JAZZ GUITAR HARDBALL
Obama’s Effect on the Music Scene
Editor’s Note: Any perceived political views group, it will mean tax cuts and a lighter burden
presented in this column do not represent the at the end of the year. This was a controversial
views of Premier Guitar, which did not and does topic between the opposing candidates in the
not endorse any political candidate. election season. If it comes to fruition, the play-
ers and teachers who I know will benefit.
they will pay tuition.
What an exciting election season we just finished! A new era is being ushered in! No matter
which side of the political fence you were on,
we have to agree that it is exciting to see the
entire world celebrating the change with us.
The first African-American president…new feelings of hope…watchfulness to see if the economy can improve…hope for a change from a
war-culture to one of productivity and emphasis
one environmental/energy issues. It is a revolution in how we see ourselves and how we hope
to interact as part of a global community.
Jimmy Carter was the first president to take
seriously the question of a need for energy
independence. He was ahead of his time and
the idea had no traction. Following a clear
crisis, the past eight years were lost as well
and should have been used toward that end.
Of huge concern for modern musicians is the
future of the internet. The Obama website
promises the following: “(We) will protect the
openness of the internet: Obama and Biden
strongly support the principle of network neutrality to preserve the benefits of open
competition on the Internet. (We) believe we
can get true broadband to every community
in America.” For those who are involved in
internet music sales, promotion of bands, and a
whole host of music-related internet activities,
the future looks bright. The administration’s
interest in technology and research can only
help those whose livelihood has a connection
to the internet.
The big question for us: What could all this
mean for those working in music-related fields?
Teachers, part-timers, performers, studio players, local gigging musicians, weekend-warriors,
those who deal in new and used instruments,
those desiring formal music education—all
will be affected, hopefully for the better, by
the election results of November 4. The value
of the dollar, our health insurance, our taxes,
seeing friends and family members go to war,
seeking education, and the leisure time that
makes more performance opportunities possible are all things on the table that will have a
great impact on the music scene and its related
workers. If things go according to plan, musicians, I hope, will greatly benefit from the new
administration and the new era.
One of the largest concerns of many of my
friends and colleagues in music-related professions centers on health care benefits. Adjunct
music professors, full-time performers, studio
teachers and small music businesses all struggle
with the question of how to acquire (and afford)
health insurance. Many people who might otherwise work in music fields choose not to do
so because of the problem of acquiring health
benefits for their families. Under President
Obama, it may become possible, for the first
time, for these workers to more easily acquire
health insurance. This alone may affect the
number of people who can now consider a
career in a music field.
Finally, after being confronted with the pressing
nature of the issue, it is being taken seriously,
and under Obama we may see changes that,
before long, will leave us driving to the gig in
an electric car.
Beyond these considerations, the most important aspect of this era of change — something
that could potentially and strongly impact
musicians — is the general feeling of hope that
seems to be emerging. When the economy is
doing better, and when our primary focus is
not on a wartime culture, the ground becomes
fertile for the arts. If people are feeling better
and more hopeful in general, they spend more
money and they spend more time in leisure
activities. For musicians and retailers (vintage
dealers, too), this is all good news, since more
money is spent on event tickets, concerts,
clubbing, instruments and accessories, lessons,
DVDs, computers, etc. Contrastingly, when
people are fearful, and especially when they are
fearful of the financial future, all the ‘extras’ are
ended, such as spending money to be entertained by live music. We have reason to be
hopeful in the New Year!
Happy New Year, from Jazz Guitar Hardball!
Will we be singing songs of the electric hybrid
car, like we did in the first rock song (Ike
Turner’s “Rocket 88”)? It may not have quite
the same nostalgic appeal.
For those desiring a college degree in music
performance and music education, the nature
of how one goes about this may be drastically
changed. In theory, university and community
college attendance will become possible for
many, in part, through a plan of trading community service for education. Tax credits and a
revamped financial aid process will change how
music students will apply for college and how
A clinician and jazz educator, Jim Bastian is a
ten year veteran of teaching guitar in higher
education. Jim holds two masters degrees and
has published six jazz studies texts, including the
best-selling “How to Play Chordal Bebop Lines for
Guitar” (available from Jamey Aebersold). He actively
performs on both guitar and bass on the East Coast.
Most of the average working musicians, teachers, and owners of retail stores who I know do
not make more than $200,000 a year. For this
An avid collector and trader in the vintage market,
you can visit Jim’s store in Gear Search at
premierguitar.com (dealer: IslandFunhouse).