Estimating how many jazz musicians there are in the United States is problematic, for a number of reasons. Beyond the question of who qualifies to be counted as a "jazz musician," sources of occupational data such as the decennial U.S. Census and the Current Population Survey do not collect information at a level of detail sufficient to determine how many jazz musicians there are. (See the CPANDA Quick Fact, "How many artists are there?" for more information.) In these sources, the occupational category that comes closest is "musicians and composers." But since the needs and situations of jazz musicians are likely to differ from those of musicians and composers in general, it is important for policy purposes to have information specific to the issues facing jazz musicians.
The Study of Jazz Artists 2001, was the first to collect detailed information specifically on the working and living situations of jazz musicians. Moreover, because of a unique methodological strategy employed by this study, it was also the first to provide meaningful estimates of the size of the jazz musician populations in three communities -- New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans. The number of jazz musicians in these three communities in 2001 was estimated at 33,003, 18,733, and 1,723, respectively. (The same sampling strategy was also used in Detroit, but yielded a sample size too small to reliably estimate the size of the jazz population in that city.) [Jeffri, Joan. 2003. Changing the Beat: A Study of the Worklife of Jazz Musicians, Volume III: Respondent-Driven Sampling. NEA Research Division Report #43. Washington DC: National Endowment for the Arts.]