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How Much do Music Artists Earn?

Carl H.

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
#21
The population of the US has a subset indulging in things they cannot afford, but they are not of my culture. My culture pays cash for everything except realestate, if we cannot afford it, we don't get it. All my instruments are paid for, all my cars are paid for. I have a long term mortgage at a low fixed rate on my home that I can easily afford to pay. I do not have cable TV. I do have a land line phone, internet, and a pay as you go cell for business or emergencies and not as a driving companion.

The culture of debt and excess is NOT my culture.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
#22
Not to pick on any one person, please keep it on topic, or I'll start making up stuff about my spending habits. Y'all don't want that.
 
#23
Very well then, Carl. I'm happy for you. But the conversation was never about you personally. You may be among the exceptions to the rule. In general, it's nothing controversial to say that our nation has been conditioned by big corporations to consume more than needed. Unfortunately, it's been a rather successful campaign. And that's all I was saying. If you choose not to agree with it, citing personal success stories (yours and others around you), that's fine. We'll stop going back and forth on this one disagreement.
 

Carl H.

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
#24
Back on topic.

As a solo artist I get $200/ hr plus expenses for weddings and the like (1 inst). As a member of a big band I'm lucky to get $100 for the night, after expenses (2 inst). In my former (still going, without me) rock venture, I was lucky to get minimum wage (after expenses of the gig) for the gig event (5+ inst).

Playing regional symphony orchestra gigs I'd average $500 for a weeks commitment, more if there are 2 performances. Opera gigs are similar to the symphony gigs as far as commitment and payment, but these (opera and symphony) pay all expenses included so it is full pay. I play one instrument from a fully notated and annotated part and am not responsible for more than my individual part. As concertmaster the pay increases, but so do the responsibilities. Knowledge of all the string parts is called for and awareness of how they are being performed is on you. Being a competent concertmaster is a skill very few individuals have. Most will just sit in the chair and play the solo parts and occasionally share their bowings with the peons. It is not a skill taught in any class that I am aware of. Generally in a school one person is the concert master and if that individual is fortunate enough to be under a good conductor, they will learn about the responsibilities of and expectations from a concertmaster. 1 student per orchestra per year.


I'm sorry for the previous derail, but I resent being lumped in with the excess consumer class. As a white male I was subjected to a college curriculum based on how all the problems came from me as well. I refuse and refute any part of it. We are individuals, responsible for our own choices.
 
#25
seriously man...if your not drying out your coffee grounds & re using them..THEN YOUR NOT A *REAL* MUSICIAN lol. j/k. Although...:cool:... if there just happens to be a plate of oysters rockerfeller at the country club Im piping at...& "hands off the hors'd ouvers" isnt in the contract...then there just *might* be a few less oysters being butlered...ifyaknowwhatimean. (pssst..dude..can i move to your neighborhood???):rolleyes:

I will not recant the fact that kids need what they need, period. Those who signed on for a musical life and offspring have no option but to make it happen. Spousal contentment i suppose is relative...BUT in the interest of our lenient moderation team, the addition of familial responsibility to the "delicate" (heh..kinda chuckle at that description, recalling several recent gigs :eek::wink: ) carreer choice we've all made, does not negate advancement in the pursuit, as far as i can see. okey dokey comrade?

CARL H: excellent previous posts. Molto Sympatico.[:thumbs up:]
 
#26
Very interesting thread.

Very eye-opening to read all the posts in this thread. I wonder though if marriage and having kids is a significant obstacle for a musical career. It's been true before and even more so today that a financially rewarding career in music takes an unusually intense uncompensated dedication in the beginning and may, with luck, pay off in the end. With this in mind, I suspect that marriage (and especially having kids) would and the priorities it brings to one's life would have a disastrous affect on all possible chances in this delicate career choice.
....but so far I feel that I couldn't have had some of the success (in music and otherwise) with the elevated responsibility to work hard and provide for a family.
I have two daughters in the arts. One is 25 and is a succesful self-employed professional artist/painter. The other is 17 and wants to be a full-time professional musician/saxophonist. Both say they do not plan on having children, as they want to succeed in their fields.

My 25-year old does not spend money the way many Americans do. She does not own a car. She spends half the year in the US, living with us and utilizing her art studio, which is my 3rd floor. The other half she spends in Europe. This method allows her to save her money to buy a house/studio, and put a lot of money into her IRA.
 
#27
Jacques, what interests me is the current level of government involvement for the average European musician today. Do top tier ensembles still receive majority funding from Gov't? What about B list C list 'artistic' ventures?....Or, as here in the US, is funding mostly managed now by the foundation/ non-profit grant system ? (good anecdote, by the way!)
I drafted a rather lenghty answer to this interesting question and, after having sent it, discovered it never made its way into the forum... Perhaps this f...... filter.
A bit in a hurry now. Shall try again soon.
J
 
#28
I have two daughters in the arts. One is 25 and is a succesful self-employed professional artist/painter.... Both say they do not plan on having children, as they want to succeed in their fields.
Sounds like their decision is quite reasonable if they have important career ambitions. To me, what's interesting is your attitude to this matter. Parents are notorious for their cruel, biologically driven instinct to want their children to eventually procreate. They've done it; now they want YOU to do it as well. So, if you're cool with their decision to not have children, then my hat's off to you.
 
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pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
#29
I drafted a rather lenghty answer to this interesting question and, after having sent it, discovered it never made its way into the forum... Perhaps this f...... filter.
A bit in a hurry now. Shall try again soon.
J
Nope. Not in the queue.

The thing I often do is post a quick reply (like this one) and press the "reply to thread" button instead of the "post quick reply" button.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
#30
Threadus Resurrectus! I have a couple things to add.

First, I did break my $15 rule and went with my wife to see the Mythbusters' "Behind the Myths" tour. However, there was an extenuating circumstance: I was using birthday money. It was $38 per cheap-seat ticket (I'll again note that the Mesa Arts Center cheap seats are really, really nice), including parking. Yes, it was enjoyable, even though I was very sick, I could say it was enjoyable. I don't think I would have gone if I wasn't given cash, though. It would be cheaper to get a Netflix subscription and watch all the Mythbusters TV episodes. I already have that subscription.

Second, I got something interesting in my e-mail the other day. I'm fond of a UK band called Gomez. One of their singers, Ben Ottewell, is trying to create a second solo album, so he's using Indiegogo to finance it. How this relates to how much people make in the recording biz is that one of the "perks" you can get if you pay enough is to get Mr. Ottewell to sing at your home or private venue. The cost? 2,000 British pounds, plus airfare, room, and board. That's $3,267.78 US, according to XE.com -- and tag on about the same for airfare, room and board. For a private show from someone who's in a band that has had recent multiple platinum and top ten albums. As a matter of fact, he and his band were out here in Phoenix a few months ago and the tickets were in that $37 range.
 
#31
I don't know that this will apply to you youngsters, but I found survival 'till sixty-five allowed me to live as an artist (well, maybe without much talent but at least doing nothing other than music). Between my teachers' pension and Social Security I am able to eat, play and stay out of inclement weather - most of the time anyway.
I've just discovered this thread, so apologies for the tardy post. But the above quote fits closely my own forthcoming situation.

I am expecting a UK teacher's pension in precisely 11 months and 2 weeks time (we are able to retire at 60 currently on full pension). I actually gave the university teaching job up over 15 years ago, and I've been self employed as a photographer and photography teacher ever since. I think my situation is similar to those considering a full time occupation as a self employed musician though, (and I actually photograph music as one of my specialist areas).

I've had some good years in that period and some very lean years. One Christmas, about 6 years back, I hadn't even got enough money for a turkey and had to settle for beans on toast. My partner (whom I met a few months later) still wells-up with tears when I mention it.

The last 3 years have been excellent and Christmas's have never been as good. But, I can see things getting "tighter" right at the moment, and my eye is on the finishing post next August (when the pension kicks in). At that point I'll be doing a small amount of the photography work - but mainly concentrating on learning the Sax, and traveling.

My full time career was very long (over 25 years) quite successful and very well paid, after a few promotions, and I was always financially comfortable. But would I go back to it? No.

Would I become self employed again...well,to be honest, perhaps only if I could compromise between creative expression, being my own boss and...never having to go broke.

A financial "cushion" is a wonderful thing to have but impossible to guarantee. I would certainly not start from scratch without one, though. I would also start part-time (and I was photographing for money for nearly 20 years before I gave up the day job completely). And then, only when the desired work (music, for example) is becoming so busy that it encroaches on the day job - and I have a diary that was at least half full for the next year.

Getting the work, in my experience, is much harder that doing it (and "doing" it assumes that you're good at what you do, because that helps to keep the phone ringing).

CASE IN POINT: The phone range an hour ago - a new job from a client (a large pharmaceutical company) I haven't heard from in 2 years. They said, "it's an important photograph" (actually a group photo including the head of the Nestle Corporation in Europe), "so we needed the best person we knew."
 
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Gandalfe

Admin and all around good guy.
Staff member
Administrator
#32
CASE IN POINT: The phone range an hour ago - a new job from a client (a large pharmaceutical company) I haven't heard from in 2 years. They said, "it's an important photograph" (actually a group photo including the head of the Nestle Corporation in Europe), "so we needed the best person we knew."
Sweet! Gotta luv that.
 

Gandalfe

Admin and all around good guy.
Staff member
Administrator
#34
Back on topic, I got a referral to check to see if a sax player who had played with Maynard Ferguson was available to join my non-profit band. My first question is, why would he? He could probably pick any band he wanted to. My expert director sez that there is no money in music for most of us anymore. He ran a big band for 35 years after playing in some really big name bands. Running a band with 20 people (big band plus two vocalists and a director) has never been a money maker for me, just a labor of love and one that I place in the adult education category.
 
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