Jazz Industry and Music Business Committee

Jazz Industry and Music Business Committee: Bob Briethuapt, contact


Introducing… the JEN Jazz Industry & Music Business Symposium!

Newly introduced at the JEN 2016 Annual Conference, once again the JEN Jazz Industry & Music Business committees will offer a comprehensive all-music-business Symposium on Wednesday, January 4, 2017 as part of the 8th Annual JEN Annual Conference in New Orleans, LA. During the 2015-16 conferences we saw an outstanding response to the music business/jazz industry sessions and will provide back-to-back business sessions and opportunity to network with other conference participants around business issues. Stay tuned for information on upcoming sessions for 2017, not to be missed!

Read article:  The Business of Making Music For Money: Selling Out, or Hardly Selling?

I. Purpose Statement

The purpose of the JEN Music Business Committee is to provide resources and
disseminate information to JEN members concerning business and legal aspects of the
music industry that support jazz as a commercial enterprise through workshops, research,
and discussion forums at the JEN annual conference and through other communication

II. Objectives

1. Facilitate an understanding of the music business and its terminologies, and an
understanding of broader music industry issues that may affect jazz artistry, e.g., changes
in intellectual property law, business, and public policy.

2. Generate dialogue about such issues and help JEN members stay abreast of current
developments -- e.g., keeping on eye on current issues like a) music piracy, b) hot topics
in litigation; c) the relationship between history & societal perceptions of jazz/artists as
these relate to revenue potential in the genre.

3. Assist JEN members in understanding the importance of attention to business issues, as
well as serve as a resource for doing so, possibly through providing business services, for

  • Workshops on how to establish an advisory team -- identifying an agent, manager, public relations consultant, attorney, accountant, etc.
  • Workshops on understanding branding and marketing issues
  • Offering a legal clinic;
  • Seminars on entrepreneurship in the entertainment industry, including crossing over from music to other entertainment endeavors.
  • Webinars on any of the above

4. Identify business models and strategic planning for success, considering topics such as:

  • Is it better to be an independent (indie) artist or to seek collaborations with major labels, publishing companies?
  • What revenue streams -- performance (live or recorded or both), merchandising, endorsement deals, etc. -- work best for [a given artist]?
  • Research may be an appropriate vehicle for this objective.

5. Serve as a forum for career management and entrepreneurship, addressing topics like:

  • How to secure a record or publishing deal;
  • Are such deals integral to success?
  • How to build career longevity as an artist;
  • Transitioning to/exploring careers as a non-artist on the business side as an artist mgr, or attorney, journalist, etc.

The Business of Making Music For Money: Selling Out, or Hardly Selling?

By Cheryl Slay Carr

Hardly Selling

The history of making money in the music industry is often a story of commercial challenges, particularly within the jazz sector. For example in 2011 record sales for jazz totaled 11 million. In 2012 that number decreased to 8.1 million, a decrease of 26% from 2011, according to Nielsen SoundScan data. While all genres experienced decreases in physical record sales during that period, jazz is the only genre that also saw a decrease in digital album sales for the same period. The reasons for the genre’s lower numbers in overall market share and fluctuations from year to year may be attributed to any number of factors, and these figures only reflect record sales and do not take live performance or other sources of revenue into account.

Yet the disparities between jazz revenues and those of other genres is distinct and prompts inquiry. Commercial challenges in jazz may be attributed to smaller audiences and consumer preferences, availability and access to music, the nature of radio airplay (or lack thereof), etc. Two additional factors that may contribute to these disparities are: 1) the business acumen of artists, writers and composers, and 2) the rich artistic heritage of jazz that suggests “selling out” takes place when the pursuit of profitability compromises or appears to compromise artistic integrity.

Selling Out

Researching these issues offers the opportunity to contemplate questions that can serve as a foundation for positing practical solutions that may positively impact the genre’s economic future. During March of this year I presented a research paper to the Music and Entertainment Industry Educator’s Association that explored the “sellout” phenomenon titled What’s Wrong with Making Music for Money? Cultural and Business Implications of the Jazz Purist vs. The Perception of the “Sellout” in the Business of Jazz (abstract available at meiea.org). The paper examines the business identities of Thelonious Monk and Kenny G, and the artistic esteem with which each has been regarded – purist, or sellout? -- within the industry, as well as the influences that shape these labels. Scholarly inquiry is integral to understanding the commerce of jazz, yet my perspectives are also shaped by my experiences as an artist and by years of providing both legal and business counsel to the music and entertainment industry. What I’ve learned (and am still learning) in these roles is that selling – whether “selling out” or otherwise – is connected to the question of business acumen and its narratives. JEN’s new Jazz Industry & Music Business committee is poised to enter that dialogue.

A Vision for Dialogue … and More

An aspect of a robust dialogue is foundational inquiry, like the questions implicit in contemplating “sellouts” in the industry or otherwise challenging our understanding of what success in our industry means. We invite you to be a part of the dialogue by staying tuned to this column for information on the business matters that shape the commerce of jazz.

JEN members who are interested in catching the vision for sharpened business acumen on topics including copyright law, contracts, business and career planning, entrepreneurship, use of business advisors (e.g., agents and managers) and other business matters. The committee’s vision is to serve as a forum and to provide resources to JEN members through webinars, sessions at the annual JEN conference and other resources including this column devoted to exploring these issues and answering your questions. We are pleased to offer this new member benefit.

Cheryl Slay Carr is a vocalist and book author (Music Copyright Law), Associate Professor of Music Business at Belmont University, and Chair of the JEN Jazz Industry & Music Business Committee. She can be reached at cheryl.slaycarr@belmont.edu.