Double bassist and Contrabass Conversations guest John Grillo sent me a link to orchestrafacts.org, a compilation of salary information, structural deficits, and vacancy rates for orchestras in the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM).
While I would like to see some statistics for the last several seasons (the most recent statistics are for the 2003-04 season) there is much to learn on this site, particularly if you are interested in the compensation of full-time orchestral musicians and how that compensation relates to other professions.
Here are a few interesting statistics from this site (visit this link for the original source material):
The International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) is comprised of 52 American orchestras. These orchestras comprise virtually all of the American orchestras that pay a full-time living wage. There have been several stories in major American newspapers recently that may have led to misperceptions about orchestral salaries by noting that “no orchestra member is paid the minimum scale” and then citing the salaries of the handful of highest paid musicians using data obtained from orchestras’ federal tax forms. In order to clarify this, we offer the following analysis.
- There are 52 ICSOM orchestras employing a total of about 4,200 musicians.
- During the academic year 2002-2003, American colleges, universities and conservatories graduated 14,601 students with degrees in music.
- During the 2003 calendar year there were 159 openings for musicians in ICSOM orchestras.
- The average minimum salary for the 2003-2004 season for musicians in ICSOM orchestras was $57,370.
- The lowest minimum salary was $23,000; the highest was $104,000.
Some other links on this site worth investigating include:
- Historical information on orchestra salaries from 1952-2000, including salaries indexed to the Consumer Price Index
- An insightful essay on musicians as professionals
- Felton, Marianne Victor; “Historical Funding Patterns in Symphony Orchestras, Dance and Opera Companies, 1971-1992” Journal of Arts Management, Law and Society; Spring 1994, Volume 24, Issue 1