Monday, 9 April 2012

Stats, Easter 2012

From 1st March until Easter Sunday this year (i.e. Lent and Holy Week), 68 job adverts passed through DepList. Some of these adverts contained job offers for more than one musician and/or more than one gig, so the total number of people booked via DepList may have been higher. There were very few if any re-postings of unfilled jobs, so it seems DepList has reached a point of healthy self-sustainability. In other words, we have enough members to provide the necessary cover at peak periods, when recruitment is normally difficult.

Membership has increased very slowly over the years. This is partly because almost as many members drop off after a few years as apply to join. Classical singing is a highly competitive and often insecure profession. Opportunities for organists and choral directors are fewer still. Most members work freelance. Many stick at it for a few years, then switch to more lucrative occupations or salaried jobs, at which point they let their membership lapse. A very few are lucky enough to make it big time. When they have agents working on their behalf they longer need the type of service that DepList provides. I'm tempted to create a DepList celebs page at some point! A very few stalwart and loyal members have been with us since the very beginning. Others leave and rejoin.

There was a big drop-off in membership when we first started charging fees. Half our members decided they didn't want to pay to belong. Little by little the numbers have crept back up and we are now almost back to our peak of 300. This is probably an ideal size for DepList in its current format. Will DepList change? I don't know. It depends on what the market demands and how the technology continues to evolve.

The £10 fee (unchanged since it was first imposed) covers my overheads but not much of my time. My reward is to see something good in operation that I wish had existed when I started singing professionally three decades ago.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Making Good on Good Friday

It is at times like this when DepList really comes into its own. Imagine a situation where, for whatever reason, you are short of a tenor on a Good Friday. It's twenty minutes past eleven and the service is at 2 p.m. with a rehearsal at 1 p.m. In the old days pre-Internet and pre-mobiles (in my day actually!), this was a pretty hopeless situation. You might make ten or twenty (landline) phone calls to all the tenors in your address book. Some calls would ring and ring and not be answered at all. Others would turn out to be wrong numbers or else answered by a landlady who said the tenor had moved out — and no, she did not have his new number. The rest would be answered by recorded messages from tenors who were probably at that very moment travelling to jobs they'd been booked for ages ago. Spare tenors are hard to find at the best of times. For Holy Week, they need securing several weeks in advance. So half an hour later, you still haven't got your tenor, your stress levels rise, and it's getting too late to salvage the situation.

Today, someone placed an advertisement at 11.20 a.m. for a tenor to sing at 2 p.m. with a rehearsal at 1 p.m. It took less than ten minutes to fill that job.

It is interesting to think that when DepList began, mobile phones were still comparatively rare. There were plenty of musicians who didn't own one. Smartphones had not been invented, and receiving emails on mobiles was either impossible or impossibly fiddly. For many years, most of us could only access our DepList messages from a conventional desktop PC. Now DepList messages can be retrieved by anyone on the move. It seems that DepList has become even more useful as technology has evolved.

We wish all our members and visitors a Happy Easter.