The Gig Lifestyles of Middle-Aged Freelance Musicians in New York City, 2022
This qualitative research elicits self- and career narratives of 16 professionally educated freelance musicians in New York City—over the age of 40—in order to explain how they support their careers and lifestyles and why they continue to contend with the instability of ‘gigging’ in a densely populated and expensive city. This project’s goal is to fill a qualitative research gap while also introducing sociological insights to the broader public into the ways musicians reconcile the pursuit of a virtuosic, aesthetic calling with the need to provide for daily existence.
For the Love of the Game… or the Music?
Visual Sociology, 2022
This motion graphic, ethnographic film explores the sociology of music via the DePaul University “Screamin’ Demons” Pep Band. The film visualizes the crossover of conflicting social theories taking place within the sports arena, including Pierre Bourdieu’s concepts of field and habitus and Richard Peterson’s cultural omnivore theory. The goal of the film is to offer viewers the opportunity to see the powerful resource that is the pep band through not only the sonic material, but the interplay and interaction between musicians, athletes, and audience members.
Social Instability and the Tools of Power During the 2020 Shutdown, 2020
2020 rapidly introduced and exposed COVID-19 to societies throughout the U.S., yielding a clash between the CDC and political and economic officials. Americans were told we cannot fight the virus without pausing the economy, and yet we cannot fight the virus without the economy. It is through this point of contention that two sociological themes unfolded: social instability and the tools of power. These two topics are explored through the societal side effects from loss of normlessness (i.e., anomie) and the unique rise and transformation of different forms of capital.
Precarity in Recovery: Working Musicians and the COVID-19 Pandemic
Ali R. Chaudhary, PhD (PI) and Caroline Nagy, 2023
The present article explores how working musicians across the United States endured the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. Data from the Current Population Survey (2020-2021) indicate musicians had the greatest odds of being out of work relative to workers in all other occupation classes. Qualitative analyses of open-ended responses reveal subtle regional, gender, instrumental, and racial variations in the impacts of the pandemic, but also shed light on positive “silver linings” emerging from the pandemic. Findings contribute to recent scholarship on precarious work and the consequences of COVID-19 for artistic careers in the creative industries.
Melomaniacs: The Improvised Journeys of West Hollywood Freelance Musicians, 2024
This project transverses arts research, education and performance by showcasing the stories and musicianship of 25 freelance musicians living and working in West Hollywood, CA. “Melomaniacs” will 1) explore why musicians choose the space of WeHo for their creative vocations—focusing on their diverse identities and authentic music-making and 2) feature these artists’ journeys and sonic talents through an interactive panel discussion and performance. Ultimately, “Melomaniacs” offers a greater understanding of how local musicians’ artistic meaning-making and individual pursuits of passion impact the common good of their community.