Choral conducting is a high-risk sport, and so –even more– is the related job insecurity, so we would like to think over the lives of choir conductors, their rights, and the demands and ideas that Singerhood proposes in this regard.
It all begins when people start thinking about belonging to a choir. Then, they start searching for a group to join and sing, share and enjoy. In short, to make their old dream of being an artist come true.
However (and there is not much after a ‘however,’ as a good friend of mine says), there is usually a figure next to that choir that is undervalued by the world. Not by their singers, since they adore them. This figure is… the choir conductor!
Choir conductors always have a strong educational background and are highly qualified. They are often professional musicians, teachers, philosophers, or scholars. These people have studied for many years and have a full mind of group psychology to coordinate thirty or forty personalities, always different and fractious at times.
The choir conductor manages to create the little wonder of the concert. They are the ones who accompany, sustain off pitches, tone drops, and small tempo mistakes –definitely, an unrecognized character.
But conductors are also people who suffer (especially now, in times of pandemic) from an absolutely unacceptable financial and employment insecurity.
Considering the situation where conductors live, they must be very fond of choral singing to go on this way.
These musical figures have a tough time making ends meet. They barely get singers to cover their cost and –the luckiest ones– pay their Social Security contributions. They spend hours on the road from choir to choir (those lucky enough to conduct more than one) to make 200 euros per month and therefore combine their choral duties with any other job that allows them to reach the income they need.
How to improve the situation of choir conductors
At this point, it is crucial to take action. Let us give an additional thought. Now we will talk about economic rights.
The music world is made of publishers, who collect their rights, authors who also receive their rights, and performers who can also collect their rights. Choir conductors are the only ones who do not get any income on the same activity where others do (we could also talk about amounts, but that is a different issue).
Yes, they are the ones who get us ready for our big gala. But note: whereas publishers will sell us their excellent scores, Singerhood will charge their fees to access the recorded songs, the SGAE (Spanish leading collecting society for songwriters, composers, and music publishers) will hurry up to charge their bill, and the composer will get a few cents from the music, the Choir Conductor will come out smiling to take a bow, dressed up and –of course– invited by the orchestra conductor, and then will go home happy and just as poor.
We at Singerhood strongly believe this is unfair. We do not have this name for nothing; we feel like we are the Robin Hood of choirs. All kidding aside, this is no laughing matter.
Singerhood will start paying “Conductor‘s economic rights.” We encourage Conductors’ associations to urge administrations to recognize this right at the institutional level. We will be close by. While this becomes a reality, we have decided to give back to the Conductors who believe in us. They have the right to be recognized and obtain that deserved and fair income ratio their work generates. In our conversations with the SGAE, we have not yet found a way to materialize it institutionally.
Singerhood has unilaterally decided to pay 10% of their revenue to all conductors who use our materials.
We think it is the right thing to do. We believe it is your right.