Note to orchestra administrations everywhere: you wonder why there are some musicians in your ensemble who complain that they feel like indentured servants? Well, sometimes you treat them like that, and here’s a perfect example.
I have an issue with names. My standard line is that if it wasn’t shouted at me everyday I would forget my own name. This leads to interesting situations. I woke up early this morning and almost immediately found myself laughing at this wonderful article about the coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. Philadelphia sports fans are notorious, and this article really hit my funny bone because I happen to have a friend/colleague in the music business who is a huge Philly fan, and has a strong interest in religion. Time to email him about the article. Only one problem – I’ve forgotten his name.
This happens to me quite frequently. I know that I know his name but it’s just not coming up right now. No worries – I know which orchestra he plays for, and I know he plays Tuba in said band, so I’ll just pull up their website and his name will pop up. It will be a race between my memory and the World Wide Web as to which will provide me my buddy’s name first. GO!!!
So I call up the website of the (orchestra to remain nameless because they should be completely appalled at what I am going to point out). I root around for the orchestra member list. I keep rooting. There’s something about “Our Music Director.” The players couldn’t be listed there, could they? That would be a faux pas of near biblical proportions. Nope, not there… keep looking. There’s a list of the season sponsors. Come to think of it there’s also a list of the 08-09 concerts. I’m sure I won’t find the players listed anywhere there but I try it anyway. No go.
How about under Subscriber Benefits? Nope. Evidently knowing who the performers are is not a benefit to being a subscriber. Let’s try under Employment? It seems they’re looking for a Marketing Intern but that’s all the information there. To my stunned amazement I am forced to conclude that nowhere on this website is there so much as a mention of any of the musicians of the orchestra, let alone a list of orchestra members.
Frankly I’m surprised that the thud of my jaw hitting the floor didn’t wake up my family. In this day and age I am flabbergasted that an orchestra could possibly overlook the most important people in the entire organization – THE MUSICIANS!! I mean, honestly? Can this happen? I guess it can. Maybe I should point out to this ensemble that it might be a good marketing/PR move to make use of their website a wee bit better. So I click the Contact Us link.
Perhaps I should have given up while I was ahead. Said orchestra listed their snail address and phone # alright, and there’s an Email Us link which generates an message in my email program. Next problem – said message goes to the ticket office. I’m not interested in the ticket office. I want to email someone on staff. But the staff isn’t listed either, which means that not only do I not know who plays in the orchestra I have no way of finding out who works in that orchestra’s front office!!!
So, despite going over every inch of this orchestra’s website the only person who I can for sure say is an employee is the Music Director. At this point I can only speculate that anyone else who accepts a paycheck from this orchestra is so embarrassed to do so that they have en masse removed any of their information from the WWW. Just to check if I was completely off base I dialed up another orchestra randomly – the Santa Rosa Symphony. Right on the home page is a big old picture of the band, smiles abounding. Within two clicks I was on a page replete with all the musicians and the conducting staff. On the SRS website I was never more than two clicks away from any information I wanted.
Honestly folks, I know much of this business if mired in the 19th Century, but a passable website just seems so easy these days. Give me a couple of hours and a decent program like DreamWeaver and I could build you a nice little addition to your website that you could upload and forget about. It would at least have the members of the orchestra and staff listed.
As for my friend’s name who triggered all this – I did eventually remember it. But it turns out that the contest between my brain and the WWW was hardly a fair fight. I guess all that ginkgo is paying off for me.