steve newman 
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Updated on June 24, 2011 at 6:42 AM

Recent Comments

Re: “Jazz Musicians Sing the Blues

market capitalism, exploitation. they are often the same thing.
it depends on the details. if an owner is raking it in and won't pay
decent money, that's exploitation. If the owner is struggling to stay
afloat and can't afford to pay decent money, that's something else.
The article quoted one owner who offered to open his books to
prove he's paying all he can, and another owner who took in $200
at a JazzJam nite and paid the band $160. Are those people exploiters?

If owning a jazz club is such a great racket where you can get rich by underpaying musicians, why have so many old jazz clubs folded, and so few new jazz clubs opened up?? Why are there so many cities with no jazz clubs where there used be plenty? Why don't some musicians get together and open a club and pay themselves and others decently. In Santa Cruz, the only long term jazz club still in existence is the 35 year old Kuumbwa Jazz Center which founded themselves as a non-profit org. It gets most of its money from grants and donations and the rest from ticket sales. It can afford to pay musicians decently and it does. It's not doing it by selling food and drinks.

You need to look at the details of each case - the simple narrative "evil club owner, exploited musician" doesn't always fit. Boycott the ones that are truly being exploitative, and support the ones who are trying to keep a public place for lovers of jazz, and who are doing what they can in the way of pay.

Posted by steve newman on 06/23/2011 at 4:40 PM

Re: “Jazz Musicians Sing the Blues

re- YoYo
"The music contributes to the overall atmosphere of the place and what it has to offer generally. The musicians should be paid by the club owners"

Well they are, that's exactly the situation that exists now.
If the owners decide to put flowers on the table to enhance the ambience, they will search to buy the needed flowers at the lowest possible cost. If some florist, for whatever reasons, is willing to give them free flowers, they'll take them. Likewise they will get jazz musicians at the lowest possible cost. That's the current situation. That's market capitalism.

Posted by steve newman on 06/23/2011 at 9:50 AM

Re: “Jazz Musicians Sing the Blues

Hi- a lot of contradictions, but everyone has some good points.

it seems the most fair thing would be if the customers
actually pay for the music. this could be done with
an admission charge, or a cover charge added to their
bill or a minimum. The musicians could get the door
or cover and the owner gets the sales of his food,drink, etc.
(the tip jar is actually a small step in that direction, in that
that money is paid by the people who really like the music!
it's limited by being strictly voluntary.)

Charging for the music seemss like a win-win. Why is no club doing it? Probably because it probably doesnt work. I assume the experience has
been that charging such music fees, keeps too many customers
away. All the clubs need to do it. If just one club offered a no cover/no minimum free admission, that club could probably gain customers at the
expense of the others. You know jazz is not this country's favorite music
anymore. There's a pretty limited audience and an even smaller one willing
to pay admission fees to get into bars and restaurants.

Same thing with a musicians boycott. Unless they all do it, like
in the days of powerful musician (and other) unions, the ones who boycott will be replaced by those who don't boycott.

So, jazz in clubs really doesn't have much of a future, other than
the state it is in now. Dixieland Jazz used to be a paying profession for
musicians, and now it is only played for fun by hobbyists. Things come and go. Jazz festivals, cruise lines, recordings?, and teaching seem to be where its at for pro jazz musicians these days. It would be nice if it were otherwise but that also applies to many even bigger issues in our current life
like affordable rents and low pollution.

good luck and best wishes to all who love to play and listen to jazz.

steve newman,
santa cruz

Posted by steve newman on 06/22/2011 at 4:50 PM

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