‘Plan B’ for the Jazz Musician

November 19, 2010

We all know how hard it is to make a living today as a jazz musician. Clubs have dwindled, interest in the music isn’t what it once was, digital technology has replaced live musicians with synthesized sounds. The dedicated jazz player need never give up his or her aspirations, but it never hurts to come up with a “Plan B” in case things don’t work out as hoped.

Plan B for the jazz musician encompasses any job, career, or source of income that the jazz musician pursues to supplement his income or as an alternative to a performing career. It’s a contingent plan if it turns out that playing jazz doesn’t bring in sufficient income; after all, jazz musicians, like the rest of society, have to pay rent and put food on the table. As talented and passionate as jazz musicians are, the desire to play doesn’t always translate into being able to earn a livelihood from it.

Plan B is nothing new, even if in the past being a jazz musician was something you did as a sideline. While Buddy Bolden was blowing his cornet at night in the Storyville sector of New Orleans in the late nineteenth century and helping shape what would become popularly known as jazz, he had a regular day-gig as a barber.

Many of the so-called Plan B jobs suggested below have been around for a long time; others are products of the burgeoning Internet age. The traditional areas remain because the basic tenets of the music industry haven’t changed

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