What you can expect

    If you’ve found this site you probably know what an orchestra contractor does. If you don’t know, or if you want to know more, here’s a quick look at some of the services offered to a presenter, producer, impresario or promoter . . .  and, of course, to a musician.

If you’re a client or prospective client


The basics:

    An orchestra contractor is not an agent who works on a commission collected from musicians. Rather, the contractor is treated contractually like a musician. Fees for engaging musicians and maintaining a music department are a function or multiple of scale fees for the given engagement. Other services which can include, for example, making transportation and accommodation arrangements, are negotiated. One more “basic” (in case you were to ask): all musicians engaged are members of the A.F.M.

The philosophy:

    The contractor is in the position, much like a casting director, where assembling the absolute best players for a given situation is the primary goal. Musicians, like actors, have their strengths, and one must suppose, their weaknesses. The “craft” element of the contractor’s job is to put together the musicians possessing the right skills for the job at hand. The “art” element of the job is to discern, after all professional skills of a given musician are assessed, which combination of musicians will constitute a workable unit on many levels. What combination is going to prove to be a working “family”? While this matter may seem, at first glance, to be of interest mainly to the musicians, it can become important quite quickly to a presenter/promoter in the event an orchestra doesn’t “get along”. In this case the production, on some level, suffers. So . . . talking to the people involved well in advance is both important and a pleasant experience! The contractor should know the people who will play in the bands/orchestras.

    As well, a music contractor should make every effort to keep informed about the needs of the clients. It’s important everyone who “needs to know” actually knows!

    The relationship between the music contractor and the producer/presenter is one of cooperation and collaboration.

    Does the music contractor work for the producers or the musicians? I’ve been asked this several times. The contractor works for the project!

The business:

    As a producer/presenter you can expect complete transparency and documentation of all transactions. On a week to week (or engagement to engagement) basis you are provided AFM contracts, AFM/EPW (pension) forms and invoices. Payment is generally by direct deposit/wire transfer.”Paperwork” can be actual hard copy or signed PDF format.

    Musicians are paid accurately and on time. They are presented with statements on engagement, production and yearly intervals. As well, their tax obligations are outlined in a clear and timely fashion. You are not required to deal with any of this (can vary depending on the country of the event).

    Rick Whitelaw or one of his staff will attend each performance from the “half”, one half-hour to curtain, to deal with any problems should they arise. “Remote control” is not an option.

If you’re a musician


    You should expect fair treatment, fair pay, loyalty and (especially if you’ve accepted engagements), my gratitude. If you’re a musician looking to get in touch with me for work, please send me an email with a resumé . It needn’t be formal . . . just a look at who you are and what you do.

    Oh . . . and I almost forgot . . . you can expect to work with musicians you respect and admire.