Some facts in support of this. of the gross amount recieved,
1. Taxes 20 -50% depending on which country. Countries which tax the most
often have a per diem that partially defrays room and board.
2. Manager's fee, usually 10 %. A manager gets a fee for every contract the
3. Agent's fee usually 10% . An agent gets a cut only for the contracts for
the countries he procures contracts for. Sometimes a deal is worked out
between the manager and the agent whereby the total owed is 15%. This is only
opera. Managers receive 20% for concerts.
4. Publicist $1500 to $3,000 per month
5. Tax accountant, sometimes for more than one country, $100 -$200 per
hour. Some International singers are required to pay taxes quarterly.
6..Entertainment attorney, $200 per hour average
7. Voice lessons and coachings $65 to $150 per hour
8. For women, a decent concert gown is at least $3,000 a pop. Tuxes for men
cost less, but a good one is not cheap
9. Accompanist fees vary, but a high end one may take up to 30% of a fee
10. Hotel residence or apartment fees average about $ 2-4,000 a month
depending how expensive the city is, and we are not talking five star hotels
cost considerably more.
11. Photo shoots. A high end one can cost thousands of dollars, especially
if stylists are involved. low end one can cost as little as $1500, but the
difference in quality often shows.
12, the purchase of a piano is necessary, and though it is usually a one
time buy, it has to be maintained. Pianos are expensive. The initial purchase
price costs thousands.
13. Scores and recordings, this is a minor expense, but most singers spend
$200 to $1,000 depending on their needs.
14. Specialized medical expenses: When a singer becomes ill, they have to
become very careful what they put in their bodies and who they see. Where a
normal person would merely see a family practitioner or ride out a cold, a
singer may need to see a laryngologist. A look at the vocal folds with video
laryngyscope can be $500 a pop.Where a normal person may simply need to use a
cane for a while, a singer may need to see an orthopedist that specializes in
sports and ballet injuries. These things cost more.
15. Educational expenses. Singers often need to continue language studies
either in intense short courses, correspondence courses, or private lessons.
This varies considerably in price and duration.
Now for a high powered super star with high visibility, the cost goes up
dramatically. Now we get into a personal assistant which often becomes
Entertainment attorney fees rise considerably, publicity fees also
increase, as do the number of photo shoots, concert gowns etc Opera recordings
not make a profit, but they do provide extra publicity. Believe it or not, a
singer of this type takes home a lot less money than a house star who only
travels occasionally or one who has avoided the marketed career approach. Most
singers are struggling with mortgage payments like everyone else, provided
they have been lucky enough to buy a home or an apartment. Young singers
breaking onto the international circuit are lucky to break even. Most go into
the first years. Some are able to get a grant or award designed for this
juncture at a young singer's career when the choice between feeding the family
pursuing the career become serious issues. Sometimes important talent drops
out at this point. The Richard Tucker Award and the Beverly Sills award come
to mind as representatives of these kinds of awards to particularly promising
There are other extra necessary costs to international singers whether high
powered or not that are created by career demands. For example, sometimes
for family continuity, the singer may need to bring their family with them on
occasion. This costs money. Sometimes it becomes necessary to hire a traveling
nanny. Then there are international long distance calls back home, agents,
managers, publicists, fed x expenses etc. This can also be very expensive.
Then there is the shady side that some singers pay for such as claques,
anti claques, newpaper critic advantage, conductor advantage and various other
shady dealings. One singer related a woeful tale in Naples where so many of
these things were in effect, when her agent turned to her and said,
"But my dear, you are the one who is going home with your money."
There are also tales of unscrupulous agents charging a lot more under the
On the issue of salaries being public domain, all non profit organizations
must maintain transparency to the public, the government and donors, though
most opera companies and singers would prefer that fees remain as discrete as
When a person makes a career choice that is in the public eye, that is a
price that is paid. As bad as it gets it isn't nearly as bad as it can get with
politicians and pop and film stars, where paparazzi lay in wait to catch
super stars without makeup to send to AOL and the National Enquirer, and
research every tiny peccadillo since the day they were born.