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International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

Emerald Article: Jazz musicians: creating service experience in live performance Krzysztof Kubacki

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To cite this document: Krzysztof Kubacki, (2008),"Jazz musicians: creating service experience in live performance", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 20 Iss: 4 pp. 303 - 313 Permanent link to this document: Downloaded on: 10-08-2012 References: This document contains references to 29 other documents To copy this document:

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the choice of music played in pubs. as a bad practice in that area may negatively affect their ability to sustain their customer base. restaurants or nightclubs is a crucial factor affecting patrons’ decision to enter the venue or not. 401-411 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0959-6119 DOI 10. Chancellor’s Building. economic and cultural life of our communities (Blake and Jeffery. 20 No. the service marketing literature provides very little guidance on how artists could increase their audience satisfaction with an experiential product such as live music. Keele University.emeraldinsight. Significant numbers of independent artists rely on them financially. Originality/value – There are few studies that address the relations between musicians and venue one might create better working conditions. ranked by consumers even higher than low prices (Kubacki et al.htm Jazz musicians: creating service experience in live performance Krzysztof Kubacki School of Economic and Management Studies. whereas for many others gigs in local pubs and clubs are often their first steps in a musical career.1108/09596110810873516 .The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at www. an other study shows that customers are willing to pay more for meals in restaurants with live music (Lane. Practical implications – As the quality of relationship between musicians and wider business is in need of significant improvement. improve work satisfaction and commitment. music is the most popular service offering. though. that for many local musicians these places create also a unique opportunity to build and maintain relationships with their fans. Design/methodology/approach – A total of 12 biographical interviews with 16 professional jazz musicians were completed. and “since the music is realized in a social and professional context. UK Abstract Purpose – Although music has been indicated by nightclubs and pubs’ patrons as the most important service offering. This paper aims to give a wider understanding of jazz musicians’ experience of their role in the creation of live performance. Frequently. 2007).. practitioners may operate different constructions of what is involved from those of observers”. Keywords Music. 1990). Practical implications include the need for venue managers to consider the consequences of poor relations with artists. Therefore this paper offers insights into the experience of live music from musicians’ point-of-view. agents and venue owners as important elements of their product. 4. As one research indicates. Yet. 2008 pp. Findings – The respondents identified audience. Marketing Paper type Research paper Jazz musicians: creating service experience 401 Received 29 May 2007 Revised 29 June 2007 Accepted 22 October 2007 Introduction While live performance remains a vital source of income for the majority of musicians. however. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management Vol. Experience. It is important to note. Keele. they were inclined to see their live performance rather as an experience created by the product itself. With the improvements in communication and more understanding for employee’s feelings. they at the same time play the essential role in the social. this paper identified potential sources of misunderstanding in a saturated and highly competitive marketplace. those venues employ musicians to provide a better experience for their customers. 2000).

in the most recent research. and therefore any investigations into live musical performance as a service experience should naturally start with them. investigating quality in the performing arts.g. proposes criteria like technical factors (i. which can also be applied to musical performance. there is still a paucity of research into the role. 2004). Although. The findings indicate that a theatre’s reputation is the best sign of the quality of performance. none of the key constituencies in the music industry scored more positive than negative ratings. only a handful of studies have investigated artists’ perceptions of creation and consumption of experiential products such as live music. Earl’s (2001) introspective investigation of advantages and disadvantages of live musical performance. In their research amongst musicians. Thus. However. source materials. The results indicate that factors associated with participants (technical factors). For example. experience and contribution of musicians to the creation of a live performance. Finally. Live performance Minor et al. (2002) indicate that the quality of relationship between musicians and wider business is in need of significant improvement. standards of production. although there is recognition in marketing literature of the role played in the service environment by different front and backstage personnel (e. Urrutiaguer (2002) constructed a regression equation in an attempt to shed more light on the demand for live performances. the “artists are the focal point for the audience”. and popularity of an author – may have a positive influence on live performance attendance. have a significant positive influence on the demand for theatre. the author found that only some of those factors – excellence and reputation of producers and actors. as Minor et al. 2004).e. customers (Martin and Pranter. the results show the opposing effect of press reviews of Abbe (“media reputation of shows”) and artistic reputation of “directors-cum-managers” on live performance attendance.IJCHM 20. 2000). other social behaviour (dress. opportunities for behaviour that would not be allowed at home (e. (2004) argue. opportunity for . 2003) and various aspects of customer behaviour has been extensively studied (see for example Oakes. highlighted the importance of several elements. loud music). concludes with a list of positive aspects of consumption of live music. However. as compared with recorded music. benefits to audiences.g. with club owners. While “little is known about what motivates consumers to attend performances” (Minor et al. Throsby’s (1990) study of the role of quality in demand for theatre.’s (2004) review of various conceptual tools measuring service quality concludes that currently the service marketing literature provides very little guidance on how artists could increase audience satisfaction with an experiential product such as live music. ´ -Decarroux (1994) concludes with a similar set of criteria. and the nature of the source materials. Some of them can be classified as social aspects of music consumption. in contrary to some ´ -Decarroux’s findings. they are the products and producers (Kubacki and Croft. 1989). e. acting and design). 2004). bar staff in Pratten. the study reported here aims to explore how jazz musicians understand and experience their role in the production and consumption of a live performance.g.4 402 Fisher et al. society and to the art form itself. Further research by Abbe Using data from a theatre company.. financial institutions and politicians sharing a particularly bad reputation. The earlier research. and the effect of music on venue’s brand image (Areni.

can be avoided only in an empty venue. live music can also provoke emotional and cognitive responses. the interview technique consisted of 20 open-ended questions. 1994. Last but not least. though not always. perspective (Abbe Urrutiaguer.) but to access the perspective of the person being interviewed”. Others. As a significant amount of earlier research involving musicians relied on interviews as a data collection method (Bradshaw et al. . 2005. Jazz musicians: creating service experience 403 . Research methods The majority of earlier research investigated live performance from an audience ´ -Decarroux. and its aims.g. the audience’s transport. Surprisingly. monopolistic suppliers of food and drink and limited editing opportunities). Only the choice of supporting artists and the quality and volume of sound can be to a certain extent. Finally. with a median at around 40. 2004. their purpose was “not to put things in someone’s mind (. 2005). 1991) and ensure comparability of collected data. excitement or curiosity to experience music that may never be available in recorded form (as each concert is unique and specific). The youngest respondent was in his late 20s. 2004). In total 12 interviews were completed.. practitioners may operate different constructions of what is involved from those of observers” (Macdonald and Wilson. 2005). sound quality and musicians’ ability and creativity proved to be important to customers. Kubacki and Croft. but ages ranged right up to early 60s. musicians’ interpretation of a song and familiarity of an audience with a song were ranked in the middle of 18 factors. all data in this research was collected through in-depth biographical interviews during the summer of 2006. familiarity of code of behaviour). In his view. involving 16 jazz musicians. 2001. Throsby. As Patton (1990) described it.’s (2004) attempt to develop a model of audience satisfaction with live performances indicates that certain factors influence this satisfaction more than others. In order to minimise problems of selective memory (Wren. 1989.. Minor et al. Groce. Minor et al. Earl identifies live music as an opportunity to sample an art without making any commitment. “Since the music is realized in a social and professional context. the majority of them remain beyond the control of musicians (for example. While many of these elements remain. Although various problems associated by the author with live music performances are significant for concert organisers or venue managers. of whom two were female and 14 male. 1990. controlled by the artists. 2002). namely risk (of musical errors). Earl. The interviews lasted an average of two hours and covered various elements of the musical careers of the respondents. servicescape elements). In order to delimit the research to something manageable. It was felt by the researcher that this gender bias was representative of the male-dominated jazz community.sharing judgements). . like difficulties in seeing the performers or disadvantages of social consumption. and therefore the research reported here aims to investigate how jazz musicians understand and experience their role in the production and consumption of live performance. Macdonald and Wilson (2005) argued that overwhelming majority of research into identities of musicians has been concentrated on American artists. the data was collected only from jazz musicians as “jazz was cast as an improvised music centred on live performance” (Macdonald and Wilson. beyond musicians’ control (e. close contact with famous artists or other ritual dimensions (e.and child-related costs.g. The respondents were selected carefully in accordance with the requirements of the research.

The Grove et al. which Macdonald and Wilson (2005) indicated as the main characteristic of jazz. Each interviewee was approached individually after a gig or by telephone. In the centre of the model is the relationship between participants (musicians and audience). 1990). while ten Polish respondents were interviewed face-to-face in that country. with a common belief that asking people for gigs is like begging (PM 5[2]). they unanimously agreed that it is very difficult for them to do it unless they have very good personal relationship with venue owners. in this section the principal topics are drawn out. However. beginning with the organisation of gigs.’s (1992) model of service experience as a drama. which can also be applied to the analysis of live music performance.4 404 In order to overcome that limitation. These seemed broadly to cover four major issues. some of the interviews became dyads and triads. those musicians argued that generally pub owners do not care . Lane. from the first contact with a venue to the last note. Although many of them – given the character and unstructured nature of the data gathering method – overlapped one another. explained by the researcher. though.. Findings and discussion The research reported in this paper aimed to investigate through a series of biographical interviews with jazz musicians their understanding and experience of musicians’ role in the creation and consumption of live musical performances. physical evidence (venue) and process of service assembly (performance). Only professional musicians regularly performing live were interviewed. when there was an opportunity to interview more than one band member. They complained they had to spend a lot of time trying to sort out things they did not like. Six British respondents were interviewed in Wales. The majority of interviews were conducted with a single person. The respondents were asked to tell their career stories in relation to the research interest. Although for all of the respondents performing live was a livelihood and arranging those concerts should be an integral part of their work. economic and cultural bias. Even though all interviews were conducted with professional musicians. 1991). venue managers and owners’ perspective the actual experience of live music starts with the first sounds. they agreed that in most cases they had to be involved in the organisation of gigs.IJCHM 20. 2007. It distinguishes between participants (personnel and audience). and minimise the risk of social. Despite the fact that the music in a venue was identified by earlier research as one of the most important factors affecting customers’ behaviour (Kubacki et al. all the data were collected from two different groups of musicians. Their opinions were dominated by negative feelings. was selected as a tool for data analysis. as a physical element of live music performance remains frequently beyond artists’ control. there was some telling evidence that musicians perceive it much more widely. in order to capture the collective interaction. The analysis of the biographical interviews showed a number of key themes emerging. Although from an audience. The interviewer’s contribution to the discussion was in most situations only supposed to facilitate the narration (Langness and Frank. as otherwise it will not happen (BM 4[1]). this part of the model was not considered in further analysis and discussions. Process Organisation of live performance. The objective of biographical interviewing was to reveal the respondents’ perceptions of the most important elements of their lives and careers.

Their disappointment with an audience was so strong that one respondent went so far to confess: In my jazz projects. and often we have to go down to their musical level. for my respondents the idea of being creative in jazz required the audience to think about what musicians do. One of them declared that: We. favoured views that playing gigs artistically satisfying is the only way to succeed. I do what I feel. and the main challenge then is to try and find an extremely beautiful way of doing it (BF1). and what Earl (2001) sees as the positive aspects of live performance. Their opinions show that social aspects of music consumption. they have more fun then. They argued that the kind of people that we all want to come to our gigs is very small in number. Although live music offers a unique opportunity to build and maintain relationships between musicians and their fans. Jazz musicians: creating service experience 405 Live performance. They believed audiences were often the worst element of the whole music business. experience what I felt then (PM1). be actively engaged in the process of music creation and to be adventurous and prepared for experiments. only those venue owners that are in very good relationships with musicians would be able to understand their needs. as long as they can make a lot of money (BM2). The opinions about performing live were divided into two groups. . While they believed that the better paid a gig is. some of the more experienced musicians were more at ease with that type of situation. and just tried to accommodate what their audience wanted. we should be able to play something only to satisfy those people. they can understand it. On the other hand. They believed it was simply part of their job. as one of them admitted: . at least by that group of artists focused on the intrinsic qualities of their product. it’s easier for them. According to their opinions. . music that I play. The first one blamed audiences for not being prepared to take the same risk as jazz musicians do. it was a very difficult barrier for all of the musicians. A lot of jazz musicians would rather have nobody listen to them and stay true to the cause (PM8). the youngest interviewees declared that their band can play anything. factors associated with the participants may have a significant influence on the quality of live music. even here the opinions were clearly divided into two groups. as musicians. . While for Earl (2001) live music creates an opportunity for people to sample an art without making any commitment. . Yet. because you are asking them for something. the kind of people that sit and enjoy music for music’s sake (PM3). and if we can play something really good. it’s like they’ve got the upper hand. is frequently ignored. The first.what you play. All of the comments made on the subject of live performance led musicians to consider the role of the audience in the creation of their music. have to satisfy people who have money. Participants Audience. as in the quality of theatre production. to ask for a gig. not only for an audience. . but also for the producers (Throsby. often ringing people up and being comfortable on the phone. that’s hard (BM1). only to add shyly that it’s humiliating (PM6). brain-washed by the media and international record companies and ignorant about music. I never really look at what people want. 1990). dominated by much more experienced musicians. Otherwise. the less creative they could be on it. most of them will never understand my music anyway because they would have to go through those thousands of CDs that I’ve listened to . The nature of their opinions shows that.

my musicians. They will always have inner struggles. not its focal point. However. an audience can feel when musicians play music that they care about. like little kittens. it should not come as a surprise that all respondents agreed that it’s nice to have someone doing it for you.IJCHM 20. some of the more experienced musicians noticed that in the current situation in jazz there are no people willing to push the artists that much (PM9). the reality was somewhat different. and quixotically believed that it would be an ideal job if [they] had five gigs a week that someone else had booked and [they] just turn up and did them (BM2). who argued that jazz gigs take place in specific circumstances that must be accepted by musicians. . as an audience does not give enough time to music before it loses interest. the key to a rapport with an audience was its education. though: He found the time to get work for a jazz musician was extremely difficult and demoralising .4 406 they argued. Their opinions reflect those of Macdonald and Wilson’s (2005) respondents. That group of interviewees appeared to agree with those statements. managers and music promoters was very diverse. Their experience with various agents. they believed they could make their own music. not only create sounds or do it purely for money and then they will turn up expecting to see something new or something different (PM7). . but they don’t really understand what’s going on and often they don’t really like it. producers’ reputation on live performance attendance (Abbe Urrutiaguer. these respondents were more willing to admit their shortcomings: . . 2002). I think musicians. . those respondents argued that jazz audiences tend to be more educated and often have done their homework. 1994. unless they recognise that there is some part of an audience that treats live music as one element of the whole servicescape. he didn’t believe how hard it was just to scrabble few things together (BF1). they believed people are motivated to experience live music by potential excitement and curiosity. The second group of musicians was characterised by a more positive attitude towards their audience. and therefore. Likewise Earl (2001). Similarly to Minor et al. but you feed them what they need. and when they play for the audience they don’t experiment. and if the sound is not good within the first five minutes they (audience) are out of the building (PM6). For them. A female musician described the year when she was working with a music promoter as fantastic and brilliant. Although some authors indicated the positive influence of the ´ -Decarroux. saw it in a much more negative way: They’ve heard this person is a legend. This kind of behaviour does not encourage creativity. but because they’ve been told this person is this amazing musician they sit there and go “oh yeah” (BF2). That skill is a major skill and it’s often missing. empathise with them. They believed that although the audience often did not support their artistic creativity. critical of their audience. when they are experimenting they are not playing for the audience. they had to be able to compromise. to which their audience was a lot more receptive. they play for themselves.’s (2004) the findings showing that musicians’ ability and creativity are significant for customers. And if you do that you can start to educate them. As problems with organising gigs dominated most interviews. While the first group blames audiences for lack of communication. put a lot of emotion into their performance. Agents. you need to treat them like children basically. . You need a bit of both (BM4). and you give them some crazy stuff.

the issue of developing proper relationships between them and artists might be one of their most significant challenges. Venue managers might be aware of the importance of waiting staff and chefs to ensure the quality of their offering. 2001. Identifying the sources of those potential conflicts is at the heart of this paper. as bad practice in that area may negatively affect their ability to sustain their customer base. 2002). only from an audience perspective (Abbe 2004. and therefore the research reported in this paper aimed to investigate through a series of biographical interviews with jazz musicians their understanding and experience of their role in the creation and consumption of live music. Jazz musicians: creating service experience 407 Finally. and the audience we are trying to reach (BM3). . Still. they indicate that musicians performing in pubs and clubs perceive certain elements of their work as not enjoyable. one of them idealistically argued: I would be happy to have an agent to book us gigs in the right type of venues. as they want an easy job. If venues offering live music are to remain competitive. I’ll take care of you”. and you still have to make sure your drum kit is ok. audience and agents. 2007). musicians’ comments centred on two remaining parts of the Grove et al. Therefore they need to think more carefully about the consequences of poor relations with artists. The majority of earlier research investigated the phenomena ´ -Decarroux. but (. managers and music promoters. when asked about their expectations. just easy money for them (BM2).’s (2004) review of the different conceptual tools measuring service quality concludes that currently service marketing literature provides very little guidance on how artists could increase audience satisfaction with an experiential product such as live music performance. . Earl.. They are consistent with Fisher et al. . which is unrealistic (BM4). . “there is a job. The findings presented in this paper have implications for venue managers and marketing scholars. His colleague argued he had to work five times harder than if he had an agent. Urrutiaguer. but many of them appear to pay less attention to artists. Discussion and conclusions Minor et al. Minor et al. 1990.’s (1992) model – process of service assembly and participants. 1994. . which broadly covered four major issues: organisation of live performance. but he preferred to do it that way as he could not find: A real agent. They fail to realise that music is often the main reason why customers enter the venue (Kubacki et al.’s (2002) findings that there are serious problems between musicians and venue owners. but for them the whole process starts with the organisation of gigs. you know. As the physical element of live performance was not analysed in this paper. especially since the whole process was seen by them as . Throsby. . the respondents were very articulate in describing problems with agents. I’m gonna take 15%”. The analysis of interviews showed a number of key themes emerging. and cannot offer any help to musicians. pay your transport. musicians felt that not only live performance itself was important. . In regard to the first element of that model. and understood what kind of music we are trying to play.Another male musician argued that music promoters interested in jazz are not very trustworthy. live performance itself..) somebody who says “you gonna be here with a band. The reluctance of professional musicians to be involved in this may come as a surprise. and should be explored in-depth in future research.

which seemed to be perceived by musicians as lacking any integrity. On the other hand. what should be recognised is that both arts and hospitality industries are what Normann (1984) calls “personality industries”. but also agents. but be appreciated by others – they were trying to reach an accommodation with the commercial world to be appreciated by a wider audience. which create so many opportunities for many artists. but on the other hand they aspired to the ideal of artistic purity. decreasing their motivation and commitment.4 408 humiliating and often conflicting with their artistic integrity. they wanted to work with an agent. who would take care of the whole organisational side of their work and “push” the artists. The mismatches between their often contradictory needs may prove to be a barrier that the hospitality industry might not be able to overcome. and not being able to take the risk that artists do. push the musical boundaries to their limits and satisfy a mass audience. 2004) were also visible amongst jazz musicians performing live. On the other hand. People have been identified in earlier research as crucial to all aspects of the hospitality industry (Mullins. Therefore one recommendation for venue owners would be to find a way of making the process of booking of artists as simple and painless as possible. . but be independent. 2001). in order to develop relations promoting a more supportive environment and create working conditions in which artists would feel more valued. and individuals such as artists might need something from work that not always creates direct benefits for a venue. but be safe. every organisational part of a performance is taking artists away from the core of their product – music.IJCHM 20. The inner struggles of musicians found in their attitudes towards marketing (Kubacki and Croft. Despite the limitations of small sample this study provides a starting point for further research. time and mood. they have their own product driven culture. or even compared by some of the respondents to begging. impede on the other hand their ability to reach new audiences and expand their earning prospects. take risks. This is because. being influenced by the mass media. Nevertheless. play what they like. in order to enrich our understanding of the complexities involved in the relationship between artists and venues and create a “common ground”. One may argue that artists’ strong sense of jazz community and reliance on their own networks of friends and colleagues (Macdonald and Wilson. the second group of musicians was more willing to accommodate the needs of their audience and saw audience education as the way to develop their music. Here the opinions were also divided into two groups – the first one blamed the audience for not understanding their arts. which ought to explore the potential solutions to the identified problems from the perspective of venue management. 2005). there is a clear need for improved communication between artists and venue managers on and off stage. The interviewed artists wanted to play more gigs without having to organise them. Their patronising attitude toward the audience was reflected in their complete ignorance of music as a more holistic experience in a particular place. It can come as a surprise though that in regard to the latter element of the model – participants – musicians identified not only audience as an important factor influencing their product. as far as the artist is concerned. That unwillingness to be involved in the organisational side of being a musician was magnified by the respondents’ need to maintain close relationships with venue owners and their declared inability to create only business-like contacts with them.

academic research (Bjo as anecdotal evidence from the industry suggests that this kind of compromising attitude might benefit everyone. as musicians. Artists must be excited about the venue they work in and the music they perform.. “overall job satisfaction is positively correlated with customer-oriented behaviour” (Smith et al. References ´ -Decarroux. 2007). Groce (1989) observed that even those musicians who perceived themselves primarily as artists whose creative work was more important than its financial rewards developed something he called “dual identities” – as creative artists to satisfy their internal needs. 2002). 1996) as well entertainers to make a living. The services management literature is in agreement as to the positive correlation between employee performance and the deliver of high quality services (Zeithaml and Bitner. The main recommendation for the venue managers would therefore be to encourage more open communication with artists accepting their needs at the same time. “The perception of quality and demand for services: empirical Abbe application to the performing arts”. as the most committed employees are those most satisfied (Firth et al. 99-107. artists need to recognise that in many situations they might be only a part of the whole customer experience and that venue managers are responsible for making that experience enjoyable first and foremost for customers. Music might be what often brings customers into a pub or club (Kubacki et al. The creation of a successful musical product depends upon a variety of factors. at least. PM/PF – Polish male respondent/Polish female respondent. Notes 1. and more importantly. venue operators) prefer to look at it as the experience enhanced by the musical product. F. the most obvious of which are artists’ satisfaction and commitment – as musicians to perform well need to have a sense of “internal quiet” and a positive attitude (Lund and Kranz. it appears that jazz musicians may be inclined to see their live performance as an experience created by the product itself and not be able to engage actively with the marketing concept. as the earlier research indicated. Such support might improve artists’ motivation and commitment. Vol. 1.. 2004). 2004). or sometimes even as an excuse. BM/BF – British male respondent/British female respondent. 2003). They. earn a living” (Samuels. but it will not keep them there for long or make them come back if the musicians do not connect with the audience.. On the other hand. Jazz musicians: creating service experience 409 . 1994). and as ¨ rnberg and Stockfelt.Recommendations In light of studies looking into the experience of music consumption. (1994). often using their artistic integrity as a defence mechanism. pp. Journal of Economic Behaviour and Organization. agents. 2. The one way to do it is to examine how effectively artists can become part of a service team and the attention to employees’ feelings should be made an integral element of it. 1996). otherwise it will not be possible to create an atmosphere that will satisfy customers and make the whole consumption experience enjoyable. in order “to accept musicians as ‘artists’ rather than ‘operatives’” (Kubacki and Croft. have also duty in this area. while other stakeholders in the music business (audience. 23 No. as “the great thing with pubs is that you can.

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