Commentary: 07.15.18

Jazz Artistry Now – During the US military bands’ era which I served as a senior enlisted leader, the study and application of professional personnel leadership and business management techniques was a progressive competency and requirement of the job.

Our job as leaders of other professionals was to literally create conditions for success – the success of the military organizational mission and the success of each individual musician serving as an artist in our charge. Continuum. Legacy. Progress.

One of my favorite authors effectively writes about scarcity and abundance mentalities in one of my favorite leadership books.

He says that those with a scarcity mentality look at the world as if there are only a limited number of pieces in the pie of life.

And he says those with an abundance mentality realize that there are not only an infinite number of pieces of pie but an infinite number of pies to be had in life.

SCARCITY MENTALITY IN JAZZ?

I have seen scarcity mentalities operating within literally all types of business throughout the years. I have also seen it at work in all segments of the world of music and on all levels – including some situations during my military bands’ career.

I see lots of what comes across as scarcity mentalities in the Jazz world. From: attitudes about getting gigs, getting airplay, getting awards or peer recognition, and as well as getting press and reviews, etc. To: infrastructure issues like scene power trips, musician cliques, and philanthropic gatekeepers becoming the show – we can often lose sight of the main thing – JAZZ.

It seems easy to operate from a scarcity mentality though – especially if you don’t think about the fact that you are doing it. Everyone has pessimism and insecurities of some sort or another. But the reality is usually more optimistic and thus the opposite of most concerns.


continued …

Unlike the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s eras of the music, the fact of the modern jazz industry is that there are so many brilliant artists and notable entities worldwide. It is impossible to expect a simple few publications, venues or institutions to adequately give a voice to the state of our demographic. There isn’t enough editorial space. One or two people on your scene cannot be “all things jazz” and do thorough justice educating, reporting, critisizing, advocating, etc.

Now over one hundred years old, Jazz music has an industry infrastructure that is not as mature as the music.

The business aspects of the industry seem to lag behind the education system of Jazz.

We produce lots of artists who enter a Jazz economy that largely cannot support them unless they become entrepreneurial.

It is important to inculcate this mentality into artists from the start of their career in music.

We could also have several hundred more music publications, blogs or journals and still not be able to professionally review all of the worthy music being released every week in Jazz.

SCENE SYNERGY IS KEY

Jazz Artistry Now is a piece of the at-large Jazz Pie, if you will.

Another piece of that pie is our newest business, KC Area Youth Jazz.

Another is our successful “Live at the Hollywood Theater” concert series.

And another is our successful recording label, Artists Recording Collective.

Entrepreneurialism is what being an artist is all about.

Build something. Collaborate across all generations.

There is no competition with anyone except in bettering oneself.

Check it out. It’s an essential “superpower” business ability.

The successful people on the scene understand this.

They are the most secure and “cool” people you could ever meet.

The goal of most any artist is to successfully make a living while being able to create their art and that always looks different for everyone.

Lots of great reading in this issue of JAN. Check out JAN reviews and articles by David R. Adler and Scott Yanow.

All the best, Cb