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Klarinet Archive - Posting 001246.txt from 1998/04

From: Jack Kissinger <kissingerjn@-----.EDU>
Subj: Re: Pay analysis of Full-time Orchs
Date: Wed, 22 Apr 1998 15:18:47 -0400

If Kenny G were on this list (and hadn't forgotten his training as an
accountant), he might point out the following:

The problem with the Jonathan's analysis is not in its calculations
(though others may choose to question the basic assumptions) but rather
the question it addresses. The issue is not whether an orchestra can
"easily" afford to listen to all comers but rather whether the expected
benefits of such a strategy outweigh the nonzero costs.

Most of us can think of any number of things we can afford but choose
not to buy either because the cost outweighs the benefits or because we
have a better alternative use for the money. I can afford a new Buffet
D clarinet but (a) the cost far outweighs any benefits I might derive in
my personal situation and (b) there are other things I would rather
spend the money on (e.g., a new kitchen). The issue is how to allocate
scarce resources to alternative projects. As an example, assuming the
cost to the orchestra is $30 per hour for each committee member (close
to the going rate for lessons with a good professional in St. Louis or
equal to a $60,000 salary divided by 2,000 work hours in a year so I'm
being conservative here), a 5-member committee, and 7 minutes per
auditioner, a conservative estimate of the cost to listen to an
auditioner is about $8.50. If 250 will attend an open audition while
only 50 would be invited on the basis of resume, the incremental cost
works out to $1,700. (Others with better knowledge of the internal
workings of symphony's can adjust the figures, I have tried to be
conservative.) (At this point, I could ask anybody who thinks $1,700 is
not much money to send me a check. This would be a trick question,
however, and besides we're talking about somebody else's (the
orchestra's) money.) ;^) An extra $8.50 for one more candidate isn't
much perhaps but for 200 or so, it adds up.

Now for the benefit. I really can't even begin to estimate specific
values for the parameters here so I can't do calculations but I can
outline the procedures for a simplified analysis and leave it to others
to fill in the blanks. First you must determine the probability that
the committee would have found a better candidate (by their criteria,
whatever those criteria are) in the "rejected" group than their top
choice from the "accepted" group. (I suspect Jonathan will assess this
probability quite high. Personally, I believe that resumes do provide
meaningful information about at least some of the candidates so I would
probably assess it considerably lower.) Then, one must assess the
expected increment in benefit to the orchestra from discovering the
better player. Here I have to ask two questions: (1) How much better is
the "rejected group" candidate likely to be? (Remember, the fact that,
ex post the "best" candidate may have been found in the "rejected" group
doesn't mean that the best candidate in the "accepted group" is chopped
liver!) and (2) Even if the "accepted group" choice is "merely"
competent (else the search is expanded) while the "rejected group"
choice is a superstar, how much revenue (and other measurable benefit)
is a second clarinetist likely to account for?

Before your analysis will wash for me Jonathan, you need to demonstrate
that the incremental benefit to the orchestra from conducting open
auditions will outweigh the incremental cost AND that the orchestra has
no superior alternative use for the money it saves by screening on

Whew, now I know what it feels like to sub for Kenny G -- did you notice
I've been circular breathing all this time? ;^) Please excuse me while
I don my flame retardant armor.

Best regards,
Jack Kissinger
St. Louis

Jonathan Cohler wrote:
> As back up for my previously presented financial analysis of the fact that
> the large full-time orchestras can all easily afford to audition all
> comers, here is some data from the AFM for the 1995-1996 season for the 19
> "full-time" orchestras listed in descending order by scale.
> Note that the average scale was $66,064 (and principal players get more),
> so my analysis which used an assumption of a $50,000 average, was in fact
> conservative in this regard (in other words the actual result would be that
> orchestras are capable of auditioning even more than what I said). I also
> assumed a 42 week season, and as we can see from the list below, all the
> top orchestras (except Detroit) have 52 weeks. This assumption was
> therefore also conservative.
> Here are a list of the assumptions I used, and the basic conclusion. I
> would be interested if anyone has any more factual information that would
> substantively change the conclusion:
> Section player scale: $50,000
> Average tenure of section player: 8 years
> Principal player scale: $60,000
> Average tenure of principal player: 15 years
> Reasonable recruiting cost: 5% of total pay
> Pay rate for audition committee: 150% of normal hourly rate
> Number of people on audition comm.: 5
> CONCLUSION: These orchestras could afford roughly 75 committee-hours
> to audition a new section player.
> Orchestra Scale Season (weeks) Paid Vacation
> Metropolitan Opera $85,000 52 8 weeks
> New York Phil $76,960 52 63 days
> Chicago Sym $75,920 52 8 weeks
> Boston $74,360 52 10 weeks
> Philadelphia $74,360 52 10 weeks
> Los Angeles $74,100 52 10 weeks
> San Francisco Sym $73,640 52 10 weeks
> Cleveland $71,760 52 63 days
> Minnesota $65,780 52 8 weeks
> Pittsburgh $63,960 52 10 weeks
> Cincinnati $62,937 52 9 weeks
> Detroit $62,677 46 9 weeks
> National (Wash DC) $61,620 52 8 weeks
> St. Louis $60,840 52 9 weeks
> Baltimore $56,420 52 56 days
> Houston $55,250 52 63 days
> Atlanta $54,860 52 56 days
> Dallas $54,340 52 8 weeks
> Indianapolis $50,440 52 8.5 weeks
> Average Salary $66,064
> ----------------------
> Jonathan Cohler

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