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Top soloist salaries for orchestras


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good point, and that is exactly how the force of free market

economics works. if that journalist had taken econ 101,

he would have nothing to write about.

Tiger Woods took home close to 100 mil dollars last year.

 WHAT!!?? the free market economics is working for

him and vice versa.

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Economics is NOT a zero sum gain - there is not a finite amount of money out there, that if someone gets a dollar or a Euro, that's one less for you. Quite the opposite.

I think the poster meant "wealth" rather than money. There is not a finite amount of wealth out there. If someone creates wealth, that does not require that another person must lose the amount of created wealth.

Also, just because wealth creation is not a zero-sum game does not mean that there are no zero-sum games in the economy.

On a related topic, one of my Ph.D. students approached me today with the proposition that corporate managers, including CEOs, are underperformers in general, because they are not paid well enough to attract top talent. It seems like someone who is making $5 million a year could not possibly be underpaid, until you look at earnings in private equity companies. There is another recent post about Bruce Rovner donating a huge collection of original music to Juilliard. Bruce made a bit over $500 million last year. No public firm can afford him or anyone like him. Bruce would be underpaid at $5 million a year.

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it is an interesting proposition.  on one hand, the public

companies as a whole are operating in the free market.

 the proposal argues that there is a price ceiling on the

salary, leading to lower motivation and production.  if the

companies are operating freely in the market economy, the ceo's

compensation may be high or low or just right with respective

reasons.

 "not paid well enough" argues against the free

market concept.

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Very thoughful post bean-fidhleir. I may be wrong, I always recognize that possibility, but simply declaring that I am wrong doesn't make it so. This where I go Nah-nah-na-na-nah ;-)

Thank you FINPROF, yes I meant wealth. New wealth can be created, by creating something of value that wasn't in existence before. I will admit that in a sense of the microeconomy of finite budgets, there IS a zero sum gain segment in economics, but in a free economy, and a free society, a person has the opportunity to go out and create wealth in other ways. I am speaking of the big picture, and governmental control, regulations, and laws MUST also cater to the big picture - especially at the federal level.

One justification that I thought of for soloists making the kind of money they do is the cost of their equipment. At least for string players. I guess pianists can't make such a claim, unless they ship their instrument around with them, and even then the cost is much less than a Strad.

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Originally posted by:
Erika

To play devil's advocate, this also means that only those people living in wealthy cities with major orchestras will have an opportunity to hear the top soloists.

So your saying that your choice to live in a small town should superscede the soloist's right to value their services for what they are worth? It would certainly be charitable for these soloists to occassionally go out and play in smaller venues for a reduced fee, but they shouldn't be required to.

There are other options like DVD's, CD's, and trips to the big city.

Also, the lesson here is don't let the politicians of the city tear down the wealth base of the community and it can afford to bring them in. (Okay, that was a little trite, but there is a point here).

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I'm simply pointing out the downside of the system. And generally top soloists charge more to play lesser orchestras, because a good manager will cut deals or offer incentives to get their clients in NY or Chicago or another prominent orchestra. A set fee is never really a set fee.

As far as sponsored performances go, most that I'm familiar with are from established funds (often memorial funds/bequests from wills) that endow guest artist performances year after year. There are quite a few of those here. They're not tied to a particular guest artist -- it's not like the the orchestra only gets the money if they obtain Soloist X.

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Originally posted by:
Erika

And generally top soloists charge more to play lesser orchestras, because a good manager will cut deals or offer incentives to get their clients in NY or Chicago or another prominent orchestra.

And academics will accept lower salaries for positions at Ivy League schools than at large state universities for the prestige factor. And soloists will accept lower payments to play at Carnegie Hall than in venues with lesser reputation.

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Originally posted by:
Erika

To play devil's advocate, this also means that only those people living in wealthy cities with major orchestras will have an opportunity to hear the top soloists.

Likewise, only people living in wealthy cities with major art museums will have an opportunity to see the works of the top artists. And people in wealthy cities with fine restaurants will have the opportunity to eat the works of the top chefs.

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Originally posted by:
Erika

Yes, you are quite right. The arts are pretty much for the wealthy, aren't they? Or, to restrict that even more, the wealthy in a very small handful of cities. I don't know how I feel about that scenario, but there it is.

That's not at all true. Perhaps in a relative sense, someone in NYC has far more art available to them than someone in Ardmore Oklahoma, but with modern technology, someone in Ardmore OK has far more access to fine art than Beethoven, or Mozart, or Goette, etc, could have dreamed of. Can you imagine living before the advent of recorded sound, where even the most cultured person would be lucky to hear any of Beethoven's Symphonies more than a few times in a lifetime, and be totally at the mercy of the quality of the performing organization. And that's just music. Theater, Painting Sculpture, Literature. There are no artistic deserts anymore except those imposed by one's apathy or lack of interest.

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Recordings are lovely and I have plenty of them, but I don't put them on par with live performance. My personal opinion, which I don't expect anyone to agree with, is there are some pieces out there that probably shouldn't be recorded -- some works just don't "can" or "bottle" well, you lose the energy that defines the piece. Kodaly comes to mind... I never liked him until I heard his work performed live. For that matter, I really don't care to listen to Beethoven unless it is live. I would hate to see music become a studio-only industry.

I am getting very off topic here, but I would be curious to know how the U.S. compares with Europe as far as access to live performance -- orchestras per capita, average travel time from orchestras, that sort of thing.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
FINPROF

I think the poster meant "wealth" rather than money. There is not a finite amount of wealth out there. If someone creates wealth, that does not require that another person must lose the amount of created wealth.

Given that wealth cannot be created from nothing and given that the universe has a limited amount of matter and free energy, there is definitely a ceiling on how much wealth can be created. Furthermore, a resource that is used to create wealth cannot be exploited by everybody, hence one person's huge profits mean fewer sources of wealth for many others.

quote:


Also, just because wealth creation is not a zero-sum game does not mean that there are no zero-sum games in the economy.

I think that was my point.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
DR. S

Very thoughful post bean-fidhleir. I may be wrong, I always recognize that possibility, but simply declaring that I am wrong doesn't make it so. This where I go Nah-nah-na-na-nah ;-)

You making ex-cathedra pronouncements doesn't make you right, either. So neener neener back atcha The position you put out is 'Econ 101' only in Chicago-school schools. Other places, it's not. As chronos here has gently pointed out, (and Paul Hawken has elsewhere), costs are not adequately accounted for in this magical 'wealth from nothing' theory beloved of the theologians of capitalism. Wealth 'creation' is actually robbery, since it enriches the few at the expense of the rest of us. (And the difference between the theology --it comes from nothing-- and the reality --it comes from our common wealth-- bids fair to kill all higher-order life. Ours might be the last generation to die of old age.)

But the owners of Maestronet seem not to be interested in supporting non-music-related discussion, so I'll stop here.

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If wealth cannot be created then I guess music cannot be created or art cannot be created.

Most of the Chicago school adherents are very familiar with the argument about externalities. That would lower the personal wealth created by the societal costs, but does not eliminate the wealth creation.

If wealth cannot be created then it hasn't ever been created and we are no wealthier than in the days of the cave man.

Maybe you believe that society is not wealthier today than in the days of the cave man, but I do. I wouldn't want to live in the medieval period let alone the prehistoric period. Even "rich" people were poor then by comparison with "poor' people today.

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If wealth cannot be created then I guess music cannot be created or art cannot be created.

Of course wealth can be created. It just can't be created out of nothing.

Digressions into economics aside, I don't think Mutter's fees are particularly objectionable, and it seems to me that Mutter demanding as much money as she can is no more or less fair than orchestras demanding to pay as little as they can. The seller sets the price and the buyer decides whether to buy, not buy or negotiate.

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quote:


Originally posted by:
bean_fidhleir

You making ex-cathedra pronouncements doesn't make you right, either.

In my perspective, an example of ex-cathedra belief is your assertion that new wealth is not created in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary (as so ably pointed out by FINPROF). Despite seeing the pictures of the world taken from outerspace, you insist the world its still flat. Of course this is politically advantageous to those who want to control the spread of wealth, or want to mire everyone into a state of institutional poverty (worked great for the USSR).

High Art (such as symphony orchestras and operas, grand art museums) is the reward for economic success.

I understand your point of view - I came from there. There is a difference between how we wish it worked (from each according to ability. . . - the flower lined path to h*ll) and how it really works (everyone needs to see what's in it for him).

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Violin/Viola/Cello Soloist vs. U.S. Major league football player.

Thousands of hours of daily slaving over the instrument from early childhood -- Starts only in high school for few months in a year.

Discipline, diligence, intellect -- Steroids, Beer, Intercourse?

$10,000 per concert -- $5000000 for a game.

What the hell are we even talking about?

Musicians should follow Bobby Fisher's example when it comes to the financial side of music.

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Below are a couple of excerpts snipped from today's news. I won't even mention the scenario in New Orleans -- suffice to say that they no longer even have a hall. Perhaps wealth is not finite, but it sure seems like it in some of these cases. I haven't expressed myself well on this thread, so let me state again that I have no complaint with a guest soloist or conductor charging $50K as long as the orchestra can support it. More power to them. In a perfect world, everyone would be paid what they are worth. But I don't think it's in anyone's best interest to have orchestras collapse, either.

____________

BSO's debt expected to surpass $16 million

The interim president still hits optimistic note

By Tim Smith

Baltimore Sun usic Critic

March 7, 2006

The albatross of accumulated deficits weighing down the Baltimore

Symphony Orchestra is expected to get even heavier by the end of the

2006 fiscal year. If current projections hold, that deficit will

increase from about $11.8 million to $16.2 million.

"There is no one in the organization who believes this is a sustainable

situation," W. Gar Richlin, the BSO's interim president and CEO, said in

his first interview since taking the job after the sudden departure of

the controversial James Glicker almost seven weeks ago.

There are many "views on how the deficit got to where it got," Richlin

said. "I am much more focused on the future than the past."

The BSO, which has an annual operating budget of about $30 million... [article continues]

__________________

Orchestra officials revise 2-tier proposal

Group would have 19 part-timers

By Andrew Adler

Louisville Courier-Journal

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

As a way to overcome the Louisville Orchestra's financial difficulties,

its management is now proposing a two-tiered structure with 55 full-time

and 19 part-time players.

[snipped some here to save space]

The orchestra is trying to avert filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy early

next month. Yesterday the two sides negotiated for three hours and 15

minutes.

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the relative shrinking audience for classical music puts to the

test if the current orchestra/classical music performance structure

is still a viable business model.  from pure economical point

of view, it is losing out badly to its competition, the popular

music.  

for social, artistic, even sentimental reasons, we have an

obligation to protect  this endangered species.  question

is at what cost?  for how long?

are we reviving a giant or trying to catch a falling knife?

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My last post on the subject, because this is not the place for deep economic philosphical discussions. The best answer, is for us music lovers to create lots of wealth and support the arts and programs to build the audience.

Truce

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I just wanted to comment that the expensive, heavily-promoted "stars" are not the only superb musicians around. Some of the most satisfying concerts I've ever heard were given by people who are not household names and who are much more likely to travel to smaller towns. This is also the case with singers- good regional opera companies present a great mix of young up-and-comers, and fine experienced singers whose voices, though beautiful, wouldn't fill the cavernous spaces of the big opera houses. Let's resist the outdated, anti-musical "star system" instead of giving into it.

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