How to Make More Money in the Arts: Ask!

We’d all like to earn more money, but asking for a raise or negotiating your fee in an endangered arts economy can feel awkward at best and inappropriate at worst. Working in an industry where cost-of-living raises and annual salary reviews are not the norm, you most likely won’t receive higher pay unless you ask.

I offered my advice on negotiating fees at the Boston Singers’ Resource blog today. I hope it inspires you, and I wish you success!

10 things that keep a collaborative pianist up at night

  1. Potential page-turning catastrophes
  2. Which all-black outfit should I wear tomorrow?
  3. Devising ways to keep my hands warm
  4. Do I practice too much?
  5. Do I practice too little?
  6. M.130–137 of the second movement of the Franck violin sonata
  7. How can I make more money?
  8. Oh, the pieces I could play with larger hands!
  9. Do I have enough binders? I should buy more binders.
  10. Crippling self-doubt

Tidbits: Unexpected opportunities, career advice, hindsight

As I prepared for a BSO rehearsal on short notice earlier in the week, I enjoyed reading this profile of keyboardist and conductor Michael Beattie, who launched his career with a last-minute gig of his own.

“When Craig [Smith] called me and asked if I would take this job, I knew I couldn’t,” says Beattie. “But I said yes and spent three painful days extricating myself from other obligations…” That decision set the direction of Beattie’s career and has opened doors for him ever since.

I also found it reassuring that a seasoned pro like Beattie described new experiences as “frightening” because so often I am terrified in unfamiliar rehearsal or performance situations. I try to heed the adage “Be like duck — calmly floating above the surface, but paddling like the dickens underneath.”

* * *

I emphatically nodded YES, YES, YES when I read conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya’s advice to young singers, which is applicable to all musicians of any age:

But truly, the number one thing is being prepared and professional. It’s such a simple notion, but it will take you so far.

Women Taking The Stand: Lidiya Yankovskaya

This philosophy is the basis of my entire career. I even have it tattooed on my back.

(c) 2016 Eileen Huang


But seriously, music is absolutely a referral-based business and a small, small world. Apologies to my Facebook followers who already heard this anecdote: Yesterday I accompanied a music concert at a public elementary school, and shortly before the concert started, I discovered that a couple who are major donors and board members of the BSO were seated directly behind me.

Be prepared and professional at every gig. No gig is too small.

* * *

Things I wish I learned while my brain was young and flexible:

  • Russian
  • Subdividing in 5. Even better, subdividing in 5 while someone is conducting in 2 or 4.
  • Improvising

Things I learned while my brain was young and flexible, but subsequently forgot and now would find useful:

  • Whatever that other clef cellists read is. Tenor clef.
  • Figured bass