Seattle Office of Film + Music

June 27, 2013, 10:52 am
Filed under: Music

MakingaLivingMakingMusic 6.25.13 Final (hi res)

Did you ever dream of playing music for a living only to be told to get a real job?

The Seattle Office of Film + Music aims to challenge that notion with its newly-released infographic that illustrates annual revenue of three up-and-coming fulltime Seattle musicians and how they do it.  The infographic came to life after James Keblas, the Director for Seattle’s Office of Film + Music, was asked by a young musician, “how can I quit my day job and just play music?”  Inspired by the question, Keblas reached out to other successful musicians to find out specifically how they do it.

The three musicians, each from different genres, willingly opened up their 2012 financial records and let Keblas’ team try and make sense of how the money flowed.  “It was important for us to find musicians who modeled a middle class living,” said Keblas.  “We are trying to show that this kind of a living can be done without having to be rockstar.”

From the financial analysis it was decided that there are six primary areas in which musicians bring in income.  While the percentages of the musician’s revenue were different for each person, the categories held true.  The musicians also gave some tips on how to have the best success in each category:

  1. Licensing and Publishing – Companies, TV, Film, Commercials buy your music.   Tip: Send out a monthly digital newsletter of your music to music supervisors with new songs ready for licensing.
  2. Music Sales – CDs, downloads, streaming.  Tip: You and your fans give away one free song on social media platforms to hook folks to buy more songs.
  3. Merchandise Sales – T-Shirts, branded band-aids, condoms.  Tip: You will increase merchandise sales by over 50% if you’re sitting at the table where the goods are being sold.
  4. Live Performances – Concerts and touring.  Tip: Don’t dismiss the earning potential of busking.  Musicians at Sea-Tac Airport and the Pike Place Market are averaging over $100/hour in tips.
  5. Studio Work – Film & video game music, studio or backup musician.  Tip: Make friends with people in the tech world who need music scored for game or app development.
  6. Instruction – Teach others music.  Tip: Do group lessons and get the biggest paycheck for your time.

“I was surprised to learn how accessible the opportunities to make money are in music while also being incredibly complicated to navigate,” said Keblas.  “My hope with this information is to demystify the business of music and for artists to be in more control of a thriving musical destiny.”

The take away for Keblas from this research?  “It’s clear that if you want to make it as a musician, you need to have a business strategy for a majority of these revenue streams, if not all of them.  No one said it was easy, but if you have the musical skills and the perseverance, you can do it.”

The infographic was made by Killer Infographics, an infographic design firm located in Seattle’s tech-savvy Fremont neighborhood.  Their infographics are built by a team of highly talented artists. Led by Internet marketers, their staff creates viral-worthy infographic designs that get the attention they deserve.



The Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute (LHPAI) has announced the first Seattle’s Harlem Renaissance Award winner, Oscale Grace Holden (b. 1930), an international pianist and voice of jazz and African American music who was born and raised in central Seattle. The award will be presented at the LHPAI Gala Meet Me at the Savoy on Saturday, June 29 by Jacqueline D. Moscou, artistic director, LHPAI. Proceeds from the Gala will support the LHPAI Youth Performing Arts Academy and Summer Musical; tickets are available now at brownpapertickets.

“Ms Holden is a legend. She exemplifies the deep community and artistic roots that are at the heart of what we do,” said LHPAI executive director Royal Alley-Barnes. “We are so proud to count her in our community and pleased to be able to offer this recognition of her long contributions to the Seattle Diaspora community.”

Holden was born to Leala and Oscar Holden in 1930. Oscar Holden (1886-1969) was known as the patriarch of Seattle jazz, and the Holden children, Grace, and her brothers Oscar Jr., Dave, Ron, and Jimmy were all musicians who played in Seattle in the late 1940s and beyond. By 1930, when Grace was born, Oscar Holden was a seasoned, highly successful musician. Born in Nashville, Tennessee in 1886, Holden moved as far away from the South as possible, distancing himself from his past, and the prejudices he felt growing up there.

Grace was influenced by the music of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, Lena Horne and Dinah Washington. She played jazz with young Quincy Jones in Charlie Taylor’s pioneering swing band in the 1940s with her brother Oscar Jr.  Performances at Jazz Alley, Club New Orleans, Root’s Picnic, Festival Sundiata, Experience Music Project and Admiral Congregational United Church of Christ have put Grace on the national and international Jazz map. Grace Holden still sings in her church’s gospel choir.

Grace Holden’s family maxim to “never stop learning and never stop trying to learn,” fits particularly well with the mission of  LHPAI and LHPAI’s youth and young adult performing artist programs.

The above account of Holden’s life is excerpted from; more on Grace Holden here.



June 11, 2013, 1:43 pm
Filed under: Music

The Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra (SRJO) has received an award from the Jazz Education Network (JEN) and the Herb Alpert Foundation to support the SRJO’s Jazz Scholars Program, expanding the program for the first time to Denny International Middle School and Aki Kurose Middle School. Jazz Scholars is a school-partnered program providing jazz technique and instrumental music lessons for low-income and minority band students. The JAZZ2U Grant funds a concert and clinic at Aki Kurose Middle School on June 13 that will introduce students to jazz music, and encourage students to sign up for the SRJO Jazz Scholars program.

Now celebrating its 18th concert season, the 17-piece SRJO is co-directed by saxophonist and arranger Michael Brockman, long-time faculty member of the UW School of Music and an authority on the music of Duke Ellington, and drummer Clarence Acox, award-winning conductor of the Garfield High School bands. The ensemble is the recipient of numerous awards, including Golden Ear awards from Earshot Jazz for “Best Acoustic Jazz Group” and “Concert of the Year,” and two “Starlight Awards” from the Kirkland Performance Center. Several members of the all-star group have been named to the Seattle Jazz Hall of Fame, with bassist Phil Sparks most recently inducted at the 2009 Golden Ear Awards.