Jason King

Associate Professor; Director of Writing, History, & Emergent Media; Director of Global Studies

Jason King

Jason King is a 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 founding full-time faculty member of The Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music. He worked alongside legendary music impresario Clive Davis to help develop the program and he served as the program's first unofficial Interim Chair (a year before the program opened), first official Associate Chair and for six years as its first (and only) Artistic Director.

Jason has been teaching classes on popular music history, the music business (marketing/branding) and the social aspects of music technology for two decades at New York University. Among the courses he teaches: “Music + Robots,” "Artist Development, A&R and Personal Branding," “Conversations with Technology Entrepreneurs;” “Immersive Experiences,” "Branding," “Failure” "The Record Producer as Creative Artist," "Music Recommendation and Discovery," "Freddie Mercury," "R&B" and "Hip Hop: History, Music and Culture.” He has been the Institute’s Director of Writing, History & Emergent Media Studies since the program’s inception in 2003 and as the founding instructor of the Capstone project, he has long helped to oversee graduating students’ business and creative projects. As the Institute’s Director of Global Studies, Jason developed the forward-thinking international study abroad program Clive Davis Institute x Berlin: Future Pop Music Studies in Germany, which launched September 2016, and an annual J-Term course in Havana.

In his Artistic Director role as the Institute’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 for NYU or outside of NYU: the 2014 Club Classics Live! concert extravaganza at Central Park Summerstage featuring Sam Sparro and Ultra Naté; 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 Planet Rock" with Arthur Baker and Fab 5 Freddy for a two-week hip-hop festival at NYU; and Motown's 50 anniversary series with guests like the late 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 NYU’s program's music history, criticism & journalism component; he's overseen the development of innovative academic courses like "The Island Records Story" (taught by Vivien Goldman); “Amy Winehouse/Erykah Badu” (taught by Carol Cooper); "Stevie Wonder," "Classic Albums" and “Prince” (taught by ?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 contributing member of the NPR Music Team. He was the host and co-producer of NPR’s flagship video documentary series Noteworthy, on the creative process of music superstars: season one featured interviews with Alicia Keys, Maxwell, Miguel, Banks, Dua Lipa and Anthony Hamilton. He was the curator and host of NPR’s 24/7 streaming radio channel dedicated to soul and R&B music called NPRandB, and has worked on R&B video programs 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 copyright infringement cases for artists like Drake, Katy Perry, Jay-Z, Timbaland, Madonna, Lady Gaga, 50 Cent, Dr. Dre and Kanye West. He has also been manager/strategist for international major label and indie artists (Jimmy Edgar, The Craig Lewis Band), and he has been music supervisor, live event and concert producer and musical arranger for cult pop star Asha Puthli.

He is the founder/driving force behind innovative New York based dance music superband Company Freak (www.companyfreak), featuring original lead singers of Chic Norma Jean Wright and Alfa Anderson and Hubert Eaves of D-Train. The band’s first EP, Le Disco Social, was distributed by Los Angeles based record company Opus Label and voted one of the top 20 pop albums of the year by Rhapsody Music. His music has been remixed by DJ Spen, Justin Faust, Eric Kupper, Jodie Harsh, Opolopo and many others. Other recent studio productions: “Hold On (He’ll Be Right There)” for soul music icon Sarah Dash of Labelle; executive producer of electro-soul artist Selan’s 2012 Space Flight album, featuring special guests Nile Rodgers, Emily King and M1 from Dead Prez.

Jason has been a longtime music critic and journalist for publications like Pitchfork, Slate, NPR Music, Vibe, The Village Voice, Blender, The Los Angeles Times, Spin, Billboard, Buzzfeed, Quartz, The Root, and Vice. He has written numerous academic essays, recently writing on Beyoncé for the Journal of Popular Music, and Drake for the Het Nieuwe Instituut’s For the Record Series. Jason has also excelled as a playwright and director in theater (Crossroads Theater Company, New Perspectives, etc.). His pioneering approach to teaching hip-hop and pop music in the classroom has been profiled on MTV, BET, NPR, and Forbes; and he has been invited to give lectures on popular music and culture at universities like Harvard, Rutgers, Princeton, Stanford, Yale, Columbia, The Juilliard School and MIT. Recent interviews have included a two hour career retrospective with Pharrell Williams, plus Dev Hynes for Pitchfork, Nick Jonas for Social Media Week NY, Mary J. Blige, Pharrell, and George Clinton for NPR Music, 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 forthcoming 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 a Luther Vandross compilation for Sony Music, and for the acclaimed vinyl exclusive reissue of D'Angelo's Voodoo for Light in the Attic/Sony. He appears as a talking head and cultural critic in many music documentaries, including two Spike Lee documentaries, Bad 25 and Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall. He was the series consultant on the Grammy and Emmy nominated star-studded eight-part PBS series on the history of popular music called Soundbreaking, in which he also appears. Jason is currently delving into directing and producing documentaries and television, and he is at work on a revisionist biography of Freddie Mercury. He is also an inaugural member of the Hip-Hop council at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and he is on the board of the Journal of Popular Music Studies.