Jazz as a business model

June 9, 2010 Off By Eric Jensen

OK, let’s face it. It’s not easy making money as a jazz musician. As a matter of fact, today it is probably more difficult than it has ever been. The audience is understandably small because the music is sophisticated. It requires the listener’s complete attention and an inherent interest in the format. Nonetheless there are two things the mainstream music industry can learn from jazz:

  1. The artist and the music are the central focus rather than the particular revenue stream or distribution vehicle.
  2. The music has to be truly extraordinary to differentiate the artist and attract an audience.
Look at the big guys. I’m sure Keith Jarrett has done very well selling CDs over the course of his career yet there are myriad ways he can make money because it’s all about who he is and what happens when he sits down at the piano. No one else can offer the world what he can.
Ask yourself, how many mainstream pop artists pass that test? There are entire genres of music that are intentionally imitative and mediocre; trendy, lightweight, stylized fluff. 
Let’s get our perspective straight. Sure, if the sugar water industry suddenly collapsed it would be a huge financial adjustment for many people, but let’s not forget, this stuff is not actual food. It’s unhealthy for regular human consumption.
Since the traditional record industry is collapsing why don’t we think about rebuilding our business models on something substantial, something that really matters and adds value to the world.