Case Study: Professional Orchestra Player
Previous: Income v Expenses
Gross Income by Role
The Artist Revenue Streams project has generally described participants through their participation in one of six role-based categories:
- Recording artists
- Session players
This artist participates in three of these: first and foremost, he is a salaried performer. Second, he is a teacher (though this revenue stream is very small). Third, he is a session player. While freelance classical players don’t tend to call themselves session players, they share characteristics with hired guns who are paid to play in the studio or on the road. In this artist’s case, his “session” work includes freelance performance gigs, as well as studio recording work. In each instance, he is hired for his mastery of performance; he does not receive any composing credits, nor does he earn any additional money from the sales or licensing of the sound recordings he performed on. As noted in the introduction, this artist is not a composer. His daily work is rehearsing and performing works written by other composers, from classical repertoire to new pieces. Unless they are composers themselves, classical performers are not eligible to participate in any of the revenue streams available to composers such as publisher advances, commissions, mechanical royalties, public performance royalties or synchronization licensing fees.
And, according to his accounting statements, this salaried player has earned very little from sound recordings… so far. This is not because the orchestra is not selling or streaming its existing catalog (it is), and it’s not because those profits are not shared with players (they are). The primary reason this is so low is a simple one, in his case: this orchestra has only made a handful of live recordings during his tenure, so he has yet to participate fully in this revenue stream. Even with a longer tenure, however, money from sound recordings would probably remain a small fraction of his earnings, as many orchestras have lost their major label contracts in recent years and have, subsequently, curtailed the number of sound recordings they make. For more information about orchestral players and sound recording payments, see this blog post.