Spam policing makes life difficult

For years, it was possible for visitors to our site to fill out a job advert form, press "submit", pay their two quids' worth and send out their advert to all our members in the form of a direct email. Instant and easy. No intervention required by me, except gentle moderation and keeping an eye on what came through. It worked. It was great. There were seldom any problems and, thanks to the requirement to pay two quid, no spam users of this facility.

In recent months, however, first our server and then Google, started blocking such messages and preventing them even leaving the starting-blocks. I suspect this is a result a global concerted effort by all servers and host providers to put in place more sophisticated anti-spam measures. I kept having to push more and more advertisements through manually, which was annoying at best, and disastrous at worst if I happened to be away from my computer for any length of time and the advert was for an urgent job placement.

I tried every trick in the book to get our system to work reliably once more, but every workaround had a downside and/or was not failsafe, one of which led to some embarrassing incidents of mail with sensitive information, and meant for my eyes only, getting posted to the whole list. Every time I had to go back to the drawing board, until I simply ran out of options to try. Eventually, after consultation with our form providers and our server, I was told that the only reliable way was to avoid the direct web-to-group system and to route everything through an authenticated SMTP email account, which had to be an account owned by me. So at first I routed all the web-based advertising submissions to the group via my own personal Gmail account. This was hardly an ideal situation. Luckily I found out that it was now possible for one person to have more than one Gmail account. This used not to be the case. So DepList now has its own dedicated gmail account for the sole purpose of gathering outside advertisements created on our website and then forwarding them automatically to the group. Unfortunately there is a compromise attached. The "reply to" field, which I had programmed to be that of the advertise r, gets replaced by the address of the new gmail account. As everything that comes in to that new account immediately gets sent to the group, anyone who is careless enough to use the "reply" button, instead of following the instructions for using the advertiser's contact details, will see their reply posted to the whole of DepList. This is unavoidable and is the price we have to pay for a system that now works in spite of the spam police.

Associate Member Advertising

Our Associate Member Advertising facility has moved to this section of our website. To post an advertisement as an Associate Member (i.e. without having to pay for it!), you will need to be logged in before the advertising form will be made visible. If you are not logged in you will simply be redirected to our Members' Area home page. If you've lost your password you can ask for a reset link to be sent to the email address associated with your membership. If your email address is not recognised please email us using one of the contact buttons in the main part of our website.

Why do we have to use PayPal?

I often get requests from Members for different payment options. Membership subs and adverts are paid for via PayPal. I used to allow other options, but not any more. There are too many members now. To create additional payment facilities would considerably increase my admin time and force me to increase the subscription fees, which I don't want to do, partly because I run DepList single-handedly and there's a limit to the amount of time I can devote to it. The PayPal system is actually an integral part of my record-keeping system, allowing me to find out quickly who has paid and who  is due to pay etc. It also makes things much simpler for my accountant and my end-of-year tax return, if everything to do with DepList comes through PayPal.

Keep those subs up to date

Last week I chucked about thirty members off the list. They'd all let their subs lapse. What a shame at this time of the year when jobs are coming in thick and fast. Some lapsed members are now trickling back, having cottoned on to the fact that their DepList in-box is strangely quiet. An email exchange ensues, which is time-consuming for me and time-consuming for those who have to go to the bother of re-joining. Best not to let it happen in the first place. There are ample notifications and warnings, so there's really no excuse!

Subscriptions and PayPal

Did you know you can avoid payment failure notices and subscription cancellations on PayPal by changing your payment settings in your PayPal account? By switching your method of payment from a card to an ordinary bank account you needn't worry about having to recreate your subscription payment facility every time your credit/debit card changes something about its details. Cards frequently change their expiry date or their 3-digit security code. Bank account details tend to stay the same for decades if not life!

Why Was I Rejected?

It's not as easy to join DepList as it might once have been. Our requirements have got stiffer over the years as the number of applicants has increased. We have a lot of members — more than we need — and we get new applications to join every week.

Unfortunately, it takes only one insufficiently skilled applicant slipping through the net to bring the whole organisation into question. Word of incompetence spreads fast in the musical world, and the last thing we want is for our users to lose faith in DepList and its quality-control systems. Over the years, we have had occasional complaints which have involved having to remove people from our books. They were lovely people, but unsuited to DepList. It's unpleasant for them and unpleasant for us to have to terminate their memberships. The only way to avoid such risks is to raise the entry barriers to a point where all doubt about an applicant's suitability is eliminated. Having said that, it's not impossibly difficult to attain the required standards — you just need the right type of training and enough of the right kind of experience. The main thing is not to apply before you are ready and/or if the bulk of your experience is in a different field of music-making.

If you received a rejection letter from us, you may find some clues as to why in our page about the type of qualifications and attributes we look for. Usually it's a question of experience, or rather lack of enough of the right type of it. The skills we demand from singers can more or less be summarised as follows:

  • Knowledge of, and excellent sight-reading in, the kind of repertoire that is DepList's staple diet
  • A voice that is sufficiently well trained to hold a line on its own
  • Impeccable credentials when it comes to professionalism, reliability and timekeeping
  • A good deal of professional experience in a particular type of context involving minimal rehearsal

We have to err on the side of caution when admitting new members. If just one of those four conditions falls anywhere short of the "excellent" end of the spectrum, you will not be admitted. Those who are not admitted to Full Membership are free to join as Associate Members.

New Mass Setting at Westminster Cathedral

The Music Makers are delighted to announce the liturgical première of Jeremy de Satgé's Westminster Mass for Boys’ Voices, at Westminster Cathedral on Tuesday, 14th January 2014, at the 5.30pm Mass. The Choristers of Westminster Cathedral Choir are directed by Martin Baker. You are warmly invited to attend the Mass. Follow this link more information about the music.

Pay Rates

All work advertised through DepList must be remunerated at acceptable levels of pay. We are not here to cater for those seeking amateur performers to fill vacancies. There are other organisations to help with that. A lot of what we do at DepList when a new member applies to join is to assess their level of competence, skills and experience. High levels of these have a value attached. They are our performers'  assets and are essential if they are to earn a living from the kind of work that's offered here. Our performers must be remunerated adequately for their possession of and maintenance of their assets.

We ask that fees should be not less than those recommended by such organisations as the ISM, the RSCM and Equity. DepList members who are registered with our Members' Area can download the Equity rate card from this page. Most fees offered in the adverts that pass through the DepList machine fall within a fairly narrow band, so it's possible to deduce what the going rates are, more or less. But every now and again, a job gets advertised here which carries a fee that is very obviously way below the average and quite unacceptable. When such a job advert comes up, it is your responsibility as DepList members to refuse to work for inferior rates. You have not only a right but a duty to protest to the advertiser (not to me!). Sometimes it's simply a question of ignorance on the part of the person who holds the purse strings, and you may be able to negotiate a better rate.

Keep Your Subs Up To Date

A lot of DepList membership subscriptions fall due at around this time. Make sure your credit card details are up to date on PayPal so that your subscription can be levied without problems. Remember that your subscription may have been running for several years, and the original credit card's expiry date may have passed. PayPal makes three attempts to levy your subs before giving up and cancelling it. If you get a failure notice from PayPal, it means that your card details are no longer valid and you should take remedial action at once before your subs gets cancelled. Sometimes PayPal won't let you update your credit card's details and your only course of action is to delete it from your profile and add the new card. This mostly happens when your new credit card has a different number from the old one. In such a case, PayPal cancels your subscription and you must take out a new one. If PayPal cancels your subs at renewal time, please take out a new subscription here. And please, please, do not let me know that your subs has been cancelled. I know it has because I get notified too. And I will not remove you from DepList before I have given you a generous amount of time in which to start a new subscription.

Busy Times

The run-up to Christmas is always hectic for DepList's back-office (i.e. me!). Apart from the seasonal gigs on offer, with job ads coming in from non-member visitors, there is a rush of new applicants for membership, and a rush of requests from lapsed members wanting to rejoin. All these things need processing and admin time. So if I don't answer your query within 20 seconds of your submitting it (or even within two days if I consider it to be non-urgent, or something that's answered in our FAQs or on the website), please bear with me. I will get around to it eventually.