When looking at the Artist’s gross revenue, we note 72.3% of his income is tied to live performance, whether it’s live performance fees or CD sales at shows. He is completely dependent on touring for his income.
We look at the Artist’s income by band and see that while he is an active member of four bands in addition to his solo work, 94% of his gross income comes from one Main Band and his own solo work.
Unlike the Professional Orchestra Player, who is also a salaried musician, the Artist also writes for the group that pays him a salary, and that provides 21% of his income in addition to his salary.
When examining income versus expenses, we note certain roles, like salaried, sideman or teaching work (approximately 31% of his income from 2008-2011) have few expenses. The Artist is able to use that income to invest in his own solo work, in lieu of being beholden to a label, publisher, or tour sponsor.
After years of training and competing, the Artist has won a coveted seat as a salaried player in a major symphony orchestra – a position that includes health insurance and a pension. His income fluctuates until he wins the seat in the symphony. At that point, his income will be stable as long as he is with the orchestra.
Classically-trained professional musicians have only a few expenses – education and instruments being one of the top ones – but these expenses can be significant and usually cannot be avoided. They function in an unusual economy where musical instruments can sometimes be a significant investment and are often loaned or bequeathed because of their extreme cost.
Professional Orchestra Players are often not composers, and do not participate in a significant way in many copyright-related income streams. They rely on the unions to help them collect the few and various “background musician” royalties they are entitled to.
We also reflect on the extremely competitive nature of this line of work. Mentorship can sometimes play a large role in helping a young player navigate this competitive terrain.