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The Trombone ForumCreation and PerformanceThe Business of Music(Moderator: BGuttman) What is a realistic salary for a professional trombonist?
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trb420
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« on: Jun 30, 2017, 08:36PM »

I would like to get a degree in trombone performance, but the only thing holding me back is the fact that I could potentially make a lot more money with a more conventional job. Although I'd much rather be a musician, I don't necessarily fall into the "can't see myself doing any other job" category, but I can definitely see myself getting a "regular job," making a good salary, but hating it. So, I guess I'm just looking for advice from those who've gone through with music, and their experiences and suggestions. Thanks!
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bigbassbone1

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« Reply #1 on: Jun 30, 2017, 09:01PM »

It varies radically... I mean it's hugely dependent on what kind of playing you want to do for a living, orchestra, freelance, chamber music, commercial...

It also varies radically depending on what country you do it in. At the time you are ready to start competing for jobs, you may find the only positions open to you are in other countries than your own that you may have never heard of. There are orchestra jobs in countries like China and Mexico which pay 2 or 3 three times more than what an average worker living in that city would earn, but the money still doesn't covert to a large amount of USD. You would live like a king in that city, but probably not make much to move on or take back home to your own country with you if thats what you wanted.

Maybe come up with a few professional scenarios in particular countries you could see yourself playing in? Then im sure plenty of people here will have helpful suggestions.
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robcat2075

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« Reply #2 on: Jun 30, 2017, 09:12PM »

I'm not a professional trombonist but the ones I have known personally typically seem to be in desperate finances.

Living with 4 roomates. Cell phone about to be cut off. Can't afford to see doctor. Yeesh.

I think you need to be a 1 percenter to have a decent living at it. Symphony jobs are exceedingly rare things.


Do something else you find interesting. There really is no such thing as a "conventional job".  If the job pays decent money it's going to have lots of challenges.


My experience is that job enjoyment is more about the people you work with than the actual tasks.








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Robert Holmén

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« Reply #3 on: Jul 02, 2017, 11:59AM »

People who did trombone playing a living, do that because it's the only thing they would do, like me, but believe me if I have found interest in pursue a career to be a doctor or physician, I wouldn't make music as a career...
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Matt K

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« Reply #4 on: Jul 02, 2017, 12:08PM »

Quote
I don't necessarily fall into the "can't see myself doing any other job" category, but I can definitely see myself getting a "regular job," making a good salary, but hating it. So, I guess I'm just looking for advice from those who've gone through with music, and their experiences and suggestions. Thanks!

When someone says they "can't see themselves doing any other job" it typically means that they would hate to do other jobs not that they literally could not force themselves to do another job. That said, what about a 'regular job' do you think you'd hate?  If you get a MIS, CS, or similar tech degree upon graduation you will likely find a job with flex time, at least partial work-from-home privilege, and a salary high enough to not have much of a commute if you so desire along with hours that basically don't require you to work when you'd rather be sleeping.  Granted, they are sometimes high pressure and mentally challenging jobs, but then again so is being a musician!
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« Reply #5 on: Jul 02, 2017, 12:18PM »

The recent Vancouver SO  principal and bass trb positions paid about $55k to $65k per season. Convert to USD by multiplying by .75. Second trb should be coming up soon.
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trb420
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« Reply #6 on: Jul 02, 2017, 02:00PM »

When someone says they "can't see themselves doing any other job" it typically means that they would hate to do other jobs not that they literally could not force themselves to do another job. That said, what about a 'regular job' do you think you'd hate?  If you get a MIS, CS, or similar tech degree upon graduation you will likely find a job with flex time, at least partial work-from-home privilege, and a salary high enough to not have much of a commute if you so desire along with hours that basically don't require you to work when you'd rather be sleeping.  Granted, they are sometimes high pressure and mentally challenging jobs, but then again so is being a musician!

I guess I'd hate to just work at a desk my whole life doing something I have nominal interest in, because even if you make more money, is it worth it if you don't like what you do?
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BGuttman
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« Reply #7 on: Jul 02, 2017, 02:06PM »

I guess I'd hate to just work at a desk my whole life doing something I have nominal interest in, because even if you make more money, is it worth it if you don't like what you do?

Yes, if it gives me enough free time to go play with amateur groups and enjoy myself.  Lots more fun than sitting in a bar getting drunk (which is the preoccupation for some).

Of course no amount of music can compensate for a "day job" I abhor. ;-)

When I was just coming up there were a lot more opportunities to play for pay.  Television studios had one or more bands on contract.  Live bands were more popular at Weddings and Bar Mitzvahs than DJ's.  Now the number of "workaday" music jobs is near zero; it's a gig economy and you have to scramble to make a living.  It is a sad story, but that's what it is.
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Bruce Guttman
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« Reply #8 on: Jul 02, 2017, 02:32PM »

I would like to get a degree in trombone performance, but the only thing holding me back is the fact that I could potentially make a lot more money with a more conventional job. Although I'd much rather be a musician, I don't necessarily fall into the "can't see myself doing any other job" category, but I can definitely see myself getting a "regular job," making a good salary, but hating it. So, I guess I'm just looking for advice from those who've gone through with music, and their experiences and suggestions. Thanks!

I guess I'd hate to just work at a desk my whole life doing something I have nominal interest in, because even if you make more money, is it worth it if you don't like what you do?

If you will play like Alessi or Lindberg or even better, you will never become a millionaire. But you will be respected by trombonists.
This requires talent. If you do not have talent, then you will play badly, you will not be respected by trombonists and you will hate the trombone.
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« Reply #9 on: Jul 02, 2017, 04:10PM »

I guess I'd hate to just work at a desk my whole life doing something I have nominal interest in, because even if you make more money, is it worth it if you don't like what you do?

Usually.
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MrPillow
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« Reply #10 on: Jul 02, 2017, 04:29PM »

You realize there are options other than being a trombonist that don't involve sitting a desk all day, right?
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« Reply #11 on: Jul 02, 2017, 04:42PM »

Plumbing comes to mind
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« Reply #12 on: Jul 02, 2017, 05:28PM »

The "desk job" is probably not well understood by people who have not had one or not had significant jobs at all. Most of what they know is what they've seen in movies or TV shows written by people who have no clue about desk (or any other) jobs either.

I had a "desk job".  It was great. I did computer graphics and animation.  The projects were challenging and the people were (usually) fun to work with. I was glad to be off the crummy temp job circuit and glad to be making more money that I could spend and glad to have a stable schedule after years the other way.

However there are many Good and interesting jobs that aren't desk jobs.

If your world view is that it's all just a binary choice of "trombone" or "desk job", then I think more career research is in order.
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Robert Holmén

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« Reply #13 on: Jul 02, 2017, 05:44PM »

If you will play like Alessi or Lindberg or even better, you will never become a millionaire. But you will be respected by trombonists.
This requires talent. If you do not have talent, then you will play badly, you will not be respected by trombonists and you will hate the trombone.


Prettty sure both of those guys actually are millionaires. Not hard to become one if you are making 150K + per year, which they are. Probably more.
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« Reply #14 on: Jul 02, 2017, 05:46PM »

Plumbing comes to mind

Electrician. Dry, no poop.
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MikeBMiller
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« Reply #15 on: Jul 02, 2017, 05:55PM »

My guess would be that the best payed trombonist in the USA would be Jimmy Pankow of Chicago. He is probably retiring in a few more years. Maybe that job will come open.

Many professional players have to scratch out a living playing in multiple regional orchestras, doing some pit shows, and teaching lessons. There is nothing wrong with that, but it can be a challenge to make sure you have enough money coming in all the time.

I am friends with a guy who was doing that for years and finally gave it all up to join the military - not a military band, but the actual military. He has done quite well for himself there, going to OCS and making Captain in a few years. He finally gave up his orchestra job last fall.

On the low end of the bell curve, I make maybe $2-3K a year playing, but I don't claim to be a real professional player.

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« Reply #16 on: Jul 02, 2017, 06:03PM »

Electrician. Dry, no poop.

Yeah, but you can get zapped pretty good :-0
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« Reply #17 on: Jul 02, 2017, 06:04PM »

I guess I'd hate to just work at a desk my whole life doing something I have nominal interest in, because even if you make more money, is it worth it if you don't like what you do?

I am lucky in the sense that I get both. I work in a hospital doing data analysis. The job isn't easy, but it is easy to be be interested in something that is helping people and simultaneously pays the bills. Lots of jobs out there like mine if you can get through a tech degree.

 I also don't sit behind a desk all the time. Lots of time is spent engaging other people, talking,gathering information etc. By the time Friday rolls around, I can hardly believe it's time to go home for two days. Which isn't to say it's fun, but it also is anything but boring.

Trades are also really good nowaday. Plumbing, electrician, hvac all make a really nice rate. And that stuff is hard to automate! At least for now.

In academic fields, there are more outdoorsy endeavors like geology. My father is a geologist  for the government. He started out doing field work because he didn't want to sit behind a desk all day either. But as he's gotten older he's quite happy to be inside, behind a desk all day!
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« Reply #18 on: Jul 02, 2017, 06:36PM »

I'm 27 and a professional trombonist.  I haven't had a day job for almost five years and I live in NYC. I'd say most guys in the low end without a day job in NYC make 30-35K hustling really hard...more experienced guys can play in wedding bands corporate things, gets to about $45-50K. At that point if you win an orchestral gig you'll start out between 50-60K trial year then it goes up. In NYC, that is much higher and if you get a Broadway show and Don't often sub out can make upwards of $150K. These numbers would probably be similar or lower depending on which city or state...maybe where your cost of living is also lower. Otherwise freelance touring with cool bands can get your money way higher. Don't expect to play any music you were taught in college to make a living. I also advise getting into electronic music-- I get flown out to play Coachella with a DJ and make more than tens times the Mingus band gig pay.
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« Reply #19 on: Jul 02, 2017, 07:14PM »

A few years ago, after noting that my recent AF of M union paper no longer listed salaries paid for trombone positions, I looked into the career of professional rodeo clown.

There are far far more positions available for professional rodeo clown than professional trombonist. And the pay is far higher.

Keep the tux pants, buy larger shoes, learn how to run a sprint, and throw away your horn, your bank account will thank you.
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