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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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JohnL
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« Reply #20 on: Jul 02, 2017, 11:37PM »

First, the wet blanket: Not that many professional trombone players have a salary. They have an income, but it's earned from a mix of pay-per-service gigs, private lessons, maybe an adjunct faculty job or two, and who knows what else. There are very few salaried positions out there.

OTOH...

There are military bands where, depending on the service and what level you're talking about (fleet/post band vs. premiere band), your primary job is being a musician. Not for everyone, but it is an option, and some people do make a career of it.

Another option is cruise ship gigs. Once again, not for everyone, but it is a full-time gig with a salary.
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« Reply #21 on: Jul 03, 2017, 12:55AM »

If you hate a desk, it's better to become a dentist or lawyer and play trombone in your spare time
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« Reply #22 on: Jul 03, 2017, 04:55AM »

I have spent the last 36 years cobbling together a comfortable living by teaching school, playing trombone/keyboards/bass, doing church music, and working in a music store.  I play my horn almost every day in some way.  I would have loved to only play trombone when I was younger but now that I'm pushing 60 years of age, I'm glad I have a pension. 
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« Reply #23 on: Jul 03, 2017, 05:43AM »

What is a realistic salary for a professional trombonist?

I'm about to find out. I just formed my first group, The T-boner Quintet. Here is a clip of our first outdoor concert:

Live: The T-boner Quintet

On bass is my cousin Carl, on guitar is my other cousin Carl, on keyboards is my other cousin Carl, on drums is my cousin Carla and me, T-boner - on trombone.

I think we have a very bright future ahead of us; playing under bridges to entertain grifters, at back-yard midnight cat fights, building implosions, etc.

We'll start out playing for pizza, but then - who knows! Maybe parking garage concerts, vacant crack houses, etc. The possibilities are truly endless.

...Geezer
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timothy42b
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« Reply #24 on: Jul 03, 2017, 08:32AM »

Electrician. Dry, no poop.

We had a good friend who was struggling with college and decided one day she would stay in bed until she'd decided between becoming a plumber or an electrician.

It took most of the day but she decided while plumbers had some messes, electricians got electrocuted.

She became a plumber and loves it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5D11e424M_Q

The point about Mike is that a lot of loving your job is how you decide to approach it.

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Tim Richardson
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« Reply #25 on: Jul 03, 2017, 08:36AM »

...a lot of loving your job is how you decide to approach it.



A good way to gauge how employees feel about their jobs is to observe their behavior on Friday afternoon!
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Rich Woolworth
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« Reply #26 on: Jul 03, 2017, 09:34AM »

A lot of job satisfaction involves doing a good job and taking satisfaction from that. Be proud of what you do.
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« Reply #27 on: Jul 03, 2017, 11:08AM »

Over the years I would guess most of my enjoyment as well as disgruntlement with various jobs was related to the people I worked with or for. 

We don't have much control over that; we have some control over our reaction to that if we choose to exercise it. 
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Tim Richardson
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« Reply #28 on: Jul 03, 2017, 12:54PM »

Electrician. Dry, no poop.

Mechanic. You get to play with things that can (potentially) go fast! I have some mechanic skills (no internal engine work) so I help out friends sometimes with that. I know a Doug Elliott used to restore Hondas to supplement his income back in the day. Good mechanics (ASE certified or otherwise) get paid decently well.
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« Reply #29 on: Jul 03, 2017, 01:18PM »

This poor OP.....
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« Reply #30 on: Jul 03, 2017, 01:25PM »

This poor OP.....

Well, the sad part of it is, if you want to be a professional trombone player, you will either have to join a Military Band (fewer and fewer chairs), win a Symphony audition at a top orchestra (even less opportunity than Military), become a Broadway or Film musician (very tough,and only two places to be), or get lucky enough to be hired by a television or radio studio (do they even keep trombone players on staff?).  Otherwise you are scrambling hither and yon to pick up bits and pieces to play.

Net result is that it's VERY tough to describe an average trombone player's salary.  I think Mason came as close as anybody to giving a real answer.
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Bruce Guttman
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« Reply #31 on: Jul 03, 2017, 02:07PM »

The truth is that the "Golden Age" of the trombone is far behind and it will never return.
Miles Davis said that in the future musical instruments made of wood and metal will give way to electronic musical instruments made of plastic. We are watching this now.

It makes no sense to choose a dying profession (IMHO), although I love the trombone.
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« Reply #32 on: Jul 03, 2017, 10:27PM »

I ended up moving to Germany (from Australia) but live quite comfortably with my wife in a decent size appartment, a 3 week trip home every year and some savings. The pay is never anything we'll become rich off but it is fine.
I probably did 30 auditions before I started havibg success and did plenty of teaching and working in other industries but (at least in Germany), it is possible.
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« Reply #33 on: Jul 04, 2017, 01:17PM »

Quote
I don't necessarily fall into the "can't see myself doing any other job" category...

These are not the words of someone passionate about being a musician. That attitude will lead to disappointment.
The only reason to go into music is because you are passionate about it.
Research other stuff. Find a passion. You are young.

btw, Passion is no guarantee of making a living in music, either.

A little googling can find some answers, also....
There are a few threads on the forum here about how some folks put together a living also.
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Phil G.
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« Reply #34 on: Jul 04, 2017, 05:49PM »

This question can't be answered easily - salaries vary greatly in the music field. On the high end, players like Jimmy Pankow (Chicago) or Trombone Shorty have made rock and roll star money. There are young freelance players living below the poverty level. There are some sites online that give you some general guidelines on what kind of pay you can expect doing different jobs within the music industry, but they are very general. Major orchestras (say the top 20 N. American orchestras, by budget) have base pay rates from just below 6 figures up to about $150,000. Principal players in orchestras like that can negotiate a fee that is significantly over that. The smaller the orchestra is (budget-wise), the lower the base will be, and usually, the less the over-scale will be that a player can  negotiate.

Broadway shows pay well - like a mid-sized orchestra, with extra fees for doubling, overtime (especially long shows). The problem there is that shows close, and even busy players have periods where they are out of work.

Lots of players manage to make a decent living freelancing - both in classical and commercial fields. Again, you have to expect busy periods of work, followed by times that are as "dry as a desert". The upside is that every day is a bit different than the day before.

Plenty of musicians in all genres reach a point where they don't want to hustle for a living anymore, and make a career change. In some cases they keep playing some gigs on the side, while others decide to make a clean break from a music career. If they do the former, they have the chance to have an activity that they can do in their spare time that brings in some cash separate from their day job.

So, here's the thing - if music is your passion, and people who know what they are talking about say that you have strong potential to make it as a musician (not your relatives!), then you should examine your options to pursue it. Don't do it if you're on the fence. I have been lucky enough to have had a career as a musician for over 40 years - 36 of those as a principal trombonist in an orchestra. My last day job was in High School, and I've earned a salary that has enabled me to buy a house, and have (hopefully!) a fairly comfortable retirement in a few years. With the exception of the Rock stars that I mentioned at the beginning of this reply, nobody gets rich from playing the trombone but many players do make a living. It's also true that many more players will not get to a place where they can make a living from playing, and will either have to quit or make their playing into a hobby or sideline. My part-time job is as an instructor at the local university, and I've had students end up in all of those circumstances. I've yet to have any former student tell me that they regret giving music a try. The professional players love what they do, the part-timers like having music in their lives to break the monotony of a day job, and the ones who quit playing feel like they gave it their all, and had a great experience.

Good luck with making your decision!

Jim Scott
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« Reply #35 on: Jul 05, 2017, 01:23AM »

Something that is rarely discussed is; even if a younger player is doing ok at the moment, how does he/she grow the business? Because if it isn't growing, it's shrinking against inflation rising prices and falling demand.
Also age. There's a natural sympathy to support young people coming through which evaporates with age. The pupils that you took so much care with, will be your main competitors, and lets face it, nobody wants to see a band of 60+ year olds playing "uptown funk" to a wedding crowd of 30 somethings..




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« Reply #36 on: Jul 05, 2017, 02:23AM »

Sometimes I have been playing music that I really love playing, no or little money.
Sometimes I have been playing music that gave me lots of money, sometimes I have been thinking.
I hate the music, I am just doing this for the money.

Sometimes as a teacher the student ask : Do you think I would have a future as a professiional trombonist?.
My answer is: Maybe if you practise much more then what you are doing now, work on getting the word around that you are a good trombonist, are prepared to live on very little money for some time.
If you are looking for a orchestra employment, there are hundreds of very good players looking for the same job.
Jazz? Money? Well....
Pop? Trombone? Well....

A realistic salary for a pro? Depends. Between 10 000$ to 90 000$ ?



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« Reply #37 on: Jul 05, 2017, 05:22AM »

Something that is rarely discussed is; even if a younger player is doing ok at the moment, how does he/she grow the business? Because if it isn't growing, it's shrinking against inflation rising prices and falling demand.
Also age. There's a natural sympathy to support young people coming through which evaporates with age. The pupils that you took so much care with, will be your main competitors, and lets face it, nobody wants to see a band of 60+ year olds playing "uptown funk" to a wedding crowd of 30 somethings..


Really? Apparently, the Beach Boys didn't get a memo similar to that!  Evil

Hey, if it swings, it sings!  Way cool

...Geezer
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« Reply #38 on: Jul 05, 2017, 05:57AM »

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?

Desk jobs aren't all "Office Space" and "Dilbert" (although there can be some of that, for sure, but not nearly as much as I feared when I first resigned myself to being a "cubicle slave"). Most desk jobs provide opportunities to be creative, and solve problems, and help people, and interact with awesome coworkers, and all these little "intangibles" that can make you feel happy and fulfilled.

Let's compare some worst-case scenarios:
(1) You have a desk job, a day job, that you hate. But it's stable, and it has fairly regular hours, and it pays enough that you can live comfortably. Because of that, you have the freedom to play trombone for fun, in lots of different ensembles, every day after work. And you're a good enough player that sometimes you can get semi-pro gigs. You can fulfill your musical passion and you don't have to worry where your next meal is coming from. (And it gives you something to look forward to at the end of the day, as you slog through your wretched desk job.)
(2) You play trombone for a living. When you can get work, you really do love it, but you can't ever seem to find enough work to pay the bills. Your passion for music is darkened by the constant anxiety in the back of your throat, as you wonder how the heck you're going to make rent this month.


My parents advised: Do something to make money, and then do what you love on the side. It's been working for me so far.
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« Reply #39 on: Jul 05, 2017, 06:11AM »


Really? Apparently, the Beach Boys didn't get a memo similar to that!  Evil

...Geezer

But they were the Beach Boys long ago and still are. A cynic might say that they're in the nostalgia business now..
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