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Flutists as Administrators 101


What does it mean? And what is it, exactly, in the music world?

The word ‘administrator’ literally means “a person responsible for running a business, organization, etc.” or “a person who performs official duties.”That’s a pretty broad definition which allows the word to describe all sorts of jobs, roles, and people. Keeping the definition of administrator broad and generic comes with a host of benefits. For people joining the work force, it provides countless opportunities for resume boosters, opens the door to qualifying for a surprisingly large pool of jobs and career fields (many you’d never even consider), and lays the groundwork for a level of versatility others often don’t experience. For businesses, the generic description of administrator allows them to hire a diverse group of employees. With staff from all walks of life and unique experiences, businesses can boast a well-rounded organization.  And for the communities in which arts administrators live and work, their presence shapes and guides everything from community cohesion and engagement to economics, politics, and social dynamics. Basically, arts administrators impact every aspect of their community—and the music industry is taking notice. Arts administration has become significant in how music businesses function, shapes the kinds of careers musicians across the country have, and even impacts the way college and university music programs train and educate.

Did you know the U.S. has by far the largest music industry in the world? We boast over 250,000 music businesses and make up over 60% of the global music market. That’s huge!  How do we keep that success going? Good business. That’s where arts administrators come in. Their responsibilities include marketing and design, public relations, fundraising, program development, finances, staff management and other day-to-day operations that keep an organization running smoothly. In music, arts administration includes a seemingly endless, diverse list of job titles: performing arts center director, music festival manager, music librarian, marketing guru, fundraiser, social media coordinator, copyright manager, office assistant, performing artist assistant, program designer, sales, office assistant…and the list goes on. Music organizations all the way from small local non-profits and family-owned businesses to national performing arts centers and major ensembles use administrators of all kinds. To pave the way for the growing number of opportunities, college & university music departments are beginning to introduce courses and whole degree paths focused on music business/administration. In fact, it’s the fastest growing major in music programs!

Now we know what an arts administrator is, and how they fit in the music world. Why does it matter to us as flutists?

We are all administrators in our own right. We should own it and celebrate it! Today, where entrepreneurial music careers are becoming the norm, being business savvy is more important than ever. Whether you are a professional performer, private studio owner, university or college professor, public school music teacher or amateur flute enthusiast, you use administrative skills! You market your recital schedule or guest artist engagements. You might have built your studio’s website and devised a plan for gathering students. Making class syllabi or lesson plans requires writing, organization, creativity, and computer skills. And every flute enthusiast must manage time to practice, budget repairs and upgrades, and balance flute playing with everything else we do. But most of us don’t consider ourselves administrators. Why?

It’s all about perception. If you think of men and women in pant suits with briefcases when you hear the word ‘business’, you aren’t alone. And if you picture people behind a desk working at a computer surrounded by paperwork when you hear ‘administrator,’ you’d likely be in the majority. It’s the standard idea of business people and administrative staff. And in some cases, it’s 100% right, but it’s only part of the picture. And shifting our view of what music businessmen/women and administrators look like is the first step. Remember the word ‘administrator’ and its intentionally broad definition. It paves the way for our perception to shift. Administrators may be in pant suits, but they may wear jeans and a polo or concert black. You may see them with pen in hand, or with their instrument by their side. They may carry a briefcase or tote a backpack and gig bag. They may be surrounded by paperwork or it may be replaced by sheet music and a laptop. The possibilities are endless. And once we change how we visualize administrators, the picture becomes much larger, and one that makes room for us all. We as flutists wear many different hats. And if you haven’t already, you can now add Administrator to the bunch!

Stay tuned next month for an interview with the wonderful Katherine Isbill Emeneth, a flutist who has embraced her inner-administrator and turned it into a flourishing portfolio career by which we can all be inspired!   

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