Jazz – in a crisis as well?

Just as the rest of the music business – or maybe suffering a bit more then the rest?

The retail environment, or better the lack of one, for sure doesn’t help – the few shops left stock mainly top 40 material and less and less niche repertoire with a slower rate of turn around, even so the actual prices of the niche CD’s are higher and therefore would give the retailer a better margin. But it seems to be better to have tons of cheap out-of-copyright material in big box sets on stock then the new Sonny Rollins album.There are only a few specialised shops left either for jazz or classical music, but this consumer wants to buy physical product, as research shows and low download figures confirm. But they can’t find most of the new releases in the few shops remaining in business.

And amazon is not the solution either – too much is classified jazz that shouldn’t be there, one needs to know what one wants to buy to find – then indeed amazon works pretty good. Unfortunately there is no place yet on the web who provides knowledge and repertoire for the genre – a jazz web shop that holds all catalogues and books and DVD’s for the genre and gives good and simple advise and offers everything in either physical or digital form – a dream!

Audiences are declining in the clubs – unfortunately the economic downturn is showing there as well – the entertainment dollars are the first to be cut if times are difficult and therefore people will think carefully which show they go to and how many they can afford.

At least it seems that the summer jazz festivals don’t feel that as yet – some of them have wisely cut down on the number of acts they are presenting, but still got good attendance numbers this year. The mix of jazz and related music genres would have helped there as well to bring the same number of people. Interesting here is that the shops in the summer festivals all did great business – jazz lovers buy CD’s and do so in bigger numbers when they find a shop which carries a good selection of catalogue and new releases – as all shops in the various festivals do. For sure price is an issue in times like these, but not so much in jazz – a good classic recording will be paid for, as there is no alternative, but of course in difficult economic times, the price is key and needs to be looked by the labels case by case. Especially new and exciting young acts could do with a lower ‘introduction’ price until established.

On the creative side there is nothing to worry about – the legends and established acts still make great recordings and some new acts will push the barriers further. Europe has a great and very active jazz scene, now independent from the US and Asia is for sure an area to watch out for – great music happening there and as in the classical world, which seems to be dominated by young Asian performers, jazz will most likely go down that road as well – and nothing wrong with that!

Jazz in a crisis – only as much as the global music business is as well – but in terms of audiences and creativity the answer is a clear NO!

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