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#1513551 - 09/11/10 09:00 PM How much do working jazz musicians earn today?
charleslang Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/13/08
Posts: 2079
I have a question about the earnings of jazz talents today. I'm aware that many musicians earn much of their money teaching. But, what about the musicians who are regularly playing at jazz festivals, in the US and international festivals, and who have an album or two of recordings? Do they usually also need to teach to make ends meet? How about the semi-stars like Brad Mehldau or Jacky Terrasson? What do festivals pay a trio at that level (or soloist) for a gig?
_________________________
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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#1513620 - 09/11/10 11:24 PM Re: How much do working jazz musicians earn today? [Re: charleslang]
AJF Online   blank
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/18/06
Posts: 1608
Loc: Toronto
There is no way to generalize this. Each band's pay is unique based on their own negotiations.
I CAN tell you that guys who have reached 'jazz star' status don't need to teach to make ends meet. For guys at the top of the popularity heap like Mehldau's trio, or Wayne Shorter's Quartet it's not unusual to make $40,000 per show for the band on the mainstage at a festival or in a concert hall. When you get into the ranks of 'super stars' like Keith Jarrett or Herbie it's even higher. Then there's the Diana Kralls and Michael Buble's of the 'jazz' world....

There are many musicians with great records out and are touring the world but don't have the notoriety of the 'stars' who are making anywhere from $300 - $1000 for main stage festival gigs and $100 - $300 for club shows.

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#1513672 - 09/12/10 01:57 AM Re: How much do working jazz musicians earn today? [Re: charleslang]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
A friend of mine subs for Bob Minzer, and when he plays at hollywood bowl, he can make like $10,000 a night. But I don't think he makes that much money from his own projects.

Kenny Werner, Fred Hersch, Geri Allen, Shelly Berg, Alan Pasqua, all these guys tour, plays festivals and have albums that are critically acclaimed but they all teach too. My teachers have played with people like Natalie Cole, Nancy Wilson, but when they do a local gig, they might make like $100 a night. And when Kenny Werner tours in US, he is driving his car from state-to-state, cramped up with the other musicians and their equipment.. Then there are tons of really great musicians in NY who makes ends meet by waiting tables. Then there is Ron Stout, who used to play with horace silver.. he used to make ends meet as a truck driver.

My impression is that very very few people make it without having to teach, even if you are a world class player playing major festivals.

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#1513680 - 09/12/10 02:16 AM Re: How much do working jazz musicians earn today? [Re: charleslang]
nitekatt2008z Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/08
Posts: 552
There are "name" jazz musicians in Los Angeles playing $50-100+ gigs, especially restaurants just to keep their jazz chops working. They of course also make much more on recording sessions, performing with big name artists, touring, doing master classes, private teaching, writing, arranging, running studios and a variety of other musical projects to keeps the bills paid.

But very few super star jazz musicians will be flying around on tour in their private Lear Jets like Led Zep or even like Elvis did. How many jazz artists could sell out the Hollywood Bowl. Diana Krall can, maybe Al Jarreau. Possibly Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett always seems to sell out his concerts.

The audience that likes and supports jazz and buys jazz CDs is very minimal, compared to country, Rap, Hip Hop, Pop, Rock audiences. It's always been that way and unfortunately continues to dwindle even though many musicians spend their lives with the passion to become the best jazz musician possible.

katt

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#1513699 - 09/12/10 03:41 AM Re: How much do working jazz musicians earn today? [Re: charleslang]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
I know this is a tangent, but a lot of young up and coming jazz musicians end up playing for pop bands. The musical director for snoop dogg, Beyonce's band, and the drummer/piano players that Hillary Duff or Barbra Streisand hire are jazz musicians . If there was a bigger market they might have stayed with jazz, who knows... but they probably make just as much as the top jazz musicians do working with pop artists.

It's not good or bad thing .. since the OP was asking for earnings of jazz musicians, I thought it's important to add many good jazz musicians earn their income doing other kinds of music.

I also remember Poncho Sanchez saying saying how he makes very little money gigging locally, which forces him to tour overseas regularly. I've also talk to friends who knew Aaron Parks, he also has to tour and make CD's constantly and it's a struggle to make ends meet... so you see how much they depend on touring as an income.


Edited by etcetra (09/12/10 03:42 AM)

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#1513795 - 09/12/10 11:53 AM Re: How much do working jazz musicians earn today? [Re: etcetra]
nitekatt2008z Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/08
Posts: 552
Originally Posted By: etcetra
I know this is a tangent, but a lot of young up and coming jazz musicians end up playing for pop bands. The musical director for snoop dogg, Beyonce's band, and the drummer/piano players that Hillary Duff or Barbra Streisand hire are jazz musicians . If there was a bigger market they might have stayed with jazz, who knows... but they probably make just as much as the top jazz musicians do working with pop artists.

It's not good or bad thing .. since the OP was asking for earnings of jazz musicians, I thought it's important to add many good jazz musicians earn their income doing other kinds of music.

I also remember Poncho Sanchez saying saying how he makes very little money gigging locally, which forces him to tour overseas regularly. I've also talk to friends who knew Aaron Parks, he also has to tour and make CD's constantly and it's a struggle to make ends meet... so you see how much they depend on touring as an income.


And it's a bit frustrating on the investment in time and cost it takes to become a competent jazz musician and then the lower than average payoff that comes with the trade. Lessons, classes, possible 4 year degree in jazz studies at USC or Berklee.

I personally met some very good jazz pianists who were selling real estate between gigs, bartending, whatever it took because they couldn't support themselves just working as a musician.

The best source I found that addresses this subject is jazz pianist Hal Galper's site, http://www.halgalper.com/

He has a book that discusses the business of making it as a jazz musician. Very interesting stuff there. Check it out.

katt

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#1513801 - 09/12/10 12:10 PM Re: How much do working jazz musicians earn today? [Re: charleslang]
Elene Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/07
Posts: 1408
Loc: under monsoon clouds
For typical club/restaurant gigs, my husband is making $50-75 a night here in Albuquerque with his Brazilian jazz band. He teaches elementary special ed most of the time. We were making the same dollar amount 27 years ago-- I don't mean in adjusted dollars, I mean the same dollar amount-- playing clubs and weddings with our variety band. Other musicians tell me something similar. A solo guitarist or pianist might have gotten $125 plus dinner playing a restaurant in 1985 or thereabouts, and they are being offered the same or less now. From this discussion so far, it's sounding similar in other places.

(I don't perform anymore, but I was asking around $200 for a 2-hour gig for private parties on lute and classical guitar. I'm not sure how the market is running for soloists at this point, like if I wanted to hire a jazz pianist for a party at my house. Hey... that's not a bad idea... if I ever had parties....)

Making just $50 on a gig in LA sounds really scary, with the high costs there. One of my teachers used to say, "It's fifty dollars I wouldn't have had otherwise," but that only goes so far.

My husband also points out that there used to be a lot more places to play than there are now.

The New Mexico Jazz Workshop was started years ago by a group of far-sighted musicians who realized that if they wanted to have an audience, they'd need to grow one. They started educating the public and building enthusiasm for jazz. That worked; we have a large, enthusiastic, knowledgeable base of jazz fans around here. But all of the above is still true.

Elene
_________________________
Semi-Pro Musica

Blog: http://elenedom.wordpress.com
Website: http://elenelistens.com






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#1513832 - 09/12/10 01:49 PM Re: How much do working jazz musicians earn today? [Re: charleslang]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
Elene,

what you said reminds me of this sax player I met. He graduated from University of North Texas like 20 years ago. he is a good player and he was working steadily in the bay area for years. He decided to move to LA area because he inherited his parents house.. now that he is new in town he is having hard time finding work. And he also told me how he was getting $50 for gigs back then which wasn't that bad, considering he was gigging a lot.

I live in Asia, and it's the same thing. I know people who used to make like $2000-3000 a month 20 years ago. That is a lot of money for back then, since minimum wage was like an dollar an hour. Now minimum wage is like $3 and hour here, and you are lucky if you can make like $1500 a month.

So from what I know, it seems like you could actually make a good living as a musician even if you are not a Jazz star. My friend in LA may not be as good as someone like Dave Liebman, but was playing in the 1o'clock band at UNT and he is a pretty darn good saxophonist. And a lot of people here that used to make good money aren't very good player at all.

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#1513945 - 09/12/10 06:58 PM Re: How much do working jazz musicians earn today? [Re: charleslang]
charleslang Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/13/08
Posts: 2079
Thank you, everyone. For my only paying music job, I got around 60 dollars a night playing solo in a hotel in Germany in 2007, which, at three times a week, was almost enough to live on, sharing an apartment and living without a car. Of course, that's a pretty low standard of living. (But my skill level was not very high.)
_________________________
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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#1513995 - 09/12/10 09:29 PM Re: How much do working jazz musicians earn today? [Re: charleslang]
CMohr Offline

Silver Supporter until Dec 29 2012


Registered: 07/24/09
Posts: 1029
Loc: Oregon
My jazz piano teacher gets $100.00 an hour for solo gigs here. But, he teaches (43 students), comps for singers and fills in when needed playing things other than jazz. Sounds like it's all over the board, depending on where in the world you are.
_________________________
Think less - play more



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#1514096 - 09/13/10 02:02 AM 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
I started a discussion about this exact thing on another forum (that is populated by mostly working musicians). I asked them why they chose to be musicians as their primary source of income instead of, oh, engineer or nurse or something else for their day job, and just gig at nights or weekends to get their "playing live" fix.

Why would someone choose to make minimum wage (averaged) when they could make $90K - $100K a year on their day job and still play gigs for fun and not worry about the money.

Mostly the answer was "I don't want to do anything else."

You like living on macaroni and cheese? In many cases having no wife or family? It never made sense to me. In some cases the wife was supporting the family so the husband could play keys or guitar.
_________________________
"If we lose freedom here, there's no place to escape to."
MSU - the university of Michigan!
Wheels

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#1514196 - 09/13/10 09:42 AM Re: How much do working jazz musicians earn today? [Re: charleslang]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
gryphon

I just met a guitar player here...he went to UNT, but he gave up being a music major after having major tendontitis problem. He was doing well and was making 100k an year and playing music on the side, but eventually he realized how miserable he was. So he decided to move to Asia with his wife(she is asian). I guess he is trying to live off what he earned, and do as much music as he can while teaching a part time job. So I think the people who end up doing music as a career do it because they just have to.. no matter how crazy it gets.

I know some of my teachers are pretty miserable.. they are estranged from their former spouse and kids, and it seems like they don't really have much if you take music away from them. I remember my teaching talking about touring across US, crammed on this small car with bunch of musicians for bad paying gig. She was telling those were the good times, and I was like.. "wow what is so great with that?"

My friend goes on tour frequently.. basically he is traveling 2-3 months at a time and he gets to see his family for couple of weeks when he is not traveling. It's not easy raising a family that way for sure.

I guess it's a lifestyle, like making a living as a poker player. That's why a lot of professional poker player and musician will tell you to do it as a hobby and not as a career.


Edited by etcetra (09/13/10 09:44 AM)

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#1514205 - 09/13/10 10:04 AM Re: How much do working jazz musicians earn today? [Re: charleslang]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 635
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
A lot of it depends upon where you live, how creative you are, what the gigging situation is, and how the local economy is doing.

When the economy tanks, gigs dry right up. When things are rosy, jazz tends to thrive.

A lot of people are putting on private gigs these days in homes, with donations at the door and food provided free to the band.

In places like the Sunshine coast in BC, there is a pre-existing market, but musicians like my good friend Blaine Dunaway (trumpet, violin, fluglehorn) have to play where they can (an evening at the Gum Boot Cafe in Robert's Creek, for example), and must teach to make ends meet.

In Vancouver, BC, about six regular union gigs exist, for all the musicians in the Lower Mainland (who number in the thousands), there are maybe ten non-union steady gigs at any one time, and the rest of the time is spent teaching, working in music stores, driving cab, plying one trade or another, busking, living on Welfare, and/or pan-handling.

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#1514270 - 09/13/10 11:48 AM Re: How much do working jazz musicians earn today? [Re: gsmonks]
EDV Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/24/10
Posts: 26
So interesting. In the classical music world, some of us look at jazz musicians and think "wow, these guys got it made... live gigs, clubs, fancy hotels.... jazz is everywhere!"
At least you jazz people don't have to deal with the thousand and one competitions where the winner gets a worthless medal, 1500 dollars (which don't even cover what it costs to prepare for these events) and 3 weeks worth of appearances.

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#1514323 - 09/13/10 01:28 PM Re: How much do working jazz musicians earn today? [Re: charleslang]
AJF Online   blank
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/18/06
Posts: 1608
Loc: Toronto
Another reason that a lot of jazz musicians aren't working day jobs and instead settling for a 'lower standard of living' is that they come to realize that if they want to be a top notch player they need 4-6 hours a day just to study, practice and develop their craft. I remember when I was coming up as a student there were a handful of players who also taught high school or even practiced law during the day and the general consensus amoung the full time players was that these guys were second rate players. And rightly so. Becoming a master requires work (aside from gigs) that equates to a full time job. So if one guy is practicing and learning all day long and another is teaching highschool all day it's obvious who the better player will be in the long run. I teach private lessons two days a week at a local university and the rest of my income comes only from playing. Many would look at how much money I make a year and consider me to be somewhere around the poverty line. However, what my life is lacking in Plasma screen tv's and nice cars is made up for by the rewards of having the absolute luxury of pursuing my truest passion. For me it's worth it.

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#1514324 - 09/13/10 01:29 PM Re: How much do working jazz musicians earn today? [Re: EDV]
Dave Ferris Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/07
Posts: 1731
Loc: Glendale, Ca.
The live scene, Jazz aside, here in LA is brutal, absolutely brutal ! I've been here 33 years and have done almost every conceivable type of gig from playing at an 8 yr. old child's birthday party to an "A" recording session on the Sony Soundstage to playing in a nightclub with name and semi-name world class Jazz players.

The hustle today for Jazz musicians in this town is for teaching gigs because the playing gigs simply do not exist anymore. Most of the clubs that offered any semblance of real jazz have closed. Even the ones that had more fusiony/latin/r&b are closing or are near closing.

We all keep saying--things can't get worse then this and then another club closes. I've never seen things this bad in all the time I've been here, very scary and very sad. Yet, we all keep working on our instruments and the music--it's all we have.
_________________________
http://soundcloud.com/dave-ferris

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#1514361 - 09/13/10 02:31 PM Re: How much do working jazz musicians earn today? [Re: Dave Ferris]
scepticalforumguy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 1475
Loc: Lower Mainland, BC
Ugh.

I'm one of the second rate musicians that Adrian was referring to a few posts up. I knew when I first entered university that I wasn't cut out to be a performer when I saw every performance major practicing 5+ hours a day. I saw that if I wanted to have a life in music that I'd have to sacrifice much of my time and play lots of gigs that were only for the money. The best money I made (besides New Years gigs) was $150 a night as a solo pianist in a blues bar. It was a steady gig, but I hated every minute of it because those that were listening wanted me to play Elton John and Billy Joel (despite it being a blues bar), and those that weren't listening were so loud they made the piano redundant.

So, looking back 20+ years, I think I made the right decision. I currently teach music, and when I find the right people to play with I set up jam sessions and do the occasional gig. Although I'm not rich, and barely considered middle class, I'm happy knowing that I don't have to play horrible gigs to pay my bills.

The only thing that bothers me is that I'll never be a first rate player, but then again, neither will the 99% of other musicians.
_________________________
Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.



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#1514448 - 09/13/10 04:56 PM Re: How much do working jazz musicians earn today? [Re: charleslang]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
Dave,

It's the same where I live now.. One of the club owner said that there are more and more players, and more good players in general but as far as live music scene is concerned, this is the worse he's ever seen. I know like 3 jazz clubs that closed after opening for like 6 months.

The sad thing about here is that there have been a pool of really talented people who just recently came back from studying in Europe/USA, but they have nowhere to go because there is no gigs.. A lot of the older players who went overseas to study have it made, because they are established already and cornered the market, but their level of playing isn't that great.. the younger guys can play circles around them but it's the older guys who's dominating the market now. So it makes me sad when a very talented friend of mine is having to do a full time job outside of music, and see this older player who is frankly kind of mediocre, get all the gigs and recognition.

Aside from that, my feeling is that you didn't have to be a top notch player to be able to make it as a musician back then.. and a lot of the top notch players got there because they were able to gig on a regular basis while they practiced. I met some people who used to make a living as a full-time musician, and frankly I was surprised that were able to with their skill-level.

My teachers told me how they used to have jam sessions all night at my school, but nowdays that's very difficult to do because of all the regulation for getting keys and what not. So I do feel that there is more obstacle for younger musicians to actually play this music.


I feel like in some ways it's becoming a lot like classical musician. There are tons of fine classical musicians who graduated from schools like Julliard, but decided to make a living doing something else because they just weren't making it as a musician. There are tons of people in school practicing 4+ hrs a day, many of them doing 10hrs or more, but there is less and less oppertunity for them it seems.

I am sure I speak for a lot of other music school and graduates.. I still put in the hours on practice and do around 3-4hrs a day on average and when I am serious I'll practice around 5-7, and work that time around non-music gigs I have to do. And we do it not knowing whether something will really come out of it. Who knows I might get my break 5-10 years from now or never.


Edited by etcetra (09/13/10 05:10 PM)

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#1514464 - 09/13/10 05:28 PM Re: How much do working jazz musicians earn today? [Re: charleslang]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
I know I writing a lot but I just thought I should share this.

I have a friend who is an excellent classical pianist. She practiced 8 hrs a day on average as an undergrad.. and went to good grad school on full scholarship. At one point she had to get a part time job to make ends meet, but she somehow managed to put in the practice hours by practicing from 10pm -2am everyday and living on 5hrs of sleep. She can literally sigh-read anything (kind of like Bill Evans being able to sight-read Rachmaninoff Preludes at tempo), and has performed in concert halls in Japan, where she was from.

The last time I talked to her, she was thinking about getting a regular job after college, because life as a musician isn't very stable, and she wants to have steady income that would allow her to be financially support her aging parents.

Now if she was a studying law/medicine and reached the kind of expertise as she did in piano, she would probably have no problem making a good income that would allow her to live well and support her parents.

I don't want to sound too depressing but seeing how my friends are doing now, It just seems like some people just don't get to make it, even if they pour everything to it. As a college student, I used to think that I'll make it if I practiced my @ss off, but nowdays I am not really sure anymore.


Edited by etcetra (09/13/10 05:29 PM)

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#1514532 - 09/13/10 07:34 PM Re: How much do working jazz musicians earn today? [Re: charleslang]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 635
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
I entered the playing world in the early 70's, when the wheels were falling off the proverbial pony-cart. By the mid-70's it was all over. There were no gigs to be had, and in the media they were proclaiming that jazz was dead, although no one ever did bother to mention the Tonight Show band, including that execrable excuse for a jazz documentary by Ken Burns.

The problem today is simply one of coordination. The market is there, but the gigs are isolated, and there are not enough agents out there stringing gigs together.

If anyone is interested, I'm considering creating a website for jazz musicians that would consist mainly of gigs and booking. This is what we need- a site that locates the gigs, sets up billeting, gathers volunteers for billeting, provides trasportation and other information, and so on.

The thing is, I can't do it alone, simply because I live in small-town Saskatchewan and don't know what gigs exist in a good many cities.

If any of you have checked out my personal web page, it's a free site, and a pretty darned good one. So I can easily get another site up-and-running for the purpose. Unless you guys know of a better free site? Here's the one I'm using:

http://gsmonks.webs.com/

If anyone's interested, maybe we could talk about it here, and then maybe move off-site to get it done? I'm ready to donate a few hours of my time every day, and I know a good mny non-pianists who might be interested.

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#1514547 - 09/13/10 07:52 PM Re: How much do working jazz musicians earn today? [Re: gsmonks]
charleslang Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/13/08
Posts: 2079
Originally Posted By: gsmonks


The thing is, I can't do it alone, simply because I live in small-town Saskatchewan and don't know what gigs exist in a good many cities.



I can't imagine just a few people taking this on; nobody has enough knowledge. I would think the site would have to be a kind of forum/craigslist/wiki for jazz performers and venues, with user-generated content on a 'when-you-feel-like-it' basis, like those other sites. It would be enough work for a few people just putting together a good and attractive interface.
_________________________
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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#1514610 - 09/13/10 10:12 PM Re: How much do working jazz musicians earn today? [Re: charleslang]
gsmonks Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/10
Posts: 635
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
What I have in mind is a site that operates on a cooperative basis.

It wouldn't be all that big. Remember, there are only a few venues per city. One person with a computer today can do what a hundred people did with nothing but a telephone and the telegraph service 80 years ago.

I have no intention of copying what high-tech sites do. It's simply not necessary.

One job is to gather information on cities, starting with the biggest and best-known, and selecting other cities from there by playing connect-the-dots, so that a basic template in terms of a circuit is created. This is needed for the simple logistics of playing a string of places within easy driving distance.

The musician themselves have to both become part of the database and part of the process, which means that most of the activity will be taking place off-site. When you're on the road, playing at club A, B and C, you will have arranged in advance for billetting and meals, and guys who aren't currently playing would have the job of looking after guys who are on the road.

This is how it was done back in the day. It's not rocket-science. It's just a matter of doing it.

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#1514684 - 09/14/10 01:17 AM Re: How much do working jazz musicians earn today? [Re: Dave Ferris]
nitekatt2008z Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/08
Posts: 552
Originally Posted By: Dave Ferris
The live scene, Jazz aside, here in LA is brutal, absolutely brutal ! I've been here 33 years and have done almost every conceivable type of gig from playing at an 8 yr. old child's birthday party to an "A" recording session on the Sony Soundstage to playing in a nightclub with name and semi-name world class Jazz players.

The hustle today for Jazz musicians in this town is for teaching gigs because the playing gigs simply do not exist anymore. Most of the clubs that offered any semblance of real jazz have closed. Even the ones that had more fusiony/latin/r&b are closing or are near closing.

We all keep saying--things can't get worse then this and then another club closes. I've never seen things this bad in all the time I've been here, very scary and very sad. Yet, we all keep working on our instruments and the music--it's all we have.


Unfortunately as jazz musicians, we don't live in the time period of jazz and bebop's Golden Era, especially in NYC and parts of Europe. This period was the time of Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Miles Davis, 1940s-50s-60s and the support of the art from the supporting audience and Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter, sister of Lord Rothschild, who was very important with her wealth and influence in her sponsorship of the leading jazz musicians like Bird.

The interest and passion to provide jazz education thrives in this time. If this was not so, high end "jazz finishing" schools such as Berklee and New England Conservatory in Boston and USC's Thronton Jazz Studies in Los Angeles would not be providing scholarships for talented jazz students.

It would take the support and financial input of the numerous mega rich Americans who are billionaires who have the resources to invest in an art form that is our unique own, jazz, born and bred in the USA.

These wealthy individuals could support jazz radio stations, scholarships, concerts, trust funds, sponsorships, similar to how the Baroness contributed to the art. But so far, we are not seeing any interest or support for jazz to keep it thriving from the people who have the financial resources and connections to help keep jazz clubs opened, promote the art form and a plethora of other programs that could vastly improve keeping jazz alive and well.

The graphic and musical arts are an important component to a civilized world. But unless some support and interest is stimulated by those who could contribute to the art's development and well being, the dwindling interest will continue to spiral downward. A lot of things that could be done to help aren't being offered. All I know is that in Los Angeles, jazz clubs and gigs are dying out. But things can get better and improve with just a few simple changes as I have stated. Perhaps we will see improvement coming.

katt

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#1515152 - 09/14/10 05:29 PM Re: How much do working jazz musicians earn today? [Re: charleslang]
charleslang Offline
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Registered: 10/13/08
Posts: 2079
If I remember rightly, the new home being built for SFJazz in San Francisco was only able to go ahead after a big anonymous donation. I might be mixing up funding stories, but at any rate it did require some significant donations.

In this case I feel that the mere presence of a stand-alone hall devoted to Jazz helps to communicate that the stuff is worth listening to, and spurs more investment and interest.

One real question is whether jazz will ever more or less completely die out, like ragtime music. Except for extremely isolated and museum-like festivals (people wearing period costumes says that the genre is, today, dead), ragtime is gone.

When I see the newer acts like Brad Mehldau and Esbjoern Svensson (RIP) or Dave Frank I think there is still quite a lot of excitement to be had.

Actually, it could even be said that jazz in some form or other has been one of the longer-lasting music genres. (Even if one takes a somewhat narrow definition of what counts).

It's more grown-up than rock music, more cosmopolitan than folk or country, it's strongly secular as opposed to religious, and more intimate than classical music. For these reasons, I don't think it will die out soon.

Finally, the intimacy of it derives largely from the large role improvisation takes on for jazz.

There is nothing out there that can match all these virtues. But maybe interest is waning for other reasons (if it is waning).
_________________________
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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#1515238 - 09/14/10 07:25 PM Re: How much do working jazz musicians earn today? [Re: charleslang]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
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Loc: Oakland
One of the reasons that SF Jazz has thrived is that they have resisted the trend to petrify the music the way that classical music has become. There are a lot of genres that could be termed jazz, and SF Jazz has adopted all of them and more.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#1515365 - 09/14/10 10:51 PM Re: How much do working jazz musicians earn today? [Re: charleslang]
etcetra Offline
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Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
Well jazz is kind of going in the way of classical music. I'd like to get feedback from jazz musicains in Europe, because i general they seem to be better off there than in US. One of my teacher said that it's so much more competitive in US, which forces you to keep on improving no matter how well you play.

gsmonks

I can't really help you since I live overseas, but I'd like to see what you do with it.. good luck!!

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#1519418 - 09/20/10 09:40 PM Re: How much do working jazz musicians earn today? [Re: charleslang]
dissyfingers Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/10
Posts: 140
Loc: Australia
Hi...I had been playing in bands since 1957 .The 4 piece bands in late 70's early 80' were ruminated with $600 a night for the band..I have friends still playing today and are still getting $600 a gig....musicians are treated like the scum of the earth...this is a reason I haven't played for the public for 25 years...my dignity is more important to me than an ego.......Doug

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#1519959 - 09/21/10 04:39 PM Re: How much do working jazz musicians earn today? [Re: charleslang]
charleslang Offline
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Registered: 10/13/08
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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.
_________________________
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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#1519995 - 09/21/10 05:24 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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#1520030 - 09/21/10 06:03 PM Re: How much do working jazz musicians earn today? [Re: charleslang]
charleslang Offline
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Registered: 10/13/08
Posts: 2079
Interesting, but I'm sure there is little creative independence in jobs like that. They say you must be a 'team player', which means this is a job as a member of a troupe.

The attraction of the cruise ship gigs is, for me, that there is a much larger amount of freedom. I'm sure that as long as you stay within recognizable songs most of the time, you can even play an occasional original or more obscure piece (more in the case of a background pianist than as a lounge singer, but I'm no lounge singer anyways).
_________________________
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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#1520066 - 09/21/10 07:21 PM Re: How much do working jazz musicians earn today? [Re: charleslang]
scepticalforumguy Offline
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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: 2079
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: 1242
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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