The Jazz.com Blog
June 10, 2008 · 1 comment
Six months ago, on December 10, jazz.com opened its doors. More than a year of preparation had gone into the site. A team of around forty contributors had been working behind the scenes allowing us to launch with more than 3,000 pages of unique content.
We opened cautiously. No marketing or publicity campaign announced our launch. We didn't take out any advertising. We had no gimmicks at our disposal — we didn’t even have videos or music or flash animation on the web site. Those of us involved in designing and launching jazz.com were operating mostly on our instincts, driven by a love of the music, and a passion for sharing our enthusiasms with others.
We sent out a few emails, and hoped for the best. Then we sat back and watched. (Well, actually we went back to listening and writing and editing — since jazz.com publishes around ten new articles every day.) It was up to word of mouth to do the rest.
The response has been heartening. Our audience has grown rapidly, and jazz.com is now attracting 600,000 unique visitors on an annualized basis. Moreover site traffic continues to increase around ten percent each month. At this pace, we will soon surpass one million visitors per year.
This is more than a validation of jazz.com. It is also eloquent testimony to the health of the jazz community. At a time when most of the mainstream media has forgotten about this art form, it is encouraging to see these signs of vitality and interest. Television and radio and print media may have marginalized us, but the music itself is supported by legions of fervent fans and practitioners.
In my opinion, jazz may eventually find itself strengthened, in some paradoxical way, by the dumbing down of mass market entertainment. There is so little sustenance in most of this fare, that the folks behind it are unwittingly creating a hunger for a richer type of artistry – an appetite that their own overly packaged and commoditized products will never sate. As commercial radio continues to decline, and TV music becomes increasingly beset by American Idol-atry, the more restless and astute will turn elsewhere. And jazz is one of the first places people look when they want to expand their musical horizons.
Jazz.com responds to this in a very simple way: we focus on the music. We review tracks, not entire CDs. And we review a lot of music – we already have almost 2,500 track reviews on the site. (You can search through our review database here.) We supplement this with in-depth interviews, relevant features and reference materials — and try to integrate all of this content in way that will gently guide new listeners as well as enlighten experienced jazz lovers.
We call attention to excellence wherever we find it — on a new release out this week, or on a classic track from fifty years ago. We also want to make it easy for others to share in the fun. So our reviews have, whenever possible, a link for fast (and legal) downloading. We have thousands of these links on the site.
But all of this gets even better when it is a two-way (or three-way or hundred-way) dialogue. All our reviews have a place for comments and criticisms. We also encourage our site visitors to submit their own reviews.
This type of spontaneous give-and-take is very much part of the jazz ethos. Jazz is all about group interaction, whether on the bandstand or out in the audience. Moreover, jazz, as an art form, is blessed with some of the smartest and most informed fans around. Honestly, I would bet kroners to Krispy Kremes (okay, make it ‘dollars to donuts’) that a double blind study conducted by a team of MIT scientists would find that jazz has the highest percentage of musicians in its audience of any type of music. The people who can play, gravitate to jazz when it is time to listen.
On a final note, let me stress that diversity is a core value here. Our contributors are geographically dispersed, and if you could plot opinions on a globe, they too would be all over the map. Many viewpoints co-exist on these pages. This has allowed us to be the home of the Free and the Trad, sampling domestic and imported in a single gulp, featuring well-known and self-produced, Latin and mainstream, electric and acoustic, old and new, borrowed and blue. We don’t have a lot of baggage or ideology here. We don't fret much about what jazz is or should be. We prefer to take good music as it comes to us, and celebrate excellence wherever we find it.
And if you don’t think we are living up to these commitments, let us know, and we will try to raise the level of our game in the next inning.
Thanks for visiting us during the last six months. Stick around, because the best is yet to come.
This blog entry posted by Ted Gioia