A number of years ago there was a movement on twitter to create transparency in the work force around salaries to help combat the gender pay gap, especially in the tech industry. I noticed such transparency was lacking among musicians as well, especially when it comes to commissioning rates for composers. Fees for performing gigs can vary wildly, and many wonder if they are being offered a ‘fair’ amount of their time and talent.

While I believe every artist can decide what is fair for themselves and balance out monetary compensation with other types of perceived value, I think it’s still helpful to create transparency in the field, both for artists and those who wish to hire them. So, here’s a breakdown of how I make my living. As a point of reference I have put, side by side, a comparison of my average rate of compensation from 2010-2015, when I was freelancing in NY, and 2015-19 freelancing in LA after finishing my DMA at CalArts.

The New York Years (2011-2015)

  • Performing
    • Choral Performance set (usually 8-12 rehearsals, 2 shows) $100 – $200
    • Opera Chorus Performance (10 rehearsals, 2 shows) $600
    • Church Section Leader (9am-12pm call, sundays only) $100-$125 per service
    • Short choir recording gig (1-2 hours) $100
  • Conducting
    • Community choir conductor (1-2 rehearsals a week), $8,000 – $10,000 a year
    • Guest Conducting (short set special event, 2-3 rehearsals) $200 per show
  • Teaching
    • Classroom teaching (college level), $65/Hour
    • Private teaching, $200 for a set of 4 lessons ($50/lesson)
  • Arts Administration
    • Program associate (25 hours a week) $25k a year, plus benefits
  • Composition
    • Short film score (under 3 minutes), $200
    • Yoga film score (45 min), $400

Currently In Los Angeles (2015-2019)

  • Performing
    • Chamber music concert performance, $300-$400
    • Opera Workshop Performance (3 rehearsals, 2 shows) $500
    • Opera Full ¬†Performance (10 rehearsals, 12 shows) $3500
    • Church Section Leader (thursday and sunday calls) $33/hour
    • Short solo recording gig (2 hours) $600
    • short choir recording gig (2 hours) $100
  • Conducting
    • Church assistant conductor and section leader (6 hours a week), $11k a year
    • Opera assistant conductor, $1k
    • Community choir conductor sub, $125 per rehearsal
  • Teaching
    • Classroom teaching (college level), $65/Hour
    • Private teaching, $225 for a set of 4 lessons ($56.25/lesson)
  • Arts Administration
    • Executive Director (15-20 hours a week) $30k a year, no benefits
  • Composition
    • Music heavy theatrical work (evening length), $3000
    • Music for dance piece (10 min), $1000
    • Short video trailer (3 min), $250
    • Choral score (5 min), $500
    • Choral ¬†score (5 min) + 2 day residency at college, $1250 (had to buy my own flight and accommodations)

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