Broadway musicals are revered for their arresting combination of dancing, singing and acting as exhibited in shows such as "Phantom of the Opera," "Rent" and "Spider-Man." Behind the scenes and carefully designing and orchestrating this magic are directors who work up until opening night to ensure that every facet of these musicals is being executed with the greatest precision. As such, Broadway musical directors are well-paid and may earn close to six-figure salaries for a single show.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the average salary for directors at $64,430 as of 2008 with the middle 50 percent earning between $41,890 and $105,070. However, directors of hit musicals may earn much higher than these figures. The bureau states that the highest-paid directors work on Broadway and may receive royalties and a negotiated percentage of gross box-office receipts.
The Contract Fee
Broadway musical directors earn a contract fee, which is the first payment they receive for their work on a production. This fee is $62,280, according to the Broadway League's collective bargaining agreement with the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, the union for Broadway directors, at the time of publication. Of this amount, Broadway musical directors receive a $37,365 advance. However, depending on the track record of the director, the budget for the production and the seating capacity of the theater, a director could negotiate a higher scale and a higher advance.
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As with contract fees, directors of Broadway musicals and nonmusicals can earn significant royalties from the revenues of productions. In some cases, royalty payments can exceed contract fees, as evidenced by former "Spider-Man" director Julie Taymor's lawsuit against the producers for unpaid royalties totaling $300,000. Taymore received a contract fee of $125,000 for the musical. A June 2011 article for Reuters reported that the show was earning $1 million in sales per week. The standard royalty percentage for Broadway musical directors is 2.5 percent of the net weekly profits, 0.75 percent gross, according to the Broadway League's agreement with the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers.
Rounding out a Broadway musical director's remuneration package are pension, health and per diem contributions. As of the date of publication, directors receive an initial $2,030 contribution to their pension plus a $195 weekly contribution from Broadway producers. Additionally, they receive an initial health insurance contribution of $1,400 along with a weekly contribution of $150. Per diem payments are $300 for work in New York, the home of Broadway musicals. Directors who double as choreographers earn contract fees of $114,050 as of the date of publication and 3.5 percent of net weekly profits or 1.25 percent of the gross. They also receive higher pension, health and per diem contributions.