If the math on 'regular' college is starting to look suspect, what about the math on music schools and conservatories? Perhaps the Berklee College of Music, a place where the annual cost of attendance can quickly soar past $62,000, is now answering the question on its own. Because when you come out the other end, the real world is an increasingly brutal place for musicians. And, ironically, a report from Berklee itself is now reaffirming this reality.
According to a rather dreary report on musician jobs released by the school this week, most musicians are struggling with moderate salaries (at best), are underemployed in their chosen craft, and are working multiple gigs to get by. And, session gigs, recording gigs, and salaried positions are all on the decline.
Here's a quick summary of Berklee's report on the state of musical employment in 2012. The findings were based on a sample of 5,371 musicians and composers, conducted by the Future of Music Coalition (and released this year).
It gets worse, according to the Berklee stats. Because over the past five years -- undoubtedly a stressed-out period economically in the US, world, and music industry -- musicians have watched their earnings power and available work erode. In fact, most categories are fighting to maintain their previous levels of employment, or struggling under declines.
But wait: didn't we already know this? At least at a top level? The answer, of course, is yes: parents are notorious for trying to steer their children away from music, simply because the jobs are erratic and the pay is lousy. But for those committed to their passions, perhaps the question is whether it makes sense to commit hundreds of thousands of dollars to a musical education that will probably lead to a life of Ramen and long-term debt. Or, if that's even a luxury young musicians can realistically entertain anymore.
The full report, which includes a range of salaries and music-related job details, can be found here.
more money more problems Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Some of those numbers are not too bad, and Berklee does offer a lot of options outside of performing however it comes down to this harsh statement:
If you are going to Berklee with the intentions of leaving as a performer or a composer, it makes absolutely no sense (or cents, either one..) to actually graduate if you are not getting MORE than half of your tuition paid through scholarships. And regardless, the people who play well enough to get those scholarships are pretty much the only ones who can 'make it' as a performer anyways, and will have ample opportunities to leave the college before even graduating...
Berklee is definitely a business more than a college but that does not mean its students can't get something from it.. unfortunately most (apparantly about 58%) don't.
- Just the humble opinion of a current Berklee student slowly throwing my life away....
iGig Tuesday, November 27, 2012
straight up: Berklee is just another scam, so that's youre real world lesson right there. I'm not your typical rich kid learning scales for $60,000 but instead started gigs at 16 and now make a decent income, learned on the streets producing and playing. and my trust me you don't miss notes and miss deadlines when you are trying to eat and sleep off that.
So yeah got ripped off, straight robbed, dirty deals, made some friends probably more enemies and sketchy tours but I'm in the game a you know what? you probably heard of me.
I'm talented, was poor, now not so poor anymore. Probably also in a better position to blow up beyond that. No rich parents = reality so I had to figure it out. Call it the American Dream I'd say it ain't dreamy mostly hard and pain. But I will say thank you world for giving the silver spoon to the next baby.
Bryan Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Nope, never heard of you. Keep bragging it really makes you look professional and mature.
meh Tuesday, November 27, 2012
These figures are more or less what musicians make without a berklee degree to their name anyway, so what's the point?
Versus Friday, November 30, 2012
Income is not the only measure of value for an education.
PTSoundHound Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Let's take a look at it this way (seeing as we're continually told that there are so many talented musicians and music biz people out there who can't make a living through music...) -
WANTED - private music tutor, 12 month contract, up to $62,000 (depending on experience)
And who said DIY was dead?
Another Visitor Wednesday, November 28, 2012
In my opinion, as a professional full-time musician for over 40 years, who has earned all income from music, the report, written as a tool to persuade potential students and their parents that there is a good career waiting those who graduate from Berklee is overly optimistic. Paul's headline... "Depressing Report on Music Jobs" should really read "Overly optimistic report on Music Jobs".
I have never seen it so bad for highly skilled musicians, composers, arrangers, etc., It is for a whole host of reasons, but today's reality for highly skilled musicians is pretty grim, many who are established and are highly-skilled are struggling. Believe me, if they are struggling the fresh out of college type has little hope in hell. Until all those who are involved in the music creation process are fully rewarded for their efforts and their work is not mis-appropriated by internet companies to make all their profits the slide will continue.
J. Wednesday, November 28, 2012
I went to Berklee, earned my degree, and was on my way to Atlantic Records virtually as soon as I got of the stage. That was in 2011. That said, if you know what t do at Berklee and how to use it Berklee will work for you. Many of the people I walked the halls and partied with are either full or semi-celebrities right now and can be seen playing gigs or performing. Again it all depends on how you network and the work you put in. I'm in law school now because I've always wanted to advocate for artists but I could have been there right with them. Kids that are disappointed with Berklee are the ones that think that Berklee is a conservatory and the American music industry is like the classical world. Neither of those two premises are true and the people I've alluded to have accepted those realities and planned their careers accordingly. Also, we should stop acting like music degrees have ever brought the same boon as did say legal or medical degrees and has never been risky. You have always had to do a million things to survive. Hell, Beethoven gave lessons, concerts, and composed. The game hasn't changed except that kids think that because there there is a music industry proper they can go to college and apply to the music industry Mad Men style. As soon as kids get over this folly they'll be fine.
Visitor Wednesday, November 28, 2012
I'm sorry the game has changed RADICALLY since napster & the internet. It is not the same game of years ago. It is harder than ever. Going to Berklee is fine if you are a rich kid with deep financial resources and money to burn. A better way as long as you are are really determined is to find a good teacher or teachers study with them one-on-one and get out playing and networking. You will still have to suck down gigs that pay little more than they did pre-napster over 13 years ago and you will have to work some way to survive. You would have to do that even if you go to Berklee. The chances of you being picked up by a major label and given an advance are almost non existent. You will have to make many big sacrifices, such as personal relationships, children, home with mortgage etc., a good middle class income is going to be hard to achieve.
I'm not surprised you re-careered and went to law school, you are lucky to have the financial resources to go to both Berklee & law school.
Peter Spellman Wednesday, November 28, 2012
As the producer of this study, I think you are correct that music careers are (and always have been) a risky choice. All the more reason to hedge your bets with a rigorous music education that helps you tap into an international relationship network of 50,000 alumni like the one Berklee offers. This network, as much as one’s music literacy and talent, will position a music career for success and, eventually, a return on investment. No guarantees, but a huge push in the right direction.
Berklee College of Music
Visitor Wednesday, November 28, 2012
In the past Berklee was a great music trade school.
Trading on that greatness, to support the staff and teachers and all that are employed there, they need asses on seats who can pay the tuition. To do that Berklee has to paint a world of fantastic possibilities with incomes to match....
Perhaps it's the music future painted by Berklee VP David Kusek as he looks down from the ivory tower ... music like water....
Visitor Friday, November 30, 2012
I have often wondered how others at Berklee reconcile his ideas, promoted as Berklee ideas, with the realities that students face on graduation.
hereishow Friday, November 30, 2012
Dave Kusek's ideas do not need to be 'reconciled' with Berklee in anyway. Your inquiry is likely prompted by the perception that all Berklee students want to be performers/recording artists, which is inaccurate. Berklee offers 12 majors and an increasing number of minors. In addition to performance, students major in music therapy, music education, music business, filmscoring, production, etc. A college survey of a few years ago found 80% of Berklee alumni work in the music industry. Beyond music, students are required to take a rigorous protocol of liberal arts courses, plus courses specific to their major. Recorded music is only one sector of the industry...
IPADHARMONY*TM Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Matt Thursday, November 29, 2012
Music is like any other creative discipline. Far more supply than demand. Plus, the perceived value of music has been bastardized over the last decade. Both in how the major companies are willing to pay the artists/creators and what the public is willing to pay.
I'm only familiar with Berkelee in name, not in specific cirriculum. But, I have noticed a large amount of music college and program bashing over the past five or so years. Even worse, more and more critisicm is coming from within the music discipline itself.
Those at the forefront of the critisicm are also the same people who, most likely, would not entertain the idea of college, even if it were more modestly priced and the employment outlook were better. The critisicm is more aimed at "kids with their parents money" rather than the decision to go into music.
College tuition has skyrocketed for all disciplines. Colleges/Universities are BIG, BIG Business, though they won't admit it. Instead, they hide behind the altruism of 'education'.
If you have gone into music or planning on it, don't be discouraged by things like this. Instead focus on the craft while also taking advice on how to practically sustain yourself with it.
Pat Thursday, November 29, 2012
As a "musician" who graduated from a major state university with a non-music degree (don't start hating on me now, you official music school "musicians")... I've been seeing this problem first hand for about 4 years.
I graduated with my standard degree in 2008, then joined up with a band and hit the road for about 2 years non-stop.. all while working a M-F 9-5 job. Driving up to 8 hours to play every Fri/Sat and some week day shows (and in the summer so much more..), and guess how much I made in that time? $100 dollars + gas reimbursments. Now, that's primarily on the band's mentality where we were putting back in most of what we made, and we were making good money, probably averaging $650 a night for a 7-9 piece group. That particular band's management issues aside, my point is that it's a hard life. That was a fairly successful band if you consider the Fri/Sat shows (most bands kill for that slot, yet find themselves playing on Mondays for 45 mins and 2 people) and the money being made. But, break that out to 7, 8, or 9 people after gas reimbursments for 3 vehicles and you're seeing about $50 a night per person. $100 per week if your getting 2 gigs translates into about $400 per month. You have to live in a bigger city if you want to play music this consistently, and $400 isn't going to cut it for rent/food/other necessities. So, of course you have to have another job!
Schools like Berklee and other music schools are very cool. They provide the best musical education you can get for performance, business, management, etc.. It's truly great if you have the money. But, one thing people have to realize is reality. You're going to come out a great performer and player, but you're going to up to your ears in debt, with no secure way of making money (look at the example above, and add in a job in the food service, how are you going to pay back that debt while still wanting the freedom you need to be a musician. Think of all the practice time, late nights, and random scheduling you need. 9-5 jobs, which provide the money you need to pay back your debt, don't accomodate the musician's lifestyle very well.) It's very, very hard and stressful.
The solution to all of this, if you want to be a great player or performer, is to find a private tutor who has been there and done that. If you live in the right city you can find them. Take responsibility and practice your arse off and you'll be just as good as the next guy. Another thing that I think people need to just accept these days is that we, as musicians, need to perform out of love of music. Not to try to make money. Do NOT go into this field expecting to make money or a career out of it. If it happens, that's fantastic. Do your best to make that happen. Never give up, always strive to be the best at your particular instrument, and put yourself in the right situations to get noticed for your talent. With some luck, you'll be ok. It's like every other job, it's all who you know.
So, good luck up and coming musicians (and current ones). Going to a music school is a big decision, think it over. Look at the facts and do what's best for you. The education is unparalleled, but you'll pay for it. The mental struggle will be never-ending (with or without success, because as a musician you should aim for perfection), and the financial struggle will depend upon your decisions and situation. Remember, do it for love and happiness.