Supporting Roles

  • Michael Urban
Part of the Pop Music, Culture and Identity book series (PMCI)


Making one’s living in New Orleans by playing rhythm and blues— or, for that matter, any other style of music—will bring an individual into close contact with a host of organizations constituting a sort of music support structure on which effectively all musicians have come to depend. As I wish to show in this chapter, this support structure consists of a number of interrelated organizations whose various activities are carried on in concert, inputs from one contributing to the outputs of another. This organizational complex is further cemented by informal personal relations among their members, making this reticulated arrangement a music community every bit as much as it is an organizational complex. Music support structures, of course, are common to any population center in which music making amounts to a substantial sector of the local economy. What is distinctive about New Orleans in this respect, however, is the fact that the relatively low prevailing rates of remuneration for playing professionally there mean musicians require services either outside the market economy or subsidies so that they can participate in it. This condition, along with the goodwill and hard work of those in the support structures, sheds much light on the issue of why this organizational complex is so well articulated and robust in the Crescent City.


Cultural Capital City Council Heritage Foundation Crescent City Music Festival 
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Copyright information

© Michael Urban 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Urban
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaSanta CruzUSA

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