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Interesting Article on Jazz Musicians and Pay

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by camoe, Jan 10, 2003.

  1. camoe


    Sep 7, 2001
    Lafayette, CO
    Poor Pay Makes Jazz Life Blue
    Fri Jan 10, 1:41 AM ET Add Entertainment - Reuters/Variety Music to My Yahoo!

    By Pamela McClintock

    WASHINGTON(Variety) - Jazz musicians have a new reason to play the blues -- they are underpaid and lack the right access to health and retirement benefits, according to an extensive survey released by the National Endowment for the Arts on Thursday.

    Jazz players tend to be male and well-educated, with nearly half holding a bachelor's degree or higher, yet they draw a considerably lower salary than do their counterparts in other fields, according to "Changing the Beat: A Study of the Worklife of Jazz Musicians."

    In the vast majority of cases, the 2,700 musicians polled made an annual salary of between $20,000-$40,000. Americans with the same amount of education earn between $53,000 and $66,300, roughly.

    "'Changing the Beat' gives us a much clearer picture of the working life of the jazz artist," NEA deputy chair A.B. Spellman said. "With this detailed information, Arts Endowment and other funders can develop programs that better address the concerns and challenges jazz musicians face in creating and playing their music."

    The NEA says it's imperative that jazz is ensured a future, and thus, it's important to improve the ability of musicians to work in the field.

    The study was conducted by the Research for Arts & Culture at Columbia University's Teachers College in cooperation with the NEA and the San Francisco Study Center. Musicians queried were from Gotham, New Orleans, Detroit and San Francisco.

    The study represents the first time the NEA has specifically examined the lives of jazz musicians. In recent years, the endowment did conduct a "moonlighting" survey on how many jobs artists have to take to make a living.

    Curious, does this article coencide with TB players experience in terms of pay and benefits?

  2. Umm...no crap?

    Support for the arts is nice. What would be nicer would be more funding for music education classes in primary and secondary school to create a natural audience for the music, since jazz makes a lot more sense if you have some musical knowledge.

    Unfortunately, that'll happen just about as soon as property tax redistribution.
  3. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    This article points out something that may not be common knowledge among many bassist who have the desire and talent to become jazz musicians. As they pay for their college education, are they aware that it make take them much time and hard sacrifice to even earn back the cost, let alone make a comfortable living.

    Musicans who play "contemporary" or "smooth jazz," as it is often called, receive a lot of criticism from pure jazz practitioners. However, as smooth jazz CDs often sell much better tahn pure jazz albums, is it any wonder that many jazz musicians opt to record smooth jazz Cds?

    It is too bad that less commercial jazz does not provide a comforatbale living for many of its practitioners. The same can be said for artists and dancers, too. Only the most notable ever enjoy income that will buy them some of life's luxuries.
  4. Sad. :(

    The old starving artist syndrome.

    Does anyone know how a similarly trained classical musician does financially?

    Ars Gratia Artis

  5. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    So, if I start playing Jazz, are they going to give me a grant?
  6. tyson


    Feb 9, 2000
    Dallas, TX
    selling albums and getting a gig in Vegas with Debbie Reynolds are the most lucrative ways for a musician to make it in the US. i can't see jazz musicians making much in the US for just performing. the tastes in music here just don't support them...the smooth jazz station in Dallas (the Oasis) only has ~2 ads/hour on it. no pop = no money. but maybe some place like Japan would be more suited since jazz might fall into the "American=Cool" category there.
  7. lneal


    Apr 12, 2002
    Lee County, Alabama
    I hate to kill the sympathy parade, but I know plenty of local rock, country and pop musicians who just play for a living who would be ecstatic to make $20,000 per year by just playing music. Hell I'd quit my business if I could make that playing! Fact is, most "in the trenches" cats would be happy to make half that much! I don't mean to make light of the jazz musician's plight, but the salaries quoted in that article don't sound half bad. Tell me where I can get a gig making $20-40,000 per year and I'll move so fast it'll make your head spin!

    YMMV, IMO, IMHO:cool:
  8. Yeah, but you don't even need a high school education to be a successful rock, country, or pop musician. Pretty much any idiot with a guitar and a rhyming dictionary has a chance of "making it." The income is low, but the overhead is nonexistent.

    To be able to deal with the harmonic complexity of modern jazz, at least some formal education is necessary. If you've got $40,000 in student loans hanging over your head and you're pulling in $30,000/year, you're not gonna be in the best shape financially.

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