Why You Should Charge Premium Rates For Your Music Lessons

Music is a priceless gift—A gift which enriches our students, and through them, our world. When we teach music, we nurture students to think creatively; to improvise; to find ways to express harmony and dissonance; to express who they are in diverse, complex, and integrated ways. Imparting our music to the next generation is a crucial service.

Let me tell you my story:

Staring Down the Gorilla

Or how I set my lesson fees

When I first began teaching piano in January 2010, I had a problem.

The going rate in my area was $20-$25/lesson. A large, well-established music school in my area was charging $34/lesson. How much was I going to charge?

Remember that old joke: Where does an 800-pound gorilla sit?  (Anywhere he wants to!)   The big music school was the 800-pound gorilla in my local community, and as such, it could charge what it wanted.

Even so, $34 a lesson seemed low to me, considering how much overhead the big music school had (and how little the teacher probably got). Let’s face it, doing business costs money, costs beyond the time a teacher spends with his or her students. To have a sustainable business, you must figure those costs into the price of your product.

I wanted to quit my day job in HR and Compensation. But I quickly realized I had to bring in at least $64 per teaching hour to work less and meet my income needs (hello mortgage!).

I’m a good teacher with a great curriculum (and a lot of confidence), but I also knew I was just starting out.  I fretted a lot: Could I possibly charge what I really felt my time was worth?

How is a Music Lesson Like a Fine Wine?

People only recognize its value if they are told.

In 2007, a team of researchers at Cal Tech* studied how price impacts people’s enjoyment of wine:

There were 5 bottles of wine, labeled only by price: $5, $10, $35, $45, and $90.  The lucky participants tasted each wine, rated their experience, and had their brains scanned while they enjoyed their wine.  (Can I volunteer for this study?)

Everyone’s experience improved as the price went up—and their brain scans proved it. The pleasure centers in their brains lit up more intensely with higher prices.

Here’s the catch: There were actually only three wines, and the researchers manipulated the marked prices! So when the subject tasted the $10 wine, it was actually a $90 wine—and they enjoyed like it was a $10 wine.

A lot of people heard about this study and resolved to only buy $5 wine. But there’s something much more important here for anyone teaching music lessons:

If you price your $90 music lesson like a $10 one, people will treat it like a $10 music lesson, and they will treat you like a $10 music teacher.

How do we make the world recognize the real value of music lessons?

It begins with YOU charging what you are worth.

Music is a priceless gift, but we must put a price on it. We need to price our product as a $90 wine, not a $5 one.

Pricing your lessons at “bargain rates” does not mean people will think they’re getting a good deal.   More likely, it will mean that you get less respect for your time, your abilities, and your business. You are charging $5 for your $90 wine, and people will value your teaching accordingly. After all, if you were selling a Mercedes Benz for $1000, everyone would ask, “What’s wrong with it?”  A high quality product should have a high quality price.

But there’s more: when you charge so little you can’t make ends meet, it hurts the perception of music education’s value. When you feel burned out and desperate, you teach like a desperate, burned out teacher—and your students know.  It shows in their results.

When you charge what you are worth, you build a culture that empowers ALL music instructors to do the same. You will teach better when you are healthy, happy, and financially comfortable–and your students know that too.

So back to my story:

Here’s what I did.

I took a deep breath, consulted trusted friends and colleagues, and benchmarked my lesson fees to the big music school. I charged $35/lesson, or $140/month for 48 lessons/year. Since then I have both raised my rates and taken more time off.

Was I crazy? You decide: 5 years out I have a stable studio averaging 30 students.  As of today, 65% of them have been with me over 2 years. Over 1/3 have been with me for over 3 years.  As a brand new teacher, I charged a premium on the premium rate in my area, and I had 20 students within 10 months on an advertising budget of $0.

A wise soul once said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  How do you want music teachers to be perceived? Be that teacher.  Believe in your own worth.

Together, we can stop this insane culture of undercutting each other’s lesson rates to be more “competitive.” We can be empowered businesspeople. We can give ourselves a raise, take enough time off, speak confidently about our lesson rates.   We can acknowledge what we’re worth and have confidence enough to charge it.

We empower our students when we believe in ourselves and create a teaching environment that enables us to be our best selves. By this path, we lead them not only to better musicianship, but to better humanity.

You are a uniquely qualified, highly skilled artist and educator. It’s your passion. It’s your profession. It’s your soul. Believe in your worth as an artist and teacher, and others will believe it, too.

*If you are interested in reading more about the study I cited above, here are links to the original research:

Marketing actions can modulate neural representations of experienced pleasantness; Plassman, et. al. 2008; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol.  105 No. 3

Wine Study Shows Price Influences Perception (Media release about the study)

How To Put More Money In Your Pocket By Increasing Student Retention

One of the most important things that music teachers tend to ignore is how long they are keeping each of their students. As music teachers and school owners, we are constantly focusing on getting new students and developing new marketing materials to bring clients to our businesses. Keeping the flow of students coming in to your business is great, but if you are not keeping your students for very long, then it can be a big waste of time and effort. I track the retention of all my teachers at my school. Shooting for longer periods of time (3-5 years), greatly reduces the amount of marketing needed to keep your schedule full.

If your average student retention is 12 months, you will need to find a new student every month to stay at your current enrollment. If your retention is 3 months, you will need to find 4 new students every month to keep your enrollment at the same level. If your retention is 24 months, you need to find a new student every other month. Can you see now, how working on retention can help your business?

So how do you increase the overall retention of the students you are working with?

1. Keep A Detailed Log

So many teachers wing each of their lessons. They have no plan for their students and will just see how the lesson goes. I understand that sometimes lessons can take their own turn depending on the students needs, but having a general plan of what you and your student will be working on will give your student confidence in your teaching and their lessons.

Additionally, when students are feeling a bit disappointed by their progress, you can show them your detailed log with all of the skills, songs and techniques they have learned over the course of their lessons. Most students are impressed that you have taken to time to keep track of everything. Not only that, it gives them a boost to see all of the skills they have learned since starting.

2. Check In With Student Goals Every 3 Months

As students learn new things, their goals and expectations of the lessons will change. When most students walk through my door, they have absolutely no clue why they are taking lessons. They are not sure what their goals are because they do not know whether they even have the skill to play an instrument.

After the first 3 months of lessons, I do a goal check-in with students. They usually have a better idea about where they want their lessons to go, what songs they want to learn and where they want their lessons to go. If students are still not sure, I will ask them very specific questions. For example, with a gutar lesson I may ask a student, “Would you like to learn more complex rhythms?” “Do you have an interest in finger picking?” “Are you interested in learning a guitar solo?” And so forth and so on. This sometimes helps student decide what they are really interested in.

Keep checking in with your student about their goals and make sure to write them down as they evolve.

3. Lessons Are About The Student, Not How Good Your Are

Students honestly do not care about your skills or how great of a musician you are. All they care about is that you can teach them to do the things they want to do, so do not waste their lesson time showing off your cool skills. Remember, it’s about what they want to learn, not what is on your personal agenda.

Keep in mind each student is different. Not everyone is going to be into improvising. Most of my female acoustic guitar students just want to play and sing songs. So we do not delve into scales and improv as much as a would an electric guitar player that wants to rock a solo. Not everyone is going to love music theory, but I will try and work things in in bits and pieces. I will wait for a moment when they ask a question that requires a music theory answer like: Why is it called an A7 chord? This gives me the opportunity to say, “That’s a great question. To answer that, we are going to have to learn a little music theory.”

I will not spend weeks teaching something the student does not like. Students need to always feel motivated about lessons. If they are not motivated, they practice less. When they practice less, they make less progress. When they make less progress, they get frustrated and quit lessons. This is why the 3 month check-in mentioned above is so important. It allows you to get feedback on how you are teaching the student and correct your teaching approach if you are heading in the wrong direction.

4. Make The Student Feel Like They Are Part Of A Community

Probably one of the biggest things you can do to increase student retention is to make students feel like they are a part of something. Hold student hang outs where student can meet up to play music together, or even just meet up at a bowling alley to have fun. Activities with your students do not always have to be music related. Hang outs like this allow students to meet other students that are just like them.

I recently held a Band Program at my school for adult players. Every single student asked the same questions, “Will I be the worst player?” or “Is everyone else going to be better than me?” Students really do feel like they are alone sometimes in the learning process. Meeting other students that are at the same level is encouraging and creates a sense of community. All those band students have given rave reviews about their experience and most of them have only taken lessons for about a year. They can’t wait until the next one.

Create little get togethers with your students, and you will create a community where students look forward not only to their lessons, but hanging out with the other students.

5. Build More Personal Relationships

As you can see, a lot of these tips have nothing to do with actual lesson material. Teaching lessons is more about pschology than the actual lesson. Every student has a different reason for taking lessons. Learn what those reasons are, and learn about your students’ lives outside of the classroom. Remembering that little Sally had a birthday party last week means a lot. Asking an adult how life is going gives them an opportunity to vent frustrations. I sometimes joke that some of my students think I’m a psychiatrist, but I know it means I have connected with them. When your students feel comfortable opening up to you, you know you have done a good job of building a relationship.

Always strive for the best in your students, but do not forget to build amazing relationships with your customers along the way.

Panel Discussion: How Music Makes Money

Join me on December 10th, at Parsons The New School for Design in NYC, for a panel discussion on the modern music business. I will be joined by professionals in entertainment and intellectual property law, music publishing and rights management, crowd funding, and marketing. The event is free and open to the public.

Here are the details:

The Parsons Institute for Intellectual Property (PiiP) announces an evening panel presentation of industry professionals discussing how music makes money now. Since the advent of digitized music, the methods of making, using, and delivering music have grown exponentially. As a result, many royalty revenue streams and creative ways of monetizing music have emerged. The ways in which music is now marketed, bundled, downloaded, streamed, and otherwise used has resulted in many opportunities and challenges, and have kept legislation and business practices moving at an accelerated pace to keep up. Payments have changed considerably since the heyday of record royalties, making it more important than ever to understand how the new licensing, !nancing, and payment models affect the income of music creators.

If you want to understand what’s happening in the music business today, join us:

On: December 10th, 6:00 to 9:00
At: Parsons The New School for Design, Teresa Lang Center, Mezzanine Level, 55 W. 13th Street.

Panelists include:

Barry Heyman, Esq., Heyman Law
Founder and principal attorney of this boutique law firm, Heyman has been practicing entertainment, intellectual property (copyrights and trademarks), and new media law for over a decade. He also has 10+ years experience working in the music and entertainment business. Heyman protects the legal interests and intellectual property rights of creative talent and businesses. Learn more at heylaw.com.

Bill Stafford, Co-Founder, Missing Link Music
Missing Link Music is an independent music publishing company that specializes in the publishing and rights management of modern music ranging from urban, jazz, and gospel, to bluegrass. Founded in 1996, Missing Link represents its writer, artist, and producer clients on a worldwide basis through its sub-publisher affiliates abroad.

Kendel Ratley, Director, Marketing and Outreach, Kickstarter
Ratley focuses on implementing Kickstarter’s mission in the real world via events, community relations, and helping artists conceptualize projects. She has spent a decade marketing NYC music and tech start-ups. She previously served as Marketing Director of (Le) Poisson Rouge, a multimedia arts space in Greenwich Village, overseeing promotion and publicity for hundreds of creative events annually. She has toured with bands and consulted live event and digital music launches. She graduated from New School University and lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Cameron Mizell, Musician & Co-Founder, MusicianWages.com
Mizell is a Brooklyn based freelance musician and online musician’s advocate who knows how to straddle the divide between music and business. As an artist, Mizell leads his own jazz/funk trio and released Tributary, his third album, in 2010. He is also a busy sideman, playing guitar, mandolin, and bass in NYC clubs, restaurants and theatres. Before becoming a full-time musician, Mizell had a gig of a different sort as head of production at the Universal Music Group subsidiary Verve Music Group. In 2008, Mizell decided to combine his knowledge of the industry with his understanding of life as a musician and together with Dave Hahn, Mizell founded the website MusicianWages.com, which offers music industry advice speci!cally geared towards the working musician. Learn more at www.cameronmizell.com.


Michelle Bogre, Esq. Associate Professor and Founder of the Parsons Institute for Intellectual Property (PiiP) at Parsons The New School for Design. Bogre is a documentary photographer, IP lawyer and author of Photography as Activism: Images for Social Change, published by Focal Press.

Join MW and Google for a Musician Hang, October 18th

MusicianWages.com’s co-founder Cameron Mizell will join musicians and representatives from Google Play and Limelight for an informal, free hang at the Openhouse Gallery (201 Mulberry Street – at Spring) starting at 2pm, October 18th, 2012.

CMJ and Google badges are automatically RSVP’d, all others please RSVP at this link.

More info:


Google’s rockin’ the Lower East Side this Thursday during CMJ Music Marathon. Find out how to sell original music with Google Play, monetize videos with YouTube, secure licenses for cover songs with Limelight, connect with fans on Google+ and optimize artist websites for Google Search.

CD Baby artists are invited to join us for a special happy hour meet-up at 4pm!

When: Thursday October 18th, 2pm – 2am

Where: Openhouse Gallery at 201 Mulberry Street (at Spring Street)

Who: Open to CMJ badgeholders and guests who RSVP (walk-ups will be taken as capacity allows)

  • CD Baby artist meet-up and drinks at 4pm
  • Free artist headshots by professional photographer (3pm – 7pm)
  • Happy hour kegs from 7pm onward
  • WhyHunger PSA tapings with musicians
  • Product demos, swag and more

Special performance opportunity for musicians:

Join Google Play for a first-of-its-kind on-air open mic, broadcast live to the world via the +Google Play page. Musicians are invited to perform one original song (read: no cover song), acoustic or with minimal backline (and no profanity, please, in case the kids are watching). We’ll record the audio and provide it to performers so that they can distribute it through the Google Play artist hub.

  • 6pm: Sign-ups start for walk-up participants (performers will chosen at random to perform alongside invited guests)
  • 7pm – 9pm: On-air open mic

Google Play concert showcase:

  • 10pm: Monsters Calling Home (unsigned; Google Play artist hub user)
  • 11pm: Little Green Cars (Glassnote Records)
  • 12am: Duologue (Killing Moon Records)


Cameron Mizell to Speak at CMJ Festival

Cameron Mizell, guitarist and co-founder of MusicianWages.com, is scheduled to speak at this week’s CMJ Music Marathon Festival being held October 16-20 in New York City.

Cameron’s panel, “I’ve Got You Covered” – moderated by Google’s Alex Holz, will discuss:

  • How cover songs have helped build careers and introduce artists to new audiences
  • Mechanical licensing issues related to recording and selling cover songs
  • New tools for artists and labels to obtain licensing
  • The future of copyright law in the digital age

Other panelists include singer/songwriter Jenny Owen Youngs, public relations agent Kim Gerlach, and copyright attorney Barry Heyman.

The panel will be held at the NYU Kimmel Center, 60 Washington Square South. Use hashtag #CMJ and Twitter handle @cameronmizell to follow or join the discussion at CMJ this week.

An Update from Dave and Cameron

Over the last year, MusicianWages.com has experienced rapid growth in our readership–something for which both Dave and I are very grateful to all of you. With the increased traffic, however, comes an increased risk of hackers and security concerns.

Some of you may have seen a warning when visiting the site, or found the site to be loading too slow, or noticed the site was down all together. We received feedback from many of you and as always, have been addressing the issue.

This past week our site was down for several hours during which a complete security overhaul was performed. We can’t guarantee there will be no problems in the future, but we have a team constantly monitoring to help it run as securely as possible as we continue to grow.

Meanwhile, we’ve been continually adding valuable content to the site. You might have missed some of it during the outages, so here’s a recap:

The Working Musician Interview Series

We started interviewing musicians that we thought could offer some great advice and insight into the world of the working musician. So far we’ve interviewed these amazing musicians:

We’ll continue next Tuesday with an interview from touring guitarist Jesse Bond, and there will be more in the coming weeks.

Recent Articles

Dave recently changed his focus from music directing to songwriting, and wrote an article all about it, as only he could. Check out How I’m Building a Career As A Songwriter. He also wrote a great piece reflecting on one of his first songwriting projects: ringtones. Have a read at Half A Million Downloads and 500,000 Dilemmas.

We also received another great piece from SFC Joshua DiStefano, our expert Army musician. This time he focused on musicians that have recently joined the Army band. If that’s you, I highly suggest reading his Advice for New Army Musicians.

Finally, I’ve written a couple pieces as well. First I reflected on My Ever-Changing Career as a Musician and explored my changing streams of income over the last decade, and the effect it’s had on my approach to being a musician. I also wrote an editorial piece in response to some industry news, trying to answer the question: Why are there fewer working musicians in 2012 than 1999? Or 1989 for that matter.

Thanks again for reading, discussing, and sharing your experiences as musicians. Happy gigging!

Visit the new Hip-BoneMusic.com from Trombonist Mike Davis

My friend and co-worker Mike Davis is the trombone player at Priscilla Queen of the Desert on Broadway. We brag a lot about Mike over there because he’s a monster player and, when he’s not hanging out with us, the trombonist for the Rolling Stones.

Mike has completely re-designed and restructured his website, Hip-BoneMusic.com and he’s looking to get the word out. I told him that I would tell you about the site and recommend that you check it out.

Aside from the Stones, Mike has toured and recorded with a huge list of legends like Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson, Sting, Aerosmith, Tony Bennett, Sheryl Crow, Jay Z, Buddy Rich, Bob Dylan, Sarah Vaughn and Bob Mitzer. He’s also has his own signature trombone made by the S.E. Shires company.

I’m serious. They made a trombone and named it after Mike. He’s, like, totally famous.

Mike’s website is a great example of how modern musicians can use the power of the internet to connect with other musicians, create a brand and sustain a career. It’s also a great example of the transition that a lot of A-level recording-industry players have made in the past 20 years.

From Mike’s blog:

The New York free­lance music scene, like the rest of the world, has under­gone dra­matic change in the past 10 to 15 years. At first glance it can seem over­whelming and a bit scary, but on closer inspec­tion we come to realize that this change is our best oppor­tu­nity for growth. It may seem a bit harsh, but the expres­sion “change or die” has never been more applicable.

Some of the most enjoy­able work I do is recording music in a studio. These recording ses­sions can be for a cd, a motion pic­ture sound­track, a tele­vi­sion theme or com­mer­cial. Coming out of col­lege, my goal was to become what was then called a “studio musi­cian”. Everyday you were pre­sented with a new, fresh musical chal­lenge that you were seeing for the first time. A chal­lenge that you had to deliver on imme­di­ately. A pres­sure packed envi­ron­ment for sure, but also an extremely rewarding one at times. As the music busi­ness has evolved over the past decade, the role of the studio musi­cian has con­tracted. While I still get calls to record on a reg­ular basis, it’s def­i­nitely less.

For­tu­nately, New York has a thriving musical the­ater scene also known simply as “Broadway”. Most free­lance musi­cians in the com­mer­cial end of the busi­ness find them­selves playing in the pits of Broadway. You either have a full time posi­tion, which enables you to per­form 8 shows a week, or you are in the very tal­ented pool of sub­sti­tutes who fill in for the reg­u­lars when they take off to do other work.

Check out more at Hip-BoneMusic.com

Why We’ve Closed Our Jobs Board

We’ve decided to discontinue the jobs board here at MusicianWages.com. I wanted to tell you why.

We’ve had the jobs board, in one form or another, on MusicianWages.com since the beginning. At first it was fed by RSS feeds from Craigslist and other jobs that listed musician jobs. But the quality of jobs varied greatly. Sometimes real gigs would pop up – but often the feeds listed crappy no-pay jobs that we would never recommend that our readers should ever seriously consider.

So last year we upgraded that portion of our site to a fancy new jobs board. We invited employers to post to the board and brought together all of the stakeholders that we could think of. For many months I personally hand-curated the jobs that we listed on the board – which was a lot of work and eventually I became too busy to continue.

We had some employers come to use the site, including Proship, who would often post available cruise ship musician jobs. Also, Geraldine Boyer-Cussac curated a list of music director jobs on the board for a long time (that list has moved to this link now). We also had some independent employers come to the site looking to hire musicians.

But with the exception of those outliers, the quality of the gigs that found their way to the jobs board has been remarkably low. We’ve often thought that the quality would improve as traffic grew – but traffic has grown and grown and the quality of jobs has never really changed.

We’ve decided that it’s time for us to throw in the towel and admit this truth to ourselves: the best musician jobs are not posted online.

I work on a Broadway show. The other musicians in my pit are incredible. We have the trombone player for the Rolling Stones, the trumpeter for Paul Simon, Frank Sinatra’s guitar player, our percussionist worked with Ron Carter, Bill Evans, k.d. lang, Luther Vandross – and dozens of others. It’s incredible to play with these guys – they are the absolute best of the best.

You know what? These guys don’t look for gigs on internet jobs boards. And neither did I when I got my gig.

So, then, I can’t in good conscience recommend that you do it either.

There are some gigs that you can find online. Church gigs, cover band gigs, military gigs. You can find those in pockets of the internet. And some of them are cool gigs. I’m not discounting that.

But the best jobs – the jobs that you can build a career out of – seem to reveal themselves in their own ways. As my wise friend Cameron says, “The hard part isn’t really finding the gig, the hard part is getting to the level where those gigs become available to you.”

Perhaps the truth is that you can’t find the best musician jobs. Maybe they find you.

So we’re dropping the jobs board. A traditional jobs board is just not how our industry works, and I suspect it never will. We want to bring the highest quality content to our readers, and the jobs board just wasn’t up to our standards.

So how to you get a gig? We have lots of advice about that. Just about everything we’re written on this site (400+ articles) is about how to find work. Click on the blog archives and take a look around, you are sure to find something.

Here’s a list of 10 articles that I recommend you could start with, and you’ll find many more like this:

  1. Getting Started As a Musician
  2. Getting Started As a Musician Part 2
  3. How to Find Work As a Gigging Musician
  4. How to Get a Musician Job at Disney World
  5. How to Get a Job as a Pianist
  6. How to Get a Cruise Ship Musician Job
  7. How Do I Get a Job After Music School?
  8. How I Became a Broadway Musician
  9. A Guide To Being a Successful Sideman
  10. How to Actually Make $50,000 a Year as a Musician

Thanks for reading!

An Open Letter to An Angry Reader

Since it’s launch, MusicianWages has been well received by the musician community. Dave Hahn and I have been very pleased to see our pet project grow into an informative hub for all types of musicians. We believe this growth is due to our commitment to integrity and quality content, and as long as we find the articles on our site useful, you will too.

Sometimes, though, people get upset and send nasty emails. Most of them are ignored, but I felt this recent one deserved a response. The author is upset because we’re selling some contact lists from the Chronicles of a Cruise Ship Musician blog. Since he didn’t include a valid email address, prohibiting us from writing him back, we decided to respond publicly.

These lists are the first products we have ever sold from the site, and perhaps all our readers deserve an explanation of why we’ve opened the MusicianWages Shop after four years of giving away all our information for free.

Here is the email from “Joe” and our response.

You suck. I have been at your site before and you were all cushy cushy with all the agents. I thought your site was a cool idea at first. But you really don’t have a clue as to what real musicians wages in the real world are. I’ve been pro for 25+ years and know a lot of musicians. And now I see you are selling the list of cruise ship agents. Well there goes any respect I have for you. Obviously your not making enough money as a musician. You’re going to end up working for an agent before too long. Sad. Last time I visit the site.

Well Joe, sorry you feel that way. I hope you’ll read this response and have a better understanding of what Dave and I do, what MusicianWages is all about, and why we’re selling these lists.

Dave and I keep very busy working as full time musicians. Dave plays keyboards and conducts on Broadway, which is one of the best paying steady gigs a musician can get these days. I’m a freelance guitarist playing with different bands, subbing on musicals, and earning income from my own recordings (sales, royalties, licensing, etc.). We’re both members of our local AFM chapter and are well aware of union and non-union wages for a variety of musician jobs.

While continually building our careers, Dave and I have written extensively on everything we know about being musicians. We’ve shared all this information for free, on MusicianWages. We are the only people that run the site, and we do it for the love of sharing practical advice and helping others.

The website does generate some money, but not very much. We are far better professional musicians than we are professional bloggers! For the last several years we’ve basically been breaking even, making enough to cover monthly maintenance costs and hire professionals to help us with things beyond our skill set. However, we aren’t trying to make a living from this website, we’re trying to make a community of musicians.

When the two of us started MusicianWages four years ago, Dave’s articles about working as a cruise ship musician were a central part of the website’s launch. He had written extensively about the gig while playing on ships in 2004 because before he got the gig, there was simply no information online to prepare him for life as a cruise ship musician. His articles filled a void, which has made them very popular, and everybody researching cruise ship gigs finds MusicianWages in the top of their search results.

Dave’s only experiences on ships, though, were contracts in 2004 and 2007. I’ve never played on ships. We really don’t have any new information on the scene, with the exception of some contributions by other cruise ship musicians. Nonetheless, that section of the site has always been popular and we regularly receive emails from people wanting to know how to get a gig on a cruise ship.

In response to the many emails asking us, “How do I get do I get a cruise ship gig?” and all the resumes and links we receive from readers thinking we can place them on a ship, we decided to create these lists.

The Cruise Ship Talent Agency Directory and The Cruise Line Entertainment Department Directory were both created through time intensive research. The How Do I Get A Cruise Ship Musician Job eBook is a collection of articles from our website compiling answers to the 30 most asked questions about the cruise ship gig.

All of the information in these resources is freely available online for those who take the time to do their own research. Because we invested our own time and money compiling the information and presenting it in clean, easy to read eBooks, we decided to make them our first products to sell. We are charging for the convenience, for the time we’re saving you, not for exclusive information.

No agents, agency, or cruise lines were involved in or benefit from the creation and sales of these lists. We receive no commission on any cruise contracts signed by anybody that buys these lists. Most of the money we make from these lists goes back into the site or helps us develop other projects that we hope will help us and our fellow musician.

The musician industry isn’t the only place you’ll find these kinds of resources. After college my wife was applying for a very specific job in an industry where she had little experience. She bought a book that taught her about the industry, the position she wanted, and how to prepare for the interview. She studied the book cover to cover, tidied up her resume, nailed the interview, and got the job.

Similarly, we believe these lists are a very valuable resource for talented musicians that have everything it takes to play the gig, but don’t know much about it.

If you don’t want to work on a cruise ship there are plenty of other ways to make a living as a musician. Dave and I both have steady careers on land, as do many of the site’s contributors. We strive to keep MusicianWages full of pragmatic, useful information culled from the experience of professional musicians. This information will always be available for free.


Announcing TheatreMusicDirectors.org

MusicianWages.com co-founder David J. Hahn and MusicianWages.com contributor Geraldine Boyer-Cussac have partnered on a new resource at TheatreMusicDirectors.org.

The website is a central hub for news and career resources related to music directors in the theatre industry. The site includes a jobs board, blog, forums and events page.

Dave has often written about the music directing career here at MusicianWages.com. In 2009 he started the Theatre Music Directors Facebook Group and Yahoo Group, which now include over 500+ active members. Geraldine founded the Theatre Music Directors LinkedIn Group, YouTube channel and Twitter handle. The new website is a project to bring together all of these online groups and continue the growth of this community. More about the creation of the website can be found at Dave’s article, Why We’ve Built This Site.

The site is launching in BETA mode today and we encourage everyone, especially music directors, to visit and give feedback.

A New York City meet-up for music directors is being organized by TheatreMusicDirector.org for May 27th. See the events page for more info.

The Cruise Line Entertainment Department Directory

The Cruise Ship Talent Agency Directory
$9.99, immediate download, PDF

A few months ago we released The Cruise Ship Talent Agency Directory, which lists 100+ talent agencies around the world that specialized in placing musicians and music acts on cruise ships.

Everyone knows about the big guys – Proship, Landau Entertainment, Oceanbound – but if you are looking for options in your career you’ll want to know more than just those three.

The response has been very exciting. Dozens of you have picked up the Talent Agency Directory in the past two months. In fact, I’ve received emails from old friends of mine that stumbled across the list, bought it, then realized they knew the guys who put it together. It seems like a lot of people have the idea of trying out ships this year.

And for good reason. When I was a guest performer on a ship in Hawaii I was paid $1,000 a week to perform just two 45-minute shows a week. The rest of the time I explored the islands, enjoyed the ship and lived in a passenger cabin. I stayed out there for three months. It wasn’t always paradise – it’s still a job – but how could I complain?

Why not?

If you are a performer with an interesting act – why not? Why not try for a sweet gig like I had? It can’t hurt to try, and in today’s difficult musician job market it might be a great opportunity for you.

These resources aren’t just for guest performers, though. There are a lot of different musician jobs on cruise ships. Michael Landau (yes, that Michael Landau) wrote a great article for us awhile back detailing all of the different opportunities for sidemen, party bands, string quartets, etc.

Applying Directly to Cruise Lines

The Cruise Ship Talent Agency Directory will help you find an agent, if that’s what you want. There is an alternative, though – contacting the cruise lines’ entertainment departments directly. You call them up, ask them if you can send in your promo materials, and give it a shot. Like I said, if you are interested in this gig – it can’t hurt to try.

The Cruise Line Entertainment Department Directory
$9.99, immediate download, PDF

So we’ve put together another list: The Cruise Line Entertainment Department Directory.

The Department Directory is $9.99 paid through PayPal (you don’t need a PayPal account to use PayPal). After you’ve paid you’ll receive an email with a download link and you’ll be able to download the PDF to your computer.

The Cruise Line Entertainment Department Directory contains the names and addresses of over 50 cruise lines from all over the world. The list includes information about how to apply and links to the jobs sections of there websites. It’s a really valuable resource if you are interested in getting a job directly through a cruise line.

Working as a musician on cruise ships is not a perfect job (there’s no such thing), and those that have worked on ships will tell you the same. But if you are serious about building a career as a working, performing musician I think that it is a gig you can’t afford to ignore.

I truly believe that these directories are an invaluable resource – otherwise we never would have taken all the time and expense to make them. They will give you a huge advantage in your job search, and I encourage you to download your copy right now.

The Cruise Ship Talent Agency DirectoryThe Cruise Line Entertainment Department Directory

Click here to buy both lists for $19.99

Get 100+ talent agencies and 50+ cruise lines – jump start your hustle and start finding your new gig right away.

Credits cards accepted through PayPal, after purchase you will be emailed a download link immediately.

Introducing Translated Articles!

Grabar, Lanzar e Interpretar Canciones Versionadas

MusicianWages is proud to introduce translations of our most read articles, beginning with the Spanish translation of “Recording, Releasing, and Performing Cover Songs,” or should we say, “Grabar, Lanzar e Interpretar Canciones Versionadas.”

As musicians ourselves, we’ve realized that many working musicians in NYC are bilingual, and English is their second language. We’d like them to be a part of the MusicianWages community.

If you’d like to see specific articles translated to another language, please let us know. Additionally, if you are a skilled translator, we could use your help in 2012. Contact us with your suggestions or to help.