16 Easy Ways for Jazz to Build Its Audience and Remain Relevant

Stuff like this can really help.

Once again, the Jazz/BAM internet is abuzz–abuzz, I tell you!–with opinions on how the music can grow its audience and remain a culturally relevant art form in the 21st Century. Well, I’m happy to say they’re all wrong! Musicians and fans, just follow these few simple steps, and before you know it, Jazz will be partying like it’s 1959!

  • Provide iPods at every gig so audience members can listen to their own choice of music during the show
  • Bring contemporary audiences in by covering tunes by hot new pop bands like like N’SYNC, The BeeGees, and Scott Joplin
  • Have the band begin the set naked, and offer to put on one piece of clothing each time someone claps
  • Play more standards
  • Take advantage of social media platforms by limiting your solos to 140 notes or less
  • Build a “Jazzyland” theme park in Orlando, featuring thrilling attractions like Sun Ra’s ArKoaster, the GraviTrane, the Tilt-A-Wayne, Jazz Argument! (with Animatronic WyntonBot), Keith Jarrett’s FLIP-OUT! and the Bitches Brew Album Cover House of Horrors, plus exclusive shopping at The Ahmad JaMall and a hot dog stand run by Anthony Braxton
  • Reinvigorate jazz by incorporating elements of rock, hiphop, Salsa, polka, Bluegrass, Tango, Death Metal, Tibetan throat-singing, New Wave, Death Bluegrass, Drum and Bass, Drum and Bass and Mariachi, Thrash Electro-Industrial Housegrass, anything with tubas, the “Dukes of Hazzard” Theme, jazz, and Paul Anka
  • Get every jazz group in the world to play nothing but “Misty” for the next year, over and over, just to cure people of wanting to hear that $@#*%! song (Next year: “When the Saints”)
  • Accrue thousands of dollars in debt getting a degree in jazz from an accredited educational institution–once people learn how qualified you are, they’ll have no choice but to buy your CDs!
  • Book non-jazz acts to headline every major jazz festival in the U.S. for several years, until audiences forget what jazz is–just kidding, that would never happen!
  • Play fewer standards
  • Make the music more palatable to a wide audience by avoiding unpopular elements like improvisation, swing, acoustic instruments, “blue notes,” syncopation, harmony, melody, and rhythm
  • Save yourself the time and effort of practicing by just running “Kind of Blue” through the house speakers while your band pretends to play
  • Start an island colony to raise a new jazz audience from childhood in isolation, exposing them solely to the highest quality of musical influences; watch them grow into passionate and knowledgeable listeners, only to see it all go to hell when a crate of Justin Bieber CDs washes up on shore
  • Stop playing all that noodly stuff–people hate that.

18 thoughts on “16 Easy Ways for Jazz to Build Its Audience and Remain Relevant”

  1. Very nice! But, who wants an audience? Let’s just admit we want to get paid for our weird music. Jazz should follow the visual art model: recordings should cost millions of dollars. Only a handful of musicians will make a living, but at least that handful will be better off.

  2. I love it!
    Add to the “Misty” play list the following well known jazz tunes:
    Girl from Ipanema
    Take Five (that might present problems)
    Birdland (but only the Manhattan Transfer version)

    Very funny and much needed after just reading the Blog Supreme post…

  3. Chris: A year of any of those tunes could very well destroy civilization.

    Charles: My next CD will be available on Bandcamp for one million dollars, except during the holidays, when I’ll do a ‘buy 2/get 1 free’ deal.

  4. I think playing less Jazz Standards will probably help save Jazz because people these days just don’t want to listen to great Jazz and have simplified their minds to basic rap and r&b.

    In fact the simpler the music, the more the average listener will love it.

  5. PRESIDENT NICHOLAS PAYTON INDEED! I almost died laughing reading this. Thanx very much for the much needed comic relief, Ian. The great Ralph Carney sent me your way. Oh, and SUN RA FOR SUPREME MASTER OF ALL OF THE UNIVERSES, while we’re at it!

  6. Thanks for this. I got a good laugh out of it, especially after all the serious conversations I have been having lately.

    I especially love: Take advantage of social media platforms by limiting your solos to 140 notes or less

  7. Thanks folks. The sad part is almost all of these were inspired by actual unintentionally ridiculous, serious, contradictory comments people leave every month or so when a “what’s wrong with jazz” post goes around again. Let’s have a moratorium on stories like that for the next year, maybe? It’ll give people more time to focus on continuously playing “Misty.”

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