Music Assistants have been an integral part of the Broadway musical development and production process for decades, but the responsibilities of this position have been the subject of confusion almost since its inception. The way we make musicals has changed over the past several years, and Music Assistants are now expected to do an increasingly broad range of highly skilled work, far beyond a reasonable workload for one person, while barely (if even) making minimum wage. The result is a position that is widely acknowledged as untenable.In response, a collective of music professionals from across many disciplines in the musical theatre industry created this document to define the reasonable scope of work for Music Assistants. Our aim is to facilitate the natural creative fluidity of a musical’s music department while ensuring that everyone’s time and labor is acknowledged and compensated fairly.
This document attempts to explain how a music department functions in the creation of a musical and what positions make up the music department.Every production is different. Some of these positions may not be needed on certain shows. On a smaller production, a single person make take on multiple responsibilities, if that is mutually agreed on a contractual level. On a larger production, multiple arrangers may be required. Every score is different having different stylistic requirements, often requiring specialists in a particular style.Having an experienced, capable music staff protects a production from the avoidable mistakes of omission and neglect. Surrounding inexperienced directors or composers with an experienced staff is essential, and supporting younger members of the music staff with experienced collaborators within the department insures a smoother process.