Freedom and Control: Musicians’ Autonomy and Record Labels’ Influence in Producing the Sound of Contemporary Jazz
Date of Award
Master of Arts (AM/MA)
It is easy to find news articles and jazz albums titles that describe jazz musicians as geniuses. The notion that jazz musicians are geniuses gives the misleading impression that a jazz record is the pure outcome of a musician’s artistry, without any aesthetic intervention by record labels in the process of making albums. However, my interviews with jazz musicians and record label executives reveal that many jazz records released by labels are the result of collaborative effort between musicians and labels. Labels involve themselves in the album-making process and give artistic input by deciding the concept of an album, the order of the tracks, the tunes that will be included on an album, and the tone and atmosphere of an album. In addition, because some labels pursue specific styles of music, musicians whose style differs from the labels’ desired style are not given the chance to become those labels’ artists. While at times labels’ artistic input might affect an album only slightly, the fact that labels select which artist to sign and decide which music is worth the audience’s attention demonstrates that labels have profound impact in forming the sound of jazz and shaping the future direction of jazz.
Chair and Committee
Paul Steinbeck, Lauren Eldridge Stewart
Kwon, Jiwon, "Freedom and Control: Musicians’ Autonomy and Record Labels’ Influence in Producing the Sound of Contemporary Jazz" (2022). Arts & Sciences Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 2764.
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