Meet the CEO of JDub Records

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Find out how and why Aaron Bisman is changing the landscape of Jewish music.
How do you choose which bands you are going to represent?

Talent, passion, great music that doesn’t sound like things we’ve heard before, a practical sense of the challenges and obstacles of an ever-changing music industry, and solid Jewish idea, theme, or element to the music itself.

What can you do for a musician/band if you decide to take them on?

Ideally, we can leverage our resources and skills to help them develop professionally and build a sustainable career for themselves. This includes everything from utilizing our email lists and social media contacts to personal connections and experiences over eight years building artists from unknown to superstardom. We provide distribution for releases, fund recordings and their marketing; we produce tours and events, and teach our artists to be as independent and self-reliant as possible.

Is it enough for musicians to be Jewish, or do they have to have some type of Jewish focus in their music?

There is no need in the world for a nonprofit that supports artists who are Jews. Particularly in music and pop culture, we’ve seen, at least in the last 20 years, that Jews are assimilated enough into American life that one’s Jewishness doesn’t negate his or her ability to succeed.

JDub works with artists creating uniquely Jewish content—whether that means utilizing historic Jewish texts or melodies, telling Jewish stories, or delving into Jewish ideas and topics. These are artists who wear their Judaism proudly on their sleeves and project it in their art. This often makes it inherently less commercially viable, but incredible, important, and valuable for young Jews to hear and experience. These artists are Jewish role models who exist not in a tiny Jewish bubble.

Tell me about the Six Points Fellowship for young Jewish artists.

The Six Points Fellowship supports individual artists in their 20s and 30s developing new projects with a Jewish focus, theme, or element. The two-year fellowship program provides these artists with a living stipend, project funding, Jewish learning, professional development workshops and retreats, and ongoing peer- and professional-led learning opportunities. During the two-year fellowship, artists create and present their diverse Jewish projects to young audiences through live performances, screenings, concerts, and gallery events. These presentations provide viewers with opportunities for critical and significant engagement with new Jewish culture and ideas.

How did this fellowship come to be?

Six Points was created in 2006 when three partner organizations—Avoda Arts, the Foundation for Jewish Culture, and JDub—came together to create a program that would support emerging artists in creating high quality culture that engaged with Jewish ideas, concepts, and questions. This project was piloted in New York City with funding from UJA-Federation of New York’s Commission on Jewish Identity and Renewal, the largest grant UJA-Federation has ever awarded to an arts organization. The fellowship grew out of research that found many young adults connecting to their Jewish identity through arts and culture, and an awareness of the many young artists struggling to create work and develop a robust Jewish cultural scene.

Does your audience extend beyond Jews?

Yes. Approximately 20 percent of our audience is made up of non-Jews.

Where would you like to see JDUB records go from here?

JDub is poised to make a significant impact in the world as a forward-thinking Jewish nonprofit engaging in the creation, aggregation, and distribution of meaningful Jewish content. We forge vibrant connections to Judaism, and the work we’ve done to invest in our future over the past 12 months assures that we will continue to offer young Jews meaningful and relevant Jewish content where they are, in forms they are interested in engaging with.

About the Author

Aaron Bisman
A DJ and graduate of the NYU Music Business Program, Aaron was a recipient of the Joshua Venture Fellowship, a two-year fellowship for Jewish social entrepreneurs, and is the co-creator of the Six Points Fellowship for Emerging Jewish Artists. Before founding JDub with musician Ben Hesse, Aaron worked at Ropeadope Records as director of promotions. Aaron is married to Amanda Pogany, a Jewish educator in New York City.

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