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Trumpet Discussion Discuss Musician's Union in the General forums; Hello Good folxs, So pretty soon I'll be graduating and hittin' the "real world" lookin' for a job. I've always ...
  1. #1
    Forte User Bear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2004

    Musician's Union

    Hello Good folxs,
    So pretty soon I'll be graduating and hittin' the "real world" lookin' for a job. I've always wanted to teach but recently I've found myself with an urge to play and perform. So, after I graduate and am lookin' for a gig, would the musician's union be the way to go? Anything else to try? Thxs folxs.

  2. #2
    Pianissimo User
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Ellicott City, Maryland
    Only if you want to be a union musician!

    Are the jobs you want currently filled by union musicians? Is the union particularly strong in your locale? If NO to either, then maybe it is not a requirement for you to succeed.

    Why not start a band or join one that is working regularly? Get some repetoire, get some gigs, then you will get some money.

    Good luck.

    - Paul Artola
    Ellicott City, Maryland

  3. #3
    Forte User B15M's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Monroe Ct.
    I joined the union and I get a lot of work.

    I also play non union stuff but it is a small investment so I say join.

  4. #4
    Pianissimo User R.A.S.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Woodbury, Minnesota
    As Paul said, it depends on where you live.
    If you live in a town with a good orchestra that may hire you sometimes as an extra, join. One week of concerts here with the Minnesota Orchestra is worth about 8 times the yearly union dues.

    As a non-union player, remember that people hiring you will usually try to get you to play for less than union scale. Sometimes this gives you a niche, sometimes it leaves you getting paid less than you know you're worth.

    For example, I would charge $120 for a wedding (doing solos in the ceremony and prelude and postlude). My friend, who isn't in the union, would charge around $60. Same work load. Same expectations by the ones hiring him.

    If I ever went back to non-union status, I'd feel like I was selling myself short every time I went out for a gig.
    (Just my $.02 worth)

  5. #5
    Forte User
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    The local here in Minneapolis/St. Paul is not very strong anymore. But they know there is very little freelance work. And we all are scraping for anything we can get. But being in the union does give me that extra leverage in negotiating prices. I have one additional positive and one negative about this local. The positive is that they offer an insurance policy for my horns and equipment that has very reasonable premiums for full replacement coverage. The one negative is that they no longer offer a health insurance plan we can buy into. So consequently I had to get a "day job" outside of music to get full health insurance coverage.

    I will stay in the union, no matter what city I live in, for as long as I play professionally.


  6. #6
    Forte User mike ansberry's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Clarksville, Tennessee, U
    I have some very negative feelings about the musician's union. (and I'm a raving liberal) I was a member of the St. Louis local in the 1970's. 6 Flags got rid of their orchestras and went to all taped shows. The union picketed the park. All the big name bands crossed our lines to play shows in the park and the union did nothing. Years later I was working in Nashville. I was playing the Christmas show in the Opryland hotel. We were playing for somewhat less than scale, but then Opryland Talent Group frequently had deals with the union where they payed below scale. The union found out about it. Did they go after Opryland Entertainment? Of course not. They fined everyone who played the show. What kind of sense does this make?

    I think if you are a big fish playing a symphony gig or maybe a top end freelancer, the union is a good thing for you. If you are a little fish like me, it does nothing for you but take your money. If I were you I wouldn't join the union until I had to. The union doesn't find you work, for the most part. Maybe a few trust fund jobs here and there. You have to find your own work.
    "Music is a fire in your belly that has to come out of your mouth, so you'd better put a horn in the way before someone gets hurt"
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  7. #7
    Forte User Bear's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Thanks for all your replies both positive and negative. They are very helpful and I appreciate that we can go about it in an adult manner... unlike some other threads. Anyways, if there are any more respones out there, let 'em be heard!

  8. #8
    Mezzo Piano User
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    I think it does matter where you live and where you wish to play.

    True Story: Many years ago, I played lead guitar and some keyboards in a "Top 40" / "Pop" band. As I was the "business head" of the group, I did all the bookings. One day, I got a call from an unknown inquirer regarding a potential gig for New Year's Eve. The band was pretty popular, and it was not unusual to get gigs all over the region. As I wanted to know more ($$, venue, type of crowd, etc.), I asked the caller to meet me at a popular restaurant to discuss particulars. The man I met there seemed somewhat "out-of-the-ordinary", although, I couldn't quite discern exactly in what sense. As we began negotiating, he produced a lengthy written contract form for me to sign. Upon reading it over, I discovered that union membership was required to play the gig. At first, I balked, since "union" conjured-up visions of nasty Teamsters (Jimmy Hoffa, etc.). On the other hand, the gig would pay a lot of money. I wanted to "think about it", so I asked the dude to give me a week. I was put in touch with the nearest "local" (Baltimore, MD), and decided to join-up, along with my dubious band-mates. We became official union members and took the gig ... and what a gig it was! It was in a closed-off basement of a major hotel ... and was pretty much a "speak-easy" / private-members only deal. Almost everything was going on ... gambling, broads (unbelievable "babes").... Turns out, "The Mob" was running the show. I have to say -- we were very well taken care of ... treated like royalty, or "Rock Stars".

    After that one gig ... nothing evermore from or with union connections.

    End of story. (And please do not ask me to "elaborate" on what went on at that gig ... "my lips are sealed"!)

    Robert Rowe

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