Being a Pro Bass Bone in Europe

All about making money.
Post Reply
MaevenDeadcloud
Posts: 17
Joined: Thu Dec 08, 2022 7:07 am

Being a Pro Bass Bone in Europe

Post by MaevenDeadcloud »

This post is pretty similar to one made a little while back about "making it" in the pro world. However, I live in Europe and plan on staying here, and there's quite a difference between the US and Europe. My question has less to do with how good you have to be, and more to do with having a career as a musician. I am fully aware that it will certainly be less profitable than other careers, but is it like the US where only 1% can have a decent salary? Or is it a bit better here? Any help would be appreciated.
User avatar
WilliamLang
Posts: 441
Joined: Fri Nov 22, 2019 6:12 pm

Re: Being a Pro Bass Bone in Europe

Post by WilliamLang »

It's going to depend on where in Europe you want to live. If you haven't already, lessons and getting aligned with a good university program will be smart steps. The industry seems to be rather hard everywhere, but there are more orchestra and playing opportunities per person in Europe as a whole from what've I've seen and experienced so far.
William Lang
Interim Instructor, the University of Oklahoma
Artist, Long Island Brass and Stephens Horns
Faculty, the Longy School of Music
founding member of loadbang
www.williamlang.org
User avatar
LeTromboniste
Posts: 1090
Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:22 am
Location: Sion, CH

Re: Being a Pro Bass Bone in Europe

Post by LeTromboniste »

Depends where you are and what style of playing you do. But overall there are fewer graduates and more positions available. Also typically less drastic difference in pay between the top lovel jobs and the ones below. Top orchestra players don't earn as much as in the US, but a lot more orchestras have full-time jobs and living wages. From what I understand, for orchestral playing the normal process in Germanic and Northern Europe, where there generally are more orchestras per capita (I include Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark and Sweden) is to get an apprentice or "Akademie" position in a professional symphony or opera orchestra after your studies (or concurrently with post-graduate studies). Hard to be invited for an audition if you don't have at least one such apprentice position on your CV. Then there are multiple trombone positions open each year. Many orchestras also have more than three trombone players permanently hired, 5 is not uncommon, with two principals, one second, one bass and contra specialist, and a "Wechselposaune" who will play some services as 2nd, and some as bass trombonists, or 3rd trombone in repertoire with four parts, as needed. So there are really a lot more positions relative to the number of players. Also depending on where in Europe, often a lot more "pick up" work.

France is quite different with their conservatory system, and their style of trombone playing is also unique, so crossover between France and the rest of Europe is limited. Not so sure what it's like in southern Europe.
Last edited by LeTromboniste on Thu Dec 08, 2022 8:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
Maximilien Brisson
www.maximilienbrisson.com
Lecturer for baroque trombone,
Hfk Bremen/University of the Arts Bremen
Fidbone
Posts: 278
Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2018 1:14 am
Location: UK

Re: Being a Pro Bass Bone in Europe

Post by Fidbone »

I lived in Germany for 17 years and was hardly ever without work, mostly freelance playing and teaching! However times have changed as with the rest of the artistic world. I've been back in the UK for the past 6 years and it feels super hard to make a good living these days.
I'm mainly a tenor player but have doubled for various contracts on Bass bone over the years.
HermanGerman
Posts: 127
Joined: Fri Oct 29, 2021 12:57 am

Re: Being a Pro Bass Bone in Europe

Post by HermanGerman »

Dream on...unless you are well connect since years...or the best bass trombonist in the world.
MaevenDeadcloud
Posts: 17
Joined: Thu Dec 08, 2022 7:07 am

Re: Being a Pro Bass Bone in Europe

Post by MaevenDeadcloud »

LeTromboniste wrote: Thu Dec 08, 2022 8:35 am Depends where you are and what style of playing you do. But overall there are fewer graduates and more positions available. Also typically less drastic difference in pay between the top lovel jobs and the ones below. Top orchestra players don't earn as much as in the US, but a lot more orchestras have full-time jobs and living wages. From what I understand, for orchestral playing the normal process in Germanic and Northern Europe, where there generally are more orchestras per capita (I include Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark and Sweden) is to get an apprentice or "Akademie" position in a professional symphony or opera orchestra after your studies (or concurrently with post-graduate studies). Hard to be invited for an audition if you don't have at least one such apprentice position on your CV. Then there are multiple trombone positions open each year. Many orchestras also have more than three trombone players permanently hired, 5 is not uncommon, with two principals, one second, one bass and contra specialist, and a "Wechselposaune" who will play some services as 2nd, and some as bass trombonists, or 3rd trombone in repertoire with four parts, as needed. So there are really a lot more positions relative to the number of players. Also depending on where in Europe, often a lot more "pick up" work.

France is quite different with their conservatory system, and their style of trombone playing is also unique, so crossover between France and the rest of Europe is limited. Not so sure what it's like in southern Europe.
Thanks a lot for your advice. I'm much more interested in playing in an orchestra than in a band, so do you have a few more details about pay? Just some general information would be useful. I currently live in the Netherlands, but later in life, I'm planning on either staying here or moving to Germany or a Scandinavian country.
User avatar
LeTromboniste
Posts: 1090
Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:22 am
Location: Sion, CH

Re: Being a Pro Bass Bone in Europe

Post by LeTromboniste »

MaevenDeadcloud wrote: Fri Dec 09, 2022 1:17 am
LeTromboniste wrote: Thu Dec 08, 2022 8:35 am Depends where you are and what style of playing you do. But overall there are fewer graduates and more positions available. Also typically less drastic difference in pay between the top lovel jobs and the ones below. Top orchestra players don't earn as much as in the US, but a lot more orchestras have full-time jobs and living wages. From what I understand, for orchestral playing the normal process in Germanic and Northern Europe, where there generally are more orchestras per capita (I include Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark and Sweden) is to get an apprentice or "Akademie" position in a professional symphony or opera orchestra after your studies (or concurrently with post-graduate studies). Hard to be invited for an audition if you don't have at least one such apprentice position on your CV. Then there are multiple trombone positions open each year. Many orchestras also have more than three trombone players permanently hired, 5 is not uncommon, with two principals, one second, one bass and contra specialist, and a "Wechselposaune" who will play some services as 2nd, and some as bass trombonists, or 3rd trombone in repertoire with four parts, as needed. So there are really a lot more positions relative to the number of players. Also depending on where in Europe, often a lot more "pick up" work.

France is quite different with their conservatory system, and their style of trombone playing is also unique, so crossover between France and the rest of Europe is limited. Not so sure what it's like in southern Europe.
Thanks a lot for your advice. I'm much more interested in playing in an orchestra than in a band, so do you have a few more details about pay? Just some general information would be useful. I currently live in the Netherlands, but later in life, I'm planning on either staying here or moving to Germany or a Scandinavian country.
Some really good trombone teaching in the Netherlands. I have a couple friends who are managing to make a decent living as classical bass trombonists gigging, subbing in orchestras, teaching, etc. Not that many orchestra positions there I reckon, as it's a small country with not that many orchestras.

I'm not an orchestral player myself anymore, so I wouldn't want to give more specific advise about orchestral career beyond what I wrote in the previous post, that there is definitely more work in Europe than North America. My point of view in terms of orchestra jobs is as an outside (albeit close) observer.
Maximilien Brisson
www.maximilienbrisson.com
Lecturer for baroque trombone,
Hfk Bremen/University of the Arts Bremen
timbone
Posts: 183
Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2018 12:14 pm

Re: Being a Pro Bass Bone in Europe

Post by timbone »

Maximilian - by chance do you know Werner Duwe?
Arun
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Oct 25, 2023 5:09 am

Re: Being a Pro Bass Bone in Europe

Post by Arun »

MaevenDeadcloud wrote: Thu Dec 08, 2022 7:27 am This post is pretty similar to one made a little while back about "making it" in the pro world. However, I live in Europe and plan on staying here, and there's quite a difference between the US and Europe. My question has less to do with how good you have to be, and more to do with having a career as a musician. I am fully aware that it will certainly be less profitable than other careers, but is it like the US where only 1% can have a decent salary? Or is it a bit better here? Any help would be appreciated.
Navigating a career as a musician in Europe versus the US involves understanding regional differences in opportunities and earnings. While music careers can be financially challenging anywhere, Europe often supports a broader spectrum of artistic funding and cultural support systems compared to the US. Success can vary widely based on factors like genre, location, and networking. Researching local music scenes and seeking mentorship from established musicians can provide valuable insights for building a sustainable career.
imsevimse
Posts: 1483
Joined: Sun Apr 29, 2018 10:43 am
Location: Sweden

Re: Being a Pro Bass Bone in Europe

Post by imsevimse »

Jobs as a pro bass trombone player in Europe? I can give you an idea of circumstances in Sweden.

First you'll have to wait until someone is retired in the few professional orchestas around. In Sockholm I think there are two jobs at the opera, one in the Swedish Radio Orchestra, one in the Stockholm Philharmonic orchestra, one in The Swedish Army Music Corps and another at Stockholms Läns Blåsarsymfoniker. The two latter ones are Wind bands. This means six full time jobs in the capital. I do not know of many freelancers who can earn their living as a bass tromboneplayer. I can only think of one that might qualify. It is not enough temporary jobs or studiowork to support freelancers full time. I guess there are the same amount in Malmö and Göteborg, or fewer since the next largest city is only half the population of Stockholm. This means there are at most 18 steady jobs in the three large cities. One of them need to retire before any is available so currently no job is available. In jazz I think we only have two pro jazz big bands it's Norrbotten Big Band and Bohuslän Big Band so there are two more steady jobs. There are also a couples of other orchestras too who only have a limited setting but I do not think they include a bass trombone as a regular member so this is where freelancers might play. A couple of freelance orchestra projects exist too, but they only exists temporary to do specific jobs as they turn up. They consists of freelancers and do most of the pro church gigs. I guess I might have missed a steady job or two but I think it is not much more than 20 steady jobs in whole of Sweden on bass trombone, but problem at the moment is none of those are vacant.

Since we are 10 million in Sweden 20/10 000 000 tells me there could be at most 0.00002 jobs/person if all happens to retire at the same time. It means there are 0 to 0.000002 jobs free/person. I don't know? Is this a lot of jobs compared to US? It is very close to NO jobs at all in my book.

/Tom
WGWTR180
Posts: 1327
Joined: Wed Sep 04, 2019 2:32 pm

Re: Being a Pro Bass Bone in Europe

Post by WGWTR180 »

Wherever you go it will take time. If you’re prepared to wait it out then you’ll be okay. If not then I’d seriously consider something else.
CalgaryTbone
Posts: 1112
Joined: Thu May 10, 2018 1:39 pm

Re: Being a Pro Bass Bone in Europe

Post by CalgaryTbone »

I haven't seen anything in previous posts about the immigration process. Most countries don't allow people without legal residence status to work in their country. There are ways around this depending on where you go, but it is made to be difficult on purpose. Even if you win a job in an orchestra in another country (something I'm very familiar with), there is an immigration process, and you will probably start out on a work permit, which will be limited to just the job you've won. No freelancing/teaching allowed until you get your permanent residence (green card in the US). That can take some time, and some jobs don't really pay enough on their own. There are lots of examples of people relocating and doing well in their new home, but those stories are usually from many years ago.

No problem if you get a job with the Vienna Philharmonic or one of the European Radio Jazz ensembles, but I would doubt that you can move to a city and start doing club dates every weekend or land a spot in the Berlin run of "Phantom". Likewise, the orchestras and chamber groups will have their own regulars and subs already set.

Jim Scott
User avatar
LeTromboniste
Posts: 1090
Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:22 am
Location: Sion, CH

Re: Being a Pro Bass Bone in Europe

Post by LeTromboniste »

CalgaryTbone wrote: Fri Jul 12, 2024 8:42 pm I haven't seen anything in previous posts about the immigration process. Most countries don't allow people without legal residence status to work in their country. There are ways around this depending on where you go, but it is made to be difficult on purpose. Even if you win a job in an orchestra in another country (something I'm very familiar with), there is an immigration process, and you will probably start out on a work permit, which will be limited to just the job you've won. No freelancing/teaching allowed until you get your permanent residence (green card in the US). That can take some time, and some jobs don't really pay enough on their own. There are lots of examples of people relocating and doing well in their new home, but those stories are usually from many years ago.

No problem if you get a job with the Vienna Philharmonic or one of the European Radio Jazz ensembles, but I would doubt that you can move to a city and start doing club dates every weekend or land a spot in the Berlin run of "Phantom". Likewise, the orchestras and chamber groups will have their own regulars and subs already set.

Jim Scott
OP already lives in Europe (which has a free-movement of persons agreement) so presumably they don't have that problem.

More generally, for non-Europeans, these barriers vary vastly between countries.

In Switzerland where I live, for example, it is simply impossible to stay as a non-European immigrant freelancer, and only a full-time orchestra job allows you to get a work permit as a musician. The only other way is if you're there as someone's spouse. While just next door in Germany and France, it's very much possible. They have such a thing as freelance worker residence permits. In practice, it can be tricky to get those permits from scratch, as you need to prove that you already have enough work lined up in the country for the foreseeable future. But if you study there, changing status to freelancer after your studies is generally easier – you often just need to show that you derive enough income from freelancing (plus you likely then have more work line-up already).

Freelance musicians in Europe also typically don't just work in their local market but often travel all over their country or even the whole continent for gigs. In the last 12 months I've worked in about two dozens cities in 10 different countries, and that's still probably only half or two thirds of what some of my busier colleagues do.
Maximilien Brisson
www.maximilienbrisson.com
Lecturer for baroque trombone,
Hfk Bremen/University of the Arts Bremen
Post Reply

Return to “Music Business”