Ear Taxi Festival – FAQs

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

A: Ear Taxi Festival 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 Festival 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 Festival. 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 Festival 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 Festival 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 Festival?

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 Festival?

A: 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: Independently Produced Spotlight concerts, two weeks prior to Mainstage concerts

  • Self-produce your own concert or event (without or without partners) two weeks before Mainstage concerts
  • Maintain curatorial and programming freedom, though we ask that you keep ETF’s mission in mind.
  • Keep all ticket sales or door take.  
  • Be included in all of Ear Taxi Festival’s marketing and PR.
  • Have a guaranteed spot in Ear Taxi Festival. 

Option 1 may be appropriate for performers who will be out of town during the curated festival, who have a long-form event they wish to produce, who have an already scheduled concert during this time period, etc.

Option 2: a 45-minute slot on the Mainstage concerts

  • Ear Taxi Festival provides a flat per-person honorarium for a fixed maximum number of people (performers, composers, staff); this is currently budgeted at $300 per person for a maximum of 6 individuals.  N.B.: Your group is welcome to exceed the fixed maximum number of people, but Ear Taxi would not be responsible for compensating them.
  • Proposals for this option should include mostly Chicago music.  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.
  • Be included in all of Ear Taxi Festival’s marketing and PR.
  • While we will try to accommodate everyone, this option does NOT guarantee a spot on the Ear Taxi Festival, as the curated festival has a limited number of slots.  
  • The total amount of performance time must be 45 minutes or less, including bows, walk-ons, remarks to the audience, etc.  Substantially less than 45 minutes—say, one 20-minutes work—would be acceptable.

Option 2 may be appropriate for performers who are specifically interested in highlighting Chicago music, and who have a way to do that in a relatively short set.

Please note that people performing in a non-professional capacity—students and faculty performing as part of university ensembles, or training, youth, and school programs—are not eligible for ETF funds used as artists fees, though they are welcome to participate via either Option 1 or 2.

The figure of $300 per person for a maximum of 6 performers is not finalized; we mention it to give you a sense of what to expect.  You will not be asked to sign a contract until this amount is confirmed. We will not make promises we cannot keep or commitments we cannot honor.