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#2135104 - 08/18/13 11:12 PM $MONEY$ question -- piano concert/recital ticket sales
Axtremus Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/03
Posts: 6180
I'm trying to get a rough idea on how much money a working musician (not talking about "superstars" here) can generate, in terms of ticket sales, for a "typical" piano concert or piano recital.

So, excluding all the "free" concerts/recitals ...

1. How much ticket sales revenue can a typical pianist generate per concert/recital?

2. How much ticket sales revenue can a typical pianist generate per year from piano concerts/recitals?

I can't find any statistics like that on the Internet ... so I figure I'll ask the large number of pianists here. whome

Any data points (and wide ranges of estimates are fine) you care to share will be appreciated. I don't mean to get personal with any one's finances, so your response need not be based on your own concert/recital revenue; it can average over other pianists' recitals/concerts that you know about, and may even be based on ticket price times estimated head counts for recent concerts that you attended. (Numbers from outside the US are welcome too, just let me know which country you and what currency you're citing.)

Thanks in advance! smile

(Oh, and response via private messaging is welcome too.)
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#2135105 - 08/18/13 11:19 PM Re: $MONEY$ question -- piano concert/recital ticket sales [Re: Axtremus]
Mark_C Offline
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If you mean "typical" in the usually-defined way:

Originally Posted By: Axtremus
1. How much ticket sales revenue can a typical pianist generate per concert/recital?

Not a lot, and often a negative number (after expenses).

Quote:
2. How much ticket sales revenue can a typical pianist generate per year from piano concerts/recitals?

Not-a-lot multiplied by however many concerts they get.


Maybe what you really mean is "the typical pianist among the very very few who actually make a living from solo performing"? Those are the stars. I think we could answer the question better if it was clear that this is what we're talking about -- but you said we're not.

I think most questions like this come from a mistaken view, and it sounds to me like this one does. By far most performing pianists are lucky if they can break even from their solo performing, and they make their living doing other things.
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#2135109 - 08/18/13 11:31 PM Re: $MONEY$ question -- piano concert/recital ticket sales [Re: Axtremus]
Axtremus Offline
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Registered: 08/29/03
Posts: 6180
Dear Mark_C,

Thanks for your response. I am aware that most performing pianists make their living doing something else (e.g., teaching). Life as a performing musician is hard, I get it.

Still, the question remains -- when they do get to perform in a piano recital or a piano concert with paid admission, how much tickets sales are generated per recital/concert, how much tickets sales are generated per year?

Even if it's "not-a-lot," I would still like to know what that "not-a-lot" is in quantitative terms (e.g., "tens of dollars," "hundreds of dollars," a "couple thousand dollars," etc.)

Thanks in advance ... for hopefully more quantitative responses. smile

(Oh, and response via private messaging is welcome too.)
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#2135110 - 08/18/13 11:34 PM Re: $MONEY$ question -- piano concert/recital ticket sales [Re: Axtremus]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19777
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Are you taking expenses into account?
If so, it's often a negative number.

Do you realize that probably most such performances involve having to 'pay to play'?
(i.e. proceeds are less than expenses.)

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#2135111 - 08/18/13 11:36 PM Re: $MONEY$ question -- piano concert/recital ticket sales [Re: Axtremus]
Axtremus Offline
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Registered: 08/29/03
Posts: 6180
Dear Mark_C,

The questions are specifically about revenue (not "profit"), so no ... for this little survey, I am not interested in "expenses." Just ticket sales proceeds. Thanks.
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#2135113 - 08/18/13 11:38 PM Re: $MONEY$ question -- piano concert/recital ticket sales [Re: Axtremus]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
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Originally Posted By: Axtremus
The questions are specifically about revenue (not "profit,") so no ... for this little survey, I am not interested in "expenses." Just ticket sales revenue. Thanks.

OK. Not sure why that's relevant or of interest, but I imagine others will give some figures. smile

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#2135127 - 08/19/13 12:23 AM Re: $MONEY$ question -- piano concert/recital ticket sales [Re: Axtremus]
BruceD Offline
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Axtremus :

Even after Marc_C's responses - which I basically agree with - there are still so many variables it's hard to answer your question.

If the concertizing is done in large metropolitan areas, then the fees would be higher than they would in smaller cities and towns. But larger metropolitan areas attract better-known names, so even the guessing the possibility of what ticket sales might be in larger cities is just wide open speculation.

Similarly vague would be the speculation on the response in smaller cities and towns; it would depend upon the cultural make-up of the city in question, whether or not there would be much or any demand for recital performances and that demand, to a degree would determine ticket cost and sales.

In either locations, the "name value" of the artist will certainly determine what kind of fees can be asked for recitals.

As Marc_C intimated, however, I don't see how you can remove expenses from revenue. What does it matter if a small-town performance can earn the pianist a couple of hundred dollars. Whatever the "revenue," the lesser-known artist has so many financial responsibilities (hiring the venue, - including such things as cost of heating and lighting), having the piano tuned, paying for the program printing, paying for personal expenses such as accommodation and meals for out-of-town performances, etc., etc.) that it's still a negative figure.

I guess you just want to know how much a negative figure it is, right? Like Marc_C, I'll be interested to see if "others will give some figures."

Regards,
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#2135131 - 08/19/13 12:28 AM Re: $MONEY$ question -- piano concert/recital ticket sales [Re: Mark_C]
Sand Tiger Online   content
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There is no typical. I often attend a local concert series in CA. The concerts are primarily supported by patrons. The patrons give enough so that there are no longer any tickets. I believe that this business model is relatively common, where a small number of wealthy individuals fund the series. The patron money allows them some input into choosing performers and program, if they are so inclined, though not all the patrons use that option.

In addition to the patrons, donations are taken. They used to sell tickets for some of the concerts, but the attendance was relatively low as compared to the donation concerts, so they changed their business model. The small amount they made selling a small number of tickets often made for low attendance. Many of the patrons have a desire to get more people to experience live classical music.

For ballpark numbers for this concert series, I'll say 100 people in attendance, donating an average of $7, or $700 in door revenue. Some performers in the series attract a larger crowd, some a smaller. I am pretty good at ballpark guesses. When tickets were sold, let me guess 50 tickets at $25 per, or $1250 in door revenue. Again, a small group of patrons likely contribute multiples of those numbers so the series can sometimes fly in musicians, put them up in a hotel and pay them a reasonable amount for the considerable practice time required to put on a decent show.

As Mark C wrote, the door amounts mostly cover fixed expenses. Utilities must be paid, and I believe the piano tech is also paid, though he does get some advertising value from having his name in the program.

Most musicians that perform in the series are quite accomplished, several cuts above what might be described as typical.

The pay to play model is also popular at some venues. In this case, the musician pays for the opportunity to perform and gets a number of tickets for that money. Just to give it some numbers, say a musician pays $500 to perform and gets 100 tickets with a face value of $12 each. If the musician can sell all 100 tickets they have $700 for their efforts ($1200 - $500). If they sell 42 tickets they are at break even. If they don't sell any of their tickets they are out $500.
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#2135136 - 08/19/13 12:39 AM Re: $MONEY$ question -- piano concert/recital ticket sales [Re: Axtremus]
Derulux Offline
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Loc: Philadelphia
Yeah, this is a viper's nest if I ever saw one. To me, the question is entirely irrelevant based on the premise. A "working musician" will not generate any money based on ticket sales. However, it also seems you're looking for gross sales info, which is not specific to the revenue the musician will earn. Really twisted knot ya' got there. wink

Here's why it's largely irrelevant (from the musician's perspective):

Let's take Carnegie Hall. Far from "working musician," but work with me here. Isaac Stern Auditorium (the "Main Room") seats 2,804. That number, at least, is static. Here's what's not:

Jimmy Johnson, the hard-working plumber from Ohio decides to play Joe Shmoe's Piano Concerto No 1. He packs the house, but at an average ticket price of $25. Gross proceeds: $70,100.

Vladimir Horowitz, in his last Carnegie Hall appearance, also happened to pack the house. But at an average ticket price of more than $200. Let's call it $245, just below midpoint. (I used to know it off the top of my head, but I'd have to look it up now.) Gross proceeds: $686,980.

Let's say the cost to turn on the lights, pay employees of the hall, the orchestra, etc, for just that night totals $125,000.

Jimmy Johnson's net is -$55,000.
Vladimir Horowitz's net is $571,000.

Now, in that last appearance, Horowitz reportedly received 80% of the GROSS, or nearly $550,000.
Jimmy Johnson wouldn't come near that number. In fact, most famous musicians won't come near that number.

So, right off the bat there, we're talking about a $600,000 swing in net income for a single night. Now, you want to multiply that by how many concerts at how many different venues with how many different audience demographics? It's just not a practical statistic to even consider trying to compute.

If we knew the purpose for which you wanted to know this information, we could, through conversation, perhaps drill down to discover a statistic that might be both relevant and computable. But I hope the above example illustrates how difficult the initial question truly is to answer. smile
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#2135139 - 08/19/13 12:45 AM Re: $MONEY$ question -- piano concert/recital ticket sales [Re: Axtremus]
Nikolas Online   content
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Loc: Europe
ladies and gents... and Derulux hits a home run with his lovely post! DING!

axtermus: There's simply too much going on:

For example, no pianist is able to book all the concert halls in the same city for a long time. I mean not even Horowitz would play "a full month" of concerts in NYC! You play once, or twice at a concert hall and move on. Actually my guess is that you play in the city a couple of times and move on to the next city.

So even if you can withstand a process of flying around and playing all over the world, the logistics of that is a nightmare to even consider it...
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#2135142 - 08/19/13 01:01 AM Re: $MONEY$ question -- piano concert/recital ticket sales [Re: Axtremus]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19777
Loc: New York
OK, let's have some fun.
Not that I'm "typical" of anything, but so what. grin
We're agreeing that there's no such thing anyway.

The most "revenue" I ever got from a concert....The most people I ever got was about 300. I think the tix were $8, but probably about 200 of them were given free, so that makes about $800 "revenue." BUT....I think some of the people that came for free wouldn't have been that interested (or maybe might have been but wouldn't have particularly remembered to come) except that I took them out to lunch or dinner, and those lunches and dinners probably cost me, I dunno, let's say a couple hundred bucks, so we're down to $600. And some of the others that came for free, I probably had to write to (snail-mail -- this was before the internet and stuff) or call by phone, and let's say the stamps and stationery cost me maybe $20 and the phone calls cost me $20, so we're down to $560. And oh -- some of the rest probably wouldn't have come except they knew there would be a champagne reception afterward, and the champagne cost me probably about $100 (cheap California stuff -- I think Korbel), so now we're down to $460.

I know that you don't want us to count "expenses" so I'll leave out the rest of them, except to say that renting the hall cost about $1000 so now we're already in negative territory. And this was for my best "revenue." grin

I still don't know why you think it's meaningful to ignore expenses....


Edited by Mark_C (08/19/13 01:31 AM)
Edit Reason: Misremembered the name of the champagne -- confused it with the chocolate mints that we put out :-)

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#2135154 - 08/19/13 01:43 AM Re: $MONEY$ question -- piano concert/recital ticket sales [Re: Axtremus]
Derulux Offline
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Posts: 5318
Loc: Philadelphia
Mark, your edit reason absolutely cracked me up -- confused champagne with chocolate. hahahaha laugh

Nikolas -- I didn't even want to broach travel expenses. Especially considering the farthest I'll "drive" is about 3 hours. (Buses, trains, planes, etc better get me there if it's more than 3 hours.. I abhor "commuter" driving. So, hike up my costs even more! grin )
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#2135172 - 08/19/13 03:27 AM Re: $MONEY$ question -- piano concert/recital ticket sales [Re: Axtremus]
Peter K. Mose Offline
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Registered: 01/06/12
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Loc: Toronto, Ontario
There's a difficulty right off the bat. Piano recitals in which you hire the hall yourself and do your own publicity will only net you an audience of friends, supporters, and those who feel a sense of obligation. A few dozen attendees, if you are lucky and work hard at marketing or pestering.

You might be able to do at most one or two of these recitals a year in your hometown. They are probably a losing proposition financially. If they break even, consider them a success, and they might lead to something else professionally.

Really the only piano recitals that tend to be fairly well attended in a locale are those that are part of an ongoing professional recital series. If you can get engaged on such a series, you will receive a set fee, maybe rather substantial, and the problems of tickets and audience are not your problems, but those of the arts presenter.

The formal solo piano recital has been dying on our continent for years.

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#2135190 - 08/19/13 05:40 AM Re: $MONEY$ question -- piano concert/recital ticket sales [Re: Axtremus]
FSO Offline
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The furthest I ever travelled was to Austria (from the UK) and, unfortunately, I'd have to say that there's no viability in non-patron sponsored concerts...each musician in the orchestra had to pay something amounting to approximately £100 (about $170) per concert...still...um...lovely experience ^>^ I highly recommend open air concerts, if you have the opportunity... <3
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#2135260 - 08/19/13 09:47 AM Re: $MONEY$ question -- piano concert/recital ticket sales [Re: Peter K. Mose]
bennevis Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose
You might be able to do at most one or two of these recitals a year in your hometown. They are probably a losing proposition financially. If they break even, consider them a success, and they might lead to something else professionally.

Really the only piano recitals that tend to be fairly well attended in a locale are those that are part of an ongoing professional recital series. If you can get engaged on such a series, you will receive a set fee, maybe rather substantial, and the problems of tickets and audience are not your problems, but those of the arts presenter.



In London, there is the International Piano Series - around 15 concerts a year. Only relatively big names and recent prizewinners of big competitions (Daniil Trifonov made his debut last year; Yulianna Avdeeva made hers in 2011). They don't get invited back unless they have good audiences.....

I've never made any money from my concerts, but they were either for charity (expenses presumably borne by the organisers) or as education, where I'd talk about classical music as well as play it. I don't even get paid for my travel expenses, but they were all fairly local, and I regarded the experiences as win-win situations for both me and the audience, as part of my 'development' as an amateur pianist grin.

I'm pretty sure that if the concerts hadn't been for good causes, nobody would turn up if they had to pay; nor would people come to the (free) lecture-recitals if they hadn't had a curiosity to find out what classical music was all about.

As an aside, there are regular free concerts in London given by talented conservatoire students hosted by Steinway Hall and the Yamaha centre. Many of the pianists have already won international prizes, in smaller competitions. Yet the audiences they attract (and don't forget, the concerts are free) range from 5 to 25....
The pianists don't get paid, and they basically use those concerts as practice runs for competitions, and to get the chance to play on great pianos (Steinway D or Yamaha CFX) that are perfectly tuned and maintained.
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#2135264 - 08/19/13 09:58 AM Re: $MONEY$ question -- piano concert/recital ticket sales [Re: Axtremus]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13789
Loc: Iowa City, IA
There's a problem with the original question:

"how much money a working musician ... can generate, in terms of ticket sales"

The problem is that working musicians don't generate money through ticket sales. It just doesn't really work like that most of the time.

Let's say an organization runs a series of 8 concerts. Their revenue will come from a variety of sources - grants, ticket sales, and donations. Ticket sales are often a small part of the big picture, and all of the revenue for the organization is considered when inviting performers to come play.

Performers typically play for a flat fee. Could be anywhere from $500 to several thousand.

But I digress...the point is that what the pianist takes home isn't linked to the ticket prices. If an organization gets a lot of funding from grants and private donations, then the ticket costs can be less. If an organization relies heavily on ticket sales, then the tickets might be more expensive.

In other words, it's the overall budget picture that determines what they're able to offer as a fee, and there's a lot of variance as to how much ticket costs factor into that picture.
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#2135542 - 08/19/13 04:55 PM Re: $MONEY$ question -- piano concert/recital ticket sales [Re: Kreisler]
laguna_greg Offline
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Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1382
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
There's a problem with the original question:

"how much money a working musician ... can generate, in terms of ticket sales"

The problem is that working musicians don't generate money through ticket sales. It just doesn't really work like that most of the time.



And along the same lines, why would anybody present themselves, unless they had an unlimited budget and a manager/PR rep on retainer? If you don't have at least 6 months of promotions before the concert date, even your own mother won't show up. Not to mention that you'll lose your shirt.

Besides, if you're just starting to build an audience, one doesn't need to. There are so many publicly sponsored concert series open to most anybody that one doesn't need to risk the capital. Granted, these series don't pay. But they don't charge you anything, and they take care of some of the aspects of promotions. If you like you can add to it, but they usually draw a good crowd.


Edited by laguna_greg (08/19/13 05:13 PM)
Edit Reason: thought of something
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#2135545 - 08/19/13 04:57 PM Re: $MONEY$ question -- piano concert/recital ticket sales [Re: Axtremus]
Axtremus Offline
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Registered: 08/29/03
Posts: 6180
Thank you for sharing your estimates and thoughts on this, every one.
I appreciate them.

After posting the initial questions (and I posted them at three separate Internet fora), some one else (much like Derulux did) suggested the simple mechanism of taking the capacity of a mid-sized concert venue and multiply that by the typical ticket price changed for the performance of a not-yet-famous pianists -- turns out this is not that hard to do, because I could find the calendar listings of such venues listing their up-coming engagements for the next few months. I just went down the calendar and looking for "not-yet-famous" names, pick out the ticket prices and multiply by 70% of seating capacity ... most numbers fall well below $10k (except when I get to the 600 seat Zankel Hall, then I was looking at close to $15k). That gave me the sort of ball park ranges I was looking for.

Other perspectives (such as bennevis' and Kriesler's descriptions on how it's some other organizations that organize concerts and factor in other income streams when setting prices) also paint a comprehensive picture of the whole admission charging scheme.

Thanks, your responses are much appreciated!
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#2135551 - 08/19/13 05:16 PM Re: $MONEY$ question -- piano concert/recital ticket sales [Re: Axtremus]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19777
Loc: New York
How about telling us WHY you're interested in the specific thing you're asking for? What use could it possibly be? As you might be gathering, we can't really imagine.

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#2135745 - 08/20/13 02:38 AM Re: $MONEY$ question -- piano concert/recital ticket sales [Re: Axtremus]
albumblatter Offline
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Registered: 07/29/13
Posts: 144
Loc: Maryland, USA
Here's a related question.
How do most musicians make their revenue, then?

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#2135746 - 08/20/13 02:43 AM Re: $MONEY$ question -- piano concert/recital ticket sales [Re: albumblatter]
Nikolas Online   content
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It's a combination of things:

* Performing in larger concerts (with an orchestra)
* Performing in smaller concerts (solo)
* Accompanying others (in concerts)
* Accompanying others (in lessons, and practice)
* Recording
* Teaching
* And in the case of Lang Lang, producing ties, pillow cases and other things related to piano! grin

It's the same with composing. One cannot really make a living out of composing classical music (or media music most of the times, but in media music it IS possible)...
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#2135855 - 08/20/13 09:44 AM Re: $MONEY$ question -- piano concert/recital ticket sales [Re: Axtremus]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13789
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Teaching is by far the greatest source of revenue.

Also, church services and weddings, pit orchestra work, and of course, "day-jobs" unrelated to music.
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#2135882 - 08/20/13 10:23 AM Re: $MONEY$ question -- piano concert/recital ticket sales [Re: Kreisler]
laguna_greg Offline
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I'm with Kreisler on this one. It seems like everybody but the top 10 pianists in the world today have a teaching job.
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#2135928 - 08/20/13 11:20 AM Re: $MONEY$ question -- piano concert/recital ticket sales [Re: Axtremus]
BDB Online   content
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I would suspect that except for mega-scale arena concerts, most organizations generate more money from donations than from ticket sales.
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#2135933 - 08/20/13 11:31 AM Re: $MONEY$ question -- piano concert/recital ticket sales [Re: BDB]
laguna_greg Offline
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I'm with BDB. I think I remember that in "B"-class music non-profits, the percentage is about 50%? And in the "A"-class, it's around 70%?
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1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Taubman (a recent article I wrote about one of my teachers)

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#2135957 - 08/20/13 12:03 PM Re: $MONEY$ question -- piano concert/recital ticket sales [Re: Kreisler]
Nikolas Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Also, church services and weddings, pit orchestra work, and of course, "day-jobs" unrelated to music.
I keep forgetting that (about church services)...

You see Orthodox church doesn't have organs, or choirs, or stuff like that... It's quite bare bone compared to the Catholic church, or even worst the mega churches of the States... So this church thing keeps eluding me...
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#2136041 - 08/20/13 02:28 PM Re: $MONEY$ question -- piano concert/recital ticket sales [Re: Nikolas]
bennevis Online   content
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Posts: 5124
It seems to me that you need more business sense than talent or accomplishment to make a living out of purely performing.

Those willing to 'sell out' by playing easy-listening stuff, light jazz, popular tunes, simplified classics et al will get far more engagements playing in restaurants, hotels, clubs, weddings, functions etc than someone who will only play unadulterated classical music.

How many hoi polloi want to hear a Beethoven Sonata while having a romantic dinner with their beloved in an expensive restaurant? Yet that pianist tinkling the keys playing Moon River or a simplified Clair de lune - not very well - in the background will likely earn far more than a young virtuoso practising 6 hours a day, still desperately trying to make a living as a concert pianist despite having won several piano competitions - but has yet to find an agent......
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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