When a young musician must say, No

There has been a bit of an online outcry against the musicians who turned out on Fox News this week to promote a Trump conductor’s dubious allegiance pledge.

Should they have turned down a paid gig? It’s tough out there.

The horn player Audrey Flores tells is as it is:

Most of us spend thousands of dollars on our precious degrees: should we only play jobs that break down to what we paid per hour?  I was accepted by a school who wanted me to pay $13.5k a semester for a course that required 12 hours a week.   By that calculation, I should have only taken jobs that paid $70 an hour, or at least $200 for a three-hour service.  Wow would I have loved to get those calls! At the level I’m at now, I’ve taken union work that paid $125 for 8 hours of work, because it was technically a soundcheck before a performance that paid into the pension fund.  I’ve also played 2-hour shows for $82, again under a union CBA.

The bigger question in my mind is: how much is a musician worth if they take a barista job that pays $15 an hour (hah!) when they could be playing somewhere else for $20 an hour?  Does a musician make a sound if they’re answering phones in midtown?  And does your landlord care about your worth as a musician?

Read on here.



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  • I think that part of it is that the business sector still thinks of classical musicians as hobbyists who must have some other income source otherwise they would not be in classical music.

    The other part is that classical music, especially in the US, is really a niche market and although there are those who pay over $100 a ticket in general the paying audience is small. In New York City I can get a lot of tickets to Carnegie Hall through complimentary paper the house websites. I cannot get a complimentary ticket to a rock concert at Madison Square Garden

    • “…hobbyists who must have some other income source otherwise they would not be in classical music. ”

      …or idiots if they don’t. And/or entitled/whiny babies if they feel they deserve to be paid decently.

      • Er…the big question is what does “paid decently” actually mean?

        Some seem to think this means paid amongst the top 5 percent of all salaries in Manhattan, New York. Others think it means average salaries in the whole of the US. There is a large difference between these two figures.

  • With regard to the Pledge of Allegiance song itself, I believe it was originally written after the civil war and its theme is a united country, a “republic” politically, a “nation” in mentality, not a confederation or anything else “with liberty and justice for all”, which probably was a reference to Blacks most of whom were recently freed slaves. It was meant to be uniting, not divisive. Frankly our national government now really need the reminder. The “under G*d” was added much later.

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