Faq starting an ensemble
In the world of chamber music it is common to play in a variety of ensembles. Was this a success and would you like to do it more often? How do you set up an ensemble with high artistic quality and an interesting content that can compete with other ensembles in the Netherlands?
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Why do you want to set up an ensemble?
You may want to set up an ensemble for various reasons. Such as a good personal and musical relation. In addition to that you may have a vision with content, see a niche in the market, or want to make a statement.
There are more than 1,000 ensembles active in the Netherlands, so it makes sense to explain what you intend to add, what difference you intend to make with your ensemble, and why you think that programmers will book you and people will want to listen to your ensemble.
The best way to explain your exact purpose is to draw up an ensemble plan describing precisely what you want to do: what kind of ensemble you are going to set up, and which works you will play. You explain what kind of activities you will be organising and where you are going to do them. You should also describe what the position of the ensemble is in the range of chamber music available, what the strong and weak points are, which rival ensembles there are, what your publicity and marketing plan looks like, what the plans for the future are, and how you intend to give it shape in terms of organisation and finance.
You have a good personal and musical relation with the members of your ensemble and after a few concerts you want to give some thought to the division of labour. Who is in charge of the production side? Who does the administration? How do you plan to divide the costs and income? How long do you expect to be working together?
You must have a good picture of exactly what you are offering and where you are offering it. So it is not enough to have a clear picture of what you produce yourself and what kind of image you have, but you must also carry out research on the venues: who is the programmer, and what is the programme like? Who is your public? The next step is to think how you can attune what you have to offer to the venues and whether, for instance, you can attract a new audience to the venue. If you have a talent for organisation, you can also decide to start up a venue of your own.
When it comes to organising concerts, it is handy to start with your own network; do you know people at the venues with whom you can establish contact? They will probably also be able to help you with the publicity.
Are you the person behind the initiative? In that case make sure you make clear agreements. Put as much on paper as you can, in the form of a contract if necessary. The same applies to the agreements that you make with the venues.
You must also decide in what kind of an enterprise you are going to operate. Most ensembles operate as a foundation, which is convenient if you want to apply for grants. The musicians are often self-employed. They invoice the foundation or have their salary paid by the foundation or a payrolling agency, especially if they are regularly employed.