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!

Published by

David J. Hahn

David J. Hahn

David J. Hahn (@davidjhahn) is the co-founder of MusicianWages.com and a former Broadway conductor. He grew up near Chicago, lived in New York City, and settled in California. In 2012, he left the music business to found California Surfcraft, a San Francisco-based start-up that makes high-performance surf gear out of fiberglass-reinforced cork. He is the inventor of the Bodypo®, a sustainable alternative to the traditional bodyboard. He is a cancer survivor, an advocate for unlikely career paths, and, beginning in spring of 2015, a father.

8 thoughts on “Why We’ve Closed Our Jobs Board”

  1. “You know what? These guys don’t look for gigs on internet jobs boards. And neither did I when I got my gig.”
    Thanks for insulting all of the players who have to look to the internet for jobs because they haven’t lucked into work like you advocate.

    That’s all fine if you want to continue the incestuous nature of the music industry, where jobs go to the same people over and over again just because they lucked out and happen to know somebody that hired them for a sweet gig, and then they hold onto those jobs with a death grip so no one else can get them.
    I also seriously doubt you play with “the best of the best” on Broadway, as Broadway gigs don’t require the best musicians. You play the same show over and over. It’s one of the easiest gigs you can get, and doesn’t require any more skill than a cruise ship gig.

    And, wow, the trombone player from the Rolling Stones? They sure are famous for their trombone charts! The trumpeter from Paul Simon? THE trumpeter? Oh my God. I have all his albums! Wait, no I don’t, ’cause I don’t know who that is. Stop trying to build yourself up by over-hyping your cronies. There are tons of musicians who are way better than these guys, they just haven’t played with the mainstream “name” bands.

    So enjoy your limited player pool and tedious jobs. I’m sure you worked just barely enough to get them. Thanks for your advice of “well, you can’t actually find good jobs, so stop looking. Just keeping working and maybe you’ll meet somebody who will give you a gig.” At least I agree that part of it. Since no one is willing to change the system to allow better musicians access to good jobs, it’s just going to continue the same way.

    Oh and yes, I am bitter about this. You would be too if you couldn’t get work just because you didn’t have access to the “right” people. So thanks for nothing.

    1. Wow.

      Dave is right. The best jobs–the ones that pay the most and have the most professional players–don’t advertise on the internet.


      Because the best players know other great players. If they don’t know someone in their circle, then someone in their circle knows. Every job I have is from friends and friends of friends. And many of the best musicians to work with are older than us–the guys that don’t really use the internet.

      And if working on Broadway is so easy, then we all could just head to New York and make a living.

      And seriously, who can blame people for latching on to their work and hoping nobody takes it away from them?! I want to know I have a steady pay check and don’t have to worry about being replaced with no warning because some young hotshot talks a big talk and tells my bandleader he will do it for less.

      This is why I really believe musicians need to forget the name dropping in college. Because nobody’s worth our respect if their names aren’t Wynton Marsalis, Sonny Rollins, Victor Wooten, or whomever. There are countless great players, and I’m sure you live within a 50 mile radius of musicians that you could benefit from knowing.

      And you forget that it’s almost never the best player that gets the gig, but the one who has EVERYTHING together–solid playing, good attitude, professionalism, etc. I don’t know how you play, but even if you were the baddest tenor player on the planet, I wouldn’t hire you. Not with that attitude and professionalism. Now you can complain that you’re not hired because people are afraid of “real” players.

      Maybe you should check out this article:


      It’s called the truth. It’s the kind of thing you’re going to learn when you graduate, anyway.

      Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get ready for a well-paid gig–which I got by using manners, phones, and business cards. No internet here.

    2. Wow man, there is just so much to say to this. This comment displays a horrible attitude about this industry, I’m not at all surprised you can’t find work.

      I’m going to ignore most of what you said. You don’t know me.

      The last part is interesting, though. That part about “changing the system” – we started the jobs board hoping that we might be able to have some part in changing the system. We started this whole site, in fact, in an effort to open the doors on high-end musician gigs and help people to climb the ladder. The site works, the jobs board didn’t. So we’ve decided to jettison the jobs board and concentrate on what’s working.

      So look, man, you’re lucky to have us. We’re here to help musicians like you. Have some respect.

  2. One part I forgot to mention, and is a major pet peeve of mine, is the fact that people think what we do is based on luck. David didn’t get where he is by luck. I didn’t get where I am by luck. Contrary to what the MTV mentality says, this isn’t luck. It’s good, old-fashioned, hard work.

    We shed our butts off.

    We shook a lot of hands, bought a lot of lunches, beers, coffee, whatever to make the right connections. Most of those connections become great friends on top of it.

    We show up on time. (I show up two hours before downbeat usually–might be overkill, but nobody’s been fired for being early.)

    We read down whatever’s put in front of us.

    We THROW OUT OUR EGO and serve the music.

    We know there’s more challenging music than just jazz (or classical, or polka, or whatever you might think is the “best” genre out there).

    We are pleasant on the gig.

    Try employing these things into your daily activities. If you’re truly as great a player as you imply yourself to be, then you’ll be working more full-time gigs than you can handle in less than a year.

  3. I’m the founder/owner of Oceanbound Entertainment Inc., a talent agency specializing in cruise ship entertainment. I have to come to Dave’s defense here. Once you understand how job placement works in the cruise industry, you’ll realize quickly that what Dave was trying to set up was going to be very time consuming to say the least.

    When an opening comes up, cruise lines place a musician in that spot within days, sometimes within hours. Sometimes they call us about a position and before we can find a suitable candidate, the position is already filled.
    So, it’s almost impossible to keep a current list of openings as they change constantly.

    We do place ads on the internet in various locations, but they are almost never about specific openings, but more general posts, like: “We are currently looking for 4-piece cover bands” or something along those lines.

    There are also many sites that try to create a pool of musicians and bands, and try to match them up with employers. I’m talking about sites like Starnow or Bandmix etc. These sites have limited use though as they tend to get hot for a while and then fade quickly. They’re also not really geared towards the type of musicians we need for cruise ship entertainment. For example, orchestra musicians on cruise ships have to sight-read well. None of the sites I mentioned above (and many, if not all, of their competitors) target this kind of skill.

    The best thing for a musician to do is to make sure you get on an active roster so that we can call you when a gig opens up. Things move fast and there are many musicians applying for just a few jobs.


  4. I am a former music teacher and happened across this site. I am not a “great” musician, enjoyed teaching while I did. I still play a regular local gig on guitar and piano with a buddy for extra cash and general hyserical fun. But many here do not realize that old mantra, which is true: It’s not just what you know, it’s who you know. It’s called networking. To get a job you need to put in every waking moment into networking.

    I know a guy who is at the end of his teaching career who lives way outside of the big cities in Michigan. He gets called frequently to play sax as a sub for Count Basie’s band and Glen Miller’s band. He gets paid to fly out to Vegas or somewhereand play(of course the original musicians have probably all passed away by now – already heard those jokes. I can hear you now!). But he has had the best of both worlds teaching and playing professinally somewhat, because he has a lifetime network.

    Be joyous in what you can do or change your strategy. What is it that you really want out of your life and music? A living? Hahahahah! Oh how we suffer for our art. Stop suffering and find another avenue in or out of music and be happy first. Most of the public does not give a shit about musicians until they need them for something, and want them cheap, after all that studying and practice. I don’t know how many times school boards and pther idiots want to only here the shcool fight song and the Star Spangled Banner and don’t ever some to band concerts, quick to cut the music prgram before they cut sports.

    Music cannot possibly be about the money or everyone would be doing it. Fame? Who needs it. Fame is just a vehicle for more pay and lots of personal grief. Be happy your alive and kickin’first.

    Listen, my trumpet instructor in college is friends with Doc Severinson, the former Tonight Show great, made trumpets for him in his basement, would fly out to a concert and Doc would play it and they would discuss shop talk about it later. I never met Doc, this was a secret that my instructor never told his students until after he retired – too much hassle of course. He knew Doc from way back in the early 50’s long before Doc’s big fame. My instructor played for many professional symphonies and bands, instructed at a fmaous university, played for many Hollywood movie soundtracks when called upon for a certain genre, has had a long life, but the best time he ever had was with his students, often telling funny stories and turning out wonderful musicians. He knew may other professionals in the business in his day. I had him play at a small high school band concert at age 78. He could still play and cracked a joke to the audience that “you don’t see too many 78 year old football players do ya?” I was so glad he said that – many of those sons of bitches on the school boards and such have no concept what it takes to run a band program or be a musician. they are quick to cut the arts first. Well the point is be thankful you can do anything in music. They put me out to pasture with budget cuts etc. I didn’t get my full retirement. But I cannot spend the rest of my life bitching. Change your lifestyle and outlook – be happy first. Music is secondary. Don’t confuse music as equivalent with your life and happiness. Music is just what you do. It took me a long time to learn that. Don’t waste your life being unhappy about your predicament. Change what your doing. What was the saying I heard in many forms? If you keep approaching a problem with the same method, you will get the same results -nothing. Good luck. and may the “farce” be with you.

  5. I have to agree with Mr. T. I am currently working musician and a public school music teacher, who studied music a bit in college, worked for a few years in the Advertising business, but then changed careers because I thought I would find fulfillment being involved with music as and educator. Turns out, this is not the case.

    I had played gigs since the age of 14, but really started out in music right after college but soon realized I wanted to spend more time with my girlfriend (now wife), friends, family, and traveling. Cut to a few years later, in my third year in the Advertising business, and I was feeling completely hollow from not performing at all. The answer seemed simple; start playing again, then go study music and become a music educator. Make music your day job, and everything will be okay.

    Getting started gigging again wasn’t easy because I didn’t have any connections in my area. I had to WORK for it. I took any gig I could get until, about a year into it, I landed a Church gig with an AMAZING and WELL-KNOWN player. We became friends, and through him, I learned about all sorts of gigs. Or, I would go to open blues jams, play my ass off, and then get asked to replace the house bass player. From there I started building a solid reputation, learned a huge repertoire of music, and improved my listening and reading skill so I can go sit in on almost any gig. I’ve been in it again for about 6 years.

    If you want gigs, you have to HUSTLE. Show up to any gig, ask if you can sit in, and play your ass off. If you’re good, people will want to know you and will eventually call you. But if you act like your better than everyone, have a bad attitude, aren’t reliable, don’t know the tunes, are an alcoholic, or whatever, no one is going to call you. When you get to a certain level, “the hang” becomes an important factor in getting any gig.

    Being a performing musician is part of my identity, as I’m sure it is most for most of the other posters. I let that get in the way of what could be a promising career in a creative field. I didn’t want to compromise my work life, and felt like I had to act because if I didn’t I would regret it. Well, teaching hasn’t panned out well. At the end of last school year, I was told that there are probably going to be cuts (to the music program of course) at the end of this year. Additionally, the low pay and long hours (regardless of what the public thinks, teachers work a TON of HOURS) didn’t seem to be worth it. The students are mostly great…um, pretty great. Don’t get me started on the parents. However, the costs seem to outweigh the benefits. I’m actually considering reentering the corporate world, hopefully involved with music in some capacity, simply to have a higher-paying and more secure job than I have in the school system. Working with adults again would be nice. It might cut into my gigging, but I have a family, and they deserve a good life.

    I now realize that all I ever wanted to do is make GOOD MUSIC with GOOD PEOPLE. It’s something that I find fulfilling. Most of my students, and the public for that matter, won’t ever appreciate music the way I, or WE, do as a musician(s). That’s NOT okay with me, but there isn’t much we can really do about it. Most people just DON’T give a shit.

    Mr. T is right. Music should be secondary to your own happiness. Don’t let it define what you consider to be your successes in life. Try some other things out, and see what you like. You can always play. But, if you want to be on the cover of DOWNBEAT magazine, you better start shedding like hell and networking like a salesman, otherwise it’s not going to work out for you.

  6. I’m new here, but have been doing music for quite awhile as a quasi-profession. If you just have to be a professional musician, (and you better know that all the way down to your core or just leave it alone) you’d better be ready to work your ass off, go to a bunch of jams, other people’s gigs, learn how to network without coming off as a suck up or being too obvious about what you’re after (that guy’s gig up there), and figure out what your minimum is, and I mean really. What is the number you’ll accept for your services? Will you go do stuff for free just to get out there, or make a statement of your worth? Will you undercut a fellow musician, snake a gig? What are you willing to do and what won’t you do, what do you want? What will you settle for? You have to ask yourself these questions, I know I do all the time as my desires have evolved over time. It’s different for everyone, but overall, I’d say it’s still about people hearing you, meeting you, getting a feel for what sort of person you are and then everything falls into place or it doesn’t. I wish us all luck, try not to descend into bitterness and love what you do, even if it is not paying the bills, it’s not music’s fault, there’s always something else we could be doing better, playing, marketing, sales, whatever, look for the weaknesses and attack them, if you’re serious. Who cares, I’m just a redneck bass player.

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