Of all the trumpet players in the USA

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by trumpettrax, Sep 1, 2010.

  1. trumpettrax

    trumpettrax Piano User

    Mar 18, 2006
    Of all the trumpet players in the USA how many do you think actually are able to make a living playing and teaching the trumpet? Isn't it only like 1% that can make a living - something like that? Now the "make a living" is a relative term. Someone might "make it" making $30,000 a year another may "make it" making a million plus a year. Just curious.

  2. dhbailey

    dhbailey Piano User

    Jul 28, 2009
    New Hampshire
    Well just among the trumpet players I interact with on a regular basis in my town band, there are exactly 1 of us out of 15 that makes a living from music. And if I take into account all the repair clients I have, almost none of them make a living out of music, thus making the percentage I represent even tinier.

    And your question is really two-part -- many people make a living teaching trumpet but don't make much money playing trumpet because there aren't a lot of paid gigs in their area. So if you breakdown your question into the two groups -- playing only and teaching/playing I think you'd find the group of those earning their living only playing their instrument would be some decimal point in the hundredths or thousandths of one percent, given the enormous number of amateur players. Many more piece together a living doing both activities.
  3. Buck with a Bach

    Buck with a Bach Fortissimo User

    Dec 29, 2009
    Canton, Ohio
    That's probably more realistic, DH. I would think that the demographics of a particular area would affect the numbers some as well. More making it playing in areas like L.A., L.V., and N.Y.C., and maybe Chicago........Buck:oops:
  4. gbdeamer

    gbdeamer Forte User

    Oct 16, 2008

    No way to tell. Playing the trumpet isn't like being a doctor or accountant. There's no criteria set for what makes someone a "pro" or, as you indicated, what amount of money qualifies someone as "making a living" playing and teaching.

    You'd have an even harder time trying to set a successful criteria to define a "trumpet player". My neighbor bought a trumpet to make random noise at football games. Is he a trumpet player? I went through college with a guy who was a trumpet major and became a band director. He plays almost as poorly as my neighbor. Does he qualify?
  5. Alex_C

    Alex_C Piano User

    May 30, 2010
    Gilroy, California

    $30,000 a year is considered a rather low income.

    It's also 10X what I make now.

    If a person with reasonable skills woke up one morning and decided to start playing for tips in front of Whole Foods locations, post offices, farmer's markets, etc around my greater area, (the SF bay area) they'd make that OK. If they have a reasonable amount of skill, and put in the hours.

    I know, because I know someone who plays banjo who does at least that. At least. And he's no Bela Fleck. Just decent, with a good work ethic.

    But, like "artist" everyone who gets a Winton (low-budget secondary brand of Windsor-Newton) artists' kit and uses it a bit, isn't going to go out and try to make a living at it. Probably a few could indeed make a living, but they've got a routine down, working in an office or what have you.

    I personally think the market even as bad as it is, can absorb a few more of .... whatever .... if their heart is in it and they were essentially meant to do it. This goes for art, music, selling tires, anything.
  6. rdt1959

    rdt1959 Pianissimo User

    Oct 31, 2003
    Most of the pro trumpet players I have know make their living playing in two or more performing groups, studio sessions, teaching (individual lessons and/or teaching at schools). Quite a few are also associated with music stores in one way or another. A couple even do repair work on top of all that.

    Being a "pro" is not about income in my opinion. The pay is low, the hours are long and odd. Just when your friends are starting to hang out, it's time for you to go to work. How many "pros" have a Friday or Saturday evening off?

    All the pros that I have known have a few things in common. A love for music, a love for trumpet and a love for teaching others. Their work ethic is second to none.

    My former teacher at one point showed up at a studio in Atlanta at 9:00 am. They took 30 minutes for lunch, then went back to recording. He arrived at the music store to start lessons at 5:30 pm that day (my lesson was at 6:00). At 9:00 pm he was back in Atlanta for a corporate gig that lasted until midnight. 6:00 am the next morning he was at the airport, departing for New Orleans for a 2 day gig with a 4 hour rehearsal that afternoon.

    After all that, it was teaching the lessons that provided his "bread and butter" (his words)!

    His annual income is not all that much. Much lower than mine. But his job satisfaction rating would beat mine any day!!!
  7. wolfmann

    wolfmann Pianissimo User

    Aug 19, 2010
    In the OLD days and im talking the 20s to 50s many great artists barely could afford food and clothing much less a place to sleep.
    SOOO they would sell the rights to songs they had written or recorded for 20-50 bucks.Then that company that bought those rights would market them and get many thousands off of them while retaining royality rights that continue to this day.
    A guy I once played with a long time ago has said to compete in todays market you have to be VERY versatile meaning you have to play Jazz,Classical,and Teach to earn a modest living as there are MANY very good players out there.
    A close friend of mine has 3 Grammys from the bands he has played in yet made a living doing repair work on instruments.
    A Composer who was well respected in his field told me "You have to be crazy to try making a living off this"
  8. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    I could survive on what I make playing and teaching - I would have to seriously comprimise my life without the systems analyst job though. The biggest compromise would be having to teach more. When you teach for a living, you can't be as picky about what you get for students. I can afford to send the students who don't practice back home. If I need the job to eat, there would be more babysitting.........

    There are THOUSANDS of musical jobs for minimalist existances.
  9. Alex_C

    Alex_C Piano User

    May 30, 2010
    Gilroy, California
    For many now, it's a "minimalist" existence or .... Tent City.

    From what I have seen, reasonable skill + reasonable work ethic = a living busking. I read over and over again about buskers being broke, but this seems to be due to their lack of money management skills not lack of income. Being able to teach, gig, repair instruments, are all skills that are a plus. It's not about money, it's about music. Manage what money you get well, and money becomes almost a non-issue.

    All I can do is recommend the frugal-living books and sites, a number of books that are out, etc. No matter what a person does, if the money isn't managed well, it's the money rather than what they do, that will make them miserable and feel they are "poor".
  10. Darten

    Darten Mezzo Piano User

    Dec 21, 2009
    New York City
    I was in a brass repair shop in NYC a few days ago, and there was a little old man, probably in his late 80's (I am ashamed that I forgot his name and he introduced himself to me). anyways, he was having a conversation with the master repair technician in the store. They were discussing how most gigs over the last 40 years seemed to pay something like $25.00 a night in the 60's, 70's and 80's, and $65-75 on weekends for msot horn players. After the elder gentleman, who was quite gracious left, the tech asked me if I knew who he played for. I had no idea. The tech told me about this latin/mambo artist that I might have heard of: Tito Puente. If Tito Puente's trumpet players were making $250-300 a week, the average guy is going to starve out there, even by todays standards.

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