One of the blogs Bruce and I both follow is Adaptistration, the site of arts consultant Drew McManus. He put up recently a series of four posts of wage reports for ICSOM and ROPA orchestras for 2010 which are must reads for those interested in orchestral playing. The data is accurate for the 2007/08 season and in each report McManus outlines the sources of the information.
For those not up on their acronyms, ICSOM orchestras are what we would commonly think of as major orchestras and ROPA orchestras are regional. The International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians represents musicians from 51 orchestras and the Regional Orchestra Players’ Association represents musicians from 83 orchestras.
The big money is in conducting. Six ICSOM music directors make over a million dollars a year! The average salary is close to $650,000 a year for conductors but the base salary average over the 51 orchestras for musicians is just a bit over $65,000. That the conductors of ICSOM orchestras make ten times base salary on average is a pretty eye opening statistic.
Management of ICSOM orchestras also do pretty well financially. Top executive officers average over $375,000.
ROPA music directors made an average of just over $133,000 compared to a base musician salary average of just over $13,000, so the ten times base salary figure holds up again at this level. As I have posted before, conducting is where the money is at.
The last category in the public posts is that of executives in ROPA orchestras. They do pretty well also, with an average of almost $120,000 salary.
Every one of the posts linked above from Adaptistration puts the numbers into context and also gives the base salary numbers for performers in each of the orchestras, information which may be a bit sobering for some music students to ponder even if considering the possibilities of overscale and doubling. I have more in general on the money question for performers in this prior post, and check the long series of posts tagged “Orchestra 101” for more.
These articles again are must read material but there is more! For those seriously in the business McManus offers premium level information for a fee. I have had the chance to look over the additional information that is there, and the details provided (such as the year-by-year analysis of the salaries of music directors and concertmasters) are fascinating. Solid information is critical for negations and career planning; check his site for more information on the premium service.