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(SFGate)   San Francisco Symphony musicians go on strike after finding it too difficult to make ends meet on $147,000/yr with full benefits and 10 weeks paid vacation   (sfgate.com ) divider line
    More: Asinine, San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco  
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2648 clicks; posted to Entertainment » on 14 Mar 2013 at 7:20 AM (3 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



129 Comments     (+0 »)
 
View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest
 
2013-03-14 07:03:02 AM  
lots of struggling musicians get jobs as short order chefs.  yet these guys are just cruising along it seems
 
2013-03-14 07:15:23 AM  
My understanding of California, especially for locations like SF, 147,000 is barely above poverty levels there due to how expensive everything is?
 
2013-03-14 07:25:18 AM  
Need to know a few things before criticizing them:
Cost of instruments (for a big city symphony orchestra, probably 5-6 figures) and maintaining them, cost of living, cost of clothing. Add into that what their educational costs were, their average age, and much more.
 
2013-03-14 07:27:59 AM  

FullMetalPanda: My understanding of California, especially for locations like SF, 147,000 is barely above poverty levels there due to how expensive everything is?


what's more expensive?  groceries?? like a box of Wheaties costs $10 in california?

a gallon of whole milk costs $20?
 
2013-03-14 07:28:12 AM  
Next week's headline: 'All-new SF Symphony's debut concert'
 
2013-03-14 07:32:06 AM  

madnessupmysoul: Need to know a few things before criticizing them:
Cost of instruments (for a big city symphony orchestra, probably 5-6 figures) and maintaining them, cost of living, cost of clothing. Add into that what their educational costs were, their average age, and much more.


All you need to know is: what is the supply of qualified musicians and what is the demand for qualified musicians? Nothing else matters.
 
2013-03-14 07:32:32 AM  

madnessupmysoul: Need to know a few things before criticizing them:
Cost of instruments (for a big city symphony orchestra, probably 5-6 figures) and maintaining them, cost of living, cost of clothing. Add into that what their educational costs were, their average age, and much more.


Understood, they can still go f*ck themselves
 
2013-03-14 07:39:13 AM  
World's smallest violin.  They should take a lesson from the 49ers. I mean world class musicians making that kind of money? Ridiculous!It is not like they are filling stadiums or anything. No one what's to listen to that crap anyway. If they want money, they should have played sports!
 
2013-03-14 07:41:11 AM  
My belief, without reading the whole article, is that playing in the symphony is not a strictly full-time gig. Can't they find work teaching private lessons? Seems to me if they can dedicate 10-20 hours per week doing that, they might be doing just fine.
 
2013-03-14 07:42:07 AM  
The most pertinent example in this regard is principal timpanist David Herbert, who is leaving the orchestra after 19 years to join the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.


Wait, the guy than bangs on the big drums? Because I saw a kid busking with some plastic buckets who was really good.
 
2013-03-14 07:42:43 AM  

justanothersumguy: World's smallest violin.  They should take a lesson from the 49ers. I mean world class musicians making that kind of money? Ridiculous!It is not like they are filling stadiums or anything. No one what's to listen to that crap anyway. If they want money, they should have played sports!


thing is, if they were making $250,000 a year, they'd want $500,000

why?
cause it's california, EVERYTHING is expensive in california
by everything i just mean the rent. lol
 
2013-03-14 07:45:45 AM  
Labor strikes are about extracting a fair wage for the work done. It doesn't matter if it's machinists union striking against a factory underpaying its workers or world class concert pianists who believe they should get paid a greater share of the profits they generate for the syphony or NFL players fighting for more revenue sharing and better post career healthcare.

If somebody getting screwed by management, beit $17 an hour tradesman or $10 million a year athlete, they have every right to demand to be paid their worth.
 
2013-03-14 07:47:15 AM  
I say outsource them all with those show-off Chinese kids you see playing on Youtube.Who could tell the difference?
 
2013-03-14 07:51:29 AM  
This seems appropriate:

i1049.photobucket.com
 
2013-03-14 07:53:13 AM  
Old & busted: I got mine so FARK YOU
New hotness: I'm listening to .38 Special at home so FARK YOU
 
2013-03-14 07:57:10 AM  

manwithdaplan: My belief, without reading the whole article, is that playing in the symphony is not a strictly full-time gig. Can't they find work teaching private lessons? Seems to me if they can dedicate 10-20 hours per week doing that, they might be doing just fine.


Or they could just quit altogther and get 15 McJobs.
 
2013-03-14 07:57:27 AM  

Jon iz teh kewl: FullMetalPanda: My understanding of California, especially for locations like SF, 147,000 is barely above poverty levels there due to how expensive everything is?

what's more expensive?  groceries?? like a box of Wheaties costs $10 in california?

a gallon of whole milk costs $20?


Housing costs in Cali are insane.  SF area is especially bad, worse than Manhattan.

Sales tax is also high in Cali than it is almost anywhere else in the country.  And yes, food is more expensive there.  Gas costs (therefore, transport costs) are higher as well

Do you feel stupid yet, or should I continue?
 
2013-03-14 07:59:42 AM  
This sucks!  Where are they going to find a bunch of replacement musicians on such short notice?
 
2013-03-14 08:02:51 AM  
"Oh it's so horrible how expensive it is living here in California! I can't believe how much rent costs and food and gas, oh my!"

"Why don't you move?"

"Oh my, I could never do that. It's sunny here"
 
2013-03-14 08:03:48 AM  

Dwight_Yeast: Jon iz teh kewl: FullMetalPanda: My understanding of California, especially for locations like SF, 147,000 is barely above poverty levels there due to how expensive everything is?

what's more expensive?  groceries?? like a box of Wheaties costs $10 in california?

a gallon of whole milk costs $20?

Housing costs in Cali are insane.  SF area is especially bad, worse than Manhattan.

Sales tax is also high in Cali than it is almost anywhere else in the country.  And yes, food is more expensive there.  Gas costs (therefore, transport costs) are higher as well

Do you feel stupid yet, or should I continue?


sorry i don't believe all that shiat

i believe you can buy my Lean Cuisine dinners EVERYWHERE You go
for under $5 a pop

*GAS*?
fark gas
order your cannabis from silk road instead of driving to your dealers
you don't need a "social" life

also.

rent might be a couple $1000 more a month AT THE MOST

seriously
move into a studio

there.  problem solved

now lets all do the hot dog dance

images3.wikia.nocookie.net
 
2013-03-14 08:05:57 AM  

Jon iz teh kewl: now lets all do the hot dog dance


Gotta go back to Houston to do that.
 
2013-03-14 08:06:24 AM  

FullMetalPanda: My understanding of California, especially for locations like SF, 147,000 is barely above poverty levels there due to how expensive everything is?


This. Isn't the average mediocre apartment over $2k per month around San Fran?
 
2013-03-14 08:07:23 AM  
they should go to home depot and get some mexicans to replace them.
 
2013-03-14 08:10:27 AM  
Businesses maximizing revenue equal "merica, fark yeah!
Workers maximizing wages equal, dirty commie ingrates outta be happy with that got, derp!
 
2013-03-14 08:14:06 AM  

bborchar: This seems appropriate:


Came for this, but strangely I'm still journey.
 
2013-03-14 08:16:56 AM  

digistil: FullMetalPanda: My understanding of California, especially for locations like SF, 147,000 is barely above poverty levels there due to how expensive everything is?

This. Isn't the average mediocre apartment over $2k per month around San Fran?


But it comes with a grand view of sodomites.
Everywhere
 
2013-03-14 08:17:16 AM  

Dwight_Yeast: Jon iz teh kewl: FullMetalPanda: My understanding of California, especially for locations like SF, 147,000 is barely above poverty levels there due to how expensive everything is?

what's more expensive?  groceries?? like a box of Wheaties costs $10 in california?

a gallon of whole milk costs $20?

Housing costs in Cali are insane.  SF area is especially bad, worse than Manhattan.

Sales tax is also high in Cali than it is almost anywhere else in the country.  And yes, food is more expensive there.  Gas costs (therefore, transport costs) are higher as well

Do you feel stupid yet, or should I continue?


I think it's more about this:

How many people would jump at the chance for a gig with the SF symphony for $150k, costs inflated?
How many very good musicians are waiting tables in their spare time trying to make ends meet?

That gives you the idea of your expendability.
However, this article is a couple of years ago, but some of these issues still persist today:

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2010/02/symp-f04.html

Many musicians around the country were hit hard by the recent downturn- things have gotten better, but it's still not pre-housing crash era levels.  People just don't have the same amount of disposable income.  I love the arts- plays, operas, musicals, symphonies...I even used to buy season tickets...now, I can only afford to see one or two shows a year.  And there was a year where I didn't go at all.  And ticket prices really haven't fallen.

I do feel for them, but musician was their chosen field, and they knew that they'd probably have to move to a city for work (and the more prestigious, the bigger the city, the higher the costs).  They are complaining about a 5% difference in pay from their sister symphony...many people right now have not had a raise in years, and many have actually taken paycuts or loss of benefits.  So...waah.
 
2013-03-14 08:17:27 AM  
Nothing wrong with that.
 
2013-03-14 08:18:11 AM  

Tat'dGreaser: "Oh it's so horrible how expensive it is living here in California! I can't believe how much rent costs and food and gas, oh my!"

"Why don't you move?"

"Oh my, I could never do that. It's sunny here"


I want them to stay right where they are.
 
2013-03-14 08:19:30 AM  

digistil: FullMetalPanda: My understanding of California, especially for locations like SF, 147,000 is barely above poverty levels there due to how expensive everything is?

This. Isn't the average mediocre apartment over $2k per month around San Fran?


thus making your yearly expenses like $24,000 more a year at the most

which nearly accounts for that $90,000 more you'd be making in another state doing the same thing
the extra money goes to cocaine of course
but you can always tell people you spend it on rent cause rent is sooo expensive

and eating out is something you do all the time, well cause everyone's doing it
 
2013-03-14 08:21:37 AM  
Why can't the slackers do this?

susannassketchbook.typepad.com
 
2013-03-14 08:24:22 AM  
According to the article they need to pay for their instruments, which supposedly can cost as much as $1 million according to the article.  So it doesn't sound like a ton of money if you factor that in.  Maybe they could pay for their instruments and then offer them a lower wage or something.
 
2013-03-14 08:27:49 AM  
want their cake and eat it too
so the instruments cost alot of money.  just like a good mechanic wants to use his own tools its not up to the repair garage they work for to buy them. i know half a dozen mechanics and tradesmen that have $100-250k in tools and they don't make $150k a year.
 
2013-03-14 08:28:33 AM  
They should start playing real instruments, they're cheaper
 
2013-03-14 08:29:50 AM  

TheSelphie: According to the article they need to pay for their instruments, which supposedly can cost as much as $1 million according to the article.  So it doesn't sound like a ton of money if you factor that in.  Maybe they could pay for their instruments and then offer them a lower wage or something.


maybe they're just not getting the message
that symphony music farking sucks
 
2013-03-14 08:35:24 AM  

FullMetalPanda: My understanding of California, especially for locations like SF, 147,000 is barely above poverty levels there due to how expensive everything is?


Ummmm no.

SF is expensive, but not THAT expensive.
 
2013-03-14 08:36:58 AM  

DrPainMD: Nothing else matters.


encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com
Did someone say overpaid musicians?!?!

 
kab
2013-03-14 08:37:49 AM  
A guaranteed salary for playing (albeit well) what you're told to?   Some of these folks should try writing / performing /recording their own work, footing the bill entirely themselves, and trying to generate income on that.  Perspective is a wonderful thing.
 
2013-03-14 08:40:04 AM  
How much is the Symphony making? If it is only just making ends meet currently then sorry no money for higher pay. Is the Symphoney making money hand over fist then yes it's right that the people responsible for the success get to enjoy it.
 
kab
2013-03-14 08:41:03 AM  

starlost: want their cake and eat it too
so the instruments cost alot of money.  just like a good mechanic wants to use his own tools its not up to the repair garage they work for to buy them. i know half a dozen mechanics and tradesmen that have $100-250k in tools and they don't make $150k a year.


Those mechanics aren't paying the full cost up front.
 
2013-03-14 08:43:59 AM  
As a teacher that lives in California, holds a masters degree, has been with the same district for 11 years now, and is making just over $55k/yr....AND supports his wife & 2 kids, I'm really getting a kick outta this...

/no, not really
//yeah...what's a savings account?
 
2013-03-14 08:50:04 AM  

FullMetalPanda: My understanding of California, especially for locations like SF, 147,000 is barely above poverty levels there due to how expensive everything is?


And you would be correct. The costs of the "advantages" of living in a liberal-stronghold.
 
2013-03-14 08:53:37 AM  
They could always hang out and play for "donations" by the BART stations downtown.  They'd be almost as entertaining than that one guy who stands around preaching (screaming) at people all day long (I think it was Powell St. station if I'm remembering correctly - although it's been a while).

/you can't walk five feet out of the train before you're accosted by people asking for money
//the local shoeshine boys do some constant business down there
///couldn't pay me enough to live in SF - literally (I don't know how anyone does it unless they're incredibly wealthy)
 
2013-03-14 08:54:17 AM  

kab: A guaranteed salary for playing (albeit well) what you're told to?   Some of these folks should try writing / performing /recording their own work, footing the bill entirely themselves, and trying to generate income on that.  Perspective is a wonderful thing.


That's like saying factory workers should try building their own workshop and marketing their products entirely by themselves instead of making demands.

/no idea if these demands are reasonable
//depends, like Norfolking Chance said
 
2013-03-14 08:57:33 AM  

HAMMERTOE: FullMetalPanda: My understanding of California, especially for locations like SF, 147,000 is barely above poverty levels there due to how expensive everything is?

And you would be correct. The costs of the "advantages" of living in a liberal-stronghold.



Yes, I'm sure it has everything to do with California being predominately liberal and nothing at all to do with the fact that larger cities are always more expensive to live in.  Next up: Tokyo, Moscow, Seoul, London, Hong Kong, and Paris are all "liberal strongholds".
 
2013-03-14 09:01:39 AM  

Spanky_McFarksalot: Businesses maximizing revenue equal "merica, fark yeah!
Workers maximizing wages equal, dirty commie ingrates outta be happy with that got, derp!


Pretty much.

How many people in this thread have gone to see their local symphony?

Your local flyover country symphony may have been disbanded, but the symphonies in the big cities are doing juuuust fine. Just like Broadway shows are doing fine. High end talent should be getting high end pay. If the SF Symphony thinks they can get away with hiring a local symphonic High School Band and throwing them out there and fill seats for the same price, they'll do it.


They can't.

and to you morons who think that playing a musical instrument at a high (big city symphony) level isn't hard, or that these people don't deserve their pay because they don't compose their own material (and how would you know they aren't doing that as well?) fark yourselves. I'm sorry no one came to see your shiathole band back when you were in High School, i'm sure you were *this* close to making it big.
 
2013-03-14 09:10:05 AM  
Cost of living in San Fran is about double the US average.

So, these folks are going on strike for making what would be ~$74k most other places because musicians at other orchestras are making more.

This reminds me of a sociological experiment that some folks did, where they asked people "I have $100.  If you agree, I'm going to give you X dollars, and the rest I'll give to someone else.  If you don't agree, neither of you gets any money."  They found that in Western countries, if X was less than $50, people were way more likely to say no.  Pretty much everywhere else, the amount of X had no real impact on whether or not people said no.

What is it about our culture that makes us care so very very much about what other people have/are getting?  If I'm able to pay my bills and have enough left over for some savings and entertainment, I'm happy.  What someone else makes at the same job with a different company is irrelevant to me.  Am I getting paid enough for what I do?  Yes?  Good.  No?  That sucks, and maybe something needs to be done.  What other people make doesn't even enter into the equation.
 
2013-03-14 09:16:22 AM  

DrPainMD: madnessupmysoul: Need to know a few things before criticizing them:
Cost of instruments (for a big city symphony orchestra, probably 5-6 figures) and maintaining them, cost of living, cost of clothing. Add into that what their educational costs were, their average age, and much more.

All you need to know is: what is the supply of qualified musicians and what is the demand for qualified musicians? Nothing else matters.


Oh, you liked S&M too? Not bad for a metal/symphony combo.
 
2013-03-14 09:20:22 AM  

digistil: FullMetalPanda: My understanding of California, especially for locations like SF, 147,000 is barely above poverty levels there due to how expensive everything is?

This. Isn't the average mediocre apartment over $2k per month around San Fran?


So the average San Franciscan is in the top 1%?
 
2013-03-14 09:32:47 AM  
As others have said, the Bay Area is more expensive than NYC. And given that orchestra musicians work past 10PM 3 to 4 nights a week, I can appreciate them not wanting to live 1.5 hours outside of the city where housing is cheaper.

The pay also factors in the fact that they're working nights 3 to 4 days, as well as weekends.
 
2013-03-14 09:53:01 AM  
Ten weeks of paid vacation?!  Union must have demanded European-style employment.

/This is America
//Paid vacation - not yours
///slashies comes in threes
 
2013-03-14 09:54:17 AM  
kab
Those mechanics aren't paying the full cost up front.

the mechanics and the musicians want quality stuff from the time they have a interest in their field. the musician doesn't use a bob's discount instruments and pawn shop rental tuba from the age of 5 to the day they get picked for some fancy group and then say omg i need a 250k instrument. i'm sure they are upgrading their instruments every few years and its just a cost of their profession. heck if the symphony supplied the instruments i bet many of the musicians would be fickle and have complaints about them.
 
2013-03-14 10:22:15 AM  
Oh and a million bucks for an instrument? You're retarded if you pay that much for an instrument, I don't care if it blows you too.
 
2013-03-14 10:22:38 AM  
I work for the parent organization of a major US-based orchestra (one of the top 5 in the world) and our musicians' base pay is about $20k less than San Francisco.  (Note:  We're ranked  much higher than SF.)  With that said, I feel I'm in an unique position to discuss.

First, most musicians make MUCH more than base salary.  All symphonic music contracts include provisions/increases for more experienced musicians, musicians who do additional community work, etc.  They, also, earn overtime, extra pay for "doubling" (playing more than one instrument), etc.  So it's very few musicians who only make the base.  In fact, the article stated that the average musician in SF makes over $160k annually.

Second, the musicians need to understand that the classical music industry is suffering all over.  Everyone's dealing with annual losses.  I guess we're lucky because we're starting to stem the losses, and our musicians understand that we're not trying to screw them over.  They see our annual financial statements (which, as all non-profit organizations are required, are made available for public review.)  They attend "musicians & staff" meetings which discuss these situations.  I don't know if SF has these types of meetings, but I do know they're a non-profit, as well, so their musicians and the unions should know their financial status.

Third, the parent organization is still maintaining all current benefit levels (10 weeks paid vacation - industry standard, pensions of $74k annually, per musician, upon retirement, sick leave, full coverage health plan with  no premiums, etc.)

I know that there is no symphony without the musicians.  The musicians need to remember that there is no symphony without the parent organization.  Maybe when everyone can check their egos at the door, they'll be able to come to a resolution.
 
2013-03-14 10:23:38 AM  

Tat'dGreaser: "Oh it's so horrible how expensive it is living here in California! I can't believe how much rent costs and food and gas, oh my!"

"Why don't you move?"

"Oh my, I could never do that. It's sunny here"


You do realize this is San Francisco we're talking about, right?
 
2013-03-14 10:24:21 AM  

puckrock2000: You do realize this is San Francisco we're talking about, right?


I mean California.
 
2013-03-14 10:29:25 AM  
Beta Blockers are draining their bank accounts.
 
2013-03-14 10:33:25 AM  
I lived in Daly City a few blocks from San Fran beach, in a 500 sq. ft. efficiency apt. for $1200.  It came with parking, and was situated near a lake.  My electric bill was about $25 since I didn't have to run the air or heat.  Taxes were high, but all in all the whole thing was easily manageable with a normal income (and you didn't mind living in a small place).
 
2013-03-14 10:35:55 AM  
Their pay does seem excessive, but how much is the city making off of them?
 
2013-03-14 10:41:02 AM  

Cloudchaser Sakonige the Red Wolf: Their pay does seem excessive, but how much is the city making off of them?


The only money the city makes off of the orchestras are taxes and tourism dollars.  The rest (ticket sales, CD sales, etc.) goes back to the parent organization, which is a non-profit organization.
 
2013-03-14 10:44:53 AM  
Wasn't aware of that, thanx :-)
 
2013-03-14 10:47:08 AM  
Since music is such a passion for so many people, I would think the supply of capable musicians wanting to get a job playing music would way outnumber the available jobs, thus forcing the down the wages.

There are probably quite a few talented musicians across the country reading this thinking 147K sounds damn good and are sending their resume' to SF as we speak...
 
2013-03-14 10:49:34 AM  
That's a shame, San Francisco has a good orchestra. Not one of the Big 5 in the US (NY Phil, Boston, Chicago, Philly, and Cleveland) or one of the top 10 world wide, but a good one. I mean, they've got Michael Tilson-Thomas as music director, which shows they're interested in quality. Sadly, quality is expensive.
 
2013-03-14 10:49:47 AM  

DrPainMD: madnessupmysoul: Need to know a few things before criticizing them:
Cost of instruments (for a big city symphony orchestra, probably 5-6 figures) and maintaining them, cost of living, cost of clothing. Add into that what their educational costs were, their average age, and much more.

All you need to know is: what is the supply of qualified musicians and what is the demand for qualified musicians? Nothing else matters.


This. The 'free-market' works in the favor of the employees sometimes as well. Sometimes employees aren't easily replaced and have to be paid a lot. Sometimes they are, and don't.

I fail to see why a lot of people automatically attack the employee asking for a raise without any clue as to the value they bring the business.
 
2013-03-14 10:58:44 AM  

DrPainMD: madnessupmysoul: Need to know a few things before criticizing them:
Cost of instruments (for a big city symphony orchestra, probably 5-6 figures) and maintaining them, cost of living, cost of clothing. Add into that what their educational costs were, their average age, and much more.

All you need to know is: what is the supply of qualified musicians and what is the demand for qualified musicians? Nothing else matters.


As a corollary, what is the supply of mp3s of those musicians playing music, and what is the demand for those mp3s?
 
2013-03-14 11:13:46 AM  
They're looking for something like a 5% raise, not exactly massive. Especially when you consider how much the symphony's board of directors pays themselves. The one thing I've never really grasped though, is the whole using some old, super expensive instrument. There's plenty of high quality luthiers who are alive and working today, who could build these people top quality instruments, for a lot less than $100k. But no, they have to be snobs, and insist on pedigree. Like those assholes that insist on buying their new puppy from a breeder, instead of saving one from an animal shelter. Or like my friend who mocks my store brand foodstuffs. Yeah, like he can tell the difference between Dr. Pepper and Dr. K.

Ok, sorry, got sidetracked. Anyways, Michael Manrings basses don't cost anywhere near what these people pay for their instruments, yet he totally blows them all away. Is a new violin, made by a master luthier for $25k really worse than some 100+ year old violin?
 
2013-03-14 11:37:08 AM  

LectertheChef: Michael Manrings basses don't cost anywhere near what these people pay for their instruments, yet he totally blows them all away. Is a new violin, made by a master luthier for $25k really worse than some 100+ year old violin?


Manring designs his electric basses and has them custom made, so those are some freakishly expensive electric basses.
And to answer your question, acoustic instruments vary hugely from instrument to instrument and the reason some are worth a boatload of money is because of their excellence, so yes, a new $25k violin is inferior.
 
2013-03-14 11:39:25 AM  
Archstone 2BR in San Fran area is $16 more than Cambridge, MA.
 
2013-03-14 11:56:15 AM  

red5ish: And to answer your question, acoustic instruments vary hugely from instrument to instrument and the reason some are worth a boatload of money is because of their excellence, so yes, a new $25k violin is inferior.


That's been the presumption for years, but recent evidence suggests otherwise.  Musicians are no less susceptible to perception bias than anyone else:  http://www.economist.com/node/21542380
 
2013-03-14 11:56:56 AM  
Link didn't take:  http://www.economist.com/node/21542380">http://www.economist.com/node /21542380
 
2013-03-14 11:57:33 AM  

LectertheChef: They're looking for something like a 5% raise, not exactly massive. Especially when you consider how much the symphony's board of directors pays themselves.


Board members do not get paid, they actually pay to be on the board. Many do so because it's a good move in the business world to do so.

Is a new violin, made by a master luthier for $25k really worse than some 100+ year old violin?

The expensive violins aren't 100 years+ old, they are 300+ years old. Yes, there are plenty of good modern makers and plenty of players go that route.
 
2013-03-14 11:59:53 AM  

Paris1127: That's a shame, San Francisco has a good orchestra. Not one of the Big 5 in the US (NY Phil, Boston, Chicago, Philly, and Cleveland) or one of the top 10 world wide, but a good one. I mean, they've got Michael Tilson-Thomas as music director, which shows they're interested in quality. Sadly, quality is expensive.


Wait, Philly actually has a decent symphony? I might have to see if I can tickets. I am assuming they will be a few hundred dollars so maybe I'll skip that and continue to buy food.

Forget SF and NYC, I want someone to explain to me how anyone lives in London.
 
2013-03-14 12:00:25 PM  

manwithdaplan: My belief, without reading the whole article, is that playing in the symphony is not a strictly full-time gig.


You have obviously never been a professional musician.
 
2013-03-14 12:01:58 PM  
SF symphony is probably in the top 30 orchestras in the world.  Every player in orchestras at that level can play the standard concerto repertoire for their instrument and play it very well, indeed.  They are good enough to  solo with second-tier orchestras.  They are all virtuosos of the first order. Unbelievable, 100% error-free, perfect tone and execution.  (old adage:  symphony players don't practice until they get it right, they practice until there is no possibility of playing it wrong...)   When an opening in an orchestra occurs (like the Tympani chair in SFSO) there will be many hundreds of applicants from all over the world, all of whom are virtuosos as well.   These people earn around $150K, perhaps double that in the top of the top like the Berlin Philharmonic.

Underpaid.   These musicians are the 'NFL players' of their craft.  And they sure as hell don't average $5.15million in salary.
 
2013-03-14 12:05:09 PM  
To be fair it is San Francisco...$150k there is like $30k everywhere else.
 
2013-03-14 12:10:38 PM  

madnessupmysoul: Need to know a few things before criticizing them:
Cost of instruments (for a big city symphony orchestra, probably 5-6 figures) and maintaining them, cost of living, cost of clothing. Add into that what their educational costs were, their average age, and much more.


and if instruments + maintence are subsidized by the symphony

147k sounds rather paltry for CA though
 
2013-03-14 12:24:10 PM  

madnessupmysoul: Need to know a few things before criticizing them:
Cost of instruments (for a big city symphony orchestra, probably 5-6 figures) and maintaining them, cost of living, cost of clothing. Add into that what their educational costs were, their average age, and much more.


Not really. Not unless we'll be doing that for the street sweepers and short order cooks and schmucks who work at best buy.
 
2013-03-14 12:27:31 PM  

Willas Tyrell: That's been the presumption for years, but recent evidence suggests otherwise.  Musicians are no less susceptible to perception bias than anyone else


Thanks for posting that article; very interesting.
There is a lot of variation in the quality of acoustic instruments. Not every Stradivarius is great. Some of them really are exceptional instruments, many have names, and are famous.
At the very high end of acoustic instruments you see insanely high costs associated with diminishing returns in quality and performance. There are a lot of intangibles involved, many of which translate to the musician's confidence and pleasure they feel with owning or playing certain instruments. That is extremely important but difficult to measure.
 
2013-03-14 12:49:26 PM  

red5ish: LectertheChef: Michael Manrings basses don't cost anywhere near what these people pay for their instruments, yet he totally blows them all away. Is a new violin, made by a master luthier for $25k really worse than some 100+ year old violin?

Manring designs his electric basses and has them custom made, so those are some freakishly expensive electric basses.
And to answer your question, acoustic instruments vary hugely from instrument to instrument and the reason some are worth a boatload of money is because of their excellence, so yes, a new $25k violin is inferior.


Let's not forget the saxes
 
2013-03-14 12:57:11 PM  

Musikslayer: LectertheChef: They're looking for something like a 5% raise, not exactly massive. Especially when you consider how much the symphony's board of directors pays themselves.

Board members do not get paid, they actually pay to be on the board. Many do so because it's a good move in the business world to do so.


According to an earlier article when the strike was announced, the SFS management is indeed being paid, and they are getting raises while the rest of the organization is having to suffer from cuts. I think you are confusing "board" (the rich folk that want to be philanthropic) with "directors" (the assholes who push around money but don't actually do anything useful for the organization). This is the same sort of problem that the University of California constantly runs into: the people in charge of the money (the Regents in their case) voting themselves raises while cutting everyone else.

The key issues in the strike are financial, said violistDavid Gaudry of the players' negotiating committee."This is about the money," he said. "Their stated goal in the new contract is for it to cost less than the last one. But at the same time, we find that there have been raises for Executive Director Brent Assink and several other members of top management."
 
2013-03-14 01:07:43 PM  
Fark them and their San Francisco whining.  The money is good for what they do and where they live.

One nice-but-not-million-dollar instrument is the only different investment they have in their job, which they knew was necessary when they went through college.

And it's no surprise SF is expensive.  It has been my entire life.

What they have to offer an employer is so incredibly specific they're fools for striking--it's not like there are seven other places in town to run up a bidding war for their talents.
 
2013-03-14 01:10:37 PM  

cnocnanrionnag: SF symphony is probably in the top 30 orchestras in the world.  Every player in orchestras at that level can play the standard concerto repertoire for their instrument and play it very well, indeed.  They are good enough to  solo with second-tier orchestras.  They are all virtuosos of the first order. Unbelievable, 100% error-free, perfect tone and execution.  (old adage:  symphony players don't practice until they get it right, they practice until there is no possibility of playing it wrong...)   When an opening in an orchestra occurs (like the Tympani chair in SFSO) there will be many hundreds of applicants from all over the world, all of whom are virtuosos as well.   These people earn around $150K, perhaps double that in the top of the top like the Berlin Philharmonic.

Underpaid.   These musicians are the 'NFL players' of their craft.  And they sure as hell don't average $5.15million in salary.



This is all true. But in today's orchestral financial climate, they're lucky to have jobs. The "industry" has nearly killed itself - or has at least worked very hard to make itself irrelevant. Norman Lebrecht is very good at articulating this. It's profoundly sad and stupid, but as somebody pointed out upthread, all fingerpointing aside, the demand just ain't there.

/used to be full-time classical musician in a tux
//now am a corporate slave in a suit
 
2013-03-14 01:19:23 PM  
$147,000? That's almost enough to buy you a cardboard box on the sidewalk near 6th and Market.
 
2013-03-14 01:23:29 PM  

cnocnanrionnag: When an opening in an orchestra occurs (like the Tympani chair in SFSO) there will be many hundreds of applicants from all over the world, all of whom are virtuosos as well.   These people earn around $150K, perhaps double that in the top of the top like the Berlin Philharmonic.


Lots of competition naturally leads to higher prices.

Underpaid.   These musicians are the 'NFL players' of their craft.  And they sure as hell don't average $5.15million in salary.

As much as I loathe astronomical salaries for professional athletes, they do bring in the revenue. I don't know if the symphony does or not and it sounds like they are more easily replaceable than someone making $5 million in the NFL.

I appreciate classical music. I even have a few favorites, but it's not something I spend a whole lot of time listening to and I really doubt I could tell the best symphony in the world from the 50th best symphony.

Maybe someone who listens all the time could, but I bet most people couldn't even if they are huge fans.

OTOH, almost anyone can watch a football game and tell if a quarterback can't throw a ball very well or a kicker can't hit a field goal from 40 yards out or a blocker can't block, linebacker can't tackle, etc....
 
2013-03-14 01:31:14 PM  

JayCab: Musikslayer: LectertheChef: They're looking for something like a 5% raise, not exactly massive. Especially when you consider how much the symphony's board of directors pays themselves.

Board members do not get paid, they actually pay to be on the board. Many do so because it's a good move in the business world to do so.

According to an earlier article when the strike was announced, the SFS management is indeed being paid, and they are getting raises while the rest of the organization is having to suffer from cuts. I think you are confusing "board" (the rich folk that want to be philanthropic) with "directors" (the assholes who push around money but don't actually do anything useful for the organization).


I'm not confusing anything, I've been in the symphony biz for 30 years. The "board of directors" = the board. They aren't paid. The management= the management. Paid. The board calls the shots, they can fire the management (and the music director, but not the players). They approve any raise that the management would get. they pick the Executive director. There are 3 groups here: Board, mgmt., symphony. The board has the power.

What's happening in SF is happening in basically every US Orch, and it's a mirror of what is happening in US politics. It's a power trip to put "workers in their place" and nothing more. In some orchestras it has been an attempt at union-busting, in some it's been in attempt to establish "who's the boss". Board member are often CEOs and Bank Presidents. SF is a wealthy orchestra in  a wealthy city with a megastar conductor, they can raise money easily. This is all one sad lil game by the Romneys of the world.
 
2013-03-14 01:38:37 PM  
I have a lot of friends who are professional musicians (mostly The Blues).  They don't make that kind of money, not even close.  They probably play a much busier schedule and spend a lot of time on the road driving - not flying, to their gigs.

I'm having a difficult time finding sympathy for these overpaid prima donnas.
 
2013-03-14 01:52:05 PM  
c4241337.r37.cf2.rackcdn.com

Sympathizes.
 
2013-03-14 02:09:57 PM  

Teufelaffe: Cost of living in San Fran is about double the US average.


That may be true if you live DIRECTLY in San Francisco.

But the thing about San Francisco is that there are tons of smaller cities all around. San Bruno. Palo Alto. Mountain View. Sunnyvale. Milpitas. Oakland. San Leandro. San Mateo. Alameda.

Most of them (except south of Palo Alto) within a hop, skip, or a jump away from BART. Granted, BART might add up to an hour (each way) of travel time, but if you've ever driven on Hwy 101 from San Jose to San Francisco during rush hour, that's STILL a time saver. :)

I lived in San Jose, Milpitas, Mt. View and Sunnyvale for 10 years, and you can find apartments there for under $1,000 a month. We rented a house (1800') for $1,400 in Milpitas, then my company moved us all to Texas and I BOUGHT a 2,700' house for $525/month. lol :) 

So yeah, cost of housing in CA is higher without a doubt, but it doesn't have to be 2 grand a month unless you just HAVE to live in San Francisco or rent the Ritz.

Food costs were NOT that much different. Neither is sales tax, averaging around 8% - 8.5%, and of course groceries are exempt from Sales Tax in CA.
 
2013-03-14 02:24:36 PM  

red5ish: LectertheChef: Michael Manrings basses don't cost anywhere near what these people pay for their instruments, yet he totally blows them all away. Is a new violin, made by a master luthier for $25k really worse than some 100+ year old violin?

Manring designs his electric basses and has them custom made, so those are some freakishly expensive electric basses.
And to answer your question, acoustic instruments vary hugely from instrument to instrument and the reason some are worth a boatload of money is because of their excellence, so yes, a new $25k violin is inferior.


Actually he had the Hyperbass designed by Joe Zon, and now mainly just uses those, which have a base price of around $7800 I think. Expensive, but nowhere near what some of these acoustics go for.
 
2013-03-14 02:31:17 PM  
the AVERAGE salary is 160,000 plus paid sick leave and 10 farking weeks of vacation-
boo-farking-hoo
 
2013-03-14 02:48:32 PM  

Southern100: Teufelaffe: Cost of living in San Fran is about double the US average.

That may be true if you live DIRECTLY in San Francisco.

But the thing about San Francisco is that there are tons of smaller cities all around. San Bruno. Palo Alto. Mountain View. Sunnyvale. Milpitas. Oakland. San Leandro. San Mateo. Alameda.

Most of them (except south of Palo Alto) within a hop, skip, or a jump away from BART. Granted, BART might add up to an hour (each way) of travel time, but if you've ever driven on Hwy 101 from San Jose to San Francisco during rush hour, that's STILL a time saver. :)

I lived in San Jose, Milpitas, Mt. View and Sunnyvale for 10 years, and you can find apartments there for under $1,000 a month. We rented a house (1800') for $1,400 in Milpitas, then my company moved us all to Texas and I BOUGHT a 2,700' house for $525/month. lol :)

So yeah, cost of housing in CA is higher without a doubt, but it doesn't have to be 2 grand a month unless you just HAVE to live in San Francisco or rent the Ritz.

Food costs were NOT that much different. Neither is sales tax, averaging around 8% - 8.5%, and of course groceries are exempt from Sales Tax in CA.


Even living in the heart of San Fran, these people aren't exactly hurting.  It's just another group of privileged people crying, "Those other people have more than I do...that's not fair!"
 
2013-03-14 02:49:17 PM  

Norfolking Chance: How much is the Symphony making? If it is only just making ends meet currently then sorry no money for higher pay. Is the Symphoney making money hand over fist then yes it's right that the people responsible for the success get to enjoy it.


It took this long for this sentiment.   if the symphony is raking in cash, the players are within their rights to ask for their share of it.

For all we know, an alternate headline could be:  Symphony management sits on giant pile of money rather than pay those who actually bring the money in.
 
2013-03-14 02:56:53 PM  

Paris1127: That's a shame, San Francisco has a good orchestra. Not one of the Big 5 in the US (NY Phil, Boston, Chicago, Philly, and Cleveland) or one of the top 10 world wide, but a good one. I mean, they've got Michael Tilson-Thomas as music director, which shows they're interested in quality. Sadly, quality is expensive.


Bullshiat. You might want to leave your East Coast bias back in the 70s where it was still relevant. LA Phil and San Francisco has outranked Philadelphia for years.  http://www.monteverdi.tv/royal-concertgebouw-orchestra/gramophone.php
 
2013-03-14 03:02:00 PM  

Southern100: Teufelaffe: Cost of living in San Fran is about double the US average.

That may be true if you live DIRECTLY in San Francisco.

But the thing about San Francisco is that there are tons of smaller cities all around. San Bruno. Palo Alto. Mountain View. Sunnyvale. Milpitas. Oakland. San Leandro. San Mateo. Alameda.

Most of them (except south of Palo Alto) within a hop, skip, or a jump away from BART. Granted, BART might add up to an hour (each way) of travel time, but if you've ever driven on Hwy 101 from San Jose to San Francisco during rush hour, that's STILL a time saver. :)


The furthest south BART goes is Millbrae, which is 20 miles from Palo Alto.  And you'd have to drive past 92 to get from one to the other, which is murder during rush hour.  Pendantic, I know, but getting into SF from the South Bay sucks on public transit.

I lived in San Jose, Milpitas, Mt. View and Sunnyvale for 10 years, and you can find apartments there for under $1,000 a month. We rented a house (1800') for $1,400 in Milpitas, then my company moved us all to Texas and I BOUGHT a 2,700' house for $525/month. lol :)

So yeah, cost of housing in CA is higher without a doubt, but it doesn't have to be 2 grand a month unless you just HAVE to live in San Francisco or rent the Ritz.


You can't find an apartment now sub $1k/mo, especially in Mountain View.  Hell, sub 2k is pretty tricky, especially if you have standards such as "I don't want to get shot," or "I want a clean place without rats and cockroaches." 

Food costs were NOT that much different. Neither is sales tax, averaging around 8% - 8.5%, and of course groceries are exempt from Sales Tax in CA.

Sales tax in Santa Clara county is 8.65, recently down from just north of 9 (and I bet it's going to go up again).  Food is quite a bit more pricey here than other places as well.  Also, don't forget the income tax here which is 9.3% for just about anyone with a liveable salary.  Honestly, it sounds like you haven't been in CA for the last decade, 'cuz stuff is quite expensive here.

I make it by fine in the bay area, but I've got a pretty good salary and I don't have a family.  If I added a kid into the mix I'd probably be singing a different tune, though.  I really don't know how families make it with the average salary here.  They'd spend every single cent on food, housing and transportation, and leave nothing for savings and retirement.
 
2013-03-14 03:03:32 PM  

madnessupmysoul: Need to know a few things before criticizing them:
Cost of instruments (for a big city symphony orchestra, probably 5-6 figures) and maintaining them, cost of living, cost of clothing. Add into that what their educational costs were, their average age, and much more.


If only there were an article about this with information in it that we could read.  Oh well.

Norfolking Chance: How much is the Symphony making? If it is only just making ends meet currently then sorry no money for higher pay.

This is the right place to focus.
 
2013-03-14 03:17:42 PM  

Teufelaffe: Southern100: Teufelaffe: Cost of living in San Fran is about double the US average.

That may be true if you live DIRECTLY in San Francisco.

But the thing about San Francisco is that there are tons of smaller cities all around. San Bruno. Palo Alto. Mountain View. Sunnyvale. Milpitas. Oakland. San Leandro. San Mateo. Alameda.

Most of them (except south of Palo Alto) within a hop, skip, or a jump away from BART. Granted, BART might add up to an hour (each way) of travel time, but if you've ever driven on Hwy 101 from San Jose to San Francisco during rush hour, that's STILL a time saver. :)

I lived in San Jose, Milpitas, Mt. View and Sunnyvale for 10 years, and you can find apartments there for under $1,000 a month. We rented a house (1800') for $1,400 in Milpitas, then my company moved us all to Texas and I BOUGHT a 2,700' house for $525/month. lol :)

So yeah, cost of housing in CA is higher without a doubt, but it doesn't have to be 2 grand a month unless you just HAVE to live in San Francisco or rent the Ritz.

Food costs were NOT that much different. Neither is sales tax, averaging around 8% - 8.5%, and of course groceries are exempt from Sales Tax in CA.

Even living in the heart of San Fran, these people aren't exactly hurting.  It's just another group of privileged people crying, "Those other people have more than I do...that's not fair!"


Well, there approach is infinitely smarter than most people, who would rather people who are doing better get less, instead of themselves getting more.

/That feels like a very poorly worded sentence.
 
2013-03-14 03:38:15 PM  

LectertheChef: Teufelaffe: Southern100: Teufelaffe: Cost of living in San Fran is about double the US average.

That may be true if you live DIRECTLY in San Francisco.

But the thing about San Francisco is that there are tons of smaller cities all around. San Bruno. Palo Alto. Mountain View. Sunnyvale. Milpitas. Oakland. San Leandro. San Mateo. Alameda.

Most of them (except south of Palo Alto) within a hop, skip, or a jump away from BART. Granted, BART might add up to an hour (each way) of travel time, but if you've ever driven on Hwy 101 from San Jose to San Francisco during rush hour, that's STILL a time saver. :)

I lived in San Jose, Milpitas, Mt. View and Sunnyvale for 10 years, and you can find apartments there for under $1,000 a month. We rented a house (1800') for $1,400 in Milpitas, then my company moved us all to Texas and I BOUGHT a 2,700' house for $525/month. lol :)

So yeah, cost of housing in CA is higher without a doubt, but it doesn't have to be 2 grand a month unless you just HAVE to live in San Francisco or rent the Ritz.

Food costs were NOT that much different. Neither is sales tax, averaging around 8% - 8.5%, and of course groceries are exempt from Sales Tax in CA.

Even living in the heart of San Fran, these people aren't exactly hurting.  It's just another group of privileged people crying, "Those other people have more than I do...that's not fair!"

Well, there approach is infinitely smarter than most people, who would rather people who are doing better get less, instead of themselves getting more.

/That feels like a very poorly worded sentence.


Eh, I know what you mean.  "Give me more" is usually the better (nicer? less assholish?) option than "give them less."
 
2013-03-14 03:49:52 PM  

starlost: want their cake and eat it too
so the instruments cost alot of money.  just like a good mechanic wants to use his own tools its not up to the repair garage they work for to buy them. i know half a dozen mechanics and tradesmen that have $100-250k in tools and they don't make $150k a year.


You're right because a wrench and a violin are exactly the same.

They are mad because they are being forced to pay for their own instruments which takes up like half of their salaries, but people on the internet are reading it as "They make more than me so sour grapes rarrrr rarr".

/Also, saying that you can replace these guys with new musicians is like saying you can replace NBA players with guys from the Y
 
2013-03-14 04:06:30 PM  

SnakeLee: starlost: want their cake and eat it too
so the instruments cost alot of money.  just like a good mechanic wants to use his own tools its not up to the repair garage they work for to buy them. i know half a dozen mechanics and tradesmen that have $100-250k in tools and they don't make $150k a year.

You're right because a wrench and a violin are exactly the same.

They are mad because they are being forced to pay for their own instruments which takes up like half of their salaries, but people on the internet are reading it as "They make more than me so sour grapes rarrrr rarr".

/Also, saying that you can replace these guys with new musicians is like saying you can replace NBA players with guys from the Y


They don't buy a new instrument every year.  So the claim of half their salary isn't valid.  Not every violinist needs "the red violin".
 
2013-03-14 04:18:38 PM  

fordprefectskid: Paris1127: That's a shame, San Francisco has a good orchestra. Not one of the Big 5 in the US (NY Phil, Boston, Chicago, Philly, and Cleveland) or one of the top 10 world wide, but a good one. I mean, they've got Michael Tilson-Thomas as music director, which shows they're interested in quality. Sadly, quality is expensive.

Bullshiat. You might want to leave your East Coast bias back in the 70s where it was still relevant. LA Phil and San Francisco has outranked Philadelphia for years.  http://www.monteverdi.tv/royal-concertgebouw-orchestra/gramophone.php


It's been traditionally ranked as one of the Big 5. Big 5 doesn't have to mean the top 5 itself, at least by my definition. As for your list, that's the international one. And SF still wouldn't be Top 5 in the US according to that one.
 
2013-03-14 04:31:57 PM  

LectertheChef: red5ish: LectertheChef: Michael Manrings basses don't cost anywhere near what these people pay for their instruments, yet he totally blows them all away. Is a new violin, made by a master luthier for $25k really worse than some 100+ year old violin?

Manring designs his electric basses and has them custom made, so those are some freakishly expensive electric basses.
And to answer your question, acoustic instruments vary hugely from instrument to instrument and the reason some are worth a boatload of money is because of their excellence, so yes, a new $25k violin is inferior.

Actually he had the Hyperbass designed by Joe Zon, and now mainly just uses those, which have a base price of around $7800 I think. Expensive, but nowhere near what some of these acoustics go for.


I watched a YouTube clip of M.Manring playing a private show in someone's living room  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWPHrRwQqVE where he talked about the Hyperbass. Very cool. He (Manring) comes off as very personable, very likable. He did say that you (the members of the audience) could have a Hyperbass, or a house, making a joke about how much it cost.

If you go online and look at vintage instruments you will find that even for electric guitars, which have not been around all that long, there are makes and years that command surprisingly high prices. $7500 is not a high price for top end acoustic instruments. A new high end limited edition Taylor guitar - a large manufacturer - costs around that much. When you start to look at instruments hand made by respected luthiers the price can be much much higher.

Comparing electric instruments to acoustic instruments is problematic. Up to a point there are similarities, but the materials and expectations are different.
 
2013-03-14 04:59:38 PM  

Dwight_Yeast: Jon iz teh kewl: FullMetalPanda: My understanding of California, especially for locations like SF, 147,000 is barely above poverty levels there due to how expensive everything is?

what's more expensive?  groceries?? like a box of Wheaties costs $10 in california?

a gallon of whole milk costs $20?

Housing costs in Cali are insane.  SF area is especially bad, worse than Manhattan.

Sales tax is also high in Cali than it is almost anywhere else in the country.  And yes, food is more expensive there.  Gas costs (therefore, transport costs) are higher as well

Do you feel stupid yet, or should I continue?


Um, no.
 
2013-03-14 05:24:38 PM  

Southern100: I lived in San Jose, Milpitas, Mt. View and Sunnyvale for 10 years, and you can find apartments there for under $1,000 a month


Not anymore.

Was looking for a studio/1 BR in Mountain View/Sunnyvale (Work in PA).  There was a non-livable studio for about $1250.  Livable (ie: No rats and had some closets) was starting at about $1600.  If you wanted to be near a train station or a downtown, you could expect to add at least $3-400 onto that.

/Ended up splitting a lower-end 2 BR place for about $1700/month in a poor location.  In exchange, I had $40K in debt on January 1st, and on April 1st, I'll have ~$26K.
 
2013-03-14 05:49:28 PM  

Jon iz teh kewl: FullMetalPanda: My understanding of California, especially for locations like SF, 147,000 is barely above poverty levels there due to how expensive everything is?

what's more expensive?  groceries?? like a box of Wheaties costs $10 in california?

a gallon of whole milk costs $20?


No, the issue would be housing, and only really if one wanted to live in San Francisco itself (where a 2 bedroom house with no yard would be a million dollars).  There are plenty of places in California where $150k will buy you a 4 bedroom house (I own such a house), but San Fran ain't one of them.
 
2013-03-14 06:13:54 PM  
That's about 100 times dumber than the totally f'ing retarded NHL strike.

They are in an industry that is (literally, in the case of its audience) on life-support.  Symphonies are closing shop (and burying audience members) right and left in the U.S. today.  If they don't have a lineup of millionaires donating money (not investing, just giving it away for free) to the symphony it will die.  So where are they going to go?  One of the handful of other solvent symphonies in the U.S. that could remotely compete on salary?  Europe?

There aren't many options elsewhere - so they are really screwing themselves by quitting the jobs they have right now.
 
2013-03-14 06:42:45 PM  

Geotpf: Jon iz teh kewl: FullMetalPanda: My understanding of California, especially for locations like SF, 147,000 is barely above poverty levels there due to how expensive everything is?

what's more expensive?  groceries?? like a box of Wheaties costs $10 in california?

a gallon of whole milk costs $20?

No, the issue would be housing, and only really if one wanted to live in San Francisco itself (where a 2 bedroom house with no yard would be a million dollars).  There are plenty of places in California where $150k will buy you a 4 bedroom house (I own such a house), but San Fran ain't one of them.


who the fark needs a house.  i'm thinkin studio all the way baby

how much do i REALLY need to make a living in San Fran (preferably coding)?  like $100 k??
 
2013-03-14 06:48:38 PM  

Paris1127: fordprefectskid: Paris1127: That's a shame, San Francisco has a good orchestra. Not one of the Big 5 in the US (NY Phil, Boston, Chicago, Philly, and Cleveland) or one of the top 10 world wide, but a good one. I mean, they've got Michael Tilson-Thomas as music director, which shows they're interested in quality. Sadly, quality is expensive.

Bullshiat. You might want to leave your East Coast bias back in the 70s where it was still relevant. LA Phil and San Francisco has outranked Philadelphia for years.  http://www.monteverdi.tv/royal-concertgebouw-orchestra/gramophone.php

It's been traditionally ranked as one of the Big 5. Big 5 doesn't have to mean the top 5 itself, at least by my definition. As for your list, that's the international one. And SF still wouldn't be Top 5 in the US according to that one.


You're right, they came in 6th for the US on the last frequently cited comprehensive poll of international music critics. And were listed internationally right below the New York Philharmonic. Point being, "Big 5" was a term invented for five orchestras in the US that dominated the recording scene in the 1950s and 1960s- I suppose "traditional" would be one way to describe a ranking from that time, but most would use the term "outdated."
 
2013-03-14 06:54:42 PM  

Jon iz teh kewl: Geotpf: Jon iz teh kewl: FullMetalPanda: My understanding of California, especially for locations like SF, 147,000 is barely above poverty levels there due to how expensive everything is?

what's more expensive?  groceries?? like a box of Wheaties costs $10 in california?

a gallon of whole milk costs $20?

No, the issue would be housing, and only really if one wanted to live in San Francisco itself (where a 2 bedroom house with no yard would be a million dollars).  There are plenty of places in California where $150k will buy you a 4 bedroom house (I own such a house), but San Fran ain't one of them.

who the fark needs a house.  i'm thinkin studio all the way baby

how much do i REALLY need to make a living in San Fran (preferably coding)?  like $100 k??


$100K in San Fran will get you about $60-65K after taxes.  $60K (as a single person) will get you an OK studio  (for a mere $2,500 a month with utilities in a decent neighborhood), and all the things you need to stay alive, plus about $5-10K in play.  You might be able to afford a car (and honestly the deal-breaker there, like every other city, is parking), but you'll probably want a bus pass/BART/occasional zipcar for going to Tahoe or LA because of traffic.

Just to put it in perspective, I'm making $49K after taxes in the South Bay, and I probably couldn't afford my own apartment and my car and student loan payments if I wanted to eat.  I'm not doing anything fun or cool, just going to work, going home, sleeping, repeat.  And South Bay rent is quite a bit lower than SF rent.

$100K in SF is roughly equivalent to $40-50K elsewhere.  Heck, my $72K puts me worse off than my father at $28K in the Midwest.
 
2013-03-14 07:06:51 PM  
...it's reactions like this that further the Great Suppression.

/"They make more than I do, so they're greedy when they strike!"
//"Wait! Why aren't you listening to my demands anymore? I strike for a reason!"
 
2013-03-14 07:11:04 PM  
And to further my last post, I'm pretty sure it's not money that's the main problem that has them on strike.  Like most of these things, it's one of two reasons:

1) Management is not honoring their current contract;
2) Management wants to lowball them in their contract negotiations.

And thanks to the anti-union sentiment that's at the heart of the Great Suppression, Management is winning, either way they choose.  And until we're smart enough to realize we're all in this together--whether we're a line worker or a multi-million-dollar athlete, we're always paid by someone who is much richer than we'll likely ever be (and the billionaires that pay 6-figure+ wages are quick to obfuscate this to turn workers against each other) -- Management will continue to win, and the Great Suppression will continue.
 
2013-03-14 07:13:09 PM  

SnakeLee: /Also, saying that you can replace these guys with new musicians is like saying you can replace NBA players with guys from the Y


Or NFL refs with NAIA Division III refs.
 
2013-03-14 07:17:42 PM  

OgreMagi: SnakeLee: starlost: want their cake and eat it too
so the instruments cost alot of money.  just like a good mechanic wants to use his own tools its not up to the repair garage they work for to buy them. i know half a dozen mechanics and tradesmen that have $100-250k in tools and they don't make $150k a year.

You're right because a wrench and a violin are exactly the same.

They are mad because they are being forced to pay for their own instruments which takes up like half of their salaries, but people on the internet are reading it as "They make more than me so sour grapes rarrrr rarr".

/Also, saying that you can replace these guys with new musicians is like saying you can replace NBA players with guys from the Y

They don't buy a new instrument every year.  So the claim of half their salary isn't valid.  Not every violinist needs "the red violin".


They do if they want a job in the SF symphony. if one's fiddle isn't up to snuff, they will insist you buy one that is. The symphony will help procure a loan. Not only do the need a top instrument to play in the band, they need a top instrument to WIN the audition.

This is not the Salvation Army band. People in this thread a comparing them to car mechanics???  Getting in the SF Symphony is probably harder than becoming a US congressman.  Most of these players were more  accomplished at their crafts by age 10  then other people are when they are 50.  Auditions are international, and if a foreigner gets it the symphony will help them with green cards etc. Openings are rare, and get this:

When bigboy symphonies hold auditions, the vast majority these days will end with "no hire".

THAT'S how high the standards are. 200 of the world's best players come from around the world, pay their own way, and nobody gets hired. They will hold the same audition year after year until someone really knocks their socks off. When someone does win, they might stay with the orch. for 40 years, so that tells one how rare it is to have an opening in the first place. These players are literally world-class and deserve the $$.
 
2013-03-14 07:22:30 PM  

IlGreven: 1) Management is not honoring their current contract;
2) Management wants to lowball them in their contract negotiations.


The contract expired, so there is no current contract to honor.  However, it is common for a business to honor the terms of an expired contract during negotiations.  It wasn't made clear from the article whether this was the case or not.

They are only lowballing if they have the money to pay more but refuse to do so.  From the article:

"We have incurred an operating deficit during each of the last four years," Assink said. "Under these circumstances, it is important for every orchestra to look carefully at its finances."

In other words, there is more money to give to the musicians.  They might deserve more money under better economic circumstances, but that is not the case.  They can go cry somewhere else if they wish.
 
2013-03-14 07:24:03 PM  

Musikslayer: OgreMagi: SnakeLee: starlost: want their cake and eat it too
so the instruments cost alot of money.  just like a good mechanic wants to use his own tools its not up to the repair garage they work for to buy them. i know half a dozen mechanics and tradesmen that have $100-250k in tools and they don't make $150k a year.

You're right because a wrench and a violin are exactly the same.

They are mad because they are being forced to pay for their own instruments which takes up like half of their salaries, but people on the internet are reading it as "They make more than me so sour grapes rarrrr rarr".

/Also, saying that you can replace these guys with new musicians is like saying you can replace NBA players with guys from the Y

They don't buy a new instrument every year.  So the claim of half their salary isn't valid.  Not every violinist needs "the red violin".

They do if they want a job in the SF symphony. if one's fiddle isn't up to snuff, they will insist you buy one that is. The symphony will help procure a loan. Not only do the need a top instrument to play in the band, they need a top instrument to WIN the audition.

This is not the Salvation Army band. People in this thread a comparing them to car mechanics???  Getting in the SF Symphony is probably harder than becoming a US congressman.  Most of these players were more  accomplished at their crafts by age 10  then other people are when they are 50.  Auditions are international, and if a foreigner gets it the symphony will help them with green cards etc. Openings are rare, and get this:

When bigboy symphonies hold auditions, the vast majority these days will end with "no hire".

THAT'S how high the standards are. 200 of the world's best players come from around the world, pay their own way, and nobody gets hired. They will hold the same audition year after year until someone really knocks their socks off. When someone does win, they might stay with the orch. for 40 years, so that tells one how rare it is to ...


Note the bolded part.
 
2013-03-14 07:24:49 PM  

OgreMagi: IlGreven: 1) Management is not honoring their current contract;
2) Management wants to lowball them in their contract negotiations.

The contract expired, so there is no current contract to honor.  However, it is common for a business to honor the terms of an expired contract during negotiations.  It wasn't made clear from the article whether this was the case or not.

They are only lowballing if they have the money to pay more but refuse to do so.  From the article:

"We have incurred an operating deficit during each of the last four years," Assink said. "Under these circumstances, it is important for every orchestra to look carefully at its finances."

In other words, there is NO more money to give to the musicians.  They might deserve more money under better economic circumstances, but that is not the case.  They can go cry somewhere else if they wish.


I farked up a sentence.  Bolded a correction.
 
2013-03-14 07:25:04 PM  

LectertheChef: They're looking for something like a 5% raise, not exactly massive. Especially when you consider how much the symphony's board of directors pays themselves. The one thing I've never really grasped though, is the whole using some old, super expensive instrument. There's plenty of high quality luthiers who are alive and working today, who could build these people top quality instruments, for a lot less than $100k. But no, they have to be snobs, and insist on pedigree. Like those assholes that insist on buying their new puppy from a breeder, instead of saving one from an animal shelter. Or like my friend who mocks my store brand foodstuffs. Yeah, like he can tell the difference between Dr. Pepper and Dr. K.

Ok, sorry, got sidetracked. Anyways, Michael Manrings basses don't cost anywhere near what these people pay for their instruments, yet he totally blows them all away. Is a new violin, made by a master luthier for $25k really worse than some 100+ year old violin?


Do you know anything about acoustic instruments?  They're like wine, the wood gets better with age.  Do you really think world class musicians buy century year old instruments "just cause their age is cool!"
 
2013-03-14 08:03:33 PM  

Tat'dGreaser: Oh and a million bucks for an instrument? You're retarded if you pay that much for an instrument, I don't care if it blows you too.


Farking this.  How many people in the audience do you think can tell if a song is played on a $100,000 viola vs. a $1,000,000 viola?  What farking bullshiat.
 
2013-03-14 08:26:15 PM  

Merry Sunshine: Tat'dGreaser: Oh and a million bucks for an instrument? You're retarded if you pay that much for an instrument, I don't care if it blows you too.

Farking this.  How many people in the audience do you think can tell if a song is played on a $100,000 viola vs. a $1,000,000 viola?  What farking bullshiat.


Mind you, it's a bit like audiophile craziness with insane budgets and surrounded by other audiophiles with fantastic professionally trained ears.

Personally, terrible $100 trumpet off Ebay was significantly worse than $300 cornet was significantly worse than $1300 trumpet was noticeably worse than $2200 trumpet (Owned the first 3, couldn't afford the last).  I'm guessing there's a point at which that stops, but like audiophilia, there's always someone who can (think they can) hear it.

/Barring some of the low brass and percussion (which were 5-figures and provided by the school because they were 5-figures), the average instrument was probably over a grand by the end of high school because it made a difference.
 
2013-03-14 10:10:45 PM  

Paris1127: they've got Michael Tilson-Thomas as music director


The cocaine costs alone must be astronomical.

/Former Buffalo Phil season ticket holder
 
2013-03-14 11:31:03 PM  

Geotpf: Jon iz teh kewl: FullMetalPanda: My understanding of California, especially for locations like SF, 147,000 is barely above poverty levels there due to how expensive everything is?

what's more expensive?  groceries?? like a box of Wheaties costs $10 in california?

a gallon of whole milk costs $20?

No, the issue would be housing, and only really if one wanted to live in San Francisco itself (where a 2 bedroom house with no yard would be a million dollars).  There are plenty of places in California where $150k will buy you a 4 bedroom house (I own such a house), but San Fran ain't one of them.


Yeah, but who wants to live in the central valley?
 
2013-03-15 02:16:00 PM  

links136: Do you know anything about acoustic instruments?  They're like wine, the wood gets better with age.  Do you really think world class musicians buy century year old instruments "just cause their age is cool!"


As I noted (and linked to a cite) upthread, the bias towards expensive, older instruments may in fact be a bias in perception.  If you're told a violin is a Strad, you'll believe you hear an increase in quality whether it's really a Strad or not.  In blind tests, even highly trained musicians usually can't tell the difference.  (That said, if a musician *believes* she's playing the highest quality instrument, and her confidence goes up accordingly, that probably can have an effect on actual playing).

As far as the labor dispute goes: no one on this thread has access to the symphony's books.  Commenting on whether or not $147k/year is a fair salary in the absence of knowing what % of gross revenues are consumed by labor costs is pointless.  If that's 1% of gross revenues, they're probably underpaid.  If that's 110% of gross revenues they're probably overpaid.  No one here has any idea what those numbers actually are.
 
2013-03-15 03:39:08 PM  
I'm normally sympathetic both to labor unions and musicians, but fark them all with an un-rosined bow.

You don't sound perceptibly better on a $1,000,000 viola than you would on a $10,000 viola.  For one thing, it's still A VIOLA.

Second, there's a timpani student at every conservatory in the nation that can play the entire orchestral reportoire exactly as well as David Herbert, at least as far as the audience can tell, and for a third as much money.
 
2013-03-15 03:46:57 PM  

bikerific: if the symphony is raking in cash, the players are within their rights to ask for their share of it.


if you discount governmental, corporate, and royal patronage, no symphony in history has ever been "raking in cash".
 
2013-03-15 03:56:14 PM  

Musikslayer: When bigboy symphonies hold auditions, the vast majority these days will end with "no hire".

THAT'S how high the standards are. 200 of the world's best players come from around the world, pay their own way, and nobody gets hired.


Well, it's cheaper for the symphony if they end up not hiring anyone.  Especially when they don't even pay travel expenses for the applicants.

Oh no, they'll have to get by with only 14 Violin II players instead of 15!
 
2013-03-15 04:29:44 PM  

poot_rootbeer: Musikslayer: When bigboy symphonies hold auditions, the vast majority these days will end with "no hire".

THAT'S how high the standards are. 200 of the world's best players come from around the world, pay their own way, and nobody gets hired.

Well, it's cheaper for the symphony if they end up not hiring anyone.  Especially when they don't even pay travel expenses for the applicants.

Oh no, they'll have to get by with only 14 Violin II players instead of 15!


Not everything is about money, son. They don't go with a player less, they still hire someone on a one year basis. Auditions are expensive for them too:  committees get paid, halls are rented. It has nothing to do with money.
 
2013-03-15 05:41:17 PM  

Musikslayer: nobody gets hired.


Musikslayer: they still hire someone on a one year basis.


wat
 
2013-03-15 06:09:16 PM  

poot_rootbeer: Musikslayer: nobody gets hired.

Musikslayer: they still hire someone on a one year basis.

wat


Temporary gig. They hire a sub until the position is filled by a "member". No empty chairs.
 
2013-03-15 10:10:23 PM  

bborchar: That gives you the idea of your expendability.
However, this article is a couple of years ago, but some of these issues still persist today:

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2010/02/symp-f04.html


From your article:

One particularly disturbing trend is declining attendance by members of the younger generation. This is probably at least in part related to the deep cutbacks in music programs at the elementary and secondary level in public schools across the United States.

HAAAAAHAAHAHA!  It's because the younger generation doesn't want to sit still for three hours and listen to someone play music.
 
2013-03-16 12:11:51 AM  

poot_rootbeer: if you discount governmental, corporate, and royal patronage, no symphony in history has ever been "raking in cash".


Yeah, and if my Aunt had a penis, she'd be my Uncle. That's like saying, "Well, if you discount paychecks and benefits, my employer's never given me anything!"
 
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