Professional musicianship research

i have spent the better part of the afternoon deciding how much money a professional vocal ensemblist should make in Galadven (the capital of Nirth).

The answer: It depends.

The particular ensemble that interests me is called Linnor (a Sindarin word which means, simply, “Singer”). i have decided that in order to keep my character at a reasonable level of wealth considering his age and other pursuits (schooling), i will have a two-tiered pay scale. The lower end of the scale is for junior or “visiting” vocalists, and the higher end is for senior or “permanent members.” That way i can balance the sense of prestige associated with this ensemble with the need for not making this kid extra rich out of nowhere. It is a really good opportunity—but there’s no real reason for everyone to make the same amount of money anyway. (Actually, it only occurred to me this morning that this would be a paid gig, despite having decided to invite said character to join about, oh, a year and a half or more ago. How prestigious can it be if members must hold day jobs?)

i think that the majority of the ensemblists will likely hold day jobs, though, because as i was researching orchestra rehearsal schedules it looks like they won’t be required to rehearse daily until the week leading up to each concert, and much of the time they won’t have more than one rehearsal a week. So this might stop making sense after awhile. On the other hand, according to the Handbook on Nirthian Wealth, characters earning either salary amount will fall somewhere between “average” and “wealthy,” so they won’t need to find another job, and their own private rehearsal time will certainly take up a chunk of each day regardless of group rehearsals. So this might make sense again.

At any rate, here’s what Linnor members will make:

Junior vocalist: 5 hammer (about $5) per rehearsal, 3 horn (about $30) per smaller concert, and 9 horn (about $90) for the year-end concert.

Senior vocalist: Exactly double that—so, 1 horn (about $1) per rehearsal, 6 horn (about $60) per smaller concert, and 18 horn (about $180) for the year-end concert.

There are three of these smaller concerts, and 17 rehearsals leading up to each. There are 33 rehearsals leading up to the year-end concert. The ensemble gets a week off prior to beginning each new concert cycle, and an extra week off at the end of the year. For the first 4 (8) weeks, there is a single rehearsal each week; this is increased to 3/week for the next 2 (6) weeks, and then the ensemble rehearses each weeknight (7/week) for the final week leading up to the concert.

Concert tickets: Unlike traveling musicians, whose tickets are available without cost to community members based on a lottery system, Linnor and other such groups in Galadven charge for admittance and anyone is welcome to attend assuming they can afford to do so. Prior to each concert, there is one open rehearsal (or two before the year-end concert), and tickets for those are half off. Smaller concerts cost 3 horn ($30) and the year-end concert costs 6-10 horn ($60-100) depending on the seat (tickets are much more in demand for the year-end concert, and additional seating is opened to accommodate this).

While researching, i also ran across a tidbit of orchestra member contract policy that hadn’t occurred to me before: Missed rehearsals. The one page i saw that mentioned this allowed for up to two excused absences per concert cycle or five per year, and some rehearsals are of course mandatory. Something like that would have to be in place for Linnor as well, but i don’t know how best to map the guideline above with the Linnor concert cycle. And it doesn’t really matter, because that’ll be one of the fine details that Rixi hears about but which doesn’t affect her. If it came up at all it’d be an offhand comment acknowledging that one could “only get so many” absences or something like that, and who knows if it’d even come up.

The grand total of all of this is that, assuming no missed rehearsals, a junior vocalist would earn exactly 60 horn per year ($600), and a senior vocalist would earn double that. Assuming the arrangement i have in mind persists for the next few years, this character will have acquired some wealth beyond what the average 16-year-old deteer would have amassed while in school, but not nearly so much as he will in full-time patrolling (spoils of war yield a nice profit), and chances are good he’ll have given some to his parents and otherwise spread much of it around. i’m thinking it might be a good idea to have the bulk of his income go into a trust which he receives upon graduation. He has next to zero living expenses while at Duathos. It’ll cost him more than his first year’s salary to buy a beautiful, world-class mandolin, which sounds like a worthy expense that won’t unbalance things  at all. (He splits his time between mandolin and singing, and although this particular appointment is for voice, a grown-up or even fancy instrument to replace his student-use one would be really nice.)

This is the sort minutia that i really enjoy despite it not furthering the story one iota. (Although i was considering again the description that this ensemble is given in the letters already written, and wondering if i needed to rethink it. i think i overdid the rethinking, but i do feel much better when my details are in place and i don’t have to worry as much about whether i’ve forgotten something that will turn out to be crucial later on.)

So, there. This is the financial accounting and concert/rehearsal schedule of the Linnor Ensemble of Galadven, Nirth. Details aside, you really want to hear them sing… they are incredible.


After i told Jonathan all about the above research and conclusions, he made a great suggestion: Cut that junior rate in half and call it an internship. It’s honestly an amazing experience for him. He will learn and grow a lot, and he doesn’t have any living expenses. Plus, if he’s receiving an internship salary rather than a regular salary (junior or senior), i don’t have to worry at all about whether his income will be out of balance with what he should be able to afford as a new Black Robe in a few years. If he is paid a junior salary his first year in Linnor, i will have to wrassle with the question of when he becomes a permanent member and starts receiving the higher salary, which i just don’t want to give him, but if there is a pay band specifically for students, i will never have to worry about that. He’ll make 30 horn ($300) each year, and will therefore have made 120 horn total ($1200) by the end of his last year, and that is not unreasonable. He will have made a little money adventuring, too, as will his classmates, so having a job while in school will result in more money at the outset—but not nearly as much as if he had been receiving a junior or senior salary with Linnor.


But that’s just the bookkeeping. Aside from that, a Linnor concert is breathtaking. You might want to buy your tickets early!