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dy of the Worklife of Jazz Musicians 

by the Research Center for Arts and Culture under a cooperative agreement 
with the National Endowment for the Arts and the San Francisco Study Center 

NEA Research Division Report #43 

Volume I: Executive Summary 

«.-* ***"». 



Dr. Billy Taylor, Chairman 
David Baker Alvin Batiste 

Jessie Bermudez Tom Carter 

Geraldine DeHass Jon Faddis 

Delfayeo Marsalis Dan Morgenstern 

Jimmy Owens Patrice Rushen 


The National Endowment for the Arts 
The David and Lucile Packard Foundation 
The Grammy Foundation 
American Federation of Musicians 
American Federation of Musicians Local 802 
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation 
The Nathan Cummings Foundation 

Changing the Beat 

A Study of the Worklife of Jazz Musicians 


A Study by Joan Jeff ri 

Editing Team: Bonnie Nichols, Don Ball, Geoff Link, and John Burks 





W «*L. <^ AQ 

NEA Research Division Report #43 

Project Director: 
Project Coordinators: 
Project Researchers: 
Data Consultants: 

City Coordinators: 

New Orleans 

New York 

San Francisco 

Joan Jeffri, Director, Research Center for Arts and Culture 
Teachers College Columbia University 

Dr. Douglas Heckathorn, Cornell University 
Dr. Robert Greenblatt 

Adina Williams 
Phillip Harvey 

Judith Hellman 
Janine Okmin 

Oscar Torres 
Judith Rosenstein 

Dr. Bernard Brock 

Dr. David Magidson 

Center for the Study of Art and Public Policy 

Wayne State University 

Philip Dobard, Director 

Graduate Program in Arts Administration 

University of New Orleans 

Dr. Martin Mueller, Director 

Jazz and Contemporary Music Program 

New School University 

Dr. Dee Spencer 

San Francisco State University 

Director of Education, SFJazz Organization 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 
Jeffri, Joan. 

Changing the beat : a study of the work life of jazz musicians / by Joan 

p. cm. — (Research Division Report; #43) 
1. Jazz musicians — United States — Social conditions — Statistics. 2. Jazz musi- 
cians — United States — Economic conditions — Statistics. I. Title. II. Research 
Division Report (National Endowment for the Arts. Research Division); 43. 
ML3795.J44 2003 

781.65'023'73~dc21 2002154633 


Under cooperative agreement DCA99-03 between the National 
Endowment for the Arts and the San Francisco Study Center 


Musician Barry Harris 

Photograph © 2002 
Steven Exum 


Introduction 4 

Survey Background 6 

Synopsis 7 

Demographics 7 

Employment and 

Income-Related Findings 8 

Retirement Plans and 

Health-Care Coverage 10 

Recognition and 

Grants and Fellowships 10 

Copyrights and Airplay 11 

Migration and Touring 11 

Playing in Bands 11 

Jazz Styles and Instruments 11 

Future Goals and Qualities 

Needed for a Career in Jazz 12 

Comments from 

Survey Participants 12 

Appendix A: Metropolitan 

Areas Used in Study 14 

Appendix B: Using the Capture- 
Recapture Method to Estimate 
the Number of Jazz Musicians 16 


Deemed a national treasure by the United 
States Congress, jazz is a unique American 
art form, and its musicians, the keepers and 
producers of this treasure, are recognized the 
world over as America's cultural ambassadors. 
Yet, when viewed as an occupation, making a 
living as a jazz musician can be very difficult. 
Despite high-profile activities, such as Jazz at 
Lincoln Center's Essentially Ellington high 
school band competition, the Monterey and 
other jazz festivals, or the Jazz documentary 
by Ken Burns, jazz music does not fare as well 
as other music forms, making it challenging to 
maintain and continue this treasure. 

Recognizing the importance of jazz and its 
artists, the National Endowment for the Arts 
(NEA) in 2000 commissioned a study of jazz 
musicians in four U.S. metropolitan areas — De- 
troit, New Orleans, New York, and San Fran- 
cisco — to enhance the quality of statistical 
information, which will be used to help devise 
strategic ways to further the work of jazz art- 
ists. These four cities were chosen for their 
geographic diversity and their historical and 
current relationships with jazz. The NEA had 
two purposes: 

• To understand the environment for jazz in 
each of the study cities by documenting both 
the jazz artists and their resources and sup- 
port systems 

• To develop a detailed needs assessment 
from jazz artists themselves by collecting 
data documenting their professional lives 
and most pressing needs 

This study provided an opportunity to exam- 
ine the working lives of jazz musicians in a sys- 
tematic way and to produce quantitative and 
qualitative information about the jazz commu- 
nity, the professional lives of jazz musicians, 
and the place of jazz in the music industry. 

An advisory board was formed and chaired 
by jazz musician and educator Dr. Billy Taylor 
to advise the project as it developed. A focus 
group of artists, managers, and educators also 
was created, and numerous jazz practitioners 
generously gave their time to help advise this 
project. The study was conducted in two parts: 

a survey of musicians belonging to the 
American Federation of Musicians (AFM) and a 
Respondent-Driven Sampling (RDS) survey of 
jazz musicians (the surveys are explained in 
more detail in the Survey Background section; 
the full AFM and RDS studies are available in 
separate volumes). 

This study is designed to address a long- 
standing question: How best to support the 
continuing growth and development of jazz 
and the musicians who create it? Jazz musi- 
cians as a group do not constitute an easy sub- 
ject for formal study. Indeed, for decades it has 
been difficult simply to define the word "jazz" 
itself. "It cannot safely be categorized as folk, 
popular, or art music," states the New Grove 
Dictionary of Jazz, "though it shares aspects of 
all three." This study relied on the musicians 
themselves to indicate that they played jazz 

"The instruments don't stand up 
and play themselves." 

— RDS study jazz musician 

To study jazz musicians, it is important to 
understand the idiosyncratic nature of the 
music. As A.B. Spellman indicated in his intro- 
duction to the NEA publication American Jazz 
Masters Fellowships 1982-2002, jazz was "built 
on the discipline of collective improvisation ... 
which allowed for maximum expression of the 
individual within the context of the group." 
The group, however, is often an ever-changing 
one. Unlike classical music, with orchestral 
members staying together for decades, or even 
rock, where more often than not musicians 
make their music as a group, jazz musicians 
often look for jams or gigs as individuals 
rather than in groups. Indeed, what made a 
jazz group like the Modern Jazz Quartet so 
remarkable was its longevity as well as its 

Working as an individual musician can be 
more trying financially, in many ways, than 
working as a group. This seems especially true 
in a musical form that, while critically ac- 
claimed as a national treasure, does not sell 
many tickets or CDs. In fact, jazz accounts for 
only four percent of annual recording sales in 

Changing the Beat 

the United States. It can be even more difficult 
for emerging jazz artists; reissues of classic jazz 
recordings have consistently outsold all but the 
most popular contemporary jazz artists. Even 
that amount is somewhat inflated by the inclu- 
sion of pop artists in the jazz category. 

Clearly, the jazz life, for all its artistic 
rewards, can be difficult. Many jazz musicians 
are woefully underpaid — almost 66 percent 
earned less than $7,000 in 2000 for their 
work as jazz musicians in the San Francisco 
area, according to the RDS study — especially 
relative to the level of higher education that 
they have attained. The study also showed 
that while a respectable percentage of union 
members had retirement plans and health 
coverage, more than half of the musicians 
surveyed through RDS had no retirement 
plans or no health coverage. 

Institutional support for jazz exists but is 
small. A few state and regional arts agencies 
and some nonprofit foundations offer grants 
to individual musicians, but often at low 
amounts; in this study, of the musicians who 
received grants, more than 90 percent received 
$5,000 or less. The Lila Wallace-Readers Digest 
Fund and the Doris Duke Charitable Trust have 
shored up institutions and endowments of jazz 
presenters, created networks in the jazz com- 
munity, and provided venues for jazz perform- 
ance. The National Endowment for the Arts 
has assisted these organizations with some of 
their programs — such as a joint program with 
the Doris Duke Charitable Trust called JazzNet, 
which furthers jazz creation, presentation, and 
education with 14 regional jazz presenters — 
but since 1996 has been prohibited by 
Congress from awarding direct grants to indi- 
vidual artists, except for creative writing and 
honorary awards in the folk and traditional 
arts and jazz. The honorary award in jazz, the 
American Jazz Masters Fellowship, is specifical- 
ly for jazz musicians who are established and 
have achieved mastery of their art, not for 
emerging artists. 

The data obtained through this study are 
crucial to a better understanding of the envi- 
ronment in which jazz musicians operate. By 
presenting a clearer picture of the working life 
of the jazz artist, this study will help the NEA 
develop and fund programs that address the 

concerns and challenges jazz musicians face in 
creating and playing their music. 

This report acknowledges Richard Orend, 
whose life was cut short just as he engaged in 
this study. 

Changing the Beat 

Survey Background 

In an occupational sense, jazz musicians are 
difficult to identify. While national-based sur- 
veys such as the Current Population Survey, 
conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, are used 
to estimate the labor force by occupation, the 
occupation categories are not detailed enough 
to distinguish jazz musicians from the larger 
classification of Arts, Design, Entertainment, 
and Media Occupations, or even from the 
more specific category of Musicians and 
Composers. In addition, the national-based sur- 
veys do not cover detailed questions/subjects 
germane to the study of jazz musicians. 

Given these shortcomings, the National 
Endowment for the Arts and the Research 
Center for Arts and Culture partnered with the 
David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the 
Grammy Foundation, the American Federation 
of Musicians, the New Orleans Jazz and Heri- 
tage Foundation, and the Nathan Cummings 
Foundation to study and report findings on 

Estimated Number of Jazz Musicians in Each of the Three Areas 

Metro Area 

Estimated Number 
of Jazz Musicians 

Population in 2000 

Number of Jazz Musicians 
Per 1,000 People 

New Orleans 




New York 




San Francisco 




based on a chain-referral sampling method. 
Using the RDS, initially selected jazz musicians 
referred other jazz musicians to the interview- 
er. The referred jazz musicians, in turn, 
referred others, and so on, until waves of 
these referrals and interviews produced statis- 
tically sound sample sizes. 3 The RDS compo- 
nent was necessary because many jazz musi- 
cians do not belong to the AFM union or other 
institutions that could be used to locate and 
identify them. In addition, jazz musicians tend 
to have many social networks with other jazz 
musicians, making RDS particularly appropriate 
in tapping this hidden population. 

In addition to the complexities associated 
with identifying an appropriate sample of jazz 
musicians to survey, the occupation in-and-of 
itself is not easily defined. Anecdotally, musi- 
cians have stated that they cannot always play 
professionally the music they prefer. In other 
words, they take the gig (i.e., job) offered to 
them, regardless of whether the job is to play 
jazz or other types of music, such as pop. Con- 
sequently, this study broadly defined jazz mu- 
sicians as the respondents 
that answered yes to the 
question, "Do you ever play 
or sing jazz music?" 

jazz musicians. Since a national-based survey 
was beyond the means of the NEA and its part- 
ners, the study was restricted to four metropol- 
itan areas 1 : New York, San Francisco, New Or- 
leans, and Detroit. 2 

In each of the areas, there were two surveys 
used to conduct the study. The first was a con- 
ventional random sample of musicians belong- 
ing to the American Federation of Musicians 
(AFM). The second component was Respon- 
dent-Driven Sampling (RDS), which was devel- 
oped to capture "hidden populations" and is 

This study made possible, 
for the first time, estimates of 
the number of jazz musicians 
in each of the metro areas. 
Using a "Capture-Recapture" 
method, 4 and the results from the AFM and 
RDS surveys, the following estimates of jazz 
musicians were generated: 1,723 in the New 
Orleans area; 33,003 in New York; and 18,733 
in San Francisco. After standardizing the three 
locations for population, San Francisco had the 
largest concentration, 2.8 jazz musicians for 
every 1,000 people in the area. This number 
was 1 .5 times higher than the concentration in 
New York, which was 1 .8 jazz musicians per 
1,000 people, and more than twice the concen- 
tration reported in New Orleans. The chart 
above summarizes these results. 

^ee Appendix A for definitions and background descriptions of the metropolitan areas used. 

2 Survey results from the RDS were below statistical standards in Detroit, and therefore excluded from this summary report. Data 

for Detroit based on the results of the union survey are described in a separate volume on the union survey results. 

3 For more information, see "Finding the Beat: Using Respondent-Driven Sampling to Study Jazz Musicians," by Douglas D. 

Heckathorn and Joan Jeffri. Published in Poetics, Vol. 28, No. 4. February 2001. 

4 See Appendix B for an explanation of Capture-Recapture. 

Changing the Beat 


The two surveys used in the study tended to 
produce a dichotomy of results. For example, 
union-based respondents were older, more likely 
to be white, more likely to be male, and earned 
higher incomes than their RDS counterparts. 
AFM musicians were also more likely to be 
employed full-time, have health-care coverage, 
and enjoy national recognition. Findings among 
the three geographic areas resulted in a degree 
of difference as well. Compared to New Orleans 
and San Francisco, more jazz musicians in the 
New York area, for example, were employed 
full-time. New York jazz musicians also tended 
to earn higher incomes, were nationally and in- 
ternationally recognized, and toured more often 
throughout the year. 

The sections that follow summarize some 
of the most salient findings of the study of 
jazz musicians. They cover descriptive statis- 
tics on demographics, education, employ- 
ment and income, and other factors such as 
health-care coverage, recognition, and pro- 
fessional goals for the future. The appendices 
define the geographic areas covered by the 
surveys and provide background information 
on each city, and describe the capture-recap- 
ture estimation method. 


Age, Gender, and Marital Status 

In comparing the two sources, union musicians 
were older, more likely to be male, and, for 
the most part, married. By contrast, RDS 
respondents were younger, showed higher per- 
centages of women, and were more likely to 
be single/never married or divorced. For exam- 
ple, the average age of union jazz musicians 
was 52 years, considerably older than the typi- 
cal RDS respondent, whose average age was 
43. Moreover, almost 31 percent of the jazz 
musicians identified by the RDS survey were 
Generation X (ages 24-36 in 2000). 

In addition, most jazz musicians were men. 
In 2000, 47 percent of the entire labor force 
was composed of women. However, among 
union jazz musicians surveyed, only 15.6 per- 
cent were women. Of the three areas sur- 
veyed, San Francisco had the largest propor- 
tion of female AFM jazz musicians (22 per- 
cent); New Orleans had the smallest percent- 
age (11.3). Somewhat higher proportions of 
women were found among RDS respondents. 5 
Across all three areas surveyed, almost 20 per- 
cent were women, with New York recording 
the highest share of 26 percent, and San Fran- 
cisco showing the lowest percentage of female 
jazz musicians at 15.5 percent. 

About 60 percent of union jazz musicians 
were married, and only 21.5 percent were single 
(specifically, never married). By contrast, only 
25.6 percent of RDS respondents were married, 
with the highest proportion, almost 42 percent, 
being single. More RDS respondents were di- 
vorced — almost 18 percent, versus the 10.4 per- 
cent of divorced union jazz musicians. 


The racial distribution of jazz musicians 6 
tended to vary among the geographic areas 
and sources (i.e., AFM vs. RDS). Relative to the 
racial distribution of the New Orleans area, for 
example, there was a heavier concentration of 
white jazz musicians. In 2000, 60.8 percent of 
the area's population over age 18 was white; 
34.2 percent was black or African American. 
However, the union-based source reported 
that 66.5 percent of jazz musicians were white 
and 25.4 percent were black. The RDS source 
showed 73.1 percent of jazz musicians were 
white, while only 23.1 percent were African 
American. Relative to the racial profile of the 
New Orleans general population, both AFM 
and RDS sources indicate disproportionately 
more white jazz musicians. 

AFM and RDS results differed for the New 
York and San Francisco areas. Using union-based 
estimates, the white and black proportions of 
jazz musicians in both areas tended to parallel 
the racial breakouts of the areas' populations. 

5 The higher proportion of women found in New York may reflect more enthusiastic recruiting by women in this area. 
6 Race categories were listed as American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Native Hawaiian or Pacific 
Islander, White, or Other. However, only estimates for Black or African American and White categories are reported in this 
summary the larger New York CMSA covered by this study. See Appendix A for geographic definitions. 

Changing the Beat 

Race Ratios of Jazz Musicians in Each Area 


Race % 

New Orleans Area 

New York Area 

San Francisco Area 



















over 18* 









*Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000. Counts of persons over age 18 reporting one race. 

found in the three geographic 
areas. For example, 42.7 percent 
of New Orleans' union-based 
jazz musicians held bachelor's or 
higher-level degrees. In New 
York and San Francisco, the per- 
centages were 43.5 and 49.4, 

Jazz musicians associated with 
the RDS survey were also well 
educated. Over all three areas, 
44.6 percent held bachelor's or 
higher-level degrees — with jazz 
musicians in the New York area 
recording the highest share of 
about 52 percent. 

For example, in the New York area, the union- 
based estimate of the proportion of black jazz 
musicians was 17.3 percent — fairly close to the 
proportion of the area's black population, which 
was 16 percent in 2000. Similarly, in San 
Francisco, 6.9 percent of the area's population 
was black, and, according to the union-based sur- 
vey, 8.9 percent of the area's jazz musicians were 

However, the RDS estimates point to heavier 
concentrations of black musicians in both the 
New York and San Francisco areas. For exam- 
ple, the RDS reported that 32.8 percent of New 
York-area jazz musicians were black — almost 
17 percentage points greater than the share of 
the area's black population. The RDS also 
showed more than a quarter (25.1 percent) of 
San Francisco's jazz musicians were black — 3.6 
times larger than the proportion of the area's 
African-American population. The table above 
summarizes these results. 


This study suggests that jazz musicians are 
well educated. Nearly 45 percent of those iden- 
tified by the AFM survey held bachelor's degrees 
or higher (e.g., master's or doctorate), a relative- 
ly large share compared to the 24.4 percent of 
the U.S. population over age 25 with this level 
of education. Comparable patterns were also 

Though jazz musicians reported by this study 
were better educated than the overall U.S. pop- 
ulation, the musicians in New York and New Or- 
leans were also better educated than the gener- 
al populations in these two areas. For example, 
about 30 percent of the population over age 25 
in the New York City primary metropolitan sta- 
tistical area (PMSA) 7 had bachelor's or higher- 
level degrees. In New Orleans, it was 22.7 per- 
cent. However, San Francisco's high levels of col- 
lege-trained jazz musicians largely mirrored the 
well-educated population in that area. In 2000, 
45 percent of the San Francisco PMSA's 8 popula- 
tion over 25 had bachelor's or higher-level de- 
grees, fairly close to the results for the area's 
jazz musicians (AFM 49 percent; RDS 43 percent). 

"Some things work out right at 
the last minute, but I never feel 
economically secure." 

— RDS study jazz musician 

Employment and 
Income-Related Findings 



f the AFM jazz musicians surveyed, not one 
said he or she was unemployed, and 85 per- 

7 Defined as Bronx, Kings, New York, Putnam, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, and Westchester counties. This New York PMSA 
is only a part of the larger New York CMSA covered by this study. See Appendix A for geographic definitions. 
8 Defined as Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Again, only a part of the larger CMSA used in this study. 

Changing the Beat 

cent reported being employed full-time as 
either employees (i.e., on a payroll) or as 
freelancers. Among the three areas, however, 
job prospects appeared better 
in New York. For example, rela- 
tively few New York union- 
based jazz musicians worked 
part-time in the music business 
(8.4 percent), while higher lev- 
els of part-time work were re- 
corded in New Orleans (17.7 
percent) and San Francisco 
(18.1 percent). In New York, 
67.6 percent of AFM jazz 
musicians earned 100 percent 
of their incomes from music. 
The proportions earning all of 
their income from music were 
lower in New Orleans (40.7 
percent) and San Francisco 
(47.0 percent). 

percent of AFM respondents, was income of 
$20,001-$40,000. 9 This range was the most popu- 
lar response in all three geographic areas, even 















Income from Working as Musicians 

Aggregate of Three Metro Areas 
■ AFM Jazz Musicians 
□ RDS Jazz Musicians 

Mil Uli 

nil I 


By comparison, only 55.3 per- 
cent of the RDS-identif ied jazz 
musicians reported working 
full-time in the music business, 
either as employees or self-employed (i.e., free- 
lancers). New York-based jazz musicians from the 
RDS group again fared better. For example, 14.4 
percent worked part-time, including freelancing, 
while 27.7 percent worked part-time in the San 
Francisco area. In addition, 47.3 percent in New 
York earned 100 percent of their incomes from 
music, while only 18.4 percent of RDS-associated 
jazz musicians in San Francisco did. 


As part of this study, respondents were read a 
list of income ranges and asked to identify the 
range that described their total incomes from 
working as musicians. There were 10 income 
groups, ranging from category (1) of $0-$500, to 
category (10) of more than $100,000. Among 
AFM respondents, 62 percent reported earning 
less than $40,001. Moreover, the mode (i.e., most 
popular response), which was reported by 26.2 










in New Orleans, where the cost of living is pre- 
sumably lower. 10 In New York, for instance, the 
percentage reporting income of $20,001-$40,000 
was 28.3 percent; in San Francisco it was 19.6 
percent; and in New Orleans it was 26.7 percent. 

The $20,001-$40,000 income range was also 
the most popular response by RDS-identified 
jazz musicians. Aggregating all three areas, 
almost 20 percent reported earning this in- 
come range from working as musicians. On the 
whole, however, RDS musicians earned lower 
incomes than their AFM counterparts. A large 
majority, about 91 percent, earned less than 
$40,001. In particular, RDS jazz musicians in the 
San Francisco area earned the lowest in- 
comes — almost 66 percent earned less than 
$7,000 in 2000 for their work as jazz musicians. 

The chart above summarizes the income ranges 
reported by both AFM and RDS jazz musicians. 

9 lncome ranges do not permit the calculation of an arithmetic mean or median income figure. The midpoint of the mode 
income range ($20,001-$40,000) is $30,000. Although we don't have any data on the distribution of respondents' incomes within 
this range, if the incomes were evenly distributed (same number above as below $30,000), $30,000 would also be the median. 
10 No official "cost of living" estimates are provided by U.S. government statistical agencies. Short of this, average annual con- 
sumer expenditures, collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, may be useful in gauging this information. Between 1999 and 
2000, for instance, the BLS estimated average annual expenditures of $46,277 in the New York area and $55,040 in the San 
Francisco metro area. Due to its relative small size, no estimate is available for the New Orleans metropolitan statistical area. 
However, average consumer expenditures were $34,102 in the South Region, which includes New Orleans. 

Changing the Beat 

Beyond determining that AFM-based jazz musi- 
cians earned more than the RDS respondents, it 
shows that jazz musicians from both sources 
earned less than expected relative to their high 
levels of education. For example, the National 
Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that 
the average male with a bachelor's degree 
earned $52,985 in 1999. It was $66,243 for men 
with higher-level degrees. 11 In addition, the 
Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that average 
weekly earnings for workers in professional spe- 
cialty occupations, a broad category covering oc- 
cupations requiring higher levels of schooling, 
were $854 in 2001. 12 Assuming 50 workweeks in 
a year, this amounts to $42,700. 

Both the NCES and Census Bureau figures are 
national in perspective, and do not reflect the 
geographic differences inherent in this study of 
jazz musicians. In a broad interpretation, how- 
ever, we would expect workers to earn more in 
New York and San Francisco. Since the respon- 
dents from both AFM and RDS sources typically 
earned incomes below the U.S.-based amounts 
reported by NCES and the Census Bureau, it 
seems that jazz musicians are undercompen- 
sated relative to their educational attainment. 

"W hen you have something like 
dental problems you get stressed, 
because it can affect your playing 
and your bank account." 

— RDS study jazz musician 

Retirement Plans and 
Health-Care Coverage 

In aggregate, 77.6 percent of AFM jazz musi- 
cians reported that they have at least one re- 
tirement plan. This high ratio was found in all 
three areas surveyed: 77.8 percent in New Or- 
leans, 76 percent in New York, and 82.3 percent 
in San Francisco. More than half, 55 percent, 
obtained retirement plans themselves and 41 
percent acquired them through the union. This 

breakout was also consistent among the three 
areas. Most AFM jazz musicians also reported 
that they had health coverage — 81.9 percent in 
New Orleans, 89.5 percent in New York, and 
91.1 percent in San Francisco. In most cases, the 
jazz musicians obtained this coverage them- 
selves (38.8 percent in among all three areas) or 
through employers (31.1 percent totaled for all 
three areas). 

Among RDS respondents, 57 percent, more 
than half, did not have a retirement plan. Of 
those that did, 21.5 percent obtained these 
plans themselves. An additional 15.9 percent 
got them from employers. RDS-identified jazz 
musicians were also less likely to have health 
insurance. Compared to the 88 percent cover- 
age rate for AFM respondents, only 43.1 per- 
cent of the jazz musicians identified through 
the RDS reported having health or medical 

Recognition and Grants 
and Fellowships 

Both AFM and RDS respondents reported 
that their first paid jobs in jazz marked 
their earliest form of professional recogni- 
tion. However, AFM jazz musicians reported 
higher levels of recognition — almost 94 per- 
cent said that they were recognized locally, 
versus 46 percent of the RDS respondents. 
More than 62 percent of the union-based 
respondents said they were recognized na- 
tionally, and 56 percent said they enjoyed 
international recognition. This was particular- 
ly true of AFM jazz musicians in New York, 
where 72 percent reported national recogni- 
tion, and almost 66 percent said they were 
valued internationally. By comparison, only 19 
percent of RDS-identified jazz musicians re- 
ported that they were nationally recognized 
for their talent. 

Of the 1 1 percent of AFM respondents who 
received grants or fellowships as jazz or aspir- 
ing musicians, the vast majority, more than 90 

1l The National Center for Education Statistics does not routinely report total earnings for both men and women. The com- 
parable figures for women with bachelor's and higher-level degrees were $37,993 and $48,097, respectively. For more infor- 
mation, see the Digest of Education Statistics. 

12 Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, Median Usual Weekly Earnings of Full-Time Wage and Salary 
Workers, 2001, 


Changing the Beat 

percent, received amounts of $5,000 or less. 
Considerably more RDS respondents received 
grants and fellowships — 36.5 percent. How- 
ever, as with their AFM counterparts, more 
than 90 percent of these grants and awards 
were $5,000 or under. 

Copyrights and Airplay 

Large percentages of both AFM and RDS 
respondents held copyrights in artistic works 
of their own creations. Among the union-based 
jazz musicians, almost 60 percent held copy- 
rights, with New York reporting the highest 
rate of 68.5 percent. Similar results were found 
among RDS-identified jazz musicians — totaling 
results for all three geographic areas, almost 61 
percent held copyrights. New York again 
reported the highest share of 73 percent. 

Most jazz musicians surveyed by this study 
also had their music played on the air (e.g., 
radio, television, etc.). Nearly 83 percent of 
AFM jazz musicians had their music played on 
the air, and these high percentages were fairly 
consistent across all three areas. Moreover, 44 
percent of the union-identified respondents 
had their music broadcast over the Internet. In 
the New York area, 50 percent reported having 
Internet broadcasts. About 70 percent of the 
RDS respondents had airplay of their music. 
Higher rates were reported in both New 
Orleans (82.4 percent) and New York (82.2 per- 
cent), while fewer RDS-associated jazz musi- 
cians in San Francisco had their music played 
on the air (55 percent). Even more RDS jazz 
musicians, 47.2 percent, had their music broad- 
cast over the Internet. 

Migration and Touring 

Both AFM and RDS jazz musicians tended to 
live in the same county or parish for more 
than 10 years. For example, 76 percent of AFM 
jazz musicians surveyed in New Orleans lived in 
the same parish for more than 10 years. The 
proportions in New York and San Francisco 
were comparable — 68 and 72 percent, respec- 
tively. RDS jazz musicians were even less mo- 
bile: almost all — 94 percent — lived in the same 

county or parish for more than 10 years. These 
high rates were consistent across all three RDS 
geographic areas surveyed. 

Though the jazz musicians surveyed tended 
not to migrate during the past 10 years, siz- 
able proportions did perform away from their 
home locations. Among AFM respondents, 28 
percent performed away from home over 30 
times in the previous year. In the New York 
area, more than a third toured this much. RDS 
musicians tended to travel for performances 
less frequently. When asked how many times 
they worked/performed away from home in 
the last 12 months, the most popular response 
(32.8 percent) was one to five times. 

"You can't lie with a musical 

instrument ... 


— RDS study jazz musician 

Playing in Bands 

The jazz study indicates that most jazz musi- 
cians play with multiple groups — 42.3 per- 
cent of AFM respondents reported playing 
with more than four different bands, and RDS 
results were similar (41.2 percent). Playing with 
multiple groups can be problematic. Musicians 
may not stay in a group long enough for it to 
grow into a solid band, and moving from 
group to group and gig to gig can make linear 
career development difficult. 

Jazz Styles and 

The jazz study respondents reported that 
they played a wide variety of jazz styles. 
From a list of 20 different types of jazz music, 
"traditional" was among the most popular. 
About 72 percent of AFM jazz musicians 
played this kind of music, while 40 percent of 
RDS musicians performed traditional jazz. 
Other standard responses included "swing" 
(76 percent of AFM and about 40 percent of 
RDS), "blues" (68 percent of AFM and 35 per- 
cent of RDS), and "bop" (41 percent of AFM 

Changing the Beat 


and 44 percent of RDS). The study also sug- 
gests some geographic variation in jazz styles. 
For example, traditional jazz was more pop- 
ular in New Orleans (85 percent of AFM and 
nearly 66 percent of RDS), while "avant- 
garde" was more prevalent among AFM jazz 
musicians in New York and RDS respondents 
in San Francisco (35.3 percent). 

The respondents were also asked to list their 
primary instruments. Among AFM jazz musi- 
cians, popular responses were piano (16.3 per- 
cent), trumpet (almost 10 percent), and drums 
(9 percent). Similar results were also reported 
for RDS participants, in that piano (33.5 per- 
cent) and drums (10.4 percent) were commonly 
cited primary instruments. However, there 
were more RDS vocalists — 10.8 percent listed 
voice as their primary instrument. 

"This is the music that 
gives people hope when 
there is no hope." 

— RDS study jazz musician 

Future Goals and 
Qualities Needed for a 
Career in Jazz 

When presented with 11 possible career 
goals for the next five years, both AFM 
and RDS jazz musicians reported that achieving 
a higher level of artistic expression was the 
most important. Almost 11 percent of AFM mu- 
sicians reported this as a chief goal, as did 27 
percent of RDS participants. Making a living 
from their music and getting record deals were 
also important to the respondents — particularly 
among union jazz musicians, who ranked these 
goals second and third, respectively. More RDS 
participants considered leading their own group 
as an important goal — 9.1 percent versus 1.4 
percent of AFM respondents. 

Jazz study respondents were also given a list 
of 11 possible qualities needed for pursuing 
careers in jazz. Far and away, both AFM and 
RDS jazz musicians listed talent as the most im- 
portant quality — 23.1 percent of AFM respon- 

dents gave this answer, and 22.2 percent of 
RDS participants did. RDS respondents also list- 
ed performing ability and business savvy as 
needed traits. However, these responses were 
not uniform across the three geographic areas. 
For example, almost 1 7 percent of the San 
Francisco RDS musicians said business savvy was 
important, while only 4.8 percent of those in 
New York thought this was needed. Similarly, 
RDS jazz musicians in both New Orleans and 
San Francisco considered performing ability as a 
needed quality for jazz musicians (19.2 percent 
and 15.4 percent, respectively), while, again, 
only 4.8 percent of those in New York agreed 
with this. Among AFM respondents, business 
savvy and performance ability did not rank 
high as qualities needed for careers in jazz. 

Comments from 
Survey Participants 

Interviewers spoke with approximately 2,700 
jazz musicians during the course of this study. 
Some of these interviews lasted 20 minutes on 
the phone; others turned into two-hour, face- 
to-face conversations. During the interviews, 
musicians were asked to offer suggestions for 
ensuring the survival of jazz and for improving 
the ability of musicians to work in the jazz 
field. Similar ideas kept emerging, and many 
of the same points were brought out in all of 
the cities. 

As the box on the opposite page indicates, 
some of the suggestions related to the musi- 
cians' general well-being, such as having access 
to affordable health insurance and medical 
care, pensions, and emergency relief funds for 
musicians who are ill or aging. The intervie- 
wees also saw education as an important com- 
ponent in the preservation of jazz, from edu- 
cation of schoolchildren through classes and 
performances to education of musicians in 
business practices to help them manage their 
own careers. Changes in the business aspects 
of jazz were offered as well, from more grant 
money from foundations and the National 
Endowment for the Arts for recordings, per- 
formances, and concept development to stan- 
dardized club fees, tax breaks for free public 
performances, and more Internet-based resour- 
ces for jazz musicians. 


Changing the Beat 



efforts: models like the CETA Program in 

the 1970s and Chamber Music America's 

•Affordable rehearsal space 

jazz ensemble grants were invoked as 

ways to get money to the grassroots. 

•Access to affordable health and 

medical care 

• Money for "concept development," 

not just final product 

•Grassroots performance opportunities 

•Grants to make records and to cover 

•Revitalization of the union, especial- 

promotional costs 

ly those policies that would allow jazz 

musicians to get pensions 

•More foundations like Music Cares, 

dedicated to promoting the future of the 

• More emergency relief agencies like 


the Musicians Emergency Fund, for mu- 

sicians who have fallen prey to illness 

•Beyond grants: helping individual 

and age 

artists beyond the grant or cash gift or 

award. (The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage 

Education and Audience Development 

Foundation has the Musicians Housing 

Initiative, which assists musicians in their 

•Education of schoolchildren and com- 

efforts to become homeowners.) 

munities, mentoring and apprenticeships 

to help pass on the legacy of jazz 


•Programs to help jazz musicians 

•A nonprofit independent music distri- 

learn to manage their own careers 

bution company for artists' recordings 

•AFM sponsorship of school gigs to 

•Standardized club fees, with cost-of- 

bring jazz to younger audiences 

living adjustments 

•Coordinated audience development 

•Tax breaks for performing in public 

programs from the recording industry, 

for free or in nursing homes, prisons, or 

jazz educational institutions, jazz ven- 


ues, and other facets of the jazz com- 


•Creation of local arts newspapers 

where musicians could place free ads 

•Creation of local arts newspapers 

and develop audiences 

where musicians could place free ads, 

run by artists, and develop audiences 

•Subsidies for presenters to encour- 

and awareness 

age diverse programming 


•More Internet-based resources for 

jazz musicians 

•Restoration of grant awards to indi- 

vidual jazz artists from the NEA 

•National network of venues, includ- 

ing a circuit of smaller places across the 

•Grants going toward grassroots 

country for community exchange 

Changing the Beat 


Appendix A: Metropolitan 
Areas Used in Study 

The geographic locations covered by the study 
were the New Orleans, New York, San Francis- 
co, and Detroit 13 metro areas. A metropolitan 
area is generally defined as a core area contain- 
ing a large population nucleus, together with ad- 
jacent communities having a high degree of eco- 
nomic and social integration with that core. In 
most cases, the core is a central city, and the ad- 
jacent communities are generally counties, or pa- 
rishes in the case of Louisiana. The New York and 
San Francisco metro areas used in the jazz study 
are Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Areas 
(CMSAs), which occur when two or more metros 
are integrated with each other. 

The following defines the metro areas used 
in this study of jazz musicians and includes 
brief background descriptions of each city's 
relationship to jazz. 


New Orleans MSA: 

Jefferson Parish 

Orleans Parish 

Plaquemines Parish 

St. Bernard Parish 

St. Charles Parish 

St. James Parish 

St. John the Baptist Parish 

St. Tammany Parish 

New Orleans is regarded as the birthplace of 
jazz, and continues to attract large numbers of 
tourists and visitors to various jazz clubs and fes- 
tivals in the city. Though there are many venues 
for appreciation of New Orleans-style music to- 
day, only a handful are jazz-specific, such as Snug 
Harbor and Sweet Lorraine's. The New Orleans 
Jazz & Heritage Foundation is a major presence 
in the jazz community. The nonprofit corporation 
promotes and preserves music, arts, and culture 
indigenous to the New Orleans area. The largest 
effort of the foundation is its annual Jazz & Heri- 
tage Festival, which runs over ten days during 
the spring, bringing tens of thousands of jazz 
lovers to the city each year. 

More than 200 record labels operate in the 
city, though only a handful are primarily jazz-ori- 
ented, such as independent labels All for One 

Records and Basin Street Records. Many post-sec- 
ondary institutions in the metropolitan area have 
developed solid reputations for their jazz pro- 
grams, such as the University of New Orleans, 
whose jazz studies division is led by legendary 
jazz mentor and patriarch Ellis Marsalis. 


New York, Northern New Jersey, 
Long Island CMSA 

New York PMSA: 

Bronx County 

Kings County 

New York County 

Queens County 

Richmond County 

Rockland County 

Westchester County 

Nassau-Suffolk PMSA: 
Nassau County 
Suffolk County 

Newburgh PMSA. part: 
Orange County 

Jersey City PMSA: 
Hudson County 

Newark PMSA: 
Essex County 
Morris County 
Sussex County 
Union County 
Warren County 

Stanford-Norwalk PMSA: 

Darien Town 

Greenwich Town 

New Canaan Town 

Norwalk City 

Stanford City 

Weston Town 

Westport Town 

Wilton Town 

Middlesex-Somerset- Hunterdon PMSA, part: 
Middlesex County 
Somerset County 

Bergen-Passaic PMSA: 
Bergen County 
Passaic County 

Monmouth-Ocean PMSA, part: 
Monmouth County 

New York became a jazz center during the 
1920s and has essentially remained one up to the 
present. Considered the birthplace of the bebop 
revolution in jazz, New York is today not associa- 
ted with any one jazz form, but with all varia- 

13 Figures for the Detroit area are not included in this summary, but are reported in the AFM volume of this study. 


Changing the Beat 

tions. The metro area has the greatest concentra- 
tion of premiere jazz venues in the United States, 
ranging from Jazz at Lincoln Center — the world's 
leading nonprofit institutional producer of jazz 
events — to historic commercial nightclubs, such 
as the Village Vanguard. It also has a plethora of 
lower-echelon venues, such as the Knitting Fac- 
tory, which may present jazz irregularly but re- 
main significant to the larger picture of employ- 
ment for jazz musicians. 

Manhattan is the site of major offices for all 
five of the world's major recording companies, 
and the city as a whole has a number of subsidi- 
ary labels specializing in jazz. In addition, a large 
array of institutions of higher learning make New 
York a destination for those seeking an education 
in jazz. Outside of the jazz education programs of 
Carnegie Hall and Jazz at Lincoln Center, the New 
School University employs 72 jazz artists as educa- 
tors in a bachelor's degree in jazz and the Man- 
hattan School of Music offers a jazz curriculum. 


San Francisco CMSA 

Oakland PM5A: 

Alameda County 

Contra Costa County 

San Francisco PMSA: 

Marin County 

San Francisco County 

San Mateo County 

San Jose PMSA: 

Santa Clara County 

Santa Rosa PMSA: 
Sonoma County 

Vallejo-Fairfield-Napa PMSA: 

Napa County 

Solano County 

San Francisco became known as a jazz city pri- 
marily in the 1950s, as the place where what be- 
came known as the "West Coast" style of jazz 
started, including experimentations such as Beat- 
inflected jazz and poetry. During the past two de- 
cades, San Francisco and northern California have 
become recognized as an important area for jazz 
artists, due to their commitment to presentation 
of the arts. In addition to the nationally respected 
SF Jazz Festival, the San Francisco metro area is 
home to many venues for jazz, running the ga- 
mut from restaurants such as Yoshi's to festivals 
such as SFJazz and the Monterey Jazz Festival to 
street festivals and churches such as the Church of 

St. John Coltrane — an African Orthodox Church 
incorporating jazz into Sunday worship services. 

The San Francisco Bay area is home to a vari- 
ety of small and independent record labels, sev- 
eral of which specialize in jazz, such as Noir Rec- 
ords and Concord Records. Many educational 
institutions offer a jazz-oriented curriculum, 
such as JazzSchool, a community school that 
offers classes in instruction and music business 
to students of all ages. 


Detroit-Ann Arbor-Flint CMSA 

Ann Arbor MSA: 

Lenawee County 

Livingston County 

Washtenaw County 

Detroit MSA: 

Lapeer County 
Macomb County 
Monroe County 
Oakland County 
St. Clair County 

Wayne County 

Flint MSA: 

not included 

Detroit was, at one time, home to some of the 
biggest names in jazz. Some — such as Donald 
Byrd, Betty Carter, and Tommy Flanagan — grew 
up there, learning their art; others — such as Joe 
Henderson and Gerald Wilson — moved there to 
become part of the scene. But productive as De- 
troit has been, the city has proven unstable as a 
jazz center since the 1970s. Detroit has come to 
serve more as a spawning ground for musicians, 
who then move to more profitable locations like 
New York City, rather than a place talented play- 
ers can count on as a reliable economic base. 
However, it still hosts the largest free jazz festi- 
val in the country, the Ford-Detroit Jazz Festival, 
every Labor Day weekend, attracting approxi- 
mately 750,000 people. 

Although the days of Detroit having one of 
the best public school music programs in the 
country are past, the Detroit School District Jazz 
Education Program oversees jazz programs in ten 
area high schools. Additionally, there are a good 
number of formal jazz education programs in 
the Detroit metro area through institutions such 
as Wayne State University, the University of Mi- 
chigan, Eastern Michigan University, and the Jazz 
Network Foundation Education Programs. 

Changing the Beat 


Appendix B: Using the 
Capture-Recapture Method 
to Estimate the Number of 
Jazz Musicians 

The capture-recapture method estimates the 
number of jazz artists by comparing the over- 
lap between the union and RDS-identified jazz 
artists. Specifically, in order to calculate the uni- 
verse of jazz musicians in each city, the number 
of jazz artists identified in the union study (cap- 
ture) is divided by the proportion of jazz artists 
who are determined to be union members based 
on the RDS survey results (recapture). The steps 
taken to estimate the number of jazz musicians 
in each metro area are described below: 

New York 


The proportion of New York area musician 
union members who identified themselves as 
jazz musicians (in response to the union mem- 
ber survey) is .701 (415/592). 

The number of musician union members in 
the New York metropolitan area, according to 
union records, is 10,499. 

Therefore, the estimated number of union 
jazz musicians is 7,360 (10,499 x .701). 


The proportion of all New York jazz musicians 
who are union members is estimated based on 
the RDS sample using the following formula 
for Pa, the proportion of union members: 
Pa = (Sba * Nb)/(Sba * Nb + Sab * Na) 

Na is the mean network size of union mem- 
bers = 298.2 

Nb is the mean network size of nonunion 
members = 175.2 

Sab is the proportion of nonunion members 
recruited by union members = .512 

Sba is the proportion of union members 
recruited by nonunion members = .252 

Which yields Pa = .22301 

Therefore, based on the estimate of both the 
number of New York union jazz musicians (7,360) 
and the estimate of the portion of all New York 
jazz musicians who are union members (.223), 
the size of the New York jazz musician universe is 
estimated using the following formula: 
7,360/.223 = 33,003 

San Francisco 


The proportion of San Francisco area musician 
union members who identified themselves as 
jazz musicians (in response to the union member 
survey) is .681. 

The number of musician union members in the 
San Francisco area, according to union records, 
is 2,217. 

Therefore, the estimated number of union 
jazz musicians is 1,509 (2,217 x .681). 


The proportion of all San Francisco jazz musi- 
cians who are union members is estimated based 
on the RDS sample using the following formula 
for Pa, the proportion of union members: 

Pa = (Sba * Nb)/(Sba * Nb + Sab * Na) 

Pa = .0806 
Therefore, based on the estimate of both the 
number of San Francisco union jazz musicians 
(1,509) and the estimate of the portion of all San 
Francisco jazz musicians who are union members 
(.0806), the size of the San Francisco jazz musician 
universe is estimated using the following formula: 

1,509/.0806= 18,733 

New Orleans 


The proportion of New Orleans area musician 
union members who identified themselves as 
jazz musicians (in response to the survey) is .873. 

The number of musician union members in 
the New Orleans metropolitan area, according 
to union records, is 1,014. 

Therefore, the estimated number of union jazz 
musicians is 885 (1,014 x .873). 


The proportion of all New Orleans jazz musi- 
cians who are union members is estimated 
based on the RDS sample as .514. 14 

Therefore, based on the estimate of both the 
number of New Orleans union jazz musicians 
(885) and the estimate of the portion of all 
New Orleans jazz musicians who are union 
members (.514), the size of the New Orleans 
jazz musician universe is estimated using the 
following formula: 


14 The number of documented referrals in New Orleans was too small for a meaningful analysis of referral patterns. Therefore, it was 
not possible to use the equation to compute the proportion of union members in that city (i.e., no data for the terms Sab and Sba). 
The proportion of union members in the RDS sample (i.e., .514) was used instead. 

Changing the Beat 

Changing the Beat 

A Study of the Worklife of Jazz Musicians 

For more information, please contact: 

Research Center for Arts and Culture 

Teachers College Columbia University 

525 West 120 Street, Box 78 

New York, NY 10027 

Tel: 212 678 8184 

Fax: 212 678 8084 


National Endowment for the Arts 

Research Division 

1100 Pennsylvania Avenue NW 

Washington, DC 20506-0001 

Tel: 202 682 5400 

NEA Research Division Report #43