Managing a Musical Careerby Jonathan Vaillancourt
/ October 1, 2001
The music industry consists of more than the
performing artists; a team is needed to provide support. Often musicians who
have management skills are ideally suited.
“That I was a musician for a long time
helps me now to deal with the workings of the milieu,” explains the director of
the “Conservatoires de Musique et d’art Dramatique du Québec,” Nicolas
Desjardins, with his baritone voice. “It also brings me some respect from the
people I supervise, and from my superiors.”
For some years now, many Canadian
institutions, especially in Ontario, Québec and British Columbia, have created
programs specialized in art management to help artists, including musicians, to
take their own career or someone else’s in charge.
Concordia University in Montréal offers
such a program, which is a graduate diploma in administration (DIA) specialized
for non-profit organisations. One of the three options of the diploma is
managing cultural organisations.
“Most of the musicians applying at the
school want to eventually manage their own career or that of a group they belong
to,” says Edith Katz, the DIA’s coordinator for marketing and communications.
“Most of our graduates will end up managing organisations like orchestras and
chamber music ensembles.”
This one-year, full-time program consists
of ten courses, totalling thirty credits, with six core courses and four in the
chosen field. The arts, culture, entertainment and cultural tourism
administration option includes, among others, marketing classes and public
relations classes, as well as a research project or a three-month
“The organisations where we send our
students have to meet many selection criteria,” says Katz. “For example, they
have to expose the interns to their management process and have them supervised
by their seniors.”
A 1984 DIA graduate, Desjardins liked his
experience: “I learned a lot there. Of course, you need some talent in
management to begin with, but the diploma helps finetune your
Still in Montréal, the École des Hautes Études Commerciales (HEC) offers a
similar program. It has the same length and the same number of credits, but it
doesn’t systematically have internships.
“We do have a project class where the
student can do an internship, but it is not mandatory,” points out François
Colbert, the chair of art management at the school. “Most of our students
already have some experience in cultural organisation management. The average
age of our students is around 30.”
Former flutist, and now communications director at the Jeunesses Musicales du Canada,
Pascale Labrie had started taking classes at the HEC. But her work, as well as
her ongoing studies in musicology, forced her to stop. She believes the classes
she completed, by familiarizing her with the environment she wanted to work in,
helped her in her job.
Elsewhere in Canada, many schools offer
art-managing classes and diplomas to those who would like to further their
knowledge in this field. Some institutions, like the Universities of Waterloo
and Victoria, offer long-distance classes for students living out of their area.
The Banff Centre offers a few days of training in the field at a somewhat high
Curious musicians thus have the possibility
to learn more, thanks to programmes catering to their specific interests. This
way they will be well equipped once they have to manage an artistic organisation
or a personal project. The important thing is to multiply the possible avenues
to take, and to keep the options open.