All that jazz: The success of jazz musicians in three metropolitan areas
Dowd, Timothy J.
Department of Sociology
We draw on a survey of jazz musicians to examine their economic success (annual amount of money earned through music) and critical success (national recognition of their talent). In doing so, we bring together literatures that are not normally in dialogue—one addressing generalism and the careers of creative personnel and the other addressing the circulation of capitals (e.g., cultural capital) in fields of cultural production. We find, among other things, that aesthetic generalism (being conversant in a wide range of genres) has a positive impact on both earnings and national recognition—with veteran musicians particularly benefitting from the relationship between aesthetic generalism and critical success. Those musicians with much social capital (e.g., number of local musicians known by name) and much human capital (years of musical experience) enjoy heightened economic, but not critical, success. Technical generalism (playing a wide range of musical instruments) has no bearing on economic success but has a negative impact on critical success—particularly for veteran jazz musicians. We discuss how such findings demonstrate the analytical utility of heeding the resources and “signaled competencies” that creative personnel have for negotiating fields of cultural production.