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Old 03-20-2015, 04:01 AM
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Default Is hard to make a living out of jazz? Are there any jobs out there?

I have heard from different places and people that jazz is dieing out and there is almost no jobs out there to make a living out of playing jazz and if there is it's really hard to get one and find one. Is this true because if it is that would really suck.
Is this true?
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Old 03-20-2015, 04:14 AM
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Default Re: Is hard to make a living out of jazz? Are there any jobs out there?

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Originally Posted by NotQuiteMyTempo View Post
I have heard from different places and people that jazz is dieing out and there is almost no jobs out there to make a living out of playing jazz and if there is it's really hard to get one and find one. Is this true because if it is that would really suck.
Is this true?
I don't think it's ever been easy to make a living as any type of musician.

I would also have to say that the number of young jazz drummers being pumped out annually by schools like Berklee and North Texas most likely significantly exceeds the number of gigs out there.
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Old 03-20-2015, 04:22 AM
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Default Re: Is hard to make a living out of jazz? Are there any jobs out there?

You might not make a living playing jazz but there are gigs. I see jazz bands in town. Some play weddings.
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Old 03-20-2015, 04:27 AM
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Default Re: Is hard to make a living out of jazz? Are there any jobs out there?

Jazz hasn't been much of a money-making proposition for 40+ years. By that I mean, not mainstream enough to support many full-time jazz musicians. In some major markets, the gigs (read: venues) are few and far-between, and you're lucky to get paid much at all.

New York City, New Orleans, perhaps Chicago aren't too bad, but L.A. is almost nil in terms of venues. Harvelle's is gone, and I heard that Café Cordiale is closing. That pretty much leaves the Baked Potato, and Catalina's as the 'major' venues here (someone correct me if I'm wrong.) But even if there were a dozen jazz clubs in L.A., that's still pretty sad for those trying to make a living in the genre.

I always thought this was a joke, but maybe not:

"How do you make a million dollars playing jazz?"
"Start with two million."

I saw the article floating around Facebook about jazz not being popular... or whatever it says. I don't need to click on it, musicians have known this stuff for a long time. I've been gigging and doing sessions since about 1977, and during that time I've been asked only twice to do jazz gigs (I did both) and once to do a jazz session (which I also did.) I know a LOT of drummers in town, and across the US, and I don't think any of them make a living playing jazz.

Bermuda
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Old 03-20-2015, 05:21 AM
Derek Derek is offline
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Default Re: Is hard to make a living out of jazz? Are there any jobs out there?

Hey Jon, I don't think you're wrong. But I want to add Steamers Cafe in Fullerton for our fellow SoCal folks. About an hour south of L.A. and lots of jazz talent in there nightly. I love that place. If someone is looking for another place for jazz in Southern California, give it a try.

Last edited by Derek; 03-20-2015 at 05:33 AM.
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Old 03-20-2015, 12:16 PM
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Default Re: Is hard to make a living out of jazz? Are there any jobs out there?

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Originally Posted by NotQuiteMyTempo View Post
I have heard from different places and people that jazz is dieing out and there is almost no jobs out there to make a living out of playing jazz and if there is it's really hard to get one and find one. Is this true because if it is that would really suck.
Is this true?
Most of the jazz cats around here end up as session musicians and teachers, so it looks to me that it's really hard to live of jazz alone.
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Old 03-20-2015, 01:18 PM
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Default Re: Is hard to make a living out of jazz? Are there any jobs out there?

You should probably get into music for the right reason......because you love playing it, not cos you think you can make a living from it.

A very wise person once said "If you get into music to make money, you will be dissappointed. If you get into music to make music, you will be happy".
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Old 03-20-2015, 02:21 PM
SmoothOperator SmoothOperator is offline
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Default Re: Is hard to make a living out of jazz? Are there any jobs out there?

My experience regarding employment has been somewhat counter intuitive, in that the easier something is the less profitable it is. Take Herb Alpert as an example it's more or less jazz, and he is a billionaire.
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Old 03-20-2015, 03:46 PM
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Default Re: Is hard to make a living out of jazz? Are there any jobs out there?

"I found that to really make money you had to give up music, so I gave up money "
- Mel Lewis


do it for the right reasons ....

it doesn't matter what type of music you play .... making a living will never be easy
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  #10  
Old 03-20-2015, 03:57 PM
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Default Re: Is hard to make a living out of jazz? Are there any jobs out there?

The only place jazz seems to be alive is in college campus music schools. If you want to make money in jazz get good enough to teach jazz at a college.. That seems to be the only way to make a full time living off of jazz. Good luck!!!!
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Old 03-20-2015, 06:23 PM
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Default Re: Is hard to make a living out of jazz? Are there any jobs out there?

It's hard to make a living as any kind of musician. As a jazz player, you may have more options than some other people re: the kinds of gigs you can take. It's easy enough to get some steady, long-term employment on cruise ships when you're out of school, but you can't really live that way forever. There's also hotel work in southeast Asia, which are steady, and people do them for many years. But most people living in the US have to cobble together a living with whatever resources they have at their disposal-- a lot of non-jazz gigs, teaching, getting money on the side with other skills they happen to have. A lot of people try to marry a woman who has a good job.

But your job as an 8th grader is just to be into the drums, and play all the time. You may decide as you get older that the lifestyle isn't for you, or you may get interested in other things-- it doesn't matter, whatever you decide to do is the right decision; it's not a waste of time for you to be really serious about the drums for a few years.
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Old 03-20-2015, 08:22 PM
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Default Re: Is hard to make a living out of jazz? Are there any jobs out there?

It is hard to make a living out of playing music, period.

Regardless of genre.
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  #13  
Old 03-20-2015, 08:24 PM
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Default Re: Is hard to make a living out of jazz? Are there any jobs out there?

Jazz is alive, check out Downbeat mag,Smalls Jazz, you just don't make alot of money,but I don't play for money it would be nice though.
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  #14  
Old 03-21-2015, 04:40 AM
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Default Re: Is hard to make a living out of jazz? Are there any jobs out there?

theres no money in pop, let alone jazz. but that doesn't mean you shouldn't play it.
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Old 03-21-2015, 05:22 AM
Matt Bo Eder
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Default Re: Is hard to make a living out of jazz? Are there any jobs out there?

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Originally Posted by NotQuiteMyTempo View Post
I have heard from different places and people that jazz is dieing out and there is almost no jobs out there to make a living out of playing jazz and if there is it's really hard to get one and find one. Is this true because if it is that would really suck.
Is this true?
Once you enroll in college, this is definitely NOT true. It's crazy to think that while you're attending college, learning how to play jazz, that you would be also thinking about making a living with it once you've graduated. In fact, how dare you question the very institution of jazz education by even suggesting that there's no way to make a living playing music at all. You've worked hard through college, and dang it, you deserve to make a living with your chosen degree. Now go forth, study as hard as you can and be a really good jazzer. We need as many degree-holding jazz drummers as we can get! There can't be enough of them!

I'm putting on my flame-resistant suit now ;)
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  #16  
Old 03-21-2015, 05:42 AM
KamaK KamaK is offline
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Default Re: Is hard to make a living out of jazz? Are there any jobs out there?

You can make a living off of jazz in the same manner a classical musician makes a living off of classical music. Understand that this may include playing in a functions band, teaching, composing, working in sales, grabbing any session work you can find, and having to constantly hustle in order to keep it all going. If you're lucky, you land a regular gig with a large corporation (cruise lines, disney, 6flags, etc). Heck, I know a jazz drummer that plays in a Doors tribute band to make ends meet.

If you also get a BM degree, you can run the functions band, studio, shop, etc.

Alternatively, you can do as I did and build a career in some other discipline. You're then free pursue music as a hobby.
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Old 03-21-2015, 05:54 AM
bigd bigd is offline
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Default Re: Is hard to make a living out of jazz? Are there any jobs out there?

Kamak, What are you talking about? You actually can make a full time living as an orchestral player. There aren't as many major symphonies as there once were but there are people playing full time in orchestra's all over America. They are making a decent living even in the markets smaller then say New York or LA. Players in major symphonies many times teach because they actually enjoy it not because they have to.
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Old 03-21-2015, 06:14 AM
KamaK KamaK is offline
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Default Re: Is hard to make a living out of jazz? Are there any jobs out there?

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Originally Posted by bigd View Post
Kamak, What are you talking about? You actually can make a full time living as an orchestral player. There aren't as many major symphonies as there once were but there are people playing full time in orchestra's all over America. They are making a decent living even in the markets smaller then say New York or LA. Players in major symphonies many times teach because they actually enjoy it not because they have to.
I'm not disagreeing. My point was that until you land that regular-full-time career job, whether it be Carnival Cruise Lines or the BSO, you've got to really hustle to make it work.

I'm willing to concede on the "If you're lucky" part of my post, as the people playing career gigs likely earned it.
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Old 03-21-2015, 06:35 AM
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Default Re: Is hard to make a living out of jazz? Are there any jobs out there?

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Originally Posted by mikel View Post
You should probably get into music for the right reason......because you love playing it, not cos you think you can make a living from it.

A very wise person once said "If you get into music to make money, you will be dissappointed. If you get into music to make music, you will be happy".
I want to make a living out of it because i want to do what i love for the rest of my life and nothing elses not because of money
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Old 03-21-2015, 07:41 AM
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Default Re: Is hard to make a living out of jazz? Are there any jobs out there?

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Originally Posted by bigd View Post
Kamak, What are you talking about? You actually can make a full time living as an orchestral player. There aren't as many major symphonies as there once were but there are people playing full time in orchestra's all over America. They are making a decent living even in the markets smaller then say New York or LA. Players in major symphonies many times teach because they actually enjoy it not because they have to.
Sure, but how many audition for each of those jobs vs actually become employed?

The fact remains the supply of drummers exceeds demand.
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Old 03-21-2015, 09:34 AM
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Default Re: Is hard to make a living out of jazz? Are there any jobs out there?

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I want to make a living out of it because i want to do what i love for the rest of my life and nothing elses not because of money
Here's all you gotta do; get with mom and dad and ask them how much they pay for rent (or the mortgage) on the house, how much insurance is for those things, car payments, health insurance, and how much food, gas, and utilities for the month are. Then you find a way to make your music make at least that amount every month for the rest of your life. Then you can say you're making a living out of it and you're not doing it because of the money.

I would say by the time you're able to go out on your own (let's say, by the time you're 23) you would need to be earning about $5000 a month to be comfortable. This is an arbitrary number, of course. Lots of people live on a lot less, but let's hope for the best and you have everything covered and you're not lacking in any kind of creature comforts you have now.

Take that number you need every month and calculate out how many $50 jazz gigs you'd have to do, assuming they're even out there. What is that, 100 gigs a month? With 30 days in a month, that's about 3 gigs a day seven days a week.

I wouldn't do it for the money either if all that stuff I need to live just appeared out of nowhere ;)
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Old 03-21-2015, 10:26 AM
KamaK KamaK is offline
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Default Re: Is hard to make a living out of jazz? Are there any jobs out there?

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I wouldn't do it for the money either if all that stuff I need to live just appeared out of nowhere ;)
For me, it wasn't so much about whether I needed the money to live on. Mind you, I was only making 30-35 as a guitarist in 1994, which was workable. It was whether or not I was making enough to build a the life and family I wanted. I realized that it would cost about 1000/week take-home (75k a year gross) to get where I wanted to go. When I put that in perspective, I would have had to double my income and efforts. At that point, I was already playing 10-12h a day, 6 days a week. Doubling my efforts didn't seem like a reasonable or sustainable option.

On OP's topic: Even though I was not a jazz guitarist by trade, I still had to play a lot of fringe/faux (I don't know the word for it) Jazz. Steele Dan stuff, VM's Moondance, and other similar material. Even stuff like "The Boys Are Back In Town" required me to fall back on my minuscule academic jazz training.
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Old 03-21-2015, 12:03 PM
mikel mikel is offline
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Default Re: Is hard to make a living out of jazz? Are there any jobs out there?

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Originally Posted by NotQuiteMyTempo View Post
I want to make a living out of it because i want to do what i love for the rest of my life and nothing elses not because of money
Im afraid that makes no sense, If you make a living at something you are making money out of it.

I love playing the drums and have done it for 45 years, but I also have to work full time to make a living.

As I say, be the best drummer you can be but dont expect to make a living at it, If you do you will be one of the lucky few.
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Old 03-21-2015, 12:23 PM
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Default Re: Is hard to make a living out of jazz? Are there any jobs out there?

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Originally Posted by NotQuiteMyTempo View Post
I want to make a living out of it because i want to do what i love for the rest of my life and nothing elses not because of money
That's a lovely dream.

Can't say I've ever had that one (tongue injected firmly into cheek).

Not going to happen I'm afraid. Time to get real.

Even if you happened to be a good musician, got lucky, hit the right notes and the right people, and made music into a career.....you're still going to spend plenty of time not loving your career choice.
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Old 03-22-2015, 12:02 AM
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Default Re: Is hard to make a living out of jazz? Are there any jobs out there?

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Originally Posted by bermuda View Post
Jazz hasn't been much of a money-making proposition for 40+ years. By that I mean, not mainstream enough to support many full-time jazz musicians. In some major markets, the gigs (read: venues) are few and far-between, and you're lucky to get paid much at all.

New York City, New Orleans, perhaps Chicago aren't too bad, but L.A. is almost nil in terms of venues. Harvelle's is gone, and I heard that Café Cordiale is closing. That pretty much leaves the Baked Potato, and Catalina's as the 'major' venues here (someone correct me if I'm wrong.) But even if there were a dozen jazz clubs in L.A., that's still pretty sad for those trying to make a living in the genre.
...geez...and yet, the market for bop/jazz kits seems robust (for now at least)...
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Old 03-22-2015, 12:20 AM
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Default Re: Is hard to make a living out of jazz? Are there any jobs out there?

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...geez...and yet, the market for bop/jazz kits seems robust (for now at least)...
We all think we'll be the next Max Roach causing the countryside in a station wagon full of jazz musos, speaking the bebop word ;)
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Old 03-22-2015, 02:01 AM
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Default Re: Is hard to make a living out of jazz? Are there any jobs out there?

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Originally Posted by NotQuiteMyTempo View Post
I want to make a living out of it because i want to do what i love for the rest of my life and nothing elses not because of money
The future is unknown. Jazz might not be the next popular style. Are you willing to play something other than jazz?
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Old 03-22-2015, 02:12 AM
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Default Re: Is hard to make a living out of jazz? Are there any jobs out there?

NIIIICE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsQYzpOHpik

SCOOBY DOOBY DO.....HOW DO YOU DOOOhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCymAH6r2Tc

CAR POLLUTION HYPOCRISY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezbJkZouXX4

PILES HUSSEIN AND THE JAZZ MESS....
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMBHkntOMtk
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Old 03-22-2015, 02:36 AM
DPTrainor DPTrainor is offline
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Default Re: Is hard to make a living out of jazz? Are there any jobs out there?

Here's a thought...we know that ideally we should follow our passion in life. But here's the thing:: People generally have more than one passion. It is not a singlular thing. So my thought is pick one of your other passions that is more likely to provide you with good income and make that your working career path (day job). Pick your Drumming passion as a side interest or hobby (night gig). Then you have a good financial life and still can enjoy your drumming passion for your entire life.. Best of both worlds, yes?
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Old 03-22-2015, 06:49 PM
BrokenStick BrokenStick is offline
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Default Re: Is hard to make a living out of jazz? Are there any jobs out there?

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Here's a thought...we know that ideally we should follow our passion in life. But here's the thing:: People generally have more than one passion. It is not a singlular thing. So my thought is pick one of your other passions that is more likely to provide you with good income and make that your working career path (day job). Pick your Drumming passion as a side interest or hobby (night gig). Then you have a good financial life and still can enjoy your drumming passion for your entire life.. Best of both worlds, yes?
Well said. And there is nothing that says one can't have a career that compliments one's love of jazz--maybe recording, musicology or music history, restaurant management (open your own jazz club) &c.
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