The American presidential election is over, and Donald Trump has been named the president-elect. I’m not here to talk about how I feel about this, or to comment on how you did or did not vote. This is not the time or the place for that.
I want to talk to you as a classical music professional who works to provide information to other professionals to help them with their careers in this industry. There’s no telling how the next four years will go. Although I’m sure we are all hoping for the best, I do have concerns for us based on Mr. Trump’s personal and professional track record. These concerns could hold consequences for all freelance musicians and teachers out there, whether you live in this country or simply work here. I invite you to take a moment and consider these concerns now, so you can plan accordingly.
Taxes and Income
Donald Trump has faced and continues to face a number of lawsuits against him – around 3,500 over the past three decades – from workers stating that Mr. Trump did not pay them for their services. Furthermore, he has stated a number of times that his tax plan will involve lowering taxes for the wealthy and raising them on the lower and middle class. As freelance musicians, our self-employment taxes will probably take a hit as a result. Furthermore, some employers may attempt to undermine our right to payment for our services, in line with the president-elect’s track record. If you don’t already have one, it may be worthwhile to find a good accountant or financial planner.
While immigration reform does not necessarily affect business travel, increased border control and scrutiny over documentation might. Especially if you are a foreigner who wishes to perform in the United States, you may be targeted if you overstay your visa, or if you work here on a H-1B visa. If you are a naturalized American citizen, or a citizen Mr. Trump has profiled in the past, such as a Muslim or a Latinx, you may be scrutinized more often in your travels as well.
While the classical music community, by and large, welcomes and accepts otherness, our audiences, which mainly consist of aging, white, upper-class Americans, may not. This group has been credited with helping Mr. Trump become the president-elect, and his rhetoric towards minorities and women may carry over into our audiences and their casting preferences. Favoring certain demographics is a horrible trend in the world of performing arts, but no industry can afford to simply ignore the preferences of its consumers, and I have fears it will carry over into casting choices.
Obamacare has given millions of Americans health care when they had no other means of receiving it for any number of reasons, including pre-existing conditions or not having an employer who offered it. As freelancers, many of us may have benefitted from Obamacare, and its repeal, as Mr. Trump has promised to do, could be detrimental to us. Singers especially need to stay in top physical shape, and lacking access to medical care could affect our ability to work.
I genuinely hope that none of these things happen, and that this post can be laughed at years from now as misguided and false. However, I felt the need to address my concerns to other working professionals so we can all be prepared for what might come.
Do you have these concerns, or additional concerns? What positives could come for us from a Trump presidency? Please feel welcome to respectfully share your thoughts in the comments.