We recently surveyed the membership on what they would like to see more of, and how we can continue to improve the guide to make it as useful as possible. Here are the results.
Amateur promoting groups, often providing the only access many communities have to professional classical music concerts, are amongst the most vulnerable and struggling of Making Music members, partly for reasons to be sought in the economic environment of the last eight years, partly due to the changing nature of audiences’ engagement with the leisure offer in their localities.
There are a number of activities Making Music is envisaging to support amateur promoters in the next few years, but one of the most significant existing services is the Selected Artists guide, produced by a group of Making Music amateur promoter members. Making Music was therefore keen to identify how useful the guide is, whether it should continue to produce it and what improvements, if any, should be made to it.
The Selected Artists guide has been produced by a group of Making Music amateur promoter members, formerly known as the Concert Promoters Group, now as the Selected Artists Panel, for the benefit of their fellow members for 30 years.
It is currently published annually in May and includes two main types of artists as well as some further categories explained below.
Philip & Dorothy Green Young Artists are selected by audition by a panel of four experienced adjudicators once a year; the scheme is open to any young professional artists up to the age of 27. The chosen six artists generally cover a variety of instruments (including voice) and are available to members for two seasons with a large subsidy funded by the Philip & Dorothy Green Music Trust. The subsidy covers 60% of an individual soloist’s fee or 50% of the combined soloist/accompanist fees. These fees are also fixed, enabling Making Music members to budget with confidence.
The purpose of the scheme is to enable Making Music members to perform alongside top flight young professional musicians in choral works or concertos or to present these stars of tomorrow in full-length recitals, at affordable rates. The benefits for the young musicians are a significant amount of bookings, contributing to a successful start in a freelance portfolio career; introducing them to the vast network of amateur music groups in the UK; and allowing them to develop confidence, repertoire and audiences at the start of their professional journey. Now famous alumni of the scheme include Steven Isserlis, Elizabeth Banks, Craig Ogden and Marc Simpson, amongst many.
In the last three years, artists have been booked 148 times by members, supported with subsidies worth £22,610 from the Philip and Dorothy Green Music Trust.
The second main category of professional artists featured in the guide are those soloists and small ensembles selected for recommendation to their fellow amateur promoters by the Selected Artists Panel, following an extensive process involving volunteer listeners up and down the UK. The 20+ selected artists are chosen for their musical and technical proficiency, their presentation style as suitable for the generally fairly intimate concerts our members host, and the affordability of their fees, which is of great importance to the mostly very small volunteer-led charities who organise these concerts.
The purpose of this category of artists is to offer programming support to the less experienced concert organiser, including a useful starting point for negotiations on fees, as well as reassurance on quality through peer review.
Other categories of artists listed:
- winners of the St Martins in the Field Chamber Competition
- general information about other affordable or subsidised or funded professional artists’ schemes
- advertisements by soloists and ensembles keen to work with amateur performing or promoting groups
The 2016 Selected Artists guide survey
The survey was sent to 437 promoting members, receiving 96 responses (22%). Making Music performing group members also use the guide, but as promoter members have used it for longer and have traditionally used it most heavily, we decided to focus on this group.
Use and awareness of guide:
13% had never heard of the guide.
16% had heard of it but never used it.
Of the 71% who have used it, 57% use selected artists once a year and a further 27% use selected artists more than once a year.
Of those same respondents, 69% use Philip & Dorothy Green Young Artists once a year, 9% more than once a year, and a further 11% use them occasionally, but less frequently than once a year.
Reasons NOT to use the guide:
- 43% did not book selected artists because the fees are too high
- 19% found selected artists were not the kind of artists or ensembles their group wants to book
- 19% never book artists they haven’t seen or heard themselves, at least via digital media
With regard to the Philip & Dorothy Green Young Artists, 18% did not book them because they never book artists they haven’t seen or heard in concert or at least online. 12% did not know about the subsidy scheme open to them.
In response, Making Music will in future add some categories of non-classical artists; has started recording and videoing the Philip & Dorothy Green Young Artists in concert, and is featuring the material available online for the Selected Artists more strongly than in the past.
What would encourage members to use the guide in future?
Over 50% and over 30% respectively stated that they would be more inclined to use both the P&DG Young Artists and the Selected Artists if they could hear and/or see them prior to booking, in concert or online.
37% listed the affordability of fees for the Selected Artists as a crucial factor that would persuade them to book them, including more flexibility, e.g. fees for lunchtime concerts, now a very popular option.
For both the P&DG Young Artists and the Selected Artists, around 20% of respondents would like to know more about the respective selection processes, nearly 20% want more or different information about the artists (e.g. repertoire), and 14% are looking for a greater variety of artists or ensembles, e.g. from other genres of music.
What is the most important feature of Selected Artists?
- 32% stated that the listed fees were the most important feature
- In addition, the 30% who said they negotiated their own fees still found this feature to be most helpful as they used it as a benchmark or starting point for their negotiations
- 27% found that the peer recommendation was the most useful aspect of the guide, giving quality assurance
What factors in general guide our members when booking professional artists?
In order of priority, for both P&DG Young Artists and Selected Artists:
- music and technical standard
- how they present themselves and interact with an audience
- information about their programmes and educational work
- hearing/seeing artists either online or in concert
Overall, 86% rated the usefulness of the guide at 4 or 5 out of 5 and 96% of respondents would like Making Music to continue producing it.
We hope you find this Making Music resource useful. If you have any comments or suggestions about the guidance please contact us. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the content of this guidance is accurate and up to date, Making Music do not warrant, nor accept any liability or responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the content, or for any loss which may arise from reliance on the information contained in it.