A Musician’s Worth Tied to an Orchestra’s Worth

Peter Sachon is a professional cellist (and also my cousin); I spoke with him about his money and industry in May.

He has a column at Polyphonic.org arguing that the demands of striking locked out musicians around the country (there are striking locked out musicians around the country) are not realistic given the orchestra’s current role in society. He writes that if orchestras — and musicians — are to survive, that role has to be broadened: “The fact that modern generations would rather hear the symphonic music they love on iTunes than regularly attend a live concert is the symphony’s fault, not their audience’s.”

Until then, he says that he and his fellow musicians will need to accept paycuts. To me the essay highlights that labor issues are TRICKY. I’d never tell a snackcake baker to accept a paycut! But, and here’s the but: People were getting rich off of snackcakes. No one is gaining wealth from the orchestra. Except, you know, cultural wealth, which, while valuable, isn’t actually valued.

UPDATED TO ADD: Ha! Peter emailed to LET ME KNOW that striking and being locked out are TWO DIFFERENT THINGS and NOT SYNONYMOUS, as I assumed, and wrote, wrongly. A strike is a work stoppage initiated by the employees. A lock out is also a work stoppage, but initiated by management, during which they literally “lock the employees out.” Both are the result of a labor dispute.