Ear Taxi 2020 – FAQs

Q: What kind of music does Ear Taxi 2020 present?

A: Ear Taxi 2020 exists to celebrate and highlight Chicago’s new and experimental musics; thus, the main thing that the vast majority of the music on Ear Taxi 2020 will possess is Chicago-ness. Beyond that, we’ve had a number of in-depth discussions about exactly how to characterize the music that will appear as part of the festival. This discussion is difficult because specific terms have specific connotations and implications to different groups of people, and we are aiming to be as inclusive as possible without becoming unfocused or intellectually lazy. For instance, for some the phrase “new music” has a plain English meaning (i.e., music that is new); and for others, it is a genre – perhaps a translation of the German term “neue Musik” – that might indicate socio-economic status (music made by composers working in response to a classical music tradition, performed by specialists, often funded by universities). “Contemporary music” might indicate music of a contemporaneous time to some; to others it might mean something like, “contemporary classical music.” Our aim is not to adjudicate these discussions – if anything, we will probably render them more muddled. Put another way: more interesting to us than the answer is the question.

We sometimes use the phrase “new and experimental musics” when talking about Ear Taxi 2020. Though “musics” is a cumbersome word, we want to remain aware that we’re dealing with a multiplicity of traditions that are simultaneously interrelated and autonomous. More specifically, we imagine at least the following musics will be represented on the festival (this list is not meant to be comprehensive): new music, experimental music, improvised music, contemporary classical music, electronic music, creative music, sound art, performance art, DIY music, noise music. We do not intend for Ear Taxi 2020 to be narrowly focused – say, a classical music festival, a jazz festival, or an improvised music festival (though it may include all three of these). Nor is it a festival of commercially successful pop music, though such music would not be excluded if it made curatorial sense.

Q: Do all performers in my performance need to be Chicago-based? Do all composers need to be Chicago-based?

A: Ear Taxi 2020 exists to celebrate and highlight Chicago’s new and experimental musics. It does not exist to bring to Chicago audiences national and international music that is under-represented in Chicago, as worthy as such a goal is. We ask that you keep this mission in mind when thinking about your programming. We will not, however, define precise parameters regarding what counts as “Chicago’s new and experimental musics,” in the interest of being as inclusive as possible (i.e. there are not specific requirements related to genre, musical tradition, residency, or nationality). More specifically: proposals that include more than one piece by inarguably non-Chicago composers, or are submitted by an inarguably non-Chicago organization, are unlikely to be accepted. An “inarguably non-Chicago” composer or performer would be one who has never lived or worked extensively in Chicago, and whose career is primarily based elsewhere.

Q: Will composers be commissioned for Ear Taxi 2020?

A: The festival itself will commission only a small number of pieces during this iteration. Performers would be welcome to commission new pieces if desired. Jennie Oh Brown and Michael Lewanski would be happy to provide letters of support for grants.

Q: How much will performers be paid for their participation on Ear Taxi 2020?

A: As the leadership of the festival is new, the budget for Ear Taxi 2020 is still in the process of being worked out. We can say this, though: our highest priority is developing a non-exploitative model that respects musicians’ labor. We are currently working with two possible options for performers:

Option 1: to highlight programming that already exists or would exist anyway

  • Self-produce your own concert or event (with or without partners) between Sept. 28 and Oct. 7, 2020
  • Keep the ticket sals/door take
  • Be included in all of Ear Taxi 2020’s marketing and PR
  • Make an optional contribution to the cost of the program book
  • Have a guaranteed spot on the festival.

Option 2:

  • Submit an application for one of the 45-minute slots on the Oct. 8-12; we’ll try our very best to accommodate everyone, but we can’t guarantee it
  • Ear Taxi will provide a flat per-artist honorarium for a fixed maximum number of people; your group is welcome to exceed this number, but Ear Taxi would not be responsible for compensating the extra performers.
  • Be included in all of Ear Taxi 2020’s marketing and PR
  • The following exceptions pertain: students and faculty performing as part of curricular ensembles and other performers appearing in a non-professional capacity are not eligible to be funded, though the are eligible for one of the 45-minute slots.
  • Performers with significant resources would be permitted to donate their per-artist honorarium back to the festival for the purpose of supporting artists with fewer resources. This would be a wonderful way to build our community and will be acknowledged should you wish to be recognized.

The details of the flat per-artist honorarium for a fixed maximum number of people will be made available as soon as possible. Expect the honoraria to be neither extravagant nor disrespectful. Performers will not be asked to sign a contract or make a commitment until these details are agreed upon; we will not make any promises we cannot keep or commitments we cannot honor. Please contact Michael Lewanski with any questions you may have about these arrangements.