Creating an Orchestra Manager / Ideas?

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cozzagiorgi
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Creating an Orchestra Manager / Ideas?

Post by cozzagiorgi » Tue Jun 26, 2018 8:19 am

Hi there

I am toying with the idea of creating an Orchestra managing program. I already have some ideas what this program will have to do:
- Musicians can register online if they will attend a rehearsal/concert or not
- Registrations will be saved automatically in the application, emails invitations and reminders can be sent from within the application
- Finances: Budget and spending
- Contact manager / possibility to choose wich musicians you want to invite to what concert and the rehearsals wich go with the concert
- File manager / possibility to share pdfs of music via email / Digital archives
- Ticketing / possibility for audience to reserve their seats - automated email responses
- Advertising on social media (no idea how to do that...)

Any other stuff you would like to see in such a program?

The aim is creating an application wich takes care for most of the administrative stuff when you are in charge of an orchestra/band etc. This will be created in Excel and with Google Forms in order to keep costs waaay down. It probably won't be something I would sell, but share with the community.
AndrewMeronek
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Re: Creating an Orchestra Manager / Ideas?

Post by AndrewMeronek » Tue Jun 26, 2018 8:54 am

cozzagiorgi wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 8:19 am
Any other stuff you would like to see in such a program?
Sub lists.
“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk
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ghmerrill
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Re: Creating an Orchestra Manager / Ideas?

Post by ghmerrill » Tue Jun 26, 2018 9:00 am

Personally, I would not go through the necessary detailed research and work for designing a useful and usable application of this sort and then implement it in Excel and Google Forms. I fear that you would spend a great deal of time on creating an application that would be buggy, cumbersome, and unmaintainable. Also, just as a basic principle of software/UX/UI application design/development: don't approach this by starting to list a bunch of "features" you think would be good to have in it. Start by creating a careful description of the typical user, detailed account of his/her goals and tasks, and specific usage scenarios (not techy "use cases") on which to base your high-level design. THEN start thinking about features to create in realizing these goals and scenarios.

But hey, that's just me. If you've never done anything like this before, I STRONGLY suggest you spend some time studying things like Alan Cooper's About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design , Steve Krug's Don't Make me Think, Revisited, and Don Norman's The Design of Everyday Things. If you do, you'll discover that using the approach you're thinking of will violate a number of principles and goals that you will (or should) want to achieve.

You have what is potentially a good idea for a useful product/application. But it's not the sort of thing that can just be knocked off with some spreadsheets and forms -- not if you expect people to use it.

Cooper's book:
https://www.amazon.com/About-Face-Essen ... ace+design

Krug's book:
https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Make-Think- ... WMK81QMDPW

Norman's book"
https://www.amazon.com/Design-Everyday- ... 6P67DYFD1N
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cozzagiorgi
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Re: Creating an Orchestra Manager / Ideas?

Post by cozzagiorgi » Tue Jun 26, 2018 9:53 am

Thank you for your input Gary.
I am quite experienced working with google forms and really advanced excel applications. I know this will work and I know it will take time.
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BGuttman
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Re: Creating an Orchestra Manager / Ideas?

Post by BGuttman » Tue Jun 26, 2018 11:40 am

The application you seem to be working toward is actually a set of meshed databases. I think you need to re-think your choice of a simple spreadsheet to try to incorporate all this in one.

Consider a number of simple applications. Especially since some of them are completely independent of one another. For example, a ticket list has nothing to do with players. A database of subs and regular players is good, but need not be linked to the repertoire.

I'd refrain from making the repertoire or ticket holder lists too accessible outside your organization: this is the kind of stuff that constitutes "trade information" and you don't want anybody just coming in and helping themselves to it.

If I were you I'd consider creating a few different apps for the different uses and then consider which need to be interlocked. Then look into a linked database for those.

Good luck.
Bruce Guttman
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JohnL
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Re: Creating an Orchestra Manager / Ideas?

Post by JohnL » Tue Jun 26, 2018 11:49 am

AndrewMeronek wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 8:54 am
Sub lists.
Imagine if that could be even partially automated...

You plug in the instrumentation you need, along with the where, when, and what. The system sends out invites. As soon as someone responds "no", it invites the next person on the sub list (maybe generate the invite but have the manager approved it before it gets sent). After a while, It nags those who have not responded. If they still don't respond by the cutoff, it sends them a politely worded "sorry you can't make it" message, flags them as a "no" (with an extra "did not respond" flag) and invites a sub.

You'd need to have a way for musicians to "cancel" if something comes up and for the system to generate a sub invitation when that happens.

I'm thinking of the kind of reports a system like this could generate. No more trying to remember how many concerts that cellist has missed, or how often that trumpet player has bailed on you at the last minute. You just pull up their record and it's either "OK, it's not as bad as I thought" or "wow, I didn't realize it was so bad". If it is bad, it can be a tool to recognize patterns so the manager can "have a talk" before they get angry about it.

Maybe a way for a musician who answers "no" to recommend a sub?
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Matt K
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Re: Creating an Orchestra Manager / Ideas?

Post by Matt K » Tue Jun 26, 2018 12:34 pm

Yeah, I'd been looking into Google Scripts for a client recently. Basically JavaScript. It turns out it's more expensive than you'd think at first glance for something like this. (I have a similar design for a Python-Flask application that I've never gotten around to implementing). There would be a ton of triggers if you used Sheets as the backend. I think it would probably make more sense since you already essentially know JavaScript to code it and host it on a server somewhere. I'd be really surprised if it turned out to be mroe expensive than the Google Sheets solution and it would be more robust. But I've much less experience designing front-end stuff, I mostly do backend so maybe there's something that I'm missing with the Google Suite pricing or something.
DutchGuy
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Re: Creating an Orchestra Manager / Ideas?

Post by DutchGuy » Tue Jun 26, 2018 1:46 pm

Careful, long post incomming!

In the Netherlands, we have a free planning app/website that actually can do quite a lot of what you want. It's called 'datumprikker'. Apparently it also has an english version, but I'm sure there are english programs for this as well.
The 'organizer' has/can make a database with all members of the orchestra, and a separate one for substitutes etc. Then the organizer can make an 'event' and invite people separately, or by a group (such as being a member). Invited people will get an email with a link to the event, and can choose to attend, not to, or maybe, all with a comment box with it for comments. The organizer, and if you want the invited people too can see exactly who can attend, and who can't. There's also the option to send reminders, and notify all people of changes to the event. People can change their attendence later as well. Super easy to use, and does exactly what you want. I use it for our band.

That solves most of your problems already.
For finances, I suggest a dedicated financial software package, or a shared document if you want to keep it simple.

For sheet music sharing, the easiest thing would be to have some sort of a cloud server, and make folders with the music for each part, and then send download links or login credentials to the people.

For advertising through social media you need a social media account, an artist/band page on it, and then make events and share them. If you want to reach more people, throw some money at facebook.

For reservation and ticket services, you would need your own website with the required software packages to facilitate that. They exist. I run a website for a band build on wordpress, and using the 'Events' and 'woocommerce' plugins you can already get a lot done. For the actual picking and reserving of seats, you'd have to look yourself. I guess in the simplest way, you could number the seats or have a set number of seats in a class, and then sell each seat number once from an online store or have a set number of '1st class' seats to sell and so on.

as for the costs:
Datumprikker has both a free and paid version. Both should be fine, but since it concerns money and hiring people, i'd invest the 30 euros per year to have added functions. I bet there are completely English programs like this as well. Google 'datumrpikker Engels' or 'datumprikker English' with some email addresses to see what it's all about.
Financing software is expensive. Our treasurer paid about 300 euros for one, but I have no Idea what it is. If you can make your own spreadsheat that's cheapest, but it depends on the complexity of whatever you want to put in it I guess.

A cloud server could be a dropbox (pro) account at 100 dollars a year, or free one if you don't need that much space. Another orchestra i'm in uses a Synology cloud station which is purchased once and can provide access to different folders to different people. This would set you back a few 100 dollars once.

Then a website with a webshop. Wordpress is free, although I suggest using a paid theme such as Avada if you're not that familiar with it. That would cost about 70 euros. The plugins I mentioned are for free. This excludes domain and webhosting costs, but I assume your band already has those anyway.

If you need any elaboration on this, feel free to contact me. I'd be happy to help out.
cozzagiorgi
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Re: Creating an Orchestra Manager / Ideas?

Post by cozzagiorgi » Tue Jun 26, 2018 1:48 pm

BGuttman wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 11:40 am
The application you seem to be working toward is actually a set of meshed databases. I think you need to re-think your choice of a simple spreadsheet to try to incorporate all this in one.

Consider a number of simple applications. Especially since some of them are completely independent of one another. For example, a ticket list has nothing to do with players. A database of subs and regular players is good, but need not be linked to the repertoire.

I'd refrain from making the repertoire or ticket holder lists too accessible outside your organization: this is the kind of stuff that constitutes "trade information" and you don't want anybody just coming in and helping themselves to it.

If I were you I'd consider creating a few different apps for the different uses and then consider which need to be interlocked. Then look into a linked database for those.

Good luck.
Of course thats absolutely doable to separate the applications. We'll see.
JohnL wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 11:49 am
AndrewMeronek wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 8:54 am
Sub lists.
Imagine if that could be even partially automated...

You plug in the instrumentation you need, along with the where, when, and what. The system sends out invites. As soon as someone responds "no", it invites the next person on the sub list (maybe generate the invite but have the manager approved it before it gets sent). After a while, It nags those who have not responded. If they still don't respond by the cutoff, it sends them a politely worded "sorry you can't make it" message, flags them as a "no" (with an extra "did not respond" flag) and invites a sub.

You'd need to have a way for musicians to "cancel" if something comes up and for the system to generate a sub invitation when that happens.

I'm thinking of the kind of reports a system like this could generate. No more trying to remember how many concerts that cellist has missed, or how often that trumpet player has bailed on you at the last minute. You just pull up their record and it's either "OK, it's not as bad as I thought" or "wow, I didn't realize it was so bad". If it is bad, it can be a tool to recognize patterns so the manager can "have a talk" before they get angry about it.

Maybe a way for a musician who answers "no" to recommend a sub?
That sounds complex! But what can definitely be done is: having a contact list with priorities, you choose the instrumentation and according to the priorities a list of musicians is created, they all can be contacted in one click, they respond via google form wich is synced with your excel application, if you get a "no" you can choose someone else to be contacted.

Customized answer mails according to the answer you get can be more or less automized. I think all doable in excel, not easy but certainly doable and quite robust.
cozzagiorgi
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Re: Creating an Orchestra Manager / Ideas?

Post by cozzagiorgi » Tue Jun 26, 2018 1:54 pm

DutchGuy wrote:
Tue Jun 26, 2018 1:46 pm
Careful, long post incomming!

In the Netherlands, we have a free planning app/website that actually can do quite a lot of what you want. It's called 'datumprikker'. Apparently it also has an english version, but I'm sure there are english programs for this as well.
The 'organizer' has/can make a database with all members of the orchestra, and a separate one for substitutes etc. Then the organizer can make an 'event' and invite people separately, or by a group (such as being a member). Invited people will get an email with a link to the event, and can choose to attend, not to, or maybe, all with a comment box with it for comments. The organizer, and if you want the invited people too can see exactly who can attend, and who can't. There's also the option to send reminders, and notify all people of changes to the event. People can change their attendence later as well. Super easy to use, and does exactly what you want. I use it for our band.
That sounds great! I will look into that!
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StephenK
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Re: Creating an Orchestra Manager / Ideas?

Post by StephenK » Wed Jul 04, 2018 1:40 am

You would need to think about security/ access. Who can see, update, or view the various data? Many of the ideas seem fairly discrete, and may be more effort to join up than is worth.
davebb
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Re: Creating an Orchestra Manager / Ideas?

Post by davebb » Wed Jul 11, 2018 12:58 pm

For checking player availability and giving them some help to get to the right place at the right time, there are a bunch of free apps which work well. I’ve been using Teamer.net for about 3 years for organising a band of 20+ players. Teamer is free, can be accessed on the web or via an app on the player’s device and sends email notifications as well.
There may be better tools around than teamer -I haven’t checked lately. Most of them are targeted at sports teams. Music ensembles have the same needs,although getting players to switch position can be more difficult.
I don’t know of any existing tool which does all that you want, but for some parts you might end up reinventing something which exists already and is available for free.
Dave
Ted
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Re: Creating an Orchestra Manager / Ideas?

Post by Ted » Wed Jul 18, 2018 6:18 am

In the Netherlands some orchestras use http://www.tutti-web.com (I don't btw)

Too bad it is only in Dutch, but it looks like it has most function people mention here.
Dutch!
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