Jason King is a prolific Canadian musician, DJ, performer, producer, arranger and songwriter, scholar, curator and journalist. Jason holds a Ph.D from New York University, where he is Associate Professor and the original founding faculty member of The Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, an innovative leadership training program for aspiring music entrepreneurs at Tisch School of the Arts. He worked alongside legendary music impresario Clive Davis to help build and develop the program and he served as the program's inaugural Interim and Associate Chair and served for six years as its Artistic Director. Jason currently serves as the program's Director of Writing, History & Emergent Media/Technology Studies (a position he has held since the program launched). There, Jason has been teaching classes on popular music history, the music business (marketing/branding) and the social aspects of music technology for many years at New York University. Among the courses he teaches: â€œMusic + Robots,â€ â€œConversations with Technology Entrepreneurs;â€ â€œImmersive Experiences,â€ "Branding," "The Record Producer as Creative Artist," "Music Recommendation and Discovery," "Freddie Mercury," "R&B" and "Hip Hop History Music and Culture.â€ In his unique position at the nexus of all things pop music and pop culture at NYU since the 2000s, he has been instrumental in the development and launching of numerous recording artist, music and tech executive and scholarly careers. He is also currently serving as the program's first Director of Global Studies, and has developed cutting-edge music programs for New York University in Berlin and in Havana.
In his role as the Instituteâ€™s industry face and liaison, Jason brought numerous guests to the school, from Pharrell Williams to De La Soul to Gamble & Huff to Phil Ramone to Alicia Keys to Russell Simmons to Swizz Beats. Among the events he has produced or co-produced: Remembering Prince, a 2016 Billboard panel featuring ?uestlove, Anthony Hamilton, Kimbra and Spike Lee; the EMP Pop Conference in April 2013 featuring Amanda Palmer; the EMP Pop Conference in March 2012 with Esperanza Spalding, ?uestlove of The Roots, Angelique Kidjo and Santigold; a two-day "The Making of Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions" with Chuck D and Hank Shocklee; "Sylvester: The Life and Work of a Musical Icon" (produced with Carolyn Dinshaw) with Martha Wash and Kevin Aviance; "The Making of Afrika Bambaataa and SoulSonic Force's Planet Rock" with Arthur Baker and Fab 5 Freddy; Motown's 50 anniversary series with Leon Ware and Raphael Saadiq. He has also served as music supervisor and orchestrator for concerts associated with those events. Under his guidance and direction, Jason has recruited a stellar faculty for NYUâ€™s program's music history, criticism & journalism component; he's overseen the development of innovative academic courses like "David Bowie" and "The Island Records Story" (taught by Vivien Goldman); "Stevie Wonder," "Classic Albums" and â€œPrinceâ€ with ?uestlove and Harry Weinger;" "Paul Simon's Graceland" (Ashley Kahn); "Apple" (Eliot Van Buskirk); and "Def Jam" (Bill Adler).
Outside of his role at the university, Jason is a visible member of the NPR Music team, and has been the host and curator of an acclaimed 24/7 streaming radio channel on NPR dedicated to soul and R&B music called NPRandB. At NPR he has worked on events with Babyface, King, Jazmine Sullivan, Ledisi, Sevyn Streeter and more. He has served as a guest curator for Vevo, and has consulted with Spotify and numerous other technology start-ups. As Creative Director of his own entertainment company Superlatude, Jason has consulted for record labels, branding and marketing firms; he has served as a music marketing and branding expert in high-profile legal cases on behalf of artists like Jay-Z, Timbaland, Madonna, Lady Gaga, 50 Cent, Dr. Dre and Kanye West.
He has also been business manager/strategist for international major label and indie artists (producer/DJ/visionary Jimmy Edgar, America's Got Talent Finalists The Craig Lewis Band), and he has been music supervisor, live event and concert producer and musical arranger for cult pop icon Asha Puthli. He is the founder, driving force and producer/vocalist/songwriter behind innovative New York based dance music superband Company Freak (www.companyfreak), featuring a wide range of guest musicians past and present including former lead singers of Chic Norma Jean Wright and Alfa Anderson and Hubert Eaves of D-Train. The bandâ€™s first EP, Le Disco Social, was recorded in New York, Istanbul, Toronto and Paris, distributed by Los Angeles based record company Opus Label. Reviewed as "the most intelligent disco album ever" by veteran music journalist Robert Christgau, Le Disco Social was also voted one of the top 20 pop albums of the year by Rhapsody Music. Jason's music for Company Freak has been remixed by legends like DJ Spen, Justin Faust, Eric Kupper, Jodie Harsh, and Opolopo. Other recent studio productions Jason has written, co-written and produced: â€œHold On (Heâ€™ll Be Right There)â€ for soul music icon Sarah Dash of Labelle; executive producer of electro-soul artist Selanâ€™s 2012 Space Flight album, featuring special guests Nile Rodgers of Chic and Daft Punk fame, Emily King and M1 from Dead Prez. Company Freak headlined the 2014 Club Classics Live! concert extravaganza at Central Park Summerstage (curated, produced and musical direction by Jason) featuring dance music favorites like Sam Sparro, Kevin Aviance and Ultra NatÃ©.
Jason has been a longtime music critic and journalist for magazines like Vibe (2001-2008), The Village Voice (2003-2006), Blender, The Los Angeles Times, Spin, Slate,Buzzfeed, Quartz, Pitchfork, Vice and The Root, in addition to his regular writing and commentary for NPR Music. Beyond his journalism career, Jason has had visibility as a playwright and director in theater (Crossroads Theater Company, New Perspectives, etc.) He regularly conducts public interviews, including L.A. Reid for the Schomburg Center, Nick Jonas for Social Media Week NY, Mary J. Blige, Pharrell, and George Clinton for NPR Music, Judy Collins for the Audio Engineering Society, and Harry Belafonte for Apple's Meet the Musician Series.
Jason is the author of The Michael Jackson Treasures, a 2009 Barnes and Noble exclusive biography on the King of Pop, which has been translated in more than 7 languages, and a book called Blue Magic, on the role of metaphysics and energy in the music of artists like Timbaland, forthcoming from Duke University Press. He has published numerous essays on pop culture, and his blog entry "Michael Jackson: An Appreciation of His Talent" appears in the Da Capo Press Best Music Writing 2010 compilation, edited by Ann Powers.
In 2010, he was invited to teach the inaugural class at the just-launched NYU Abu Dhabi campus in the United Arab Emirates; he returned to teach classes in global music production and technology as Affiliated Faculty in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Jason also taught a post-graduate course on Producing Transnational Media Ventures for the MFA program in International Media Producing at Tisch School of the Arts Asia in Singapore.
Jason wrote the liner notes for the acclaimed vinyl exclusive reissue of D'Angelo's Voodoo for Light in the Attic/Sony and for the Luther Vandross compilation for Sony Music. He appears as a talking head and cultural critic in many music documentaries, including Glamourpuss, the 2010 Lady Gaga documentary; and he is featured in two Spike Lee documentaries, Bad 25 (which aired on ABC) and Michael Jacksonâ€™s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall (which aired on Showtime). He was the series consultant on a forthcoming star-studded multi-part PBS series on the history of popular music called Soundbreaking. Jason is currently delving into directing and producing documentaries and television, and he is at work on a revisionist biography of Freddie Mercury.