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August 21, 2019

I am a loving father. I am a working singer. Can I be both?

May 31st 2019, 1:19 AM at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, WA was the most terrifying moment of my life.  Remy Winston Finkelstein was pulled out of the womb, his face pale blue, arms limply hanging below his...

July 15, 2019

Artist fees aren’t even close to the true cost of our labor. The price of taking a gig is way, way higher than you think.

A key goal of the Middle Class Artist is to provide creatives with an all-purpose toolkit, drawn from my background in economics, statistics, and po...

May 16, 2019

The question ‘how much does a full-time classical singer make per year?’ is a thorny one. There are singers that perform as their only job; there are opera singers, concert singers, new music singers, and ensemble singers; there are singers that also teach; there are s...

April 29, 2019

Big corporations like Google or Apple, with patient shareholders and deep pockets, can spend years investing in themselves without turning a profit. Amazon, our new shopping overlord, started in 2006 and only in the last few years turned a respectable profit.

Unfortunat...

April 15, 2019

There is a gravitational force, a cosmic pull for all artists towards the spotlight. We can’t help but dream of winning the title role, performing the star-making solo to a crowd of adoring fans. We think we have something special to offer the world, and we’ve been con...

April 3, 2019

This week, I sat down with Oliver Camacho and the team at Opera Box Score, Chicago's classical talk radio station on WNUR FM 89.3. We discussed the business side of opera singing, the kinds of opportunities available to a singer in year one of their career, and the cha...

April 2, 2019

Taxes for most humans are a boring, but relatively quick and harmless process. 

Taxes for a freelancer, however, are a dystopian hellscape. Your 1099s are always late, your receipts are sweaty and faded, and, most importantly, you have NO CLUE how much you made thi...

March 29, 2019

How do you survive in Year One?  

This post is for students, recent grads or those in their 20s and 30s trying to figure out how to string together an income from performing classical music. I’ll be focusing on what economists call a “living wage”- essentially, wha...

March 15, 2019

In honor of tax time, here's some scary singer math. 

I make my living primarily by travelling as a professional tenor soloist 4-5 months a year to perform with symphonies, choruses, and chamber orchestras.
 

The gross (very important word) fees are great compared to lo...

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Questions or Topics you want covered? 

My name is Zach Finkelstein, and I'm a 34-year old classical tenor living a comfortable, fulfilling middle-class life in Seattle with my wife Devora. 

 

My primary career is music: I am a leading professional concert and operatic tenor in North America, particularly in the works of Bach, Mozart and Handel. For the past seven years, I've sung as a soloist all over the world, from Boston to Beijing. 

 

I also work remotely as a senior public affairs and strategy consultant: I analyze and advise on Canadian election campaigns as well as in the transportation, energy, education, media, healthcare, food and beverage, non-profit, and governmental sectors. 

 

The goal of this blog is to minimize the "starving" part of the "starving artist", by creating a toolkit that any artist can use to have a chance at a successful career. I’ll cover topics from business development to marketing to budgeting and accounting to personal finance to life on the road. As I get deeper into the process, it will include audio interviews with industry professionals including agents, directors, and working artists in all fields.

Singing great is necessary, but not sufficient. You need real world skills to survive.

Britten and Pears:

the Canticles

available now on iTunes

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