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Changing the Beat: A Study of the Worklife of Jazz Musicians

October 17, 200517 October 2005

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This study, another contribution to our knowledge of artists’ working conditions, reports the findings of a survey of jazz musicians in Detroit, New Orleans, New York and San Francisco. The goal of the study is to find better ways for the National Endowment for the Arts and others “to support the continuing growth and development of jazz and the musicians who create it”. The survey finds that jazz musicians “are woefully underpaid”, with incomes about half of others with similar levels of education. Many have no retirement plans or health coverage. In addition, the report finds that “institutional support for jazz exists but is small”. Specifically, “of the musicians who received grants, more than 90% received $5,000 or less”. Respondents were asked to provide suggestions regarding how to ensure the survival of jazz. Their responses include improvements to musicians’ well-being, better jazz education at all levels, and more grant money.

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