Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Holy Mother of God!

@Jaap van Zweden, © Bert Hulselmans

Forgive my expletives, but Drew McManus just published the music director segment of his annual orchestral compensation reports (these are for the 2013-14 season). Read the whole thing at your leisure, but I absolutely must comment on one music director in particular.

That would be Jaap van Zweden, who is now the outgoing music director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. His pay during the 2013-14 season? A cool $5,110,538, and no, I did not misplace a punctuation mark when I typed that number.

Did the DSO board and chief executive have any idea of how stupid this was? He's getting paid nearly 14% of the orchestra's budget, he's getting paid a multiple of what such greats as Riccardo Muti are being paid, and the DSO is single-handedly about to start a compensation war among top-level music directors.

What I most want right now is to see his NY Philharmonic contract.

Update: Kalimac points out that the article includes a clarifying quotation from the DSO. Van Zweden's salary was actually $1,788,997, and most of the rest was a one-time signing bonus paid for by a restricted contribution rather than by other orchestra income. STILL, it's an awful lot of money.


kalimac said...

According to the article you link to, the greater part of that was a one-time signing bonus from a special gift, and not part of the orchestra's budget at all. If that's not true or if it's not applicable, it should be rebutted. If it is true, it's meaningless to speak of it as "nearly 14% of the orchestra's budget."

Not that I think $5m is a reasonable fee, but let's be accurate about it.

If there's a link anywhere there to a list of all the music directors and their compensation, I couldn't find it.

Lisa Hirsch said...

You need to scroll down past multiple headers to find the list of orchestras and MD compensation.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Meanwhile, I've made a clarifying addition to my blog post, as you suggest.

Drew said...

I wholehearted agree, the more detail the better. Having said that, I absolutely agree with Lisa that this is going to launch a compensation arms war. In the end, it doesn't matter if you package bonuses, incentives, etc. in as either front-loaded or back-loaded remuneration, it's all compensation and those dollars are going to be thrown into the mix.

I also have issues with the designation that this was a restricted gift that had no impact on orchestra revenue. In the end, it's all revenue and it is interconnected in one fashion or another.

One interesting point I haven't seen anyone jump on yet (but I left open to see if it would) is the nature of a restricted gift given to a nonprofit, and therefore deductible, for the sole purpose of being redirected to a for profit independent contractor (which is how Jaap is compensated in his role at Dallas).


Lisa Hirsch said...

The concept of a signing bonus for an orchestra conductor is also odd. I think of such bonuses in connection with sports figures and sometimes business figures. I have heard of technical people getting them. But a couple of million to a conductor...and he is going to be leaving the Dallas position for NY in a couple of years.

Drew said...

Signing bonuses aren't all that unusual for music directors. Same goes for executives and key musicians with individual agreements (even more so if the group managed to lure them away from a peer orchestra). What's certainly unusual in this case is the size and timing of the signing bonus.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I did not know that! Thanks, Drew.

Re signing, I'd like to see his Dallas contract too: there is a one-year gap between Gilbert's departure from the NY Phil and JVZ's arrival. Is it possible that there is a clause requiring the return of some of the signing bonus if he leaves within a certain time period? That's how I would have structured the DSO contract, not that anybody asked me.

Drew said...

Those are all the right questions to ask, but I wouldn't hold your breath on discovering the details.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Yeah, this is information so closely held that it's only the board(s), his lawyer and agent, their lawyers, and their executives who know this stuff.

And his accountant, of course. And the big-bucks donor.