The Revolution in Music Consumption: What Does It Mean for the Indie Artist?

What is the future of traditional music labels? We are currently seeing a significant change in how music is produced, released, and consumed. Once upon a time, people shopped at record stores to buy LP’s, cassettes, and CDs. Now, you have instant access to music with Spotify, Pandora, iTunes, Napster, etc. While music accessibility is easier than ever before, how does this impact the business model for traditional music labels? Moreover, how does this impact the independent artists who are not signed to a music label?

When I think about artists like Chance, who offer their music for free, it makes me wonder if traditional music labels are still relevant. Chance offers his music for free and makes money from performances and merchandise sales. He is an example of how most independent artists hope to achieve success. Never in a million years, would I imagine that someone not associated with a major record label, would win 5 Grammy Awards.

As an independent Blues artist, I still sell traditional CDs (I cannot believe I am referring to a CD as traditional, but that’s another topic for another day), in addition to offering my music on various streaming websites like Spotify. For those of you familiar with free streaming services like Spotify, you may know that artists do not make a lot of money from streaming services. Artists generally make a few cents per stream, which can make things difficult for your average unknown independent artist. I recorded my first project, with the hope of getting more gigs (which I did before I entered grad school) and possibly gaining enough attention to join a record label.

I, like many aspiring artists, have dreamt about securing a recording contract. It would be so nice to have a record company to record, produce, and promote my music. However, record labels are struggling to stay in business these days. For years, they have depended heavily on record or CD sales. Now, they are depending on online music sales, which has proven to be less profitable than selling physical copies of music.  Part of me wonders if I should continue to release my own music or even if I should release it for free?

While some people would agree that I should make my music free to all, I am not sure if I could sustain on making music from shows and merchandise (which I currently don’t have). For those of us who have copyrighted and published our music, then it is possible to earn money from royalties, too. I was very excited to get my little check from BMI Music.  It seems logical to focus on making money from performances, but as history has shown us, every artist is not able to perform until their last day. Yet, you have artists who are 6 feet under, that are still generating revenue and royalties from their music.

What kind of advice would you like to offer to me and artists like me? Moreover, how do you think this transformation in music consumption will impact the way artists make a living off of their music?


Brother Jacob

Host of Blues and News with Brother Jacob, Every Sunday from 6 pm to 8 pm

Blues and News: Kingston Mines Interview

Kingston Mines Logo

For my upcoming show on Sunday, May 21st, I will be airing an interview with Donna and Lisa Pellegrino from the Kingston Mines Blues Club. During our conversation, we discussed some of the club’s history and impact on the Chicago Blues Scene. Coincidentally, I interviewed them during the club’s 49th year anniversary.

Kingston Mines is owned by Dr. Lenin ‘Doc’ Pellegrino, who will be celebrating his 92nd birthday this August. The club originally was founded in 1968 by a group of individuals as a non-profit organization called the Kingston Mines Theatre Company located at 2356 North Lincoln Avenue. The theatre offered a variety of acts and entertainment, including musical productions, poetry readings, Blues music, Folk Music and more.  In fact, the original version of “Grease” the musical was premiered at the Kingston Mines Theatre.

The live Blues music proved to be the most successful at the Theatre. Eventually, the original founders parted ways with the theatre and pursued their interests through different routes. ‘Doc’ purchased the rights to the club in 1972. In the early 1980’s the Kingston Mines relocated to its new location at 2548 N. Halsted Street. Many Blues Legends have performed at the Kingston Mines, including but not limited to Koko Taylor, Magic Slim, Valerie Wellington, and Eddie Shaw just to name a few. I should also mention that a lot of rock stars tend to stop by the club. The Rolling Stones were frequent visitors and even would perform live on stage. If you go to the club today, some of the artists you will find include Billy Branch, Vance Kelly, Mike Wheeler, Joanna Connor, Nellie Travis, Nora Jean Bruso.

Kingston Mines Outside

Part of the Kingston Mines’ great success as a long-standing Blues Club is their ability to attract a diverse audience of all types.

Sunday – Thursdays, college students (and faculty) can get into the club for free. Fridays- Saturdays, college students(and faculty) can get a discounted rate. You need a valid ID for the discounted rates, and you must be 21 years or older to go to Kingston Mines.  They offer two bands on two different stages, every night.

Kingston Mines is open every day of the year (including holidays).  They are located at 2548 N. Halsted Street. For more information about the Kingston Mines, then you can visit their website at

Doc Pellegrino is an alumnus of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In February of 2004, Doc was awarded the “City Partner Award” from the University of Illinois Alumni Association for his “outstanding contribution to the vitality of the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Chicago Metropolitan Area. His daughter Lisa Pellegrino and son, Frank Pellegrino are also UIC Alumni.

Make sure you tune into Blues and News with Brother Jacob this Sunday, May 21st from 6 pm – 8 pm (CST) for the full interview with Donna and Lisa Pellegrino.

I Traced Chance The Rapper’s Musical Lineage To Scott Joplin


Chance the Rapper has been the focus of many different conversations, whether it is about his music to funding public education. One thing that I like to do with popular mainstream artists, is research their musical lineage. I decided to do that with Chance and was quite intrigued with the results.

I began my research by reading an article from Complex Magazine where Chance was asked about some of his favorite artists and he provided the magazine with a list of 25 of his favorite albums that influenced his career. Out of those 25 albums, I picked three artists that he mentioned:

Michael Jackson


Michael Jackson – Bad





Jay-Z – Reasonable Doubt





Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill





From there, I begin to trace their influential roots using the All Music Guide. It can be such an eye-opening experiencing listening to the different artists via one’s musical lineage. If you are an open-minded music fan, then you may discover some hidden treasures.

For Lauryn Hill and Michael Jackson, they shared some similar musical influences, one of those influences being the lovely:

Diana Ross

Diana Ross








For Jay-Z, one of his cited influences is:LL Cool J

LL Cool J –

Diana Ross and Jay-Z do not share any musical influences (to no one’s surprise).






One of Diana Ross’ cited musical influences is:


Billie Holiday





The Sugarhill GangAs for LL Cool J, it is:

The Sugarhill Gang

As we continue to trace their musical influences, The Sugarhill Gang cites Curtis Mayfield as a musical influence:




Curtis Mayfield

Curtis Mayfield






For Billie Holiday, one of her cited influences was the Godmother of Rock & Roll:


Sister Rosetta Tharpe –







Nat King Cole

Next, we look at one of Curtis Mayfield’s musical influences, Mr. Unforgettable himself:

Nat King Cole –






As for the Godmother of Rock and Roll, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, one of her cited influences was the Queen of Gospel Music:

mahalia-jacksonMahalia Jackson –






Fats Waller


For Nat King Cole, one of his major musical influences was legendary pianist:

Fats Waller –






As for the Original Queen of Gospel, Mahalia Jackson, one of her cited musical influences is:

Bessie SmithBessie Smith –





Fats Waller was influenced by a man who may be best known for a melody used by many ice cream trucks across the country, Famous Ragtime Pianist:


Scott Joplin





It should be noted that if I had chosen some of Chance’s other musical influences, the results would have been a bit different. For instance, if I had chosen James Brown as one of Michael Jackson’s influences, we may have ended up with Robert Johnson being one of the roots of Chance’s musical lineage.  Trace the musical lineage of your favorite artist and share the results with us!



Brother Jacob

“Host of Blues and News with Brother Jacob” every Sunday, from 6 pm – 8 pm on UIC Radio.

Blues and News: Omar Coleman


For my January 30th show, I interviewed Blues Artist, Omar Coleman. We talked about his background, career and his music. I played some tracks off of his latest release on “3 on the B Records”. Next week, Owner of Delmark Records, Bob Koester will be my featured guest on Blues and News with Brother Jacob.

As mentioned on the show, this Saturday, February 4th, UIC is hosting a Jazz & Blues History Tour as a featured event for Black History Month. Here is more information about that event from the Center for Student Involvement:

“UIC Jazz, Blues & Beyond Bus Tour will be on Saturday, February 4, 2017. You will need to complete the RSVP form. No cost to UIC students. Limit 2 per person. 10:30 am Depart UIC 12:30 pm Soul Food Buffet will be provided 2:30 pm Return to campus Combine a Chicago blues tour with a Chicago jazz history tour. Then throw in some perceptive ideas about cultural history and architecture, along with a blues harmonica lesson. Put them all together and you’ll end up with this unforgettable group tour. Your group will see architectural landmarks of Chicago blues and jazz history in neighborhoods north to south. A highly trained, passionate tour guide shares forgotten stories of Chicago blues and jazz. The luxury coach has video screens with historic photos and film clips of interviews, songs, and performances.”

Below is the playlist from my show on January 30th:

Hello Mother – The Canton Spirituals

I’m Ready – Omar Coleman

Handy Man – Bobby Rush

Help Me (A Tribute to Sonny Boy Williamson) – Junior Wells

Born and Raised – Omar Coleman

99 Pounds – Ann Peebles

Let The Babies Live – Omar Coleman

Give Me The Green Light – Omar Coleman

Blues and News: Interview with Denise Lasalle

On today’s show, I had the opportunity to interview the Legendary Queen of the Blues, Denise LaSalle.


Additionally, Dr. Jimmy Lee Tillman called into the show to talk about an upcoming benefit concert for John Watkins from the Original Chicago Blues All Stars. For more information about the benefit, go here:

FYI, the recording does not have the entire show. The first 10 minutes and last 10 minutes are missing from the show. In the last ten minutes, my good friend, Clarence Stevens from WGVE 88.7 FM called in along with regular listener and the baddest drummer in Chicago, Jonas Ross.

If you want to listen to the archived episode, go to

As always, tune into UIC Radio every Monday from 4 pm to 6 pm CST for Blues and News with Brother Jacob.

Here is the playlist from today’s show:

Tricks Up My Sleeve – Wayne Baker Brooks

Let Me Be Good To You – Carla Thomas

I Don’t Want Nobody Hanging Around – Bobby Rush

Oke-She-Moke-She-Pop – Big Joe Turner

Only in the Blues – Matthew Skoller

Pops Recipe – Mavis Staples

Come On In – R.L. Burnside

Three O’Clock Blues – Cryin’ Marie Dixon

He’s a Battle Axe – Rev. Clay Evans

Merry Merry, Christmas – Koko Taylor

Santa Claus, Do You Ever Get The Blues – Roomful of Blues

I’m A Little Mixed Up – Betty James

Drop That Zero – Denise LaSalle

Your Husband is Cheating On Us – Denise LaSalle

I Wish You Love – Gloria Lynne

We’ll Meet Again – John Lee Hooker