Philly’s first-ever Jazz Industry Day will explore how to make a living playing jazz in 2018
In an interview with writer Bill Kopp, Tenor saxophone legend Sonny Rollins recalled a conversation with Joe Glaser, the notorious, now-deceased manager of Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday:“ You know, Sonny, I have been in the boxing business, and the music business is worse.” For context, Glaser’s career in boxing involved fixing fights and an alleged connection with Al Capone’s vicious organized crime family, The Chicago Outfit. In short, the music business is rife with pitfalls, heartbreak, and outright scams. You’d be hard pressed to find a musician at any level who would disagree with the spirit of Glaser’s assessment. That being said, if the music business is hard, the business of jazz must be damn near impossible.
Over the past few decades, fundamental shifts in the pop cultural landscape have only served to further marginalize jazz and the musicians who play it. As rock emerged in the 60s as the gravitational center of American pop music, the opportunities available to make a living playing this vibrant, challenging music have been decreasing ever since. In recent years, the tide has turned back with lay-audiences developing a taste for modern players like Kamasi Washington, Esperanza Spalding, Robert Glasper, thus re-opening doors for brilliant players young and old to do what once seemed impossible, make a living in jazz.
Taking up the mission of educating musicians, a broad coalition of area jazz organizations — including the Philadelphia Jazz Project, Temple public radio station WRTI, and more — will launch the first annual Jazz Industry Day on September 13th, 2018. The one-day conference will take place at Temple’s Performing Arts Center and will feature a jam-packed schedule of panel discussions, workshops, and talks designed to deepen musicians’ understanding of the industry and build practical skills for working in music. The conference features speakers that bring a wealth of experience on the bandstand and behind the scenes, including J. Michael Harrison (WRTI), Celeste DiNucci (Ars Nova Workshop), Lovett Hines (Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz & Performing Arts) and many more. With an exciting lineup of sessions ranging from booking, press and PR, Entrepreneurship for Artists, Finding Your Niche as a Freelance Artist, and more, Jazz Industry Day promises to be a revelatory experience for anyone seeking to make sense of the business side of this potent and essential music.