Freelance Musicians See Jobs Dwindle. Will Audiences Notice?

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Freelance musicians once provided the backbone of New York's classical music scene. Work was abundant for the top players and the lifestyle never routine. But faced with changing tastes and new technology, many of the regional orchestras, Broadway pits and jingle houses that employ freelancers have cut back or shuttered. This is forcing musicians to get a bit more creative and entrepreneurial. 

To explain this state of affairs, host Naomi Lewin is joined by three guests: Miriam Souccar, a senior reporter at Crain's New York Business; Jean Cook, director of programs at the Future of Music Coalition and Mary Rowell, a freelance violinist and host on Q2 Music.

"It just seems that musicians are being hit from all sides. They started their struggle on Broadway back in 2003 when the producers were trying to abolish the minimum requirements for musician in the pits…It’s just coming at them from all sides." – Miriam Souccar

"There's less work going on. People are all looking at Broadway. That’s really the last gasp of legitimate work in New York." – Mary Rowell

"You’re seeing more and more classical folks [taking] relationships with audiences into their own hands. They’re no longer counting on presenters or record labels to do that for them. Musicians, if they’re going to survive, really need to be entrepreneurial." – Jean Cook

Weigh in: Are you a freelance musician? How do you see the job market? If you're an audience member, tell us how this has affected your experience.