Employment Counselling and Jobs vs. Career

My self-employment business advisor is still optimistic that http://ourmus.net (a collaborative community for music history & culture) can move forward and be successful in making me some income.  However, music scholars probably think that the way they do things (peer review, committees, etc.) actually works properly and that something also directed towards the public would not be sufficiently academic.  Meanwhile, the music-interested public would probably find the site too academic.  A “happy medium” may not be possible.  My self-employment coordinator (different from my advisor) got me an unrelated appointment with an Employment Ontario job developer.  However, that person has not really been of any use to me, probably because my background (in academia, music, and IT) doesn’t fit the types of jobs and employers she encounters.

I’m also now enrolled in an individualized job-search program.  The employment counsellor for that (actually a friend from my past!) and I concluded that I should do my academic work, music-making, and IT/website activities on the side (“evenings and weekends”).  For employment, I should use my local network outside of those areas to find some other type of work.  The areas of work I have in mind could be in administrative assistance (at a business, social service agency, church, or school), arts admin (at a museum, library, or performance organization), retail (such as technology, musical instrument, and/or other music-related sales), or publishing (editing, web content, etc.).  I have some people advising me in those employment directions, as well.

Meanwhile, I’m now lined up to do a book proposal for a “listener guide” about Rush’s music.  So, hopefully that project will move ahead.  The editors involved are both fans of Rush’s music, so that helps!  In addition, four out of six of my conference paper proposals have been accepted this spring, although I’ve had to bail from two of the four for lack of money.  The two I’m doing are about songs and mini-musicals in The Simpsons (in less than two weeks) and on the employment situation for popular music university courses (six weeks later).  I also still have possible conference papers coming up in July and October.


So-Called “Non-Academic” Work, Public Musicology, Ph.D.s, Jobs, etc.

Why should earning a Ph.D. have to mean that one is qualified only for conventional, university-based “academic work” consisting of advanced research plus teaching? There are lots of Ph.D.s in other fields—such as elsewhere in the humanities—who do interesting, so-called “non-academic work” outside of such contexts, but sometimes still within universities.

George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media (1994-, http://chnm.gmu.edu) added a Ph.D. program in 2001 that includes not only a typical combination of academic faculty and graduate students, but also a staff of dozens of information technology specialists who develop and support software tools for history/humanities teaching, learning, and research (used by over a million people) and over one hundred project websites (with over 20 million visitors each year).  Meanwhile, according to a recent newsletter of the American Musicological Society (AMS), it seems that musicologists are supposed to be satisfied that they are doing “public musicology” on the basis of the occasional newspaper critic taking note of one of their conferences.
In 2010, I developed the AMS’s new, modernized, web version of Doctoral Dissertations in Musicology (DDMhttp://ams-net.org/ddm).  However, despite the many improvements (and the fact that it is the AMS website’s most popular page), it still relies almost entirely on self-reporting.  I’ve crunched the numbers and done people-tracking research for Ph.D. graduates in musicology from one selected year (2006) and for their subsequent employment situations.  The number of Ph.D.s in DDM suggests an eventual tenure-track result of 54%.  However, cross-referencing with the much larger music literature resource RILM, though, shows that DDM is missing hundreds of Ph.D. musicology dissertations just from that one year.  So, 54% is much too high, and other evidence suggests a tenure-track outcome in musicology of not more 20%.  For example, information on the musicology job wiki corroborates that much lower number.  In any case, DDM needs to become much more widely used.
Musicology needs to enable new ways for Ph.D.s to find work that does not throw people either out of the loop entirely or else into terminal adjunctivitis.  Public initiatives that can also support academic teaching, learning, and research (perhaps to include partially-monetized, premium web content) could be one way to go.  The success of “digital history” suggests that a “digital musicology” would be advised to include such things.