Tag: symphony players

Case Study: Professional Orchestra Player

Posted on 15th March, by Kristin Thomson in Financial Case Studies, Participant Data. 3 Comments

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.

Orchestral Recordings and Performer Payments

Posted on 15th March, by Kristin Thomson in What We're Learning. 3 Comments

US-based orchestras have a rich history of making sound recordings of classical repertoire. Have you ever wondered if and how the performers are paid when those sound recordings are sold?

This question came up while we were working on a case study of a young professional orchestra player. While categorizing his income streams, we realized we didn’t know how sound recording revenue flowed back to performers. Was it a profit split with all current members?  What about the money generated from legacy recordings that are still sold?

Below is a description of how it works for unionized orchestras, in other words, the orchestras where the performers are members of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM). This includes all of the major professional orchestras in the US.

Studio recordings

If an AFM orchestra goes … Read More »

Going to Music School

Posted on 12th January, by Jean Cook in What We're Learning. 5 Comments

The FMC team spent some time with the Network of Music Career Development Officers at their annual meeting on Thursday, January 11, 2012 at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City.  Here are some slides from our presentation, which look at some of the survey results with respect to conservatory and music school graduates.

In this presentation we looked at the characteristics of the 2,728 musicians and composers who said they graduated from a conservatory of music school.  The top regions for this group were New York, Boston, Washington DC, Long Beach/LA, San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, Detroit, Madison, Minneapolis, Nashville, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth and Rochester.


We found that music school or conservatory graduates were more likely to be earning more, working more, and were more likely to have … Read More »