What musicians make on Broadway

What musicians make on Broadway


norman lebrecht

April 18, 2018

From a Playbill investigation:

The weekly wage for a Broadway musician is $1,885.77. If a musician performs (or “doubles”) on multiple instruments, each additional instrument increases their base salary. The first addition earns the player $235.72extra a week, with $117.86 more for each additional instrument played.

The base weekly salary for a conductor on Broadway is $3,300. Their associate conductor makes a minimum of $2,451.50….

More here.



  • Caravaggio says:

    In Manhattan and its environs, that’s barely enough to scrape by. Same in London.

    • BeenThereDoneThat says:

      Show musicians are rarely *only* doing shows. They teach, they record……it is a good “base” wage.

    • brian says:

      One can live fairly safely and comfortably on $1900/wk. in the boros, you just have to know where to look in Bklyn. (my favorite), Queens, Bronx, or SI. Just stay away from the trendy/expensive hoods (Park Slope, Downtown, etc.) and be content with a one hour subway commute to midtown.

      So you’re right about NYC (our shorthand for what non-natives call Manhattan) — to live with any reasonable comfort in NYC, you need $150-200K/yr. or better. But you can still do all right in the boros on $90-odd-K.

  • Bill says:

    Most Broadway musicians rarely play every single show every week all year for the entire run of the show, so very few are taking home that much money from their show. In addition to the main musician, there are also a roster of subs that are probably as present as much as the principal, so the work is being spread around. And $100,000 is not as much as it looks in New York nowadays.

  • Sharon says:

    I agree. Although these musicians may have other sources of income, they are not playing at the Broadway rate full time. Also, one never knows when a show will run. For every Broadway show with a long run (over six months) there must be at least 3 with a shorter run and one does not know when another well paid unionized gig will come one’s way. $1900 bucks a week gross is less $1200 a week net after taxes and other deductions. With most studio apartments at $1500 a month and a lot of musician expenses not covered by the employer it is really just a middle class salary, especially if the musician has dependents

    • Richard says:

      It’s only middle-class because no one wants to admit they are lower class. This pay usually comes without any benefits or health insurance; the latter can cost over $1000 monthly for an individual in the US. I am sure for many the “additional source of income” is a job at a fast-food restaurant that pays some of the health insurance expenses. And of course that insurance doesn’t actually cover much; you can still count on paying $5,000 out of pocket annually.

  • Michael Comins says:

    Two Lincoln Center orchestras do better – 150k annual minimums for the NY Phil and Met bands.

    • Georges Sand says:

      Two completely different animals. The orchestras are separate, non-profit organizations. Broadway shows are a for-profit business, run on very different measures as a for-profit business.

  • Larry says:

    I’m actually old enough to remember when strict “classical” guys would turn down playing a Broadway show because, they said, it was beneath them. Nowadays, they’d kill for the chance!

  • robcat2075 says:

    And they have to work nights and weekends.

    I doubt many of them have “recording” to fall back on when they are not in the pit. There isn’t much demand for orchestral instruments in commercial music these days and it doesn’t pay much anyway.

  • NYYgirl says:

    Thank you Sharon, for mentioning the before/after taxes difference (you beat me to it)! I remember how I felt holding my first Bway paycheck and realizing how much the tax bite was. And I also realized how fortunate I was to have the gig at all!

  • YoYo Mama says:

    That means the musicians with shows are double-dipping and denying opportunities to full-time freelancers. What about seniority and tenure? Do they receive more the longer they keep the job? It does look like they haven’t had a significant raise in decades, while profits keep soaring. So typical.

    • Robert Holmén says:

      It is all a measure of the musicians’ union’s ability to negotiate with the theater producers.

      Anyone know when the current CBA expires?

    • drummerman says:

      No such thing as “tenure” or “seniority.” I assure you that the musicians have gotten nice pay raises with every new CBA. No need to feel sorry for them.

    • Georges Sand says:

      It’s called freelancing, all of it. “Full-time freelancers are likely subbing in shows. Many people take other gigs that offer many paying services a week in exchange for giving up only one show. Some gigs like NYC Ballet, pay a bit more. Sometimes you’ll give up a show to play stage band at the Met for five minutes and much more pay. You work your way up in the freelancing world, and every gig is dependent on every other. It’s competitive. Deal with it.