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#1520066 - 09/21/10 07:21 PM Re: How much do working jazz musicians earn today? [Re: charleslang]
scepticalforumguy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 1475
Loc: Lower Mainland, BC
Originally Posted By: charleslang
Has anyone here had any experience with cruise ship work? I saw an agency that advertises on craigslist from time to time and it looks like they are always looking for various acts, from solo piano (background lobby or bar piano) through piano/voice (lounge singer).

I was considering putting together a package to submit for maybe a summer gig next year. If I remember rightly they require a few recordings and a songlist. It's not exactly New York jazz clubs but it seems like a good way to keep up a bunch of songs and build experience with audiences. As I remember, the pay was decent; of course we're talking about playing every day for hours.


I haven't played on cruise ships, but have been offered various gigs. You need to be aware that your duties MAY extend beyond just playing. You also may be sharing a cabin. You also may be restricted on where you can be seen on the ship.

The better the gig, the less like prison it is. Another way of looking at it is if you're quite young, and get on the right cruise, you could basically be in for a 2 month long party because you may be surrounded by 20 somethings all looking to hook up.

So, depending on what you are looking for, be sure to read the fine print, and see if you can talk to the actual workers/musicians on the particular ships you are interested in playing on.
_________________________
Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.



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#1520157 - 09/21/10 10:37 PM Re: How much do working jazz musicians earn today? [Re: charleslang]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
Charleslang

From what I've read doing a cruise ship is like doing a show band and you have to be a very good sight reader to do it. according to the website below "sight reading is such a huge part of the audition (and ultimately the contract)"

http://www.musicianwages.com/cruise-ship-musician/cruise-ship-musicians-the-audition-process/

http://www.musicianwages.com/cruise-ship-musician/how-to-get-a-cruise-ship-musician-job/

my friend did cruise ship gig for a while, and he said that basically you have a book of like 200+ charts, and the conductor will shout out the number of the tune and you just have to be able to play them. There was no room for doing any original or something creative.

EDIT:spelling


Edited by etcetra (09/22/10 04:10 PM)

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#1520198 - 09/21/10 11:36 PM Re: How much do working jazz musicians earn today? [Re: charleslang]
charleslang Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/13/08
Posts: 2080
Thanks for your thoughts, etcetera. I'm sure that's an accurate portrayal of some of the jobs, but the agency I looked at had various job openings available, for various amounts of pay. The lowest paying is, as I said, solo piano as background music in a lobby or bar. There is no conductor. Above that there are various options, from singing/piano combination up to larger ensemble work. It sounds like the one you're describing is this kind of ensemble job.

Scepticalforumguy, thanks for that really interesting information. I hadn't thought about the possibility that they don't want you in some areas of the ship; that's very interesting but understandable.
_________________________
Charles Lang
Working on: A Night in Tunisia; Memories of Tomorrow (Keith Jarrett).
Just started: Brazilian Like (Michel Petrucciani)

Baldwin Model R (1974), Hardman 5'9" grand (1915), Rieger-Kloss 42.5" vertical

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#1520329 - 09/22/10 06:33 AM Re: How much do working jazz musicians earn today? [Re: charleslang]
appleman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/30/09
Posts: 188
Originally Posted By: charleslang
Thanks for your thoughts, etcetera. I'm sure that's an accurate portrayal of some of the jobs,
Asking what working a cruise ship is like is just like asking what working a bar is like, there are many different cruise lines and gigs, and they all work a bit differently.

I meet a competent blues guy who got a gig doing blues in a bar. When he got there, they mostly expected him to play top 100 standards, even if he was hired as a strictly blues musician. He wasn't allowed to bring a keyboard, so he couldn't arrange anything in his room. He shared a room with a cook who couldn't speak English, although the guy worked 12 hour days everyday, so it wasn't a problem.

He hated it, but he went back the following year. He was going to school at the time, and the room and board during the summer was too good to pass up.
_________________________
Dr. Appleman, former NASA engineer, Empire of Earth and B.S. of Ninjutsu at MIT.

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#1520509 - 09/22/10 01:07 PM Re: How much do working jazz musicians earn today? [Re: charleslang]
Sir Lurksalot Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/19/04
Posts: 1244
I have a friend who spent about six years with a high-end cruise line and really enjoyed it. He's a trombonist and some of his contracts called for him to lead the band, and in those cases he got more pay and better living quarters.

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#1521922 - 09/24/10 03:30 PM Re: How much do working jazz musicians earn today? [Re: charleslang]
gryphon Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/09/01
Posts: 11678
Loc: Okemos, MI
_________________________
"If we lose freedom here, there's no place to escape to."
MSU - the university of Michigan!
Wheels

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#1521956 - 09/24/10 04:42 PM Re: How much do working jazz musicians earn today? [Re: charleslang]
nitekatt2008z Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/08
Posts: 552
Originally Posted By: charleslang
Thanks for your thoughts, etcetera. I'm sure that's an accurate portrayal of some of the jobs, but the agency I looked at had various job openings available, for various amounts of pay. The lowest paying is, as I said, solo piano as background music in a lobby or bar. There is no conductor. Above that there are various options, from singing/piano combination up to larger ensemble work. It sounds like the one you're describing is this kind of ensemble job.

Scepticalforumguy, thanks for that really interesting information. I hadn't thought about the possibility that they don't want you in some areas of the ship; that's very interesting but understandable.


I used to work with a very experienced guitar player who could read and write musical charts and arrangements in Finale, play jazz, oldies, blues, standards and rock. He decided the only work he wanted to do was play 5-6 nights a week anywhere that had a steady gig. He found out the only way to do that was contact the cruise ship agencies and set up a live audition for the show band which requires heavy duty sight reading. He had also played in a big band and was used to charts on the spot.

Anyway, he got his audition time set up near Los Angeles and was called in. He brought in his guitar and plugged into an amp already provided. The music director set some charts up on the music stand and turned on an Aebersold style backing track and gave a 4 count, 1-2-3-4 at about 250 bpm! Well, as good of a reader he was, he couldn't lay that down, so after 3 charts, the audition for the show band was history for him. But the director said that one of the lounge bands had just lost their guitar player and asked him if he was interested in that gig. He was, and the director just randomly called some lounge standards, Knock on Wood, Mustang Sally, Heart of Rock N Roll, Sweet Home Alabama and he played them all. That impressed the director enough that the guitar player was on the ship working full time with the lounge band in a month. That lasted on and off about 10 years.

Although he didn't have the sight reading ability requirement down enough for the show bands, he had the skills to cut it for the lounge band. All the players in the lounge bands were experienced and good enough regardless of their reading skills. Most of the tunes they did on the set list were takedowns anyway from the original records.

There are sites online and blogs written about cruise ship gigs, working conditions, rates, etc. by musicians who actually worked them and their opinions pro and con about the work. Some musicians can hack it, some hate it and leave after their first contract is over. My friend also had a lot of free time to practice, go to the crew gym, hang out, tour port cities, read, whatever. A ship can sometimes not avoid rough weather and the seas are choppy, despite the ship's stabilizers and sea sickness can come on. But ships have doctors and nurses to treat it. Take the patch or pill and you're cured.

He asked me several times if I was interested in playing keyboards in the lounge band and I turned it down because I didn't want to be on a ship full-time.

But the best advice for any musician considering a cruise ship gig is to first, book a 3 day cruise to see how you like travel on the open seas, get online and read the comments and blogs by cruise ship players, talk to some agencies. If you are cut out for this type of work, it can be great, if not, you will know your first week of the tour if you can cut it. There are rumors out there that some cats have had nervous breakdowns after a few weeks on the gig, got freaked out when the ship was out of sight and range of land, like that Kevin Costner flick, "WaterWorld" and had to break the contract or got fired and left off at the next port and had to get back home on their own. Heard one cat hated the gig and ship so much, flipped out and literally jumped off the ship into the water, but was rescued and taken to the hospital.

Now these are worse case scenarios and could be stories and rumors, but many people flip out in a variety of occupations, not just cruise ship gigs. Even some airline attendants have made their own exits off the jet down the slide after a meltdown.

katt


Edited by nitekatt2008z (09/24/10 04:59 PM)

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