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Journal of the Music & Entertainment Industry Educators Association

Volume 7, Number 1 (2007)

Improvisation & Reciprocity: An Analysis of the Jam Band Community and Its Unique Business Model

Casey Lowdermilk
University of the Pacific (undergraduate student paper)


Jam Bands have ignored the traditional record industry and are distinguished, both in music and in business practices, by improvisation and creativity to form an innovative and thriving business model. As a pioneer of this genre, the Grateful Dead established an essential and lasting business practice - letting fans record and trade music freely. Phish embraced the internet and technology for a new generation, while fostering a close relationship with fans to enhance the experience. The article provides insight to the modern Jam Band fan with demographic data, music consumption and concert attendance statistics, anecdotes and preferences. A profile of modern Jam Band business practices includes a look at SCI Fidelity / Madison House, a full service company to meet nearly every need of artists and fans, as well as promotional strategies, festivals, touring, and the internet. Unique features of the Jam Band business model foster reciprocity and have provided for a fan community that is uniquely supportive of copyright law. The mainstream music industry has an opportunity to incorporate these innovative and viable business practices to save the future of their companies and positively affect the perceptions of mainstream consumers to the music industry.

Keywords: music industry studies, music management, music business, copyright law, music industry, record industry, concert industry, jam bands, Grateful Dead, Phish, SCI Fidelity/Madison House

Lowdermilk, Casey. “Improvisation & Reciprocity: An Analysis of the Jam Band Community and Its Unique Business Model.” Journal of the Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Association 7, no. 1 (2007): 159-176.  https://doi.org/10.25101/7.10

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