcements among smaller and mid-size budget orchestras stood out. Great list of suggestions! There’s just one other thing from Vu Le’s list that I’d love to see given greater emphasis in the audition world – salary disclosure. Legendary orchestras that are known to pay well don’t need to provide specific compensation figures, but orchestras hovering around the poverty line need to be clear about what’s […]

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Improving The Musician Audition Process

Before we dive too far into this rabbit hole of a topic, we should confirm that the apply-audition-award method that is the typical professional US orchestra process is perhaps best described as the “best bad option available.” This isn’t a post about reinventing the wheel, rather, it’s about looking under a few rocks to shed some transparency on an otherwise murky topic. For whatever reason, my inbox has been flooded as of late with a small deluge of messages from various stakeholders pointing out problems at one recent audition or another. In […]

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