Sam Newsome

Sam Newsome
"The potential for the saxophone is unlimited." - Steve Lacy

Friday, April 20, 2012

What do record labels and colleges have in common?

When I first started teaching at a college, I was amazed at how similar it felt to being on a major record label.

Here are a few things that I noticed that they share:

1. At a record company, the goal is to sell units. At a college, the goal is to sell credits.

2. At a record company, musicians who sell the most units, get the most attention. At a colleges departments that sell the most credits, get the most attention.

3. At a record company, musicians are the soldiers in the fields. At a college, professors are the soldiers in the field.

4. At a record label you need a hit single or a Grammy to have some security. At a college, you need tenure.

5. At a record label, it’s the musicians against the suits. At a college, it’s the professors against the administration.

6. At a record label, musicians are represented by managers who speak on their behalf to suits. At a college, professors are represented by the union, who speak on their behalf to the administration.

7. At a record label, you ultimately have to show good numbers (units sold) to satisfy the CEO. At a college, you ultimately show good numbers (credits sold) to satisfy the Board of Trustees.


  1. Nice idea. I think you left out a rather important point which is the public's perception of both these areas. You taken more seriously by the public if you've been to college (and have a qualification), or have a record. The pressure of these two areas are equally destructive.

    The amount of times that festivals, or concert venues, wish to know, "have you got a new CD out?", as it gives the public and the programmer some 'reason' to give you a gig .... to put it bluntly! In the educational circles one has to wonder if people with qualifications are actually the most qualified people to teach. In the case of music I have found that many of the teachers hold back development due to the fact that they (themselves) are unable to move forward and see new possibilities. Anyhow that's another discussion which isn't relative here.

    As I mentioned - The public's perception of someone with a record, and someone without. The public's perception of a person with a qualification and one without. Which one would you take more seriously?

    Nice stuff Sam thanks for making us think!

  2. That's true about festival promoters. The CD is definitely proof of worthiness and or qualification. But ultimately ones body of work ends of speaking the truth. Look at all of the successful people without degrees--especially in jazz.

  3. nice posting.. thanks for sharing.


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