Susan Millard Schwarz, mezzo soprano and CEO of Anahata Music Project LLC

Musicians, it occurs to me that you might be wondering what makes me, a classical singer, think I can create a viable, online Musicians Directory. And, if I were you, I might be asking: “Why I should I put any credence into this project? What does Susan know about any of this?”

So, maybe it’s time for me to introduce myself to those of you who know me as a singer, only.

When I finished my master’s degree in voice performance, I had to decide how I was going to pay my bills, like all the rest of my post-graduate colleagues. While many went directly into teaching, either privately or at higher ed institutions, I chose to go into administration. I, of course, wanted to take off and sing for my supper. But if I was to work apart from the stage, I wanted to use my sensitivities and capabilities for policy and procedure. Ultimately, I wanted to do this for the arts community.

I did various things in this area, until, when I was 26, I landed my first real position with the Ohio Legislative Service Commission (LSC). It was here that I became a technical editor of 10,000+ sections of the Ohio Revised Code, and learned my way around the legislative process with extreme intensity. It was a high-pressure position that required absolute technical accuracy. And it was my first real encounter with database management. It was here that I learned how data is organized and structured for efficient retrieval. And, when the agency when through an overhaul of its information systems, I was on the front lines of contributing to functional design for the entire State of Ohio. I trained new attorneys who came on board to draft the legislation in technical writing, and I reviewed all of their work at every stage of the legislative process, from amendment to enactment. This required constant data retrieval from many different sources.

Though I loved my work at LSC, it was a job that demanded availability from me 24 hours a day, seven days a week, nearly 365 days a year. To be a singer who needed to attend evening and weekend rehearsals became untenable. So, I left the job, and began to pursue work that was a better fit. I became a Marketing Assistant for an accounting firm, a customer service staff member at Stanton’s Sheet Music for a brief time, a grant writer and Assistant to the Development Director for the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, and then a Program Coordinator for a number of years with the Ohio Arts Council (OAC) in the Office of Arts Education.

Part of my responsibility was to help manage an Artist Directory, a roster of 120 artists who worked in schools and communities across Ohio. We maintained a profile database for them, which was open to, and searchable by, the public. During my tenure at the OAC, I contributed to the re-design of the agency’s online format and structure for the database. The OAC’s Artist Directory, as well as that of Greater Columbus Arts Council, informed me of the intrinsic issues that must be considered for this type of resource.

I have taken my decades of experience with data management, artist profile presentation, and the search needs of the public, and created the first iteration of an online Musicians Directory, through my company, Anahata Music Project LLC. The Musicians Directory is designed for music makers at all levels, and those who need to find them quickly and easily. The membership database has been carefully and painstakingly created by a professional web designer, over the course of a year. I have sought feedback by various types of musicians, as well as the general public, who will be searching the database. We finally launched on March 1, 2018.

As I continue to seek feedback from increasing numbers of users, I continue to learn. I do not claim to be anything close to a website programmer. But I have been “around the block” when it comes to managing these types of projects. And, of course, it doesn’t hurt to be a musician who understands the need for promotion, the right types of exposure, and marketing.

I hope you will feel confident and comfortable with your new Musicians Directory. If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at 614.499.4132 or anahatamusicproject@gmail.com. Your thoughts are most welcome.

Warmly,
Susan

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