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A Survey of Live Musicians in Central Pennsylvania:
Needs, Market Rates and Supported Actions

Summary of Survey Results

Demographics and the Music Market in Central Pennsylvania

Twenty-two percent of the respondents play full-time. The rest play part-time. 50% play between 5 and 50 gigs per year and 44% play 50 or more gigs per year.

Respondents said the average pay per band for a typical Friday night State College bar gig was $258, while the low end for the same was $145 and the high end was $501.

Musician Needs:

Musicians’ greatest needs are venues where people listen to live music and opportunities to network with other musicians. Less important to musicians are the traditional Union role of enforcing a minimum wage and requiring written contracts from venues.

Actions Desired/Shared Activities:

For AFM 660 to fill the unmet needs identified, it will promote venues where live music is listened to and where musicians can get together and network.

Other actions suggested by respondents include:

  • Work with the bars to get more venues
  • Networking, particularly for gigs
  • Enforce a minimum pay scale
  • Advertise and promote music and musicians
  • Provide diverse services like legal aid and health care

Support for Action to get a Minimum Wage and Written Contracts

Sixty-one percent of the respondents were probably or very interested in only playing at venues that did agree to a minimum wage and written contracts. 17% were not interested and 21% might or might not be interested.

What respondents liked about only playing at such venues, were

  1. stability of pay
  2. leverage of collective bargaining
  3. fairness
  4. the value it places on musicians.

What respondents disliked about only playing at such venues, were

  1. its inflexibility
  2. the possible job loss
  3. “it won’t work here”
  4. it tampers with existing good relationships between musicians and bar owners.

For survey details, contact AFM 660 President Chris Lee
at or call (814) 466-9266.

Background and Methodology

The American Federation of Musicians Local 660 is headquartered in State College, Pennsylvania, and serves a nine-county region.

The purpose of this quantitative survey was to determine for the central Pennsylvania music market:

  1. demographics and the market rate for performing musicians
  2. the most important needs of live musicians
  3. level of interest in actions to fill musicians’ needs

For this quantitative part of the study, thirty five (35) musicians were interviewed between January 21 and March 4, 2008. The questions they were asked were developed from language from five in-depth, open-ended, non-directed qualitative interviews with musicians of different ages and genres of music.

Respondents were selected from the membership list of AFM Local 660 or from names of non-Union musicians submitted by other musicians. AFM 600 was not identified as the sponsor of the survey until the end.

Christopher Lee
Principal Investigator
PO Box 174
Boalsburg PA 16827
Tel: 814-466-9266
23 May 2008


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