Show business can indeed pay well:
After you practice for years and get to Carnegie Hall, it’s almost better to move music stands than actually play the piano.
Depending on wattage, a star pianist can receive $20,000 a night at the 118-year-old hall, meaning he or she would have to perform at least 27 times to match the income of Dennis O’Connell, who oversees props at the New York concert hall.
O’Connell made $530,044 in salary and benefits during the fiscal year that ended in June 2008. The four other members of the full-time stage crew — two carpenters and two electricians — had an average income of $430,543 during the same period, according to Carnegie Hall’s tax return.
This is actually not a new phenomenon; stagehands have long showed up in the top 5 salaries on the Form 990s that Carnegie Hall files with the IRS. No doubt it helps the union’s bargaining power to have a very small number of people to have to pay. It’s the same logic that dictates that average salaries in the NBA are higher than in Major League Baseball, which in turn are higher than in the NFL. And, of course, New York is a very strong union town, so that picket lines are very effective tools to shut down recalcitrant employers.
No wonder they don’t want us moving our chairs ourselves.