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Stupid arrogant orchestra - Need to vent...
Old 16th March 2007
  #1
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Angry Stupid arrogant orchestra - Need to vent...

I was supposed to do a recording for a choir of about 100 people this weekend, Bach's St. Matthew Passion, which they've rehearsed for for months... This recording had been planned since last year, and I had kept the date free for it.

Now all of a sudden, the orchestra (who have tolerated another person recording before) decide they do not want this recorded.

They seem to have come up with a weird assortment of reasons, all of which seem to conceal the real reason (whatever that may be, they didn't really tell...). There were some crappy technical arguments (that bespoke of their utter ignorance), and possibly a fear that this recording would be sold/publicized illegally. There was no way to discuss these things directly and openly with them.

Apart from the fact that I lose a lot of money, I find it absolutely intolerable that they simply make it impossible for (up to) 100 choir members to get a document of this event (which is not something a choir does every year).

And of course it's a big loss for me. This is an orchestra that would be simply unable to survive if it weren't for heavy state subsidies of all or most concert events that they play. You can not make money with classical music concerts here (except for gross travesties like Helmut Lotti, Andre Rieu or such tripe). And while they happily rake in their fee, they won't let others have a share. (If I hear something about the sacred art of music vs. the evil commercial/technical recording, I'll scream), And it's not even their concert. They are really just a bunch of hired fiddles and winds (and the vocal soloists). But it's the choir's event, first and foremost. They have planned it, they've rehearsed it, they are paying for it (from their annual budget plus whatever subsidies). Only to be told by some hired musicians that they can not have a document of it. Isn't this absurd? No one goes there to listen to this particular orchestra or even the soloists. It's the event as such and the local choir that draws the audience in a concert like this.

I'm really mad, and certainly not just because of the money I lose. But I'd bloody sue them if I could.

dfegad dfegad
Old 16th March 2007
  #2
did you talk to the choir? maybe they'll understand you're on their side. don't give up.
and, how about an open letter, adressing this issue? there must be a magazine or publication of some sort?
it would be very refreshing for a lot of people to hear/read a very different point of view
in this country there has been a push to make the subsidised more fall inline with commercial offerings, whatever that should mean.
it backfired IMO - instead of selling their productions and investing in a new business structure, many are cutting costs and as a result desolving. and confuse commercial viabillity with commercial content (flattened for general public Andre Rieu IS dutch ), they just don't want to see, that there is another exit, out of what they think is a paradox. and react suspicious and ridiculous sometimes. sad, sad, sad.

a simular thing happened to me, alltough we parted on a good foot.

hope you get them to see their ridiculous point of view, and get the gig
thumbsup
Old 16th March 2007 | Show parent
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reptil View Post
did you talk to the choir? maybe they'll understand you're on their side.
I'm sure they won't like it. But of the orchestra staunchly refeuses to have any mics around, what can they do? The conductor isn't happy, either. He's not so much interested in recordings in general, but still. OTOH, an ongoing discussion / irritation will only spoil the concert, which is what he's least interested in... He's in the middle of it, and it's certeinly not a comfortable position.

Quote:
and, how about an open letter, adressing this issue? there must be a magazine or publication of some sort?
Hm... Could consider that...

Quote:
don't give up.
Too late, I guess, the show is on Sunday...

Daniel
Old 16th March 2007 | Show parent
  #4
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FWIW,

If it's merely a 'document' they're looking for, setup a stealth recording that the orchestra won't know about: tho it will not yield the same results as a 'pro' setup, you can at least provide them with a recording of the event. Even a few rows back from the conductor/front can help before the hall is too reverberant.

I know where you're coming from - the mentality of some players (and esp. their union) are beyond belief. Their blinding sense of self-importance, and feeling they are going to miss out on dividends reminds me of bean-counters at record labels.

Here's to hoping for the best,
Old 16th March 2007 | Show parent
  #5
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There are lots of experiences in the US where the musician's union would not tolerate archival recordings being made. I don't know if it's as common practice today as 10-20 years ago, but when they would allow an archive to be made (often with readings of new works with the composer present), a union rep would have a white noise or other sound maker and would periodically "mark" the recording so that it could not be distributed.

As a composer, I find this practice reprehensible. Especially with "new music", performances can be rare: that one reading or concert could be your only chance to ever hear the piece. For the composer to have a decent archival recording of something that involved so much personal investment is invaluable. Some modicum of trust and fellowship must exist. There really is very little commercial market for any such recordings, and the legal resources of the union will vastly over-power that of most any composer. My point is that the potential loss to the musicians is much lower than the corresponding loss to the composer (fruition of a dream, viable demo material, etc.).
Old 16th March 2007
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by d_fu View Post
You can not make money with classical music concerts here (except for gross travesties like Helmut Lotti, Andre Rieu or such tripe).
As André Rieu's (amongst others) soundengineer, I think you're pretty arrogant yourself.

Besides, if an Orchestra doesn't want to be recorded it's their right to say so.
Old 16th March 2007 | Show parent
  #7
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Quote:
Besides, if an Orchestra doesn't want to be recorded it's their right to say so.
It may be an orchestra's right to say so when they are first retained and plans are first being made. Then the the other parties can decide if they want to go forward on those terms or not. But to do so at the last minute, when there is no way to hire anyone else to cover the job, is reprehensible. It would not be tolerated in any other business. If the orchestra, or the union or its leaders of whatever stripe had an issue with this they should have said so immediately, because to do so at this late point in the game is unprofessional, unethical and absurd.

They made a deal. A recording should be made without their knowledge, and if they don't like it, who really cares.
Old 16th March 2007 | Show parent
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by softwareguy View Post
It may be an orchestra's right to say so when they are first retained and plans are first being made. Then the the other parties can decide if they want to go forward on those terms or not. But to do so at the last minute, when there is no way to hire anyone else to cover the job, is reprehensible. It would not be tolerated in any other business. If the orchestra, or the union or its leaders of whatever stripe had an issue with this they should have said so immediately, because to do so at this late point in the game is unprofessional, unethical and absurd.

They made a deal. A recording should be made without their knowledge, and if they don't like it, who really cares.
If you are concertpromoter and book U2 in your concerthall, do you think you also have the right to record them?
If the Choir and the Orchestra made a deal and have signed a contract, the contract probably also states something about recording. Classical musicians get payed a lot more for a recording than for a concert.

Nevertheless; I would have kept my mouth shut in advance and just put up the mics, nobody would have noticed. But I'm afraid it's too late for that now.
Old 16th March 2007 | Show parent
  #9
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If at the last minute they decide that they want the concert recorded, ask for 3 times more money that what you would get from a normal gig.


Old 16th March 2007 | Show parent
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ctms777 View Post
If the Choir and the Orchestra made a deal and have signed a contract, the contract probably also states something about recording. Classical musicians get payed a lot more for a recording than for a concert.
You're right. My assumption was that there was some agreement in advance, and that the orchestra was just "going on strike" at the last minute. If not, . . . Never Mind!

I would still try to make an archive copy, but it's no one else's fault if they are prickly about it.
Old 16th March 2007 | Show parent
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by softwareguy View Post
I would still try to make an archive copy, but it's no one else's fault if they are prickly about it.
Wow. Sorry. That didn't make sense even to me, now that I'm reading it.

Brain . . .not . . . working!. . . . Must . . . go . . . to . . . Starbucks . . . . Must . . . have. . . coffee. . . .

. . . . Yes . . . . Starbucks
Old 16th March 2007 | Show parent
  #12
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I was going to ask if the date was booked to be recorded with the Orchestras knowledge? If so you should still be paid even if they back out. Perhaps not all but some. That should be in a contract.
Perhaps you should get a contract?
Old 16th March 2007 | Show parent
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ctms777 View Post
If you are concertpromoter and book U2 in your concerthall, do you think you also have the right to record them?
True, but not quite the point. It's not their show. And whether or not they have a legal right to refuse being recorded is one thing, the other is whether it's friendly to do so when a choir has been putting lots of work into such a concert. It's just not ok, IMHO.
Quote:
If the Choir and the Orchestra made a deal and have signed a contract, the contract probably also states something about recording. Classical musicians get payed a lot more for a recording than for a concert.
Maybe,but this isn't a commercial recording. It would have been only for the members of the choir. And I guess there is nothing in the contract about recording.

Quote:
Nevertheless; I would have kept my mouth shut in advance and just put up the mics, nobody would have noticed.
I guess they would have just told me to pack up and leave... Don't know.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ctms777 View Post
As André Rieu's (amongst others) soundengineer, I think you're pretty arrogant yourself.
If you think it is arrogant to state that I consider this to be more or less the most trivial and hypocritical musical junk that ever existed (apart from most italian pop music), then so be it... This stuff is such a blatant lie...


Daniel
Old 16th March 2007 | Show parent
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PlugHead View Post
If it's merely a 'document' they're looking for, setup a stealth recording that the orchestra won't know about: tho it will not yield the same results as a 'pro' setup, you can at least provide them with a recording of the event.
Definitely not an option...
Old 16th March 2007 | Show parent
  #15
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Like it or not, it is a musicians right to refuse to be recorded. Obviously in certain cases the "contract" states that a recording is to be made and the musician is being hired on the basis that they understand that and have no objection. Reading between the lines it appears the difference here is the recording isn't being made as a reference or a promotional tool, or for the conductor's/managements benefit, but to be sold to the (amateur) choir members.

Quite possibly those in charge of the concert/choir/event may have handled the situation badly and put one of the pro's "nose out of joint", I have seen this happen several times (fortunately not on my watch). If someone has "told them" rather than "ask them" it's easy to see how a situation like this can develop.

I would suggest the best way to handle it is to accept it, be gracious about it, maybe help with a constructive suggestion about how to gain approval in future next time. In my experience when approached reasonably, and explained ahead of time this is what is intended, what it's use will be and the limitations of it's use, most professionals are reasonable people.

If you get into a war of words with those involved be they members of the choir, musicians, condutor's, organizers ti will only be to your own detriment. As my father always used to say "A wise head keeps a still tongue".

Regards to all


Roland
Old 16th March 2007 | Show parent
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PlugHead View Post
FWIW,

If it's merely a 'document' they're looking for, setup a stealth recording that the orchestra won't know about: tho it will not yield the same results as a 'pro' setup, you can at least provide them with a recording of the event. Even a few rows back from the conductor/front can help before the hall is too reverberant.

I know where you're coming from - the mentality of some players (and esp. their union) are beyond belief. Their blinding sense of self-importance, and feeling they are going to miss out on dividends reminds me of bean-counters at record labels.

Here's to hoping for the best,
To record the players "stealthily" particularly after it's been made clear that they refused, is imoral and illegal.

I would never hire anyone whom I knew had been party to such a thing, I couldn't, these people are my customers. Suppose five years down the road you got a serious recording session (union members) you could find that they refuse to work the session unless you were replaced, and who could blame them?

Put it this way, would you record a band that after a session took the master and didn't pay the studio bill?

Regards to all


Roland
Old 16th March 2007 | Show parent
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roland View Post
Like it or not, it is a musicians right to refuse to be recorded.
Perfectly ok. But the same orchestra had not refused to be recorded in the same place two years ago or so. It's just not fair towards the choir. And for me, the worst part is that I was not given a chance to reply to the points they raised, e.g. fears about my not being able to balance things after the recording (nonsense) or even the danger of an illegal sale (more nonsense). The conductor did suggest to the orchestra's manager to talk to me directly, but she wouldn't. I feel like a criminal for wanting to make some money with the best possible recording I can make.

Quote:
Reading between the lines it appears the difference here is the recording isn't being made as a reference or a promotional tool, or for the conductor's/managements benefit, but to be sold to the (amateur) choir members.
Precisely. Jobs like this happen to be my bread and butter as a recording engineer.

Quote:
Quite possibly those in charge of the concert/choir/event may have handled the situation badly and put one of the pro's "nose out of joint", I have seen this happen several times (fortunately not on my watch). If someone has "told them" rather than "ask them" it's easy to see how a situation like this can develop.
I believer they were asked a bit late (but there was no reason to assume they'd refuse this time, after they had accepted it earlier).

Quote:
I would suggest the best way to handle it is to accept it, be gracious about it,
Rather difficult, considering the money I lose. I also find it a bit insulting not to be allowed to tell them who I am, or what I do and how..

Quote:
If you get into a war of words with those involved be they members of the choir, musicians, condutor's, organizers ti will only be to your own detriment.
I can only hope that maybe the choir will be disappointed when they find out, and that maybe they will bring it up again during tomorrow's rehearsals.

Daniel
Old 16th March 2007 | Show parent
  #18
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Is it possible for the choir to pay the orchestra EXTRA for the permission to allow recording? That's likely the issue here anyway.
Old 16th March 2007 | Show parent
  #19
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It all depends on what the contract between the orchestra and the choir (or whoever hired them) states.
And it depends on the contract between you and the choir (or whoever hired you). It's their job to make sure you're allowed to record, if they want you to record. If you have a contract, they might have to pay you anyway. I'm just not sure if they'll ever again hire you to record them.

I remember a friend, a few years ago, not being allowed to record the rehearsal so he could edit in case some larger mistake would happen, but only the concert itself. The DAT deck wasn't running at the rehearsal (as a guy from the orchestra checked), but the second DAT deck was. He was, however, allowed to record the concert.
You could, maybe, suspend something that looks like it's always there? That wouldn't actually be "stealth" recording
Old 16th March 2007 | Show parent
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MBishopSFX View Post
Is it possible for the choir to pay the orchestra EXTRA for the permission to allow recording? That's likely the issue here anyway.
I don't think this is about money.


Quote:
Originally Posted by pkautzsch View Post
It all depends on what the contract between the orchestra and the choir (or whoever hired them) states.
And it depends on the contract between you and the choir (or whoever hired you). It's their job to make sure you're allowed to record, if they want you to record. If you have a contract, they might have to pay you anyway. I'm just not sure if they'll ever again hire you to record them.
That's the problem. My hope is that they'll just never hire this orchestra again... fuuck Or still talk them into doing after all.
There's no contract, and I really wouldn't want to take money from the choir for nothing, just because the orchestra is acting up.

Daniel
Old 16th March 2007 | Show parent
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roland View Post
To record the players "stealthily" particularly after it's been made clear that they refused, is imoral and illegal.

I would never hire anyone whom I knew had been party to such a thing, I couldn't, these people are my customers. Suppose five years down the road you got a serious recording session (union members) you could find that they refuse to work the session unless you were replaced, and who could blame them?

Put it this way, would you record a band that after a session took the master and didn't pay the studio bill?

Regards to all


Roland
As quoted by ctms777 "Nevertheless; I would have kept my mouth shut in advance and just put up the mics, nobody would have noticed."

Now that it is out in the open that this IS to be sold, I can understand the orchestra's decision: if this were merely for an archive, I'd stand by my earlier post.

In any case, I'd still entrust someone to 'document' the event for the benefit of the choir...

BTW, there is a difference between having morals and being assholes. heh
Old 16th March 2007 | Show parent
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ctms777 View Post
As André Rieu's (amongst others) soundengineer, I think you're pretty arrogant yourself.

Besides, if an Orchestra doesn't want to be recorded it's their right to say so.
lol.
Old 16th March 2007 | Show parent
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d_fu View Post
fears about my not being able to balance things after the recording (nonsense)
This again reminds me of an orchestra I've heard a few times. They usually having their own Tonmeister and refuse to be recorded by anyone else.

I might have to be a little more precise about charging them without recording them.
This is something I don't like to do either, but I considered it once when I had been told I'd do the next recording ("see you next term") and then about 10 days before the concert asked them if the scheduled rehearsal times were likely to be kept was told "no, someone else is doing it". And I had turned down another gig for that just 2 days before. Fortunately that other client hadn't found someone else when I called and said I actually could do the gig.
I feel I need contracts with everyone since that event, even with clients I've been recording regularly the last few years.
If they have to sign a contract with me, they usually take care about orchestra and soloist issues.
Old 16th March 2007 | Show parent
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PlugHead View Post
Now that it is out in the open that this IS to be sold, I can understand the orchestra's decision: if this were merely for an archive, I'd stand by my earlier post.
No, it is not to be sold (publicly). It would be an internal document for members of the choir. Instead of charging the choir as a whole for a recording and a master, each member pays a bit for a CD.
Old 16th March 2007 | Show parent
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pkautzsch View Post
This is something I don't like to do either, but I considered it once when I had been told I'd do the next recording ("see you next term") and then about 10 days before the concert asked them if the scheduled rehearsal times were likely to be kept was told "no, someone else is doing it".
Wow, that's nasty...

Quote:
I feel I need contracts with everyone since that event, even with clients I've been recording regularly the last few years.
If they have to sign a contract with me, they usually take care about orchestra and soloist issues.
Yes, maybe... But they might feel under pressure. And enforcing something like that isn't gonna bring good vibes...
Old 16th March 2007 | Show parent
  #26
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Next time get a contract. It is just good business. Always get a contract.
Old 16th March 2007 | Show parent
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RedEar View Post
Next time get a contract. It is just good business. Always get a contract.
So I have a contract, and the conductor forgets to inform the orchestra or soloists, and I can't record, what do I do? Sue him? Make him pay? Only to never be hired again... Great.
Hardly a good idea, I guess.
Old 16th March 2007 | Show parent
  #28
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Well you dont automaticly become an Ass-Hole just because you got a contract. Your service, honor and profesionalism is one thing, and the way you are clearly not wanting to nor do you seem willing to screw over the chior would be the way you do buisness either way. That too is good buisness.
However, if you have it in your contract that backing out means something, it encorages your client to make sure the ducks are in a row before they hire you. That way, they go to hire you but see that they have to pay you no matter what, so they contact the ocheastra, if the ochestra says no, you then don't get the gig and in stead book some other gig on saturday night. If they don't cover their bases properly it is your choice to enforce the contract or not. However, you then have a papertrail.
To me, that is why you get a contract. And, it is profesional to do so.
Old 16th March 2007 | Show parent
  #29
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The contract can clearly state who is responsible for checking with orchestra and soloists. I always tell my clients to feel free to ask if anything isn't clear to them. Usually I also specifically ask them to check with everyone, and to do this before they sign my contract. This makes them feel I'm helping them.

That 10-day-cancel thing was the result of two people responsible. One has a buddy who did some previous recordings for them (He uses about 20 mics, most of them cheapo t-Bone, the other one always hires me (normally use about 10 mics, most of them expenso Neumann and Schoeps). It depends on who's quicker, not who's better. Learned that now.
Old 16th March 2007 | Show parent
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d_fu View Post
No, it is not to be sold (publicly). It would be an internal document for members of the choir. Instead of charging the choir as a whole for a recording and a master, each member pays a bit for a CD.
I've been in a similar situation. Document a concert. Hired by the choir. The choir is the organizer. The deal is that the participants pay me for their own copy of the CD. I really think this is something completely different from a recording as described in a union musician employment agreement that might allow for extra payment for recording. There recording refers to public release for commercial purposes. In these situations they're often operating outside of their employments too. The trouble I had was somewhat surprising. I asked the musicians if it was OK to record. Sure! They discussed my equipment, mic placement etc. They didn't play as well as they'd like and only then said that I had no right to record. They had no idea that the choir would buy copies... Ah well, since then when asked to record I always remind the conductor to request permission from the orchestra.

L
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