Orchestra Contractor

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Composers of film and stage music need musicians to perform their pieces, and this is when the orchestra contractor gets to shine. Orchestra contractors, often referred to as “fixers” in Europe and the U.K., are responsible for making sure that composers have the musicians they need when they need them. Often credited in films and albums instead of individual musicians, the orchestra contractor is an important conduit between the creative world of artists and the practical world of the entertainment business. 


Duties

Because films, albums, and stage productions most often do not come with their own ready-made orchestras, it is the responsibility of the orchestra contractor to see that musicians are found, hired, and brought into the studio or scoring stage to perform. Much of their work relies on their extensive contacts and voluminous lists of every reputable musician playing common and not-so-common instruments. Selection of the most talented, congenial, and appropriately skilled musicians is the main duty of the orchestra contractor, who is often faced with very specific requests by composers and directors. A conductor may need hundreds of classical musicians from around the world for a film score, or simply a handful of ukulele players from Atlanta for a commercial jingle. In each case, the orchestra contractor will be able to locate the musician, facilitate the contracts, and ensure that the composer or production company adheres to union rules throughout the recording process. 

Skills & Education

Orchestra contractors are often educated in music and business both; this can include an education at a university or conservatory, or experience as a performer. Many orchestra contractors are or were musicians themselves, which can be extremely useful when compiling contact lists of musicians they may know or have worked with in the past. They also need to be familiar with films and TV and able to meet the unique needs of this type of performance. Because intimate knowledge of the music industry is required, it is extremely beneficial to the orchestra contractor to be able to tell a good musician from a bad one, a high-maintenance performer from an easygoing one, and they must know and tend to all the contract obligations of the American Federation of Musicians. 

What to Expect

Orchestra contractors are needed everywhere there is a need for orchestras, whether films, television, commercials, albums, or the stage. The best orchestra contractors usually take years building contacts and learning their trade. Networking is vital to success, and a musical background is certainly a plus. Understanding the nuances of professional music and the quirks of professional musicians can help the right person excel as an orchestra contractor, though usually only after years of effort and persistence. 

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