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What does the head of Lincoln Center get paid?

It’s $7,000 every working day for the outgoing Reynold Levy.

Bloomberg Muse has been running the numbers on US arts chiefs and finds that their takehome is sharply on the rise after a brief recess.

Peter Gelb at the Met makes $1.4 million a year, the same as Michael Kaiser at the Kennedy Center. Clive Gillinson at Carnegie Hall is on $1.1 million but he’s up 6 percent year on year and not complaining. Glen Lowry at Moma is on $1.8m.

Conductors? It’s the same as ever. Michael Tilson Thomas remains top-paid shtick with $2.4 million in San Francisco.




Nice work, if you can get it. Read more numbers here.

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  1. R. James Tobin says:

    This is one reason why ticket sales fall so short of covering costs. Another is big name soloists.

    • Well, I agree to some extent, however – when a small-to-medium sized orchestra hires a big name soloist, often it’s a cash cow. I know one orchestra that paid a world-famous soloist his $75K (or whatever) but they grossed $125K-plus in sales on that one concert, far more than usual. Does it all net out in the end? I think it does.

      Also, these soloists are NOT paid the same by the big-time prestige orchestras like the NY Phil as they are by the Wichita Symphony. The big guns are way better at negotiating and don’t “need” the soloists nearly as much as do the smaller organizations.

      But yes, music director pay and executive pay is far too high.

    • Oh also, paying an executive director $1m/year is a big drag on your budget, but so is paying 70 tenured musicians $150K/year each. It’s expensive to run an orchestra these days no matter how you slice it.

  2. This would all be fine if we were talking about for profit institutions, not non-profit institutions, as is the case here. The entire U.S. pay scale for remunerating their executives and music directors at non-profit organisations is outrageous and only speaks of the disproportionate greed that prevails there. How can any non-profit organisation justify paying millions to a manager or a conductor when the money is coming almost entirely from donations and charitable contributions? It is totally abhorrent and undermines the institution itself. Just think for a minute if this kind of money would be instead channeled into free tickets for students, concerts for the handicapped, the blind, educational programmes, concerts in other areas, etc. Instead it goes into the pockets of a greedy group of supposed art and music lovers, who all know full well that their orchestras are often teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. Yet, they all show their greed and egocentrism and actual disinterest in the true health of their orchestras and the community that it serves. Fortunately, this is a unique phenomenon in the U.S. and unlikely to spread much beyond its borders. I have nothing against paying high salaries to CEOs in private companies, but if one chooses to work for a non-profit and expects the salary of a trader on Wall Street, something is seriously wrong, both with the institution as a whole and with the individual concerned.

  3. I don’t see it as particularly outrageous that Mssrs. Levy or Gelb are earning a little over $1 million/year. Those are all-consuming jobs with a lot of responsibility, and no job security. Plus, they basically can pay for their salaries through their fundraising activities.

    As for concert soloists, I would certainly hope that any who are receiving hefty fees are generating enough marginal revenue to cover their cost.

  4. I believe a company with a budget in the hundreds of millions can afford 1.4 million for its head – especially one as active as Gelb.

  5. These two quotes make me positively sick:
    “The senior Carnegie Hall stagehand’s reward for moving a piano: that’s anyone’s guess, but his annual pay was $465,000. ”
    “Creative consultant Renee Fleming received $497,000 for sprinkling inspirational diva dust amongst the company in various forums.”

    The organizations can pay these people whatever they want. As for me, I’ve donated my dollar to any arts organization. If they conduct themselves with such fiscal irresponsibility they should look elsewhere for their sustenance.

  6. That should read: “… donated my LAST dollar…”

  7. You are outraged by these salaries and fees? The AVERAGE university football coach in the U.S. earns $1.64 million! The Head Coach at one major university earned $5.5 million alone in 2012, and an assistant in another school was paid $2 million! This is for teaching a bunch of kids on full scholarship how to play a game?

    Where does that money come from? Foundations, state and local government grants, gifts from donors and alumni, Federal appropriations and endowments. Certainly not entirely from the sale of tickets, or even students’ tuition. Just like orchestras, universities must source other forms of funding just to exist. Then, it becomes a matter of priorities within that institution as to where that money is allocated. I prefer the priority of securing the great soloists and conductors, the best musicians and yes – the best administrators.

    • Michael says:

      Your statements about college football are less than accurate. Generally it is a very profitable undertaking for the school and these profits are used to support other programs and are shared with the not so profitable schools through the NCAA. They receive a ton of money through broadcasting contracts and the many businesses that advertise and receive promotional considerations. College football and basketball are big business.

    • The big money in college sports is indeed disturbing though really not germane. My remark pertains to the arts, not to out of kilter (too high or too low) pay or the unequal distribution of income in the US.

      The kind of expenses, admin pay, consultant fees, and yes, even musician compensation packages (sorry to rattle some folks) drive up ticket prices. The result is that ordinary people cannot afford to go, but for perhaps on rare occasions.

      Cultivation of an appreciation for art is a slow process, fed by regular and constant exposure, not by a once-a-year treat. Without the building and maintenance of an audience, the arts will (and are!) wither. Access has everything to do with it. Ticket prices have everything to do with access. And costs– salaries and fees being the lion’s share of them– have everything to do with that. These greedy arts workers are digging their own graves.

  8. Stephen says:

    If it were about the money, which is what we are made to believe and which we more or less obviously subscribe to, then the measurement is about the money. But with arts the measurement is something else again. I’d like to see these people, coaches included measured by their contributions to the furtherance of the arts they are supposed to be managing. Pretty dismal record there for some across these last dew years.

    And budgets, the last time I checked, were about finance plans. They are only carved in stone as the saying goes, after that time cycle is completed. Those budgets do not belong to any one person, yet we attach their names to it. Since they have not protested, let them have their budget and let us hold them to it.

    We need a good dose of lee Iacocca just now with a corollary. “Lead or get out of the way.” Corollary- Make your plan work or vacate the premises.

    (I don’t mind the million bucks if there is something artistically and culturally measurable at the end including a healthy community of support.

  9. Especially considering the ongoing angst at the MO, one might be tempted to wonder why any musician with dreams of great success would aspire to be a member of an orchestra, when the big money seems to be in either being a successful soloist, conductor, or part of management…

    • So, it’s about the money? You all had better read Alan Fletcher’s address linked in today’s Slipped Disc.

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