College students will do just about anything to earn a little extra cash. Up-and-coming jazz musicians, even some well known jazz musicians can relate, working full-time day jobs in order to fund their music careers in a genre that only accounts for around 2% of all record sales each year. It can be worse for jazz students paying for school while trying to gain experience and notoriety at the same time.
Fortunately the New School University Jazz and Contemporary Music Program has come up with a solution. Students working toward a BFA in jazz at the New School can find gigs through a referral service called the New School Jazz Outreach Project. From big band sets to quintets to duets, for wedding ceremonies and receptions, cocktail parties or corporate events, the NSJOP, directed by Dr. David Schroeder, puts students in touch with paying customers. Booking a group costs about $75-100/musician/hour, in addition to travel expenses. It’s a great way for students to earn money, but it also helps them network and exercise their chops.
The main goal, though, is to keep students on top of their games and to give them insights into the realities of the recording industry. New York is definitely a place where playing at clubs and at other engagements can be profitable. “You can make $900 in a weekend, but I tell these kids if they can’t play waltzes and bah mitzvahs, a good wide range of music, they’re going to end up working at a deli counter because record companies aren’t lined up waiting with record deals for them when they graduate. It can be very intimidating,” says Schroeder.
Schroeder, who began the program in the Fall 2001 semester and maintains the Jazz Ed section on Verve’s Web site, also helps students get internships at labels like Verve, Blue Note, BMG, and the Knitting Factory. Some students have even found entry-level positions with these labels. And the benefits don’t stop there. For instance, as a way of saying thanks for free labor, Blue Note Jazz Club lets students and faculty members of the New School University in for free. Also, on Friday nights, student musicians get to participate in the first 20 minutes of the Pro Jam Session at the club. And on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village where musicians are dying to be seen, Schroeder’s worked out a deal with Le Figaro Café where student musicians are showcased every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday night.
Contact Dr. David Schroeder by phone at (212) 229-5896, or email him at [email protected] for more information.