I know, I know. You’ve probably heard more than enough about SOPA and PIPA this week. I won’t drag my opinion about the whole matter into this blog (and being a songwriter and working musician myself, my opinions on the issue are complicated). I do, however, want to put forth a thought for the jazz community.
In my (ever so humble) opinion, the major misstep for the RIAA, the MPAA, etc., ad nauseum, is that, until recently, they never really embraced the idea of feasible online market. They figured that online distribution (iTunes, Amazon mp3) and streaming services (Spotify, Rhapsody, Netflix, Hulu) would never become the dominant force in the way the average person consumes entertainment.
If you’re like me, you know that they were dead wrong. And even if you’re not like me, you can at least appreciate that in hindsight, they probably could have made better choices.
What does all this mean for jazz, you ask?
I haven’t seen recent sales reports, but I would wager that they’re not much different from what I saw in my brief stint in publishing/artist management. Jazz enthusiasts are still primarily CD buyers. Brick & mortar music store consumers (or Amazon orderers).
So why embrace the digital age if your target audience is decidedly still interested in physically owning music?
The answer: you need new listeners. You need new people to buy or stream your albums, who will then come to your shows and will subsequently tell all their other jazz-loving friends how awesome you were and the cycle will continue. But who are those people who are going to take a chance on something new? They’re probably pretty savvy (they’re listening to you, aren’t they!) and they probably know all about this new-fangled technology out there and more than likely, they’re not going to be your traditional CD-buying fans.
So get ‘em while they’re fresh! Embrace the new platforms while keeping your current fanbase happy with those expertly crafted CD packages. I know the money is not the same. Not even close. But if you want to grow a new generation of jazz fans, make your music available in the places where the new generation is going to be able to get their hands on it. If you give them an easy way to find it and buy it (or stream it), they won’t even have a chance to think about stealing it.
Just my two cents for the day! Now listen to a little of this. What a classy dame she was.